Hello December and welcome to summer for all of our southern friends and readers! We're on a special holiday posting schedule this month, with a Christmas share for you ever weekday between now and the start of our offline holidays, with DIY decorations, wrapping, treats, and more. Yay!
To make your own vintage-style mini-hearts as shown, you will need air dry clay, a patterned fabric for stenciling, cling film, a rolling pin, heart cookie cutter, plate/tray, stylus (or toothpick/skewer), black paint, gold paint, and basic painting/clean-up supplies. Tips: You can use any patterned/textured stamp or material to create an impression, but a small piece of inexpensive plastic lace table covering is a great option. The patterns are strong and clear, and it can be used over-and-over with a simple water clean-up and dry after making your impressions. Air dry clay can be painted anytime after its fully dry. For small objects with a fine pattern, spray paint works well to get full coverage without losing details to thick paint or brush marks. I used a black spray paint base for the front of my hearts, brush-on chalkboard paint for the backs, and a metallic gold craft paint for the accents.
- Work your clay in your hands until soft.
- For ease of handling and clean-up, place a piece of cling film on a flat work surface, position the clay, layer another piece of cling film over the top and roll the clay between them. Remove the top layer of cling film and place aside.
- Position your stencil material on top of your clay, paying attention to alignment if you have preferences for your cut-outs, and gently roll over the top to transfer the pattern into the clay.
- Remove the stencil material, and replace the top layer of cling film.
- Position your cutter, paying attention to alignment with the stenciled pattern if you have preferences. Cut shapes with a cookie/biscuit cutter. The clingfilm is, of course, optional, but this rounds the edges as the cutter presses through. A little clay crafting trick that helps give your finished pieces a very nice edge. Lift the shape and place on a plate or tray covered with clingfilm.
- Rework, roll, and repeat until you have as many shapes as you wish. Excess clay can be returned to the package and re-sealed for future projects.
- You can dip a fingertip in water to gently smooth out the edges if needed, but don't use it on the print - it will erase the texture.
- Use a stylus, toothpick, or skewer to create small holes, taking care to ensure the hole is smooth and rounded on both sides.
- Leave on the plate/tray to dry (drying times will depend on your choice of clay and ambient conditions) - it will lift easily from the clingfilm.
- Once the clay is completely dry, paint in your base black, ensuring the heart is covered on all sides, but taking care not to obscure the pattern (see tips above). Allow the paint to fully dry and cure.
- Add gold paint over the top (stenciled) surface of your heart, taking care to ensure you get paint into the groves. Working quickly so as not to stain or set, wipe away the excess. Repeat as needed until you are happy with the gold accents showing through in your black heart.
- Allow to dry thoroughly.
- You can use a topcoat glaze compatible with your paint, if you wish. Mine are unglazed.
The finished hearts can be used as ornaments, pretty wrapping embellishments for gifts/bouquets, or (if you chalkboard painted the backs, like I did) they they can be little tags as well. You can easily adapt this DIY to any shape or colours to suit your style and tastes, and the same stencil and paint technique works for any air dry clay craft. If you are using a polymer clay, you will need to paint before baking (like our fern cufflinks) which is a little less forgiving than the protected painted surface of air dry clay but still a pretty approachable crafting technique. Have fun!