So here we are at Week Five. We’ve learned how to make four different types of buttons, and we have a small pile of “scrap” clay leftover from the last two lessons. Today I’ll show you how to use techniques we’ve learned in class to turn those scraps into a nice little pile of bonus buttons.
If you need a refresher on Conditioning or Baking your clay, you can find these instructions, as well as a Supplies + Tools list in Lesson One.
- miscellaneous small cutters in your choice of shape. I am using a 1.25-inch circle cutter and a .75-inch square cutter.
- brayer or acrylic rod.
- sheet of plastic wrap like Saranwrap or deli wrap.
You should have a small pile of scrap clay leftover from the previous two lessons.
Note: If you don’t have scrap clay handy, you can use some of your remaining solid colors and mush them together a few times so that they resemble a pile of scraps.
Press your scraps together in your hand until they form a short log. Grasp the log at each end, and turn your hands in opposite directions, in order to twist the log and form thick stripes. Roll between your palms to smooth the edges.
Place the striped snake on your work surface and roll it back and forth to smooth and elongate it. Use both palms, one at each end, gently guiding the snake towards the edges of your work surface, but in opposite directions – the movement will lengthen the snake, and at the same time, tighten the striping.
Trim the messy ends off of the snake, and begin coiling the snake.
Continue coiling until you reach the end of the snake, and you should have a large striped snail shell.
Use the brayer to flatten the shell into a 1/4-inch slab.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the slab, and use your cutters to cut out as many buttons as you possibly can.
Poke holes in the buttons, and set the buttons aside on your baking tray.
You now have a new pile of scrap clay, made up of the remaining slab, and the two messy ends that you cut off of the snake. Take all of these scraps and repeat the process: form thick snake, twist into stripes, roll out thin & long, coil it, flatten into slab.
Again, cover the slab with plastic wrap and cut out some more buttons. These will be similar to the first, but the striping on them is likely to be somewhat tighter, and you will begin seeing more secondary colors as the original clays combine with each other.
You will have more clay leftover after this pass. Continue to repeat the process, until you are left with an amount of scrap that feels too small to turn into a slab. At this point, skip the slabbing step, and simply turn the whole snake into a single striped snail shell focal button.
The shape and quantity of the buttons you get out of your scrap clay will vary, of course, but in this particular case I ended up with ten extra buttons. Not bad for materials that were going to go to waste otherwise, eh?
Let’s see what your scrap can do! If you have any questions, you may leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Once your buttons are done, I hope you will blog about them, or post them to flickr, and leave your link below so we can all see how you did!
I’ve decided to add a bonus lesson: Taking it to the Next Level, with hints and resources for those of you who want to go further and make their buttons look more “professional.” Meet me back here for that next week!
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All five lessons, plus other useful tips included in one PDF.