Monday, December 5, 2016

Naturally Scented Air Dry Clay Gingerbread Christmas Decorations

To make your own naturally scented gingerbread embellishments as shown, you will need air dry clay, spices (optional), paint (optional), cling film, a rolling pin, a small gingerbread man/person cookie cutter, plate/tray, and stylus (or toothpick/skewer).  Tips: I used cinnamon and cloves to scent my air dry clay - it smells awesome! They pack a big scent punch for small volumes and work beautifully with the clay/paint for a natural look. Over time, the scent may fade, but can be quickly refreshed with a little dab of essential oil in a discrete location on the back of the figures.

  • Work your clay in your hands until soft.
  • On a suitable work surface, flatten the clay and incrementally work in your spices until you're satisfied with the amount of scent in your clay "dough".  A little goes a long way. :)
Tips: The additional dry spice material may make your clay feel a little dry.  If you want a colour boost (I did - and don't forget things will dry a little lighter too) you can work in a small amount of water-based paint, chalk pastel, or even powder/gel food colouring.  I used gauche for lots of colour in a little daub.  Tinting can be messy business, so choose a suitable workspace and prepare to get your hands dirty (or wear gloves if you wish). You can also use a small amount of water with you paint or on it's own.  Just a touch or you'll end up with muddy messy clay.
  • 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. 
  • 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.   

  • You can dip a fingertip in water to gently smooth out the edges and any imperfections if needed. 
  • Use a stylus, toothpick, or skewer to create two small holes, where the buttons would be on a gingerbread person, taking care to ensure the hole is smooth and rounded on both sides.
  • Press to indent two eyes and a mouth. Tip: If you wish, you can use the edge of a small round object on an angle to create a perfect mouth instead of a stylus.
  • 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, you can add a little coloured paint to the face, if you wish, using a very fine brush or (my preference) the tip of a toothpick. Allow to dry thoroughly. 

Use as embellishments, decorations, ornaments, or handy little air fresheners. Remember that unfinished air dry clay isn't water-resistant, so don't use these outdoors or in other wet areas.  Keeping them natural lets the scent free and they can also be re-freshed with essential oil as noted above. This post was created in collaboration with our partner blog at Green in Real Life.  Pretty presents or decorations can be eco-conscious, recyclable, reusable, or even multi-use - just like these. My gingerbread folk are destined for the sock drawers and other scent worthy locations after their holiday duties. :)

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! Stay tuned for more! 

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