Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bridesmaid Gifts

Now that I have had the wonderful joy of asking several special ladies if they would be bridesmaids in our wedding, I can share the gifts I made for them. I wanted to have some kind of sweet gesture to present to them when I asked, so I chose to make personalized ring bowls and a custom ring to go inside. 

 The experience of making the ring bowls (an idea I first got from Pinterest) was a tad bit frustrating. I have done pottery for many years and have been missing my pottery studio (previously located in my mothers garage) tremendously. These ring bowls were made with oven bake polymer clay and the properties of this clay are so different. I found it hard to smooth out bumps and uneven spots with this clay and was frustrated with the wonky shapes when I knew that I could throw perfectly symmetrical ones easily if I had a potters wheel. However the girls seemed to like them (or were too nice to show their disgust in front of me) so I consider it a success.

I will show you how I made mine and also tell you some of the problems I encountered so you can do some experiments of your own!

Materials Needed:
     - oven bake clay
     - smooth surface or mat to work on
     - paring knife
     - rolling pin
     - doilies to add texture (I used paper doilies but looking back thicker ones like crocheted ones would have made a more noticeable imprint)
     - letter punches or stamps
     - an oven safe bowl to use as a mold
     - an oven

 First you work the clay with your hands to make it softer. Next roll out a pad of clay between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.

Then cut out a circle. I used an old CD to cut around so I would have a symmetrical circle. Try and cut as evenly as possible as I found it difficult to smooth out rough edges later. Sometimes I went over the clay a few more times with the rolling pin to soften out the blunt edge.

 I then laid the clay into a ceramic bowl I had (made by me on my potters wheel). I found that I had to leave my ring bowl in the ceramic bowl even during baking because if I baked it on its own, the edges sank. Press the doily or any other item into the soft clay to add decorations. I choose to add each girls name in the center of the bowl with letter punches.

Then bake the clay according to directions. My directions said to bake the clay for 30 minutes. This had the first one coming out a little soft still so I baked it for closer to 50 minutes for the others. I visited the Premo clay website and they said to not exceed baking time (but it is the only thing that I ignored them). They also said to clean oven after using it for baking clay, don't breathe fumes and do not use dishes that clay was baked in for eating ever again. Man these seem like a lot of rules that I don't remember from the last time I used oven bake clay (As a kid making clay animals at my grandmother's house).

So because I only had one bowl to bake them in, I had to bake all seven bowls separately! Ya, it took a few nights. Because of the aforementioned frustrations I will probably never make ring bowls with oven bake clay again. However I do want to throw some on the potters wheel and decorate them with crochet doilies as soon as I have my potters wheel back again.

Above are a few shots of the ring bowls and below is a close up of what I thought was the more important part of the gift, a Bonnybee Designs ring made by me!

 I really like how the rings turned out. When I was modeling the ring for the picture below I was quite tempted to keep one for myself! I made some extras so if people like them perhaps I should put some in my etsy store?

All in all the gifts were fun to make and I had such a great time giving them to my friends. I got to ask several of them in person at Tim and I's engagement party weekend before last.

Tim and I at our engagement party
The whole party was so fantastic and got us both super excited for the wedding next year! I truly am one lucky girl.


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