This is a guest post from an expert on all things art and crafts Melanie Falick*
Being together with special friends is always the best gift, so when I look at these photos, I feel like I’ve already celebrated Valentine’s Day this year. That’s Tiffany and her 12-year-old daughter Dylan crafting at my dining room table. We decided to get together last weekend to try out two Creativebug classes: Gem Paperweights and Make Valentine’s Day Yarn-Wrapped Wire Words, both taught by Courtney Cerruti.
We started with Gem Paperweights, which we made by sculpting polymer clay with a paring knife and our fingertips, then stamping, baking, and spray painting. It took a little while for us to get the hang of sculpting the clay and we didn’t exactly stick to Courtney’s directions regarding the shapes but we found our way.
We stamped our “gemstones” with Valentine’s Day messages (using small metal stamps), then placed them in a glass dish for baking (at 275°F for about 15 minutes per quarter inch for the colors we chose). I have heard that it is very easy to overbake polymer clay, which causes discoloration, so I was careful to set the timer at short intervals and to check accordingly. Dylan was in charge of testing the doneness (they’re ready when they’re firm) and she proved to be a pro.
Left:After baking and spray painting: although we started with a few different colors of clay, we ended up loving the silver and gold metallic spray paint so much that we used it on all of them. Right:Before baking: each 1-ounce bar of polymer clay yielded one to three gemstones, depending on how large we made them.
It was probably a little over-ambitious of me to think we could do both crafts in one day. But Tiffany and Dylan were troopers. We had a “working lunch,” watching the Valentine’s Day Yarn-Wrapped Wire video while we ate. Tiffany decided to write “love” using the template Courtney supplied as a downloadable pdf with the class, so I printed that our for her. I chose “joy,” figuring I should start with modest goals. Dylan was bold and chose the five-letter “dream.” I typed our words into a Word document, selected a script typeface, and made the words as big as I could while still fitting each one on the 81/2 x 11” paper in my printer. Reducing the width of the margins in the Layout menu in Microsoft Word gave me some extra space.
The bulkier the yarn, the faster you can wrap the pipe cleaners. Dylan chose to run two yarns together to create her striped effect. We used leftover pieces of yarn-wrapped pipe cleaners to make flowers. I also realized that it’s easy to make rings and bracelets with the leftovers.
At first we thought that connecting the pipe cleaners and wrapping them with yarn was going to be a tad boring, but we all ended up finding it meditative. Sculpting our letters following our templates was easy too, but required more molding and squeezing then we initially expected. As I told Tiffany and Dylan, “You have to assertive with your pipe cleaners.”
Courtney suggests decorating packages with yarn-wrapped words, which is a nice idea for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion. I also like the idea of making a word really large and then hanging it across a wall in the house or even outside like “graffiti.” No matter what you decide to do, it will, of course, always be special if you do it with people you love.
Happy Valentine’s Day <3