Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making: Clay Tags

    We started today off with a nature walk- while we do manage to bring a fair amount of the natural world into our home every time we set foot out the door this was a special walk as we took the time to meander through the neighbourhoods,  observing and taking stock of the seasonal changes going on around us. It has been such a mild fall here that we were not surprised to find the West End Community Garden still teaming with produce as well as a handful of gardeners. Of course since we had our trusty collecting bags with us we felt inclined to bring a few specimens home!

     The second part of this adventure takes place at the hub of our home- our kitchen table- it's where we do everything- our table has a very good story written upon it's surface- evidence of a happy family I like to think! Once the last of lunch was cleared away we got to work- taking some of those items collected earlier in the day and parlaying them into inspiration for some handmade gifts.

    The instructions for this little project could not be easier- all you will need is some dry- hard clay- I'm not going to lie- we used Das Modelling clay because that is what we had on hand. If you feel the need to make your own dough from scratch there are plenty of very easy recipes (like this one here) floating around the interwebs right now- this seems to be a super popular project for crafty minded folks- Pinterest is blowing up with clay tags!

      Start by rolling out your dough or clay onto a flat surface- I put down parchment paper first for easy clean up. Next cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a simple glass juice glass- don't forget to poke a hole in the top of your tag from which to hang a string from- a straw is the best tool for this job as it will give you a nice clean cut out and all the excess clay will be stored inside the straw out of the way. 

      You may at this point be wondering what happened to our nature collection and how it is going to come into play. Well enter in the little leaves and other bits of natural items- place them gently on the surface of your tag and roll over top with a glass or as we did here a brayer- keeping the pressure light but even. The idea is to emboss the leaf ( or whatever) onto the surface of the tag with out squishing the tag flat.

    Once you have gently rolled over your tag a couple of times- preferably no more than two other wise it just gets messy- ease your leaf ( or twig or whatever) off the tag to reveal a beautiful impression left behind.  Of course I had to take things one step further and started to look around for other items to emboss into the clay- the lace and a doily worked really well and left a great imprint.

      After we had our fill of cutting out shapes and embossing I grabbed my mini alphabet stamps and added the Little's names as well as a few simple sayings onto the tags while they were still wet. Once we were satisfied with our work we placed everything out on baker's racks to dry over night. Tomorrow I will give the tags a light sanding around the edges and add some baker's twine through the holes.

      I keep hearing over and over the refrain that people just are "not into it" this year- referring of course to the Holidays and all the gift buying craziness that goes along with it. In our house I have found that the most special and magical part of the Holidays is the secret making of gifts reflecting our love for the people in our lives. Not a tonne of money spent- but the time and the thought that goes into each little package made with so much care- now that is magic!

P.S. these tags are not just for kids and grandparents- they would make a wonderful addition to a bottle of wine or jar of jam being given as a hostess gift!


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