Thursday, 15 December 2016

Clay Decorations, or How To Stay Sane

It's manic here. Is it the same for you? There is so much to remember, so much to do, and it's always the same at this time of year no matter how organised I try to be. My brain is a jumble of school events (money for shopping day!), teacher gifts (will chutney be ok again?), Secret Santa gifts (you can't get anything nice for £5), work parties (what to wear??), presents to buy and wrap (fingers crossed parcels come in time), food orders to plan for, cards to write, Bella's birthday on Sunday (mustn't forget to phone and pay the balance on her party venue!)....there is literally not room for anything else in my head. It's full. My brain is full.

And so I make clay decorations. Not because I have the time (I really don't) but because I want to and because it soothes me. While my hands are busy my brain wanders off in all directions and my heart beat slows down. Oh, and yoga last night which was a-mazing. I float out of those classes, I really do.

This was my first time making something with air drying clay (I used this one) and it's a really fun craft. Bella, Angus and I spent last Saturday morning rolling and cutting lots of shapes - they were making tree decorations, I was just having fun, seeing what you could do with the clay. I made a few decorations for the tree too and had fun using my stamp set. I like the slightly wrinkled impressed the rolling pin made on this one.

Then I started cutting out stars, lots and lots of little stars. My cookie cutter is maybe 5 or 6 cm wide, so it is quite small. I used a metal skewer to make a hole in the top of each one, and stamped our initials on some of them.

Threaded onto bakers twine, they look lovely strung across our mantel. 

I'm delighted with how they turned out; the white, green and brown together are so calming and I like how the stars stand out against the wood. Easy and effective, my favourite kind of crafting.

The rest of the stars (there must be about forty!) will be used as decorative tags on presents. Just a little something festive to jazz up the brown paper and twine I am using this year.

Slightly less successful was this tea light holder house I made. I used the same model as for my gingerbread house that I made last year, shrinking it by 50%. It's very wonky and the roof isn't big enough at all. Also, some patterned rolling pins would be just the business here to give the walls and roof some detail. But it was still a lot of fun to make. I'm going to work on this idea - imagine a row of white houses along the mantel, all lit up from within...  Next year maybe.

You need no skills or equipment (other than a rolling pin and some cookie cutters) for an activity like this but it is hugely enjoyable and rewarding. It's not messy, and it takes 24-36 hours for the clay to dry, depending on thickness. Once dry the ornaments do need a little sand around the edges, then it's good to go. You could paint or varnish it I suppose, but I like it plain.

Right, I'm going to go and make a cup of tea and read a murder mystery before passing out into a coma-like sleep. One more day of school, one more day of work, and then the holidays....


  1. Lovely Gillian, and how I envy you having a mantel to decorate. The clay crafting sounds fun & I'm off to look for some over the weekend. I've also read about silver clay too, of late. All sounds interesting. Enjoy the weekend & take care.

  2. Hi Gillian... Indeed, end of year things, all the holiday preparations, plans, and such, make us feel overwhelmed, but in fact we should be grateful for what we have and that we are able to enjoy this festive time, when some in the world cannot even dream of sleeping in their own beds...sad...

    I wish you and your family happy and joyful holiday time! Enjoy every moment with your loved ones. The clay stars are so pretty, I really love the idea.

  3. Your mantel looks soooo beautiful! You're right, the colours are very soothing, and it is stylish and all Christmassy-magical at the same time.

    Not much madness here for me; we've had our tiny little office Christmas party last night, just the three of us - there are only three of us to the company, and we are all close friends, so no big deal for us to get together for an after-work drink.
    The only thing that makes it necessary for me this year to do a bit more planning is that I am away from home almost every weekend, whaat with O.K. and I living 150 km apart. But I enjoy my weekend trips, or when he comes here to stay, and it is no burden at all.
    Presents are kept to a minimum anyway, as they have been for years, and my cards are all sent. I'll be working until next Friday and then all that's left to do will be wrapping the presents for Christmas Eve (that's when in Germany presents are opened).

    Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family, dear Gillian!

  4. I love the stars and the tealight house. Enjoy your last day of term and have a joyful, relaxing holiday. xx

  5. Gosh Gillian. You really don't do things by halves do you? You have a lot on your plate, I hope you managed to grasp a little time out to restore some calm at this hectic part of The year. The mantel is looking beautiful with the star's adding the perfect finishing touch. We are going to be doing something similar now that preschool is finished and we have a few more hours at our disposal.
    I expect Bella and Angus are getting very excited now. This being busy is all worth it to see their happy little faces.
    Enjoy your last day of term. X

  6. I love the idea of using stamps. I have made air dry clay decorations in the past. I used bits off the Christmas tree and lace to emboss them which worked really well.

  7. I love the idea of using stamps. I have made air dry clay decorations in the past. I used bits off the Christmas tree and lace to emboss them which worked really well.

  8. Love the stars. They look so pretty strung across the mantlepiece

  9. We have some of that clay somewhere in a cupboard.... love your little star garland, very sweet. I adore your present wrapping, John's present looks just like I would like someone to wrap presents for me. You'll probably hate me for saying this but I am having a really lazy day, just pottering around, cleaning saw dust here and there, meeting friends for coffee and gazing at my beautiful new floor (working from home when no deadline is looming). Wishing you a not too hectic weekend. Happy Birthday to Bella, hope she is enjoying her party! x

  10. Nicely done Gillian. Secret Santa gifts are tricky aren't they. Eldest came home with his own body weight in miniature Twix bars today. Seemed happy enough about it. CJ xx

  11. I do understand this need for a gentle make... and I am so inspired by those teeny stars on twine. One for next year! Mr R would see me doing such a thing and say I am daft and adding another thing to my list, without realising that these unnecessary makes are just the thing to restore calm. For a moment or two at least

  12. Very nice! I love working with air-dry clay (I use exactly the same kind!). I especially like your garland. The stamped initials are a very cute touch, yours personally.

  13. All those little clay bits look great! Have you finished school yet? We finished today (hooray)! May I ask where you got the To... From... labels from - they look perfect, just what I had in mind (even if I am cutting it fine!).

    I hope the next week is a little less busy for you.

    1. Hi Louise, so sorry I didn't reply to this sooner. They are by Rifle Paper Co and are currently on sale here - quick buy some for next year!
      Gillian xx

  14. Thanks for sharing your lovely crafting ideas, Gillian. I have never tried to roll and cut clay like this, but I would like to, and my Grand Girlies would probably really enjoy trying, too. I hope you have happy vacation days! Some in our household made a snow girl today and yesterday they went sledding in the yard :) xx

  15. Hey,

    Great post here you have created.Make some beautifully smooth cornflour clay - this is so lovely to work with and you can use it to make pretty clay hanging decorations. It feels so lovely in your hands. Here are the step by step instructions.You will need:
    PVA glue
    a mixing bowl and spoon
    rolling pin and cookie cutters
    ribbon for hanging (if you make decorations

    I'm trusting my experience will be a positive one
    usefull for us.


  16. They look pretty classy Gillian. My tree is gradually getting full of the girls random crafting sessions, not as serene as yours but I am happy with that. Jo x

  17. These are lovely!

    Do you know, I get so annoyed with people who say to me "I don't know how you find the time!" or "you've got too much time on your hands!" because I make the time to craft. I don't yet have children, so I know that I do have more time than people with children - but it annoys me, this presumption that I've got so much more free time than everyone else!! I just choose to use my time differently and to fit crafting in, as it's important to me. Like you say, it soothes and distracts from the busy-ness of life!

    Anyway!!! Rant over :) I must get some air-drying clay and give this a go! x


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