Over the festive season, I spent ages searching for little tea-light holders that were just the right size and shape, but couldn’t find any anywhere; I wanted them to be more like little bowls with patterns or colours inside. The problem was that I’d dreamed something up in my head, and then couldn’t find it in the shops! I decided in the end (OK, so maybe a little too late for Christmas!) to make my own, and today I’m going to show you how they’re done.
One packet of white air dry clay (I got mine from Hobbycraft, and it was about £5)
A clay tool for smoothing (you could probably get away with using a plastic knife!)
Sandpaper or a file
Copper acrylic paint
1. Air dry clay starts to harden as soon as it meets the air (hence the name!), so you’ll need to keep the opened packet in an air tight container or freezer bag while you work. Take a lump roughly the size of the palm of your hand, and roll it into a smooth ball.
2. Place your ball of clay on the table, then push both thumbs into it, to make a pot shape (remember making these at school?).
3. Slowly pinch the sides of your pot, bringing them up and out into a small dish shape.
4. Using your clay tool (or plastic knife!) smooth around the side over any cracks or lumps. Don’t worry if there are some you can’t get rid of, or if it looks a bit wonky – you can always sort this out later.
5. If you want to add some texture, now is the time – I used the end of a clay tool to make one of mine look like hammered metal.
6. The good thing about air dry clay is that you can hurry the hardening process along a bit, just by popping your pots in the oven – mine had about an hour and a half on ‘slow cook’, and then I finished them off on the radiator. The secret is to keep checking them, and if they look like they’re cracking, whip them out quickly.
7. Once your pots are thoroughly dry, use the sandpaper or file to smooth out any jagged bits, and flatten the top edge. You will never in a gazillion years get them to be perfectly smooth, so don’t overdo it and sand through the side!
8. Using a soft brush (a paintbrush is perfect), remove any excess clay dust. Plan how you’re going to paint your pots by drawing the designs on in pencil, then painting over it – I found two coats was enough to cover any pencil marks.
9. Once dry, finish with a coat of mod podge to protect your paintwork. Add tea-lights (or plants, flowers, paperclips, drawing pins…. the list is endless) and display with pride!