The Craftiosity kit for May is all about air dry clay, which is the whole reason I subscribed! I’m really enjoying experimenting with air dry clay at the moment, in absence of my usual weekly ceramics class, and I’m keen to try out craft kits using this material so I can pick up as many hints and tips as possible. The project is to make a mobile inspired by organic forms.
Included in the box was:
• Air dry clay
• Wooden rolling pin
• Modelling tools
• Wire hoop
• Plastic needle
The project was broken down into sections; working with the wet clay to create cones and beads, sanding the pieces once they were dry, and lastly assembling the mobile. This one is not a quick project. It would be ideal to work on over a weekend, spending a couple of hours each day on it. You also need to factor in drying time. The instructions suggest 12-24 hours, however my pieces took an extra day. My studio where I work is quite cool and can be damp, so if you want your pieces to dry quicker think about where you leave them. I put mine in the dehydrator on low for a few hours, which speeded up the process a bit too.
There is a template included to cut out your identical circles to create the cones, but I found this a bit time consuming so I found a circular cutter of almost identical sized, which I found a lot more efficient for cutting out, but if you don’t have a cutter the template works just fine. The cones were assembled by marking and wetting the place on the circle where they would join and then rolling it up and using the modelling tools to smooth the join. I found the clay started to dry out round the edges really quickly and then cracked when you tried to roll it, so I found it best to roll out my clay and cut the circles in small batches. I would also say, take the recommendation in the instructions to keep the circles you are working on covered in a damp cloth seriously! I found that made all the difference, and the only reason I didn’t do it in the first place was because I was too lazy to get up and go to the sink, more fool me!
Once the cones were finished you then had to create the same number of small beads. For both the cones and the beads you needed to ensure that the plastic needle provided in the kit could pass through the hole in order to thread your yarn later. I used the needle to create my holes, but I forgot to factor in shrinkage when it dried (rookie error), so next time I would make the holes bigger than the needle. In the end I used another thinner needle which I already had, but obviously if I hadn’t had that I would have found it quite frustrating.
After everything had properly dried out it was time for sanding. If you are playing with air dry clay wear an apron! I can’t stress this enough! It’s a bit messy when it’s wet, but the sanding creates so much dust it’s unbelievable, so make sure you do it somewhere that’s ok to get dirty and don’t breath any dust in. The clay is so easy to sand and comes up nice and smooth, you just have to make sure you don’t sand too much and end up with nothing but a pile of dust!
Finally it’s time for assembly. First you had to cut the lengths of yarn and attach them to the wire hoop using a larks head knot. There is a really clear picture and description in the instructions of how to do this, but if you’re still not sure you can also access a video on their website, which I always think is useful for more visual learners. Once all the yarn is secure you can then thread on the cones and beads, securing them with a knot. The cones are attached in a cascading pattern around the hoop, which adds some interest to the finished piece. Although I did enjoy the process of this project and picked up some good new techniques to try on my own pieces, it is a little repetitive as there are eighteen cones and beads to make, sand and thread on!
The idea behind the project is that it is a minimalist, mindful piece. None of the pieces are painted or varnished, which means that it is for indoor use only. I’m sure if you wanted to have it outside you could take the time to paint it white and varnish it to make it water resistant before assembling it, but I think this would have an impact on the sound the cones make when they knock together in the breeze.
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