Saturday, 29 December 2012

Experiments with Air Drying Clay

Hello! Just a quick post to show you the clay embellishments I attempted for my Christmas cards and Christmas table place names this year...

What I Used:
Air Drying Clay £4.99 Hobbycraft
Metal Mini Cookie Cutters £2.99 for 9 TKMaxx
Rolling Pin, Mat
Rubber Stamp Kit £11.95 from eBay

For Christmas this year, I made little clay stars to use on my cards and also clay name discs as chair back place names.  I'm planning on using the technique to create lots of little embellishments and decorations throughout the next year, so it was good practice and I am pretty pleased with the results.

I used air drying clay, as I knew I wasn't going to be getting my hands on a kiln anytime soon and was also keen to have something that could be left unfinished, as I didn't have space for varnishing and drying [I love leaving things to the last minute!].  I used a small metal cookie cutter to make my stars, round cookie cutter to make my name tags and a small rubber stamp kit to make the imprints.  
To create the threading holes, I pierced the clay with a skewer.  Once completely dry [this took around 48 hrs], used fine grain sandpaper to smooth everything out, rub off any excess around the edges and remove some of the rubber stamp markings.
But I didn't go too mad, as I thought it added to the handmade charm [and not because I was very tired and it was 11pm on Christmas Eve].

The stars and names can be removed and then used to hang on the tree next year and I'm also going to create some little stars for the New Year - I think this is a little addictive.  I'll document the process, in case you fancy having a go yourself - but here are some things I found useful to know for next time:
  • The clay starts to dry almost immediately.  I found I had to work quite quickly to create my shapes and make the imprints, but once I had completed all, transferring the shapes was easier as the clay had started to set and dry in shape, meaning I wasn't remoulding it.  This also made creating the holes for the tags easier, as I transferred them on to foil and pierced with a skewer, going through the clay and the foil and then leaving to set on a windowsill above the radiator.
  • I should have had a little practice with the stamps beforehand - some of the letters created larger gaps between others and I found that pressing the stamps so that an impression of the outlines was made helped me line the letter up.
  • I had one star casualty.  The tip broke away whilst I was sanding.  I think I had come to the end of my sanding and wasn't as gentle as I should have been.  I tried several times to fix the tip back on by gluing and also by using more clay as an adhesive, but due to the quick drying time of the clay, I could not get it to stick, hold and be able to mould it before it dried completely [due to the small quantity being used].  In the end, the easiest method was to throw the the broken tip and remould a new one, blending at the brake point as much as I could and then allowing to dry.
  • Overall, it was just as easy as I hoped and I am glad that I just went for it, but started simple.  Have a go - and if you do, I'd love to see what you make.
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  1. Just found you, haven't looked at all you do yet, but seeing as you sound a lot like me, have you checked out Cold porcelain yet? I found a flower I liked, made of sugar paste, went on a search & wow!! The things I have discovered! :)
    I am into Polymer clay now,just learning. Cold porcelain is awesome, though, & I miss it sometimes, I got used to it & the clay is a little different. You can make it yourself too. I can tell you more, if you message me, or search things if you have time. Love your stuff~

    1. Hi Angela - thank you and I am so glad you found me! I'm on a cold porcelain hunt as I think it will be much more durable for a few project ideas I have - enjoy working with polymer, it was my favourite as a teen!

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