We really are on the final countdown to the big day now. Just six sleeps!! Tomorrow is the last day for the kids at school, I am working until Friday and then just two days remain to manically prepare all of the handmade table decorations, desserts, sweet treats and wrap everything! (That’s for tomorrow’s blog post.)
I do tend to create extra workload for myself though. It’s perfectly acceptable to purchase some toiletries, chocolates, or even a little tipple for the kids’ teachers, and these gifts are very well received. I however, try to make the gifts whenever I can. I just think there is something lovely about receiving a handmade gift. Especially when the child has been involved in making it.
This year, the teachers and after school club ‘Aunties’ who look after my children twice a week have been given a clay hanging decoration. Each one has been stamped with a festive design and has a Dovecraft Christmas ribbon so that they can be hung from the tree and bought out with the other decorations year after year.
I created a video using this technique for the Trimcraft You Tube channel and it features on the Create & Craft blog too. I love this idea and have made clay gift tags too (again a hint to tomorrow’s blog post).
Making stamped clay decorations couldn’t be easier, but here are a few things I have learned each time I’ve made these so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes.
- Smooth the edges of the clay shape after cutting. The nature of the clay means that you will have little rough edges when you remove the cutter. This is easily smoothed down by simply running your finger along the edge to soften it. Simple shapes work best. If it is too intricate you can’t get your fingers round the edges without distorting the shape.
- Stamp directly onto the clay after you’ve cut out the shape (you can see how I do this in the video and there’s a description in my previous post). Using the stamps on their own, rather than with an acrylic block allows you to apply pressure to imprint in the clay and you can peel the stamp back once you’re done. They will need a rinse in warm soapy water afterwards as they tend to lose their stickiness.
- Don’t roll the air dry clay out too thin – this probably goes without saying, but anyway I did roll too thin on some of them (trying to be measly with the clay and make it go further). Too thin basically equals too fragile. Also, they tend to roll up at the edges more when drying (see this point below) if they are thin. This also tends to be something that happens more to the larger or more complex shapes. By this I mean a small circle shaped tag will try more evenly and flatter than a larger stocking or mitten shape. In my previous post I mention that turning the decorations over whilst they are drying will help prevent them curling up at the edges.
- Add embellishments – I used some of my Dovecraft Time to Sparkle dimensional stickers on my teachers’ gifts. I placed the stickers on top of the clay as soon as they were cut out and pushed them in a little way so that they would ‘set’ as the clay dried. Be careful not to push in too deep though as you could go through to the other side of the decoration or push a hole through, especially if you rolled the clay too thin (see above).
- Colour your decorations in – below is a sneak peek of a picture from tomorrow’s post. I used my gold Simply Creative metallic marker and it was a perfect contrast to the off-white clay. I gave the tag definition by running the marker along the edge and added interest by picking out elements of the stamped image (I needed my magnifying reading glasses for this!!)
- Get the kids involved – this is a super easy children’s craft. They can do the cutting and the clay can be gathered together and rolled out again several times so it’s ideal for beginners. Let them choose a stamp, or use Dovecraft wooden alphabet stamps so that they can write their own messages. My kids also wrote their greeting on the back with my metallic marker (see above).
Air dry clay can be purchased from Hobbycraft, Amazon, Create & Craft, sometimes The Works or Flying Tiger, as well as independent craft stores. It’s relatively inexpensive per block so is perfect for gift giving.