This month's project is a fun stenciled clay flower that can be a stand-alone project, or which can be added something else (I added a few ideas at the end of the post.)
Ready to see how to make your own?
I started with Traci Bautista's Deconstructed Lily Mask and Stencil and just used the stencil part with ink to get the outline of the flower shape onto a piece of cardboard. Then I took another sheet of cardboard and laid down the stencil, but I sketched in the outline about 1/4" inside of the actual stencil lines so that I would start to get a graduated shape for my layered flower.
I cut out the larger shapes, then I traced the slightly smaller one onto more cardboard and drew another, smaller, flower inside of those lines and cut that out as well.
These cardboard flowers are going to be the template for the clay flower. Why cardboard? Technically you could use paper or cardstock, but I like cardboard for three reasons: first, the dimension makes it easier to trace and cut around it. Second, the cardboard will hold up to the clay a little better than regular paper. Third, you could use chipboard for this, but cardboard is much easier to cut! (Bonus, these templates can be reused several times!)
Once the templates were done, it was time to prep the clay. I used Aves Apoxie Clay here, but polymer clay or even a paper clay would also work. I mixed together the two parts and then rolled out the first piece to become the first layer of my flower. (A tip working with this kind of clay - spritz your craft mat, the clay, and your roller with water. When using Apoxie Clay, the initial stage is very sticky but water soluble, so you can use water like you would use flour when you're working with cookie dough for cut-out cookies.)
Next, I laid template on top - it's a good idea to spritz the clay with more water first to help minimize sticking. It's also helpful to try not to press down on it too much (I need to find a way to make non-stick templates! There's probably something available, but it's easy enough to just work with it this way... a mold release spray or even cooking spray could help if you really want something to minimize the sticking.)
I use a metal palette knife for this part - this one is shaped a bit like a pie server (wedged with a pointed tip,) and the thin metal edge plus the flexibility make this great as a cutting tool to use on top of your craft mat. I turned it sideways, like the second picture above, and just cut along the template. Then I turned it flat to lift out the extra clay (dipping it in water will help make this easier.)
Next, I carefully removed the template from the clay. It can stick a bit - working your palette knife underneath helps get it off. Then I used my finger and some water to smooth out rough patches and edges.
I repeated this process with all three templates, then let them sit for a bit. I still wanted the clay to be water soluble, but I needed it to be past the super sticky phase. Once at that point, I generously sprayed the top of the clay flower with water and then laid a stencil on top. For this one I used my Art Deco Sun Medallion stencil (I used my Art Deco Sunburst Background stencil for the largest and smallest flowers.)
I pulled out my roller and went over the stencil - this can be tricky... you want to roll firmly enough to press it into the design, but not so hard that it gets too embedded. Once I'd impressed the design into the clay, I carefully peeled it off and immediately cleaned any clay off of my stencil with a baby wipe.
Next, I embedded a little plastic flower into the center of the smallest clay flower. I used this as a base to add some beads later, but embedding it at this point glued it in place really well. (Tip: you can also use water to make a slip from the clay and coat the plastic flower to make it paintable after it dries.)
At this point, I walked away from it for about an hour. For the next part, I wanted the clay to be able to hold position and detail, and it needs to be no longer water soluble and well on its way to curing for that to happen. When it got to that point, I started shaping and positioning the petals so they weren't just flat. If you try this yourself, you may want to check it a few times over the following 30-45 minutes to make sure they hold, but then let it continue to cure without any more touching.
Once it's past the workable stage (usually 2-1/2 to 3 hours,) you can paint it. I started with a base coat of bronze.
Next, I wanted to start to highlight the pattern and texture from the stenciling, so I used a glaze made from Payne's Gray paint and glazing medium.
I let the glaze dry for about two minutes and then carefully wiped it back with a baby wipe - just skim the surface, you want the glaze to stay in the crevices and highlight the texture from the stenciling.
Once the glaze was dry, I started dry brushing layers of paint, beginning with teal.
I kept dry-brushing layers of paint until I liked the way it looked... don't be afraid to throw in a dark layer or two, especially along the edges to add a bit of framing. Once the paint was dry, I used some gold wax (I like the Prima wax,) and lightly rubbed it along the edges and surface to pick up the high points and add more emphasis to the texture.
Time to put it all together! I had connected the top two layers while they were wet so that I could position the petals, but to add the bottom layer I just used more Apoxie Clay.
Almost done... I just needed to do a little accessorizing! I started by adding some beads into the center...
Then I took some metal leaves that were just an outline of the shape and veins and glued them to a sheet of scrap paper with gold and bronze paint on it, then cut them out and glued them to the back of my flower so they would show between some of the petals.
Voila! A finished clay flower! Here are some closeups so that you can see the details as well as how much texture and visual interest you get from adding the stenciling to the wet clay:
As far as what to do with it, there are so many possibilities! If you painted it red, it would make a great poinsettia and it could become a Christmas ornament, go on a wreath, or be used for other holiday or seasonal decor. You could add a magnet to the back and put it on your fridge - that could be a fun gift too! Use it as a dimensional element on a mixed media panel... make a bunch of them in different sizes! You could even put it on the cover of an art journal! I experimented with a few options...
First I tried it on a new soft-cover 8x8 art journal / sketchbook I just got (it's full of luscious Indian cotton-rag paper and I can't wait to use it!) I really like it, but I think I'd jazz up the background before completely adhering it.
I also auditioned my flower on the cover of an art journal that I made last year (you can see my Decorative Medallion and Decorative Folk Flower Screen stencils used on this one.) I really like how this looks! I may make this one permanent :)
I'm also thinking of making smaller versions to use as pendants for necklaces - wouldn't that be fun?
If you make your own clay flower, how will you use it?
I hope you enjoyed today's project... happy stenciling!