I have been wanting to try my hands at using air dry clay for a while, and after some snooping around finalized on these custom jewelry dishes. The step-by-step tutorial did involve a few trial rounds, so you can relax and not repeat the mistakes I did.
These jewelry/ trinket dishes make for a great organizing tool for your precious baubles. I have kept mine on the dressing table and placed all my go-to daily earrings, neck-chains, ring and watch on them. Now I can just grab-and-go, making my dressing routine easier.
I used my nick-name ‘AKI’ and hearts for the engraved impression, and made a set of three geometric jewelry dishes- octagon, hexagon and triangle. You can go for your brand’s logo, a friend’s name or even your own name. Also select the number of jewelry organizers you wish to make with a custom color palette and tint of metallic paint.
All materials are easily available and not expensive either (I have also linked to online sources for the material where possible).
– Air Dry Clay
– Acrylic Paint (similar)
– Metallic Paint (I used pearl metallic bronze shade)
– Enamel (Glossy Clear)
– Plastic alphabets
– Rolling pin (belan in hindi)
– Large Bowl
– Metal scale
Using a clear plastic as base roll out the air dry clay. You could make the clay layer anywhere between 3 mm to 4 mm. If the layer is too thin it will tend to break easily and if it is thicker it will be harder to mold into shape. The magenta dish is 5 mm and that’s why you can see a bit of uneven molding, whereas the pink dish is 3.5 mm and has molded beautifully. The white dish is less than 3 mm and even though it has survived over a month of use, it does seem fragile. Also turn between the two sides while rolling out the clay to give both sides a even surface.
Please read the instructions on the air dry clay packet very carefully. The air clay I used needed to be sealed properly between uses to retain it’s moisture (the same was also written on the packing of the clay).
Using the paper template and a steel scale cut out the geometric shape with a knife. While cutting try and maintain as much smoothness and evenness as possible. Minor unevenness can be sanded away after the custom jewelry dish is completely dry.
Next, place the plastic alphabets in the order you want. At this stage just lightly place it on the clay layer so that there are no impressions left. Once you are satisfied the placement- press them in.
There are 3 ways you can use the plastic alphabet to make an impression on the clay. First is debossing like I did, using the raised surface of the plastic alphabet make an impression into the clay. Next is embossing by pressing the hollow side of the plastic alphabet into the clay, this leaves you with not a complete emboss but an embossed impression by hollowing the outlines of the alphabet. The third style is to lightly press the hollow side into the clay and then using the back of the paintbrush to trace around the outline. You can try all three on a small piece of clay and choose what you like the best. I personally loved the debossing with the metallic paint.
You can even completely use the back of a paintbrush or other stamping tools to create various textures and patterns in the clay. Using the back of the paintbrush I debossed the heart free-hand into the clay. If you do go wrong somewhere you can easily manipulate by using a super thin layer of clay onto the mistake and blending it into the original clay layer. The ease of making changes, while clay is wet, is the biggest pros of using clay for the custom jewelry dish.
Now you will have to mold the flat layer of clay into the desired vessel shape (3D shape). I used a glass plate for the magenta dish, a serving bowl for the pink trinket dish and a tea-cup saucer for the white dish. It is best to use either plastic or glass utensils because the clay comes of easily from them.
Then let the custom jewelry dish dry completely. The instructions regarding drying time is given on the clay packaging. Once the upper surface was 80% dry I inverted the clay jewelry dish to dry out the other side. I had to leave each bowl overnight to dry.
When completely dry rub of the edges of the geometric jewelry dish with the sandpaper to smooth out the edges. Even at this stage I found the 3.5 mm pink jewelry dish to be easiest to handle as compared to the thinner white and thicker magenta jewelry dish.
Now starts your painting process. Using acrylic paint color the dish, including the alphabet impressions. First paint the front and edges of the jewelry dish and then paint the backside. You will need 2-3 coats depending on the color and consistency of the acrylic paint. I had to use 2 coats for the magenta and pink custom jewelry dish and 3 coats for the white trinket dish. The drying time between coats was very short, approx 15 minutes each.
P.S: I first wanted to do stripes but the masking tape took parts of the acrylic paint leaving me with uneven lines. I sanded off the entire layer and used a fresh coat of paint allover.
Once the base color is completely dry use the acrylic metallic color to paint in the alphabets and icons. The metallic paint alphabets will also need about 2-3 coats of paint. This part of the process requires patience to paint in the lines of the alphabets. You could use the base paint over minor errors but this only works for darker colors.
When the base and alphabet paints are dry, use the enamel finish over the whole dish. First paint an even layer over the front and when it is semi dry paint the back. Use minimum quantity on the brush because if the enamel clots together anywhere on the surface it gives an ugly finish. Since the dishes had pointed corners it was easy to prop the semi dry front over them to apply on the back. The enamel takes anywhere between 12-24 hours to dry completely. Do not use a thick layer as this will leave you with a sticky surface for long. The enamel I used was originally for wood surface and had a slight tinge of yellow in it but when used over these acrylic shades it made no difference in the final finish.
Voila, you are done!
Let me know how you organize your jewelry and your thoughts on this bold yet pretty custom jewelry dish. 🙂
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