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Unique Christmas Ornaments: Clay Mushrooms DIY

Create these whimsical clay mushrooms for unique Christmas ornaments that might just bring you good luck in the new year.
Cost: $12 (makes 75 clay mushrooms)

Materials

  • air dry clay - any air dry clay will work including model magic, which is very light
  • jump rings
  • fine tipped paint brush - not for painting and could ruin a good brush so make sure you use a cheaper brush or an old one
  • small paint brush for painting mushrooms once completed - if desired
  • simple carving tool I used a paper awl and the end of a paint brush*
  • acrylic paints or gouache paints
  • matte varnish  or other sealant
  • water - to water down the paint if desired
  • heavy duty glue - you can use super glue or E6000
  • string and scissors

Instructions

  • To make clay mushroom ornaments like mine, start by kneading a small bit of clay and rolling it into a sphere.
  • From there, flatten it a bit and press in the center of the round clay shape with your thumbs while shaping and flattening the edges with your fingers.
  • Go all the way around for a even shape, but don't stress about making everything smooth and perfect. Mushrooms are imperfect in nature, and the clay will have the same feel. You'll just want to make sure the cap is 1/4" thick or more (roughly - they can be thinner honestly, just not too, too thin).
  • Once you have your cap shaped out, turn it over and add lines on the underside with whatever you have (I used a paper awl and the end of a paint brush) to create indentions, like you see in the photos.
  • You can do this by making imprints with the side of a paper awl or a paint brush, like I did. OR you can scrape the lines in instead, with a pointy object. Whatever you prefer.
  • Just make sure that you leave a flat area in the middle of each cast so that the stems will have a good flat place to attach to when you start glueing the pieces together later. Learned that the hard way.
  • Press a jump ring into the top of the mushroom cap right in the center. Don't poke it all the way in - you'll want about half of the jump ring still exposed.
  • Using a fine tipped paint brush, brush the clay over the jump ring so that when you clay dries, the jump ring cannot be pulled out. Set the cap aside to let it dry.
  • Now, get another small piece of clay and roll out a tube. Roll one side a bit thinner - this will be the end that the cap sits on.
  • Use your table or any flat surface to make the thinner end flat by lightly pushing the thin end of the stem onto the flat surface. This will make gluing the stem to the cap much easier. I also like making the bottom (thicker part of the stem) flat as well, but that's more a decretive thing. Not required, but wanted to mention it.
  • Once you've created all the caps and stems you need, they need to air dry. I sat all of the clay pieces on a piece of canvas and let all the pieces dry overnight. Then I flipped every pieces over, to ensure the other side also had a good chance to dry (overnight again).
  • Drying times may vary, so follow the instructions on your clay packaging for drying time, when in doubt.
  • Once completely dry, the pieces are ready to be glued and painted. You can do this in any order you prefer - either painting all the pieces individually and then attaching them together with glue after the paint is completely dry OR the other way around, glueing first and then painting.
  • I did both and found that they were about the same amount of work either way. So, for the most part, I painted most of the pieces first and then glued them together once they were dry. Occasionally, I added little dots to the top of mushroom caps after the pieces were glued together, if I felt like it needed something extra though.
  • The only things I wanted to note about this part of the process would be: 1) use a very strong bonding glue (a little bit goes a long way) and 2) add a little bit of water to the paints you're using for a more natural / watercolor effect. You can also layer different colors on top of each other this way if desired.
  • Once all the pieces are finished to your liking, add some kind of sealant (like a matte varnish). Then thread 4-6 inch pieces of string through each jump ring 'hook' at the top of each mushroom. And tie the thread in a knot, creating a circle for hanging onto your Christmas tree.
  • Now your clay ornaments are ready to hang or to be gifted at holiday parties, Christmas presents for loved ones, etc. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you. Happy to help where I can.