Introduction: Preschooler Animal Bracelet

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My three year old needed something unobtrusive that he could fiddle with during preschool circle time so he wouldn't be as antsy or get up and walk around.

He loves farm animals and the sounds they make, so I decided to make him a farm animal bracelet.

Polymer clay is cheap and easy to work with, but problems can arise from making tiny little animals.  One end gets squished while you work on the other.  I noticed people who make dolls from clay often bake the dolls in stages, so I used this concept to make the animals in parts and avoid the squishing problem.

I made this a couple months ago and finally decided to upload the pictures in my phone to make the instructable.

You will need:

hemp cord for the bracelet
polymer clay for the animals
really really really thin wire - mine is enameled copper wire I found wrapped around some... plastic thing... from a $5 broken TV I bought at a garage sale so Josh could scavenge it for parts.

Step 1: Make Animal Appendages

Preheat the oven to whatever temperature your package of polymer clay suggests.  Make some little loops at the ends of the thin wires.

Make a rough shape for the legs, tail, and ears.  Carefully push the thin wire into the tail, inserting the straight end into the tip of the tail, gently pushing until it comes out of the end that will attach to the body.  Pull the tail along the wire until the loop is inside the tip of the tail and the long straight end is coming from the beginning of the tail that will attach to the body.  Smooth the clay over the exposed loop of wire, making sure it's fully enclosed.

Hold the wire while you add details.

I poked the sheep tail with a toothpick to make it look slightly fuzzy (or maybe just dimpled).

Carefully place the appendages on a sheet of foil and bake for about 15 minutes.

I premade all the legs, tails, and ears for the animals.  I also premade the sheep face, the pig snout, the rooster face, and the duck bill.  The cow tail has embroidery floss inside rather than wire, and the tip of the tail has exposed floss instead of clay so it will stay soft and fluffy.  Yes, the back legs on the cow are way too long for the front legs.  Please ignore my deformed cow.  :)

Step 2: Attach Parts to Body

Once the appendages are baked and cool enough to touch, shape the bodies.

Start with a rough shape, then poke the wires through the body so the legs, tail, etc fit in the right place.  Pull the wires snug where they exit the other side of the body, snip them off, and smooth clay over the ends.  It's good if you bend the wire slightly as you smooth clay over it; if it's bent inside the body, it's less likely to loosen and slide out.

Poke a hole through the body and bake the complete animals for 15 minutes or more, depending on their thickness and the package instructions.

I premade and baked the sheep face and ears, then threaded them onto some white clay for the fur on the head, and threaded the head onto the body with the white clay from the head still unbaked.  It was easier to add the wool to the head after the face was baked so it wouldn't smoosh, and I knew the head would attach better to the body if some clay on the head was still soft and unbaked.

Step 3: Begin the Macrame Band

There are several other instructables that show how to make a macrame bracelet or necklace from hemp.  I'll quickly review for those who haven't tried it yet.

I used two different colors of cord; hopefully it'll help.

Take two long pieces of cord.  Put them together and fold them so that you have two loops on one side and four loose ends on the other.  You don't have to fold the cords exactly in half, and it'll waste some if you do.  Two ends of cord only need to be slightly longer than the bracelet you want to make.  The other two ends should be really long, at least three times as long as the bracelet (maybe longer).  

Tie a knot at the looped end so that the cords stay together.  The two loops together will form part of the clasp of the bracelet.  From now on, the two short cords should always stay together.

Separate the four strands.  Keep the short strands in the middle and the long strands on the outside.  

Pick up the long lighter colored cord on the right.  Leave a loop of excess cord on the right as you place it over the middle two cords (picture 2).  Now place it under the darker colored cord on the left.

Pick up the darker colored cord from the left, making sure that it's lying over the lighter colored cord.  Now place it under the two short middle cords, then pull it through the loop of light colored cord on the right (picture 3).

Pull both the light and dark long cords to tighten the knot (picture 4).  

The dark cord is now on the right and the light cord is on the left (picture 5).  Choose whether you want your macrame to stay flat or twist. I chose the flat weave for this bracelet. If you're making a flat weave, always start the knot with the same cord, no matter which side it's currently on (the light cord in my case). If you're making a twist, always start with whichever cord is on the right.

Assuming you're doing the flat weave, pick up the light cord from the left (still picture 5), leave a loop of excess cord on the left, and lay it over the two middle short cords.  Place it under the darker colored cord on the right.

Keep knotting the bracelet the same way.  

Pick up the dark cord on the right, make sure it's over the light colored cord, then place it under the middle two cords (picture 6).  Now pull the darker cord through the loop of light cord on the left (picture 7).  Pull the cords tight once again and repeat the process, remembering which cord you always want to start with (depending on whether you want flat or twisted).

I usually think "over and under; over and under and through" to remember how the cords should knot together.  The light cord in this case goes over the middle then under the dark; then the dark is made sure to go over the light (as it should already be, since you just put the light cord under it), then under the middle, then through the loop on the other side.

Step 4: Add Animals to the Bracelet

When you've made enough knots and decide it's time to add a bead animal, lay the longer cords on the outside and thread the middle two cords through the hole in the animal bead.

Knot the long ends of cord just as you have before, as if the animal bead is simply part of the middle two cords.  This knot will secure the bead in place, so be sure to pull it tight.

As before, I started with the light cord, left a loop of excess and placed it over the middle two cords (with the bead above) and under the dark cord (picture 2).  Then I took the dark cord, made sure it was over the light cord, then placed it under the middle two cords (still making sure the bead was above, like in picture 3).

I pulled the cords tight, made a few more knots, then added more animal beads.

When the bracelet was as long as I wanted it, I tied all four ends in a knot, dripped some superglue onto it to secure it, and trimmed the ends.  The knot formed a ball that could slip through the loop at the other end to form a clasp.

I know I used lots of words to describe a really simple process, but I wanted to make it clear in case people like my mom want to make one.  Hopefully it's not too confusing.  Thanks for reading!