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Polymer Clay Jar Topper

Project by Bonnie Willey.

Materials and Tools:

wide-mouth jar with metal lid
Delta glass-etching kit
Kato Polyclay: white, yellow, orange, brown, green
Kemper clay punches: circles, petal, flower
medium leaf cutter
24-gauge green or black wire
clay-dedicated pasta machine
powder blush
cotton swab
needle tool or straight pin
needle-nose wire cutters

Steps:

1. Clean jar with alcohol or cleaner from the glass etching kit. Paint the jar and set aside to dry.

2. Make a dome of scrap clay and place on top of the lid. Taper the edges. Roll out a large sheet of green clay to cover the lid (#4 setting on pasta machine). Press around the edges and trim off excess.

3. Cut 3- to 5-inch pieces of wire and wrap around a skewer, making a hook in each end. On these wire bases you'll later attach your insects to the jar topper. Cut 1-inch pieces of wire for the antennae, curling one end. The bee's stinger is made from a 1/2-inch piece.

4. To make a wing cane: Wings are translucent clay rolled into different sizes of snakes, from 3/16 to 3/8 inch around and approximately 3 inches long. Wrap each snake with white clay rolled on a #4 setting. Squeeze wrapped snakes together and wrap again with white clay. Reduce to approximately 9/16 inch around. Squeeze into an elongated oval wing shape.

5. To make the dragonfly: Roll a brown clay sheet on a #1 setting and use circle punches to cut out five circles: 1 large, 3 medium, and 1 small. Roll into balls and push together. Slice off four wings and place on the back of the dragoon fly body.

6. Add wire antenna and carefully insert coiled wire base to make them look like they are flying. Place upside down on baking sheet (wings touching baking sheet).

7. To make a bumblebee: Use a medium circle cutter to punch two circles of yellow and three of black from clay sheets rolled on a #1 setting. Press the circles together, alternating yellow and black for the stripes. Add a large circle made into a ball for the head. Taper the end black circle into a point. Add wire antennae and a straight piece of wire for the stinger. Wings are made the same way as for the dragonfly, only smaller. Carefully insert coiled wire to make them look like they are flying. Place upside down on baking sheet (wings touching baking sheet).

8. Make all the dragonflies and bumblebees and bake according to manufacturer's instructions.

9. To make sunflowers: Condition yellow and a small amount of orange clay to make a golden yellow. Roll a clay sheet on a #1 setting on the pasta machine and cut out petals using a large oval clay punch. You'll need seven to nine petals per sunflower.

10. Reset your pasta machine to #3 and roll petals through again. With blush, color the center of the rounded end. Pinch petals between fingers to flatten and elongate.

11. Condition green clay and roll out a sheet on a #2 setting. Cut out a large flower to be the base for the sunflower. Arrange yellow petals on top of the green flower. Pinch each petal in the middle when placing on the green base flower.

12. Roll brown clay on a #1 setting and punch a brown center using a large circle punch. Add texture with a bunch of straight pins. (Bonnie made a homemade texturing tool by baking a bunch of straight pins in a piece of clay.)

13. Make five to seven sunflowers for your topper.

14. Smaller flowers are made using the Kemper clay flower cutters and a small ball for the center.

15. To make jar topper: Arrange flowers on top of prepared lid. Add leaves cut with leaf cutter. Draw veins in the leaves with a needle tool or straight pin. Stick in the dragonfly and bumblebees. Bake lid according to clay manufacturer's instructions on the package.

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