Inclusion is the art of sprinkling things into clay. It is a great technique for beginners, especially children, but it can be incorporated into advanced projects too. The technique is pretty simple. You add things, like herbs, colored sand, fibers, etc., to translucent polymer clay.

Spices aren't just for cooking:
Spices are my all-time favorite things to use as inclusions. They smell good, are readily available, and can be used to create wonderful, natural effects.

Ground cinnamon and nutmeg give you nice warm brown that make great faux stones or fanciful tree branches. Ground pepper makes a great gray slate. Red pepper and paprika produce beautiful fiery red-oranges. Mint and basil are good for projects where you want an earthy green with some texture.

In this pendant, I used cinnamon and nutmeg for the base and red pepper for the ohm symbol.

Ground rules:
Really the only rule is that the substance has to be inert (meaning something that won't rot) and it has to be able to withstand the heat of the oven. Dried spices work well on both counts.

For the clay, I like Fimo 014 translucent. It stays white so I get a crisp color. Sculpey translucent is darker has a different look. I use it when I want a more muted effect. There are other types of translucent clays on the market, but I haven’t tested those.

Creating sample chips:
While inclusion is an easy technique in principle, it can be tricky if you are looking for a specific effect. It is a good idea to make some sample chips to see what you like best before you do something large scale.

To make sample chips, add your inclusions to a small ball of clay making sure you record what spice you added and a rough amount so you can recreate the effect later. If you want to be able to store your chips on a string or wire, add a small hole before baking.

When I made my sample chips I had a good time adding just about every spice/herb in my cupboard. I used ground pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, mint, red pepper, cumin, and basil. Each gave a different look. Now I'm making my favorites into jewelry, but boy is my husband disappointed when he sees cinnamon and nutmeg on the counter and no pie in sight.

Pepping up the color:
The amount of spice you add determines the color, but adding too much dried spice can make your clay prone to breaking. To get a brighter color add a small amount of colored clay or alcohol ink to the batch to get a more vibrant color. Be careful not to add too much opaque clay or you will loose the effect of the transparent clay.