I love using all of the senses to experience the world around me. It is said that one of the most neglected senses is the sense of smell. I always thought it fascinating that many animals have a much more extensive sense of smell than human beings. I became interested in the symbolism and use of essential oils in the Bible, and how much God enjoys fragrance. Fragrance is used in religious ceremonies including the sacred incense used in the priest's ministry to God. Esther was trained 6 months in the use of myrrh. The wise men brought frankincense, myrrh and gold to the Christ child. Jesus was anointed with spiknard before the crucifixion. In the book of Revelation, the prayers of the saints are represented by the burning ascension of incense.
I did some research on oils mentioned in the Bible, and also some current modern methods of diffusing scents into the air for aromatherapy. One neat way of diffusion is to have a necklace or bracelet with a bead or pendant made of something that would absorb the oil and allow the heat of the body to warm and cause the fragrance to become airborne, and breathed in by the person wearing the jewelry. Terra cotta clay is highly absorbent, I just don't have a kiln that will heat up hot enough to make a ceramic terra cotta pendant. I tried the air dry clays I already had, and they would dissolve when I put the oil on them, or they would break and crumble easily after drying, or like sculpy that is oven baked, wouldn't absorb the oil, too plastic. I didn't want to spend a lot of $ doing trial and error tests, and I read about some of the characteristics of a clay on Amazon.com, decided to give it a shot, and voila, it worked! So on to the FUN stuff- oh I love to get my hands in clay, come on and jump in! It will take you back to the days of play-doh in kindergarten! Get ready to explore the world of essential oils, one day at a time!
Step 1: Whatcha Gonna Need
- 1 Essential Oil (I'm trying Frankincense today)
- Molds, stamps, cookie cutters,(you can also make a mold of an object you have, with molding material from craft store)
- Polyform Model Air Clay (Terra Cotta color or color of your choice)
- Wire type cooling rack, or make one with mesh screen & books to elevate
- Big needle for cutting out clay or plastic knife
- Soft paintbrush & cup of water
- Toothpick broken in half, the end of the paintbrush will work too for making a hole in pendant, or straw, for smaller hole use coffee stirrer straw
- Candle warmer (optional)
- Needle file (optional)
- Fine sandpaper (optional)
SUPPLIES FOR COMPLETING PENDANTS:
- Jewelry pliers, cutters (whatever you have)
- Jump rings
- Head or eye pins, any color you like
- Bead caps or whatever jewelry findings you like
- Cords, ribbons, whatever you have on hand
- Acrylic paints of various colors matte finish (optional)
- inking pad (optional)
Step 2: Mold Your Clay
Roll in a ball; push into mold with heel of hand, rake off excess, flex mold to remove clay. Use the broken toothpick or other tool to make a hole in the top of the pendant. The pendant should be thick so it won't break easily.
Step 3: Another Option for Hanging the Pendant
Let's make another shape, I wanted a vase, and I will use the needle to cut off the top to make a wire loop to hang the pendant. Cut out around the vase, kind of pressing the needle down to cut off the excess, take one of the pins and bend it with the jewelry pliers so you make a shape that will embed well into the clay and 'grab' the clay before it could be pulled out easily. Lay it on the candle warmer to dry out, and add a little clay over the embedded pin and use paintbrush & water to bond the clay together. When you bend the pin to make the loop that will be for the ribbon, be sure it is facing like you want to thread the ribbon through (my first attempt above, I forgot! You should do it sideways for the ribbon to thread through nicely).
Step 4: Why You Need the Wire Rack to Dry
You can dry the clay overnight, but this piece was ruined because one side dried, and I flipped it over to dry the front, and it bowed up. So the rack allows air to circulate and it will dry much flatter. I had good luck with the candle warmer, and I'm sure you could dry the pieces in the oven on a rack, low temperature.
Step 5: File or Sand
You can use the fine sandpaper to smooth the edges, and I like the needle file to do the hole, but you can also smooth anything when wet or dry with the paintbrush & water.
Step 6: String It and Oil It!
Choose your ribbon, cord, or however you want to hang your pendant. The pendant is pretty strong, but you need to keep it out of the water, i.e. don't shower with your jewelry! Oil does not bother the dried clay at all. Essential oils are strong, so be sure it is safe to put directly on skin (read labels). You can dilute it with a carrier oil of your choice, like sweet almond, coconut, jojoba oil. Drop 1 drop on the front of the pendant, smear it around. It will give a beautiful fragrance for several days. Another idea is to make a big shape (I dug out some old cookie molds from the 80's) and it can be used for a room or car deodorizer. Hang it out of the way, maybe in front of a window or fan, and add more than one drop of essential oil. To give as a gift, write a personal note on the back with a magic marker! Now go exploring all these wonderful scents! You don't have to spend a lot of $ to have a diffuser of your own! Get back to the important stuff, stop and smell some roses-or coffee- whatever your nose desires!
Step 7: P.S. Want a Little Color?
I was curious as to how absorbent the dried clay would be if I put matte acrylic paint on it. I tried some different colors as you see at the top of the photo, did not like anything until I did a wash, and some of the pendants I hit the top with the fine sandpaper. I kind of hated to do that, because this clay is exceptional for holding detail. Once the pendant is wet again, it gets slick, and after putting on the candle warmer, it sticks this time. I also noticed there is a tendency to develop little spots lighter in color; it wasn't enough to bother me though. After drying, and attaching to ribbon/cord, I tried the drop of oil. Just like the ones with no color, the oil makes the pendant a little darker, but it rapidly absorbs the oil, and didn't disturb the acrylic paint at all. Another option is to use another stamp & stamp pad and ink the back of a large piece. The larger the piece, seems like the more prone to cracks, you see where I added more clay and mopped it with water to fuse the two clays together. Works great! I sanded the edges after it dried. So if you like some color, or if you are a purist and prefer the natural color of the clay, enjoy the experience!