Little Clay Bowls

Friday, June 14, 2013

Have you ever wanted to make something from clay but haven't because the thought of having to find a kiln for glazing and firing seemed a tad too hard?  Me too.  I had played around with air-dried clay before with my kids, making little Christmas ornaments and whatever they wanted to make - snakes, gingerbread men, unidentifiable objects, but never really took it seriously ... until the other day. 

I bought some of this air-dried clay from Spotlight the other week with the intention of letting the kids play with it again and create whatever they wanted.
While they were making snakes (again), shapes and unidentifiable objects (again) and I was sitting beside them getting a bit restless, I made some little clay gifts tags.  I rolled some doily fabric over the clay which made a really pretty impression.  I was a little bit smitten with my tags. 

Then I got a fraction excited.  I would have a go at making some small bowls, with the pretty impression.  So that's what I did - and the best bit was it was really, really easy.  Hoorah.

I rolled out a chunk of clay and laid the doily fabric over the top.  I rolled again, a few times - not too hard but just firm enough to get a good imprint.
I placed a small bowl over the clay and cut around it with a knife.

I lifted the clay off the baking paper and placed it gently inside the bowl.

Then it gets left to dry, overnight, or longer (I left mine two days).  Once it's dry it shrinks a tiny bit so it just falls out of the bowl.  Ohhhhhhh, this is the exciting bit because out pops a perfectly (or imperfectly as hand-made is) formed little bowl.

I then lightly sanded the rim of the bowl, using a fine sandpaper, to get rid of any rough or lumpy bits. And that's it.  No firing, no glazing, no kiln required.  A walk in the park.

Gave them a coat of white paint.  The clay is white and can be left that way but I just wanted it to be white-white not grey-white.

I decided to use both bowls in my little girl's room for her growing collection of hair-ties and clips so I wanted to brighten them up a bit.  I painted one yellow on the outside and one yellow on the inside. 

I also finished them off with a gloss varnish (I used Jo Sonja's Gloss Varnish but you could probably use any water-based varnish). Squeal!!!  I love it when an idea turns into super-cuteness reality!

Here is my daughter's collection of hair-ties and clips, spilling over, in a way-too-small trinket box ...

And now in their new home ...

And some "hand-made imperfection" close-ups ...

What do you think?  I really like them, totally love the pattern thing, and I'm pretty sure I have found a new addiction (oh dear).  I still have half my packet of clay left so I will definitely be making some more.  I might even have a go at making some small plates or even tinier vessels for holding things like paper-clips, pins, craft supplies etc.  What I love about the air-dried clay is its versatility and that it's so accessible and easy for everyone to use.  You don't have to be creative to use it - just have a play and see what happens.  If you don't like what you've made, squash it, roll it out again and try something else.  Try pressing the clay with different patterns, shapes or objects ... grab a leaf and see what that does, or something out of the kitchen drawer, or the Tupperware cupboard.  Just have a go. 
It's therapy, I tell you!

Small Messenger Bag

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Last month my Mum asked me to make her a bag.  So I did.  She wanted it in black and white (to match her bathers ... watch out Europe!) and just big enough to hold her sunscreen, sunglasses and phone.  She would be spending a fair bit of time around the many beautiful pools of Europe so a cool little bag was on the list.  It had been ages since I'd made a bag - I think the last one might have been the Tea-Towel Totes - so it was a good excuse to get the machine out and do something I hadn't done before.
I googled away and found this really lovely free "Reversible Messenger Bag" pattern and tutorial from Crazy Little Projects.  I love that there are so many free patterns available on the net.  It makes the whole process super-easy.
The tutorial was very easy to follow, had good bright photos and the bag was easy to make and would be suitable for a beginner level sewer.  Once I started, it came together very quickly.  I chose two patterned drill fabrics for a little added sturdiness.  Personally, I wouldn't have chosen black & white for myself but I actually really liked the way it turned out. I cut out one of the birds and top-stitched it onto the front of the flap, just to add a little something extra to the bag.  I also have a bit of a "thing" for the selvedge edge (for non-sewing people - it is the edge of the fabric which has the name of the fabric printed onto it and is normally discarded). I included it in the design of the bag - I like the added character it gives and it just seems a waste to cut it off. And because the bag is reversible if it gets dirty or Mum gets bored with the pattern, she can reverse it out for a completely new look ... which, of course, is very important when you're flitting around the European coast!

And guess what? Here's my very stylish Mumma proudly showing off her bag in Cyprus (seriously, how good does she look for a granny in her late 60's?!).  She tells me it's holding up well and even fits her I-pad mini ... which of course you totally need while flitting around the resorts of Europe because you miss your kids like C-R-A-Z-Y (crazy!) and need to constantly look at their beautiful photos to keep from missing them too much! Teeheehee.

Enjoy your holiday, Mum (and Dad), we miss you, the kids miss you and we can't wait to catch up when you return.  Oh, and did I mention I might need a new bag too?  Ummm, hand-made, Italian leather ...