Last year Martha Stewart Living magazine ran an article on how to make these pretty Christmas ornaments that look like Wedgwood jasperware ceramics, which I love. My great-grandmother, Nana, had a cookie tin in her kitchen with a Wedgwood jasperware design on it, which I remember admiring during our Sunday visits to her apartment.
Since I now have a little collection of these cool cookie molds from House on the Hill, I decided to try my hand at making the ornaments. My partner in crafts, Sharon Morris, decided she wanted to make some too. So one pre-Christmas afternoon, we embarked on this adventure.
The first thing we had to do was mix the proper color acrylic paint into Paperclay. This was nice, squishy, messy business. The latex gloves from my earthquake emergency kit came in handy. Good thing we covered the kitchen table with brown paper. (The floor was not so fortunate.) Sharon mixed up a batch of green.
I decided to work on blue. The article gave formulas for how many tablespoons of each color per pound of Paperclay to mix in. Once we got the colors nice and evenly mixed in, we followed the directions in the magazine and sprayed the molds with mold release spray and then packed in some Paperclay and set about to unmold the ornaments. Easier said than done!
The directions don't tell you this: the mold release spray has to dry before you can start molding and you need more than one coat. Even with the spray, the Paperclay was sticking in all the detail areas of the molds, so we had to scrub them out with toothbrushes, dry them and then respray with mold release spray and let that dry. Our patience wearing thin, we resorted to the blow dryer.
The pieces continued to stick in the molds. The acrylic paint we mixed in for color made the Paperclay much wetter and stickier. I decided to mix more Paperclay into mine. They still weren't unmolding cleanly, so I gave up on the mold release spray and tried brushing the molds with cornstarch. Voilá! (After finishing the project, I went to the Paperclay website and they recommend using talcum powder.)
The green was even more problematic, as the formula for the green color contained more paint than the blue did. Steve got home from work, and we still had the kitchen table all in a big mess struggling with the green ornaments. After mixing more Paperclay and cornstarch into the green mixture, and compromising our standards a bit, we were done.
Now the ornaments were to be left to air dry overnight. I guess that "room temperature" is a relative thing. It was typically chilly and wet here in San Francisco, and the darn things weren't drying after 3 days. I put them on my drawing table and trained my lamps on them up close. After a day of that treatment, they did dry.
The ornaments dried a bit lighter in color and much lighter in weight. They are quite durable now too. I brushed off any remaining cornstarch. The next step in the process was to sand and smooth the backs and sides of the ornaments. An emery board worked well for the edges. This created a bit of dust, but it was easy.
Now to paint the raised details in white acrylic. This was another process which took a lot longer than I expected. I ended up needing to paint 3 coats to get the white to look opaque enough. Mixing in some white gouache helped with the opacity. I used a tiny brush to get the little detail in the branches and sun's rays.
Using tacky craft glue, I glued loops of grosgrain ribbon onto the backs of the ornaments for hanging. I cut out decorative paper to glue over the ribbon. To finish the ornaments, I glued more of the ribbon on the edges.
It was lots of work, but a nice result. I love how the details on this cow one show up.
Finally, I put each ornament in a cello bag and tied them with colorful ribbons. Ready to ship back home to the family.