Monday, August 15, 2011

Cauldron Place Card Holders

These little cauldron place card holders are a fun Halloween decoration for spooky dinner parties.  They are made from polymer clay and can be customized with different colors of potion.  The cauldrons themselves can be made from a variety of metallic colors to match your theme.

To make each place card holder, you'll need:
  • Aluminum foil (about 4" off the roll)
  • Stiff wire -- I used 10 gauge copper wire but you can use floral stems
  • Needlenose Pliers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Polymer Clay in the color of your choice to be the "potion" -- about 1/8th of a 2oz block
  • Black Polymer Clay -- about 1/4th of a 2oz block
  • A thin pointy object such as the end of a small craft paint brush
  • A thin, smooth rod, such as a screwdriver, to wrap the wire around when creating your card holding loop

First, make a foil core.  It's possible to use polymer clay to serve as the core but I didn't want to waste clay.  Create the core by simply wadding up your foil into a ball.  Don't press it too tightly.  You want the ball to be about 1.25" across.  Then press the ball down on two sides to create a flattened disk.  The disk should be about 1/2" thick.  Poke a hole in the center of your disk.  You can use the end of your wire to do this but I used a toothpick.

Cut a 6" length of wire.  Using pliers, make a rough loop in one end and then bend the wire at a 90 degree angle to the loop.  This way, when the loop is laying flat on a surface, the wire is sticking straight up in the air.

Pull the straight length of wire through the hole so the loop acts as a stopper at the other end.

Roll your colored clay, about 1/8th of a 2 oz block of clay, into a ball.  Flatten it until it is about the diameter of your foil disk.  Pierce through the center of this clay with the end of the wire and pull the disk down over the foil. Smooth the edges of the clay down over the sides of the foil.
(It is possible to make the loops in the wire that will hold the card in this step instead of later.  See the last step for details.)

Bake this at the temperature and time specified by your brand of polymer clay, in a glass baking pan.  I line the bottom of my baking pan with paper.

Once this foil and clay creation has cooled, it's time to form the cauldron around it. Gather about 1/4th of a 2oz block of clay and roll it in your hands until it's soft and pliable.  Pinch off enough to make about a 1/2" ball of clay and set this aside.

Form the larger clump of clay into a ball and flatten it into a disk until it's about twice as wide as the foil disk.  Place the foil disk in the center and work it up and around the foil piece, as shown.  Pull the clay around the top and smooth the top edge.  Then press the clay to taper away from this edge and create the flared top of the cauldron.

Divide the rest of the remaining black clay into four equal sections.  Set one aside.  Roll each of the other three sections into a ball.  Place the balls on the bottom of the cauldron, evenly spaced, to serve as legs.  Then press the cauldron down, pushing in on the already hardened colored "potion" in the center of the cauldron, until it's level and the legs are pressed on well.

To create the handles on the sides, divide the remaining clay in two.  Roll each section into a ball and flatten slightly.  Press the end of a paintbrush or chopsitck into the the center of one disk and then, keeping the point in the clay, place it against the side of the cauldron and press the point in slightly to secure the handles.  Pull away the point.  Repeat to create a handle for the other side.

Bake the cauldron in the paper-lined glass pan again, according to the directions on your clay.

To create the loop that will hold the card label, I suggest that you practice on some plain wire first.  You might even consider making the loop earlier in the process, when you can still replace it if the loops don't turn out well.

I bent around 2" of the end of the wire over at a 90 degree angle, and wrapped the folded-over end around a screwdriver to make it nice and round and tight.  The last part is the hardest to wrap but I found it simpler to simply trim the wire down so that I had two full and one partial loop.  The card can be inserted between the first and second loops.

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