DIY Christmas Craft: Easy Oven-Bake-Clay Ornaments
It's easy to make beautiful and festive Christmas tree decorations with oven-bake clay and some basic household tools! You can make a number of different ornaments that match your holiday decorating style or the theme of your tree. These decorations are quick to make once you get your materials assembled, and this is a great project to do with kids!
There are a number of different types of clays that you can bake and harden in your kitchen oven. Polymer clays (brand name Sculpey, Fimo, and others) are quite popular and come in a variety of colors. You can also make your own oven-bake clay with salt and flour. I used Sculpey for my ornaments. Sculpey is softer than some other products and easy to form and decorate.
Materials and Tools Needed
The materials for this project are pretty basic. You will need your choice of clay in your choice of colors, acrylic paint (optional), and some simple tools.
If you are working with polymer clay, I would strongly suggest that you do not use any tools or implements from your kitchen that will later come in contact with food. Check your clay's box for information about whether it is toxic or not, but I still would not use items that you plan to cook or eat with in the future.
Ceramic tools are great for this project if you have them. But if not, hunt around for some common household items to make and decorate your ornaments:
- A plastic knife for cutting
- A dowel to use as a rolling pin
- Buttons with interesting designs
- Ballpoint pen for shaping and cutting
- Old jewelry with textural surfaces
- Items that have interesting designs that you can use to stamp your clay: look at the tops of your pens, the pop-top on your liquid dishwashing detergent, the nozzle on your window cleaner, and tools from your toolbox.
There's probably all kinds of interesting items in your house to use!
Below are the instructions on how to make three easy Christmas ornaments:
1. Decide the shape of your wreath. You can either make your own shape or find an image of a wreath (or any other shape you'd like to use) for a stencil for your ornament. I chose to cut my wreath freestyle without a template.
2. Roll out your clay on a piece of wax paper. Your rolled piece of clay should be slightly larger then your template and about 1/8 inch thick (if you are using homemade salt clay, roll your dough to be about 3/8 of an inch thick).
3. You can use round objects as a stencil for the outside and inside shape of your wreath. Trace around each using a plastic knife or a ballpoint pen. Be sure to cut all the way through your clay.
4. Remove the excess clay from around your ornament. Then with your knife or pen, make little jagged triangle cuts around the edge of your wreath (see photo above). Make the same jagged cuts around the center hole of your wreath too. Remove the excess clay.
5. Use your fingertip to smooth your outside and inside clay edges if needed. Then collect your items to use as stamps. I used some vintage buttons, a bead, and a pen tip for my decoration. Start stamping a random decoration all over your wreath ornament. You may want to practice stamping on a leftover piece of clay. This way, you can find out what type of texture your stamp items create and also get a sense of how much pressure you need to apply to make a good impression on your clay.
6. Make sure to create a hole to hang your ornament. I used a plastic pen tip to make a hole (see photo above). I pressed down deep enough to go through my clay, then twisted it a bit to make the hole wider.
7. Transfer your ornament to some aluminum foil and bake according to the directions with your clay or your recipe. After baking, let your ornament cool completely.
8. To decorate my wreath, I took some gold acrylic paint, brushed it on lightly, then wiped it off with a paper towel. With this technique, the paint just caught in the surface texture, but it didn't cover my ornament completely (see "Painting Your Ornament" below).
9. Once the paint was dry, I glued on some little iridescent beads with white craft glue (that dries clear), wrapped some gold ribbon around it, and tied my ribbon with a bow. Finally, I added some fishing line as a hanger.
Christmas Tree Ornament
1. For this ornament, I used an image from the computer as a template. You can find images on the internet (I searched under "Christmas tree cookie cutter"), in magazines, and in pattern books. If need be, re-size your image using a printer or scanner, then cut it out.
2. I then followed the instructions above for rolling, trimming, and stamping my Christmas tree ornament. I really like how the flower design on my button looks when it is stamped into this tree!
3. Once my tree was covered with a textural design, I pushed a heart-shaped button into my still unbaked ornament just deep enough to make an impression. (You could do this with a bunch of buttons to make them look like decorations on the tree). I then removed the button. Do not bake your ornament with any plastic buttons or beads on it.
4. I also took my ballpoint pen a made a little trough through my clay that looked like a garland hanging on the tree. I added a hole for hanging and then I baked my ornament.
5. When it was cool, I used white craft glue to adhere my heart button into the spot I made for it. I also used a toothpick to put glue along the garland trough and then placed gold bugle beads in it to look like strung decorations.
1. For my star ornament, I also found an image to use as a template.
2. Once I had my clay rolled and my shape cut out, I used a different tool to add a different texture to each of the five points of my star. Then I made a hole and baked my ornament.
3. Once cool, I painted my star with acrylic paint and let dry.
Painting Your Ornament
If you choose to make your ornaments from salt and flour dough, you can use either acrylic paint or tempera paint to decorate them. Both of these paints are water-soluble and easy to use. I would suggest testing your paint on some baked clay samples (just leftover bits) to see how much water you want to add to your paint to get the look you want.
If you use polymer clay, painting can be tricky. I would use acrylic paint, but if you thin your paint with too much water, it will just roll off the surface. If you put it on too thickly, it can look clumpy. And the paint can show any imperfection in a polymer clay surface, like a dent, lump, or uneven area. Sometimes it's best just to buy polymer clay in the color you want to use.
If you do want to paint your polymer clay ornaments, think about making some test pieces to bake along with your ornament to try different paint techniques on. Use some scrap pieces of clay and decorate them in the same way you embellish your ornament. Then bake them with your pieces. Now you can try your paint before working on finished ornaments!
I hope you try making some Christmas ornaments with oven-bake clay. There are many types of decorations you can make: from figurines to the stamped ornament described above. Whatever you decide to make, I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun!
© 2013 Donna Herron