I picked up a box of Laguna Dry-Hard Clay about a year ago at Michael's Craft Store on the Upper East Side here in New York City (as available at Amazon.com). Since I lack access to a kiln, I've felt deterred to spend the time sculpting with ceramic fire clay. I was particularly drawn to Laguna clay for it's familiar ceramic clay-like qualities that can captured without firing it but rather just air drying it!
First project, clay mushrooms of course! I guess you could say I am a bit crazy about the whimsy world of gnomes and toadstools, since they do seem to appear in quite a few of my craft projects... oops. I hope you all like mushrooms too and will follow the picture tutorial below.
1 1. Start by preparing a bunch of 16 gauge hard wire stems about 7 inches long with one bend end. Roll clay in a quarter size ball and insert wire through the center.
2 2. Between your hands, roll the ball into a mushroom stem about 2 1/2" long. To smooth out any imperfections, use a wet paintbrush. Let the stems completely harden and dry.
3 3. Roll another ball of clay for the mushroom cap.
4 4. Insert the wire bend of the stem into the ball of clay.
5 5. Use your finger to create the annulus of the mushroom while securing the cap to the stem as well.
6 6. Place the mushroom upside down on a flat surface.
7 7. Flatten the ball out creating a disc (cap).
8 8. Use your fingers to curve the edges of the disc down.
9 9. Use a pencil or a pointy clay tool to make the giles on the under side of the mushroom cap.
10 10. Smooth the cap out with a paintbrush and water.
11 11. Let dry over night. Use styrofoam or potting soil to hold the mushrooms upright while drying.
12 12. Paint the dry mushrooms with diluted acrylic paint. For a base, drill holes in a piece of wood to hold up the wire. They can also be displayed in the soil of house plants.
13 13. Cover the top of the wood with white glue and preserved moss for final touches. It helps to stick screwers in the holes to remember exactly where they are. Remove them when glue is dry and place mushrooms on the grassy knoll.
Paint your mushrooms with a red cap and white dots and you have yourself a toadstool!
For more information about this how-to visit MarthaStewart.com for the on-air demo. If you are interested in the mushrooms but don't have time to make them yourself, visit my etsy store to purchase a set of mushrooms or toadstools.