Just flour, salt, water, and a bit of elbow grease can produce a striking table centerpiece or a wreath to hang in a window, on a door, or on an indoor wall.
Composed of overlapping cooky-cutter shapes, these wreaths get their sheen from a clear craft glaze applied shortly after baking. You can make brown clay shapes for contrast by using extra-strong tea instead of water in our recipe.
The baker's clay takes about an hour to make and shape, another hour to bake. One batch will make two or three 11-inch wreaths. Children can easily complete the project, but they should be cautioned not to eat the clay and to handle finished wreaths with care.
To make the wreaths, you'll need a large mixing bowl, a rolling pin, cooky cutters, nonstick or foil-covered cooky sheets, a small paintbrush, and clear craft glaze or polyurethane. If you want to wire overlapping wreaths together, use short lengths of 28-gauge brass wire.
Make the dough
Combine 4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup salt. Slowly add 1 3/4 cups water (or strong tea for a brown clay), mixing thoroughly with a fork. Form the dough into a ball and knead on well-floured board for 20 minutes or until the dough is elastic but not sticky; add more flour if necessary. (If you have a mixer or food processor that will knead bread dough, use it to knead the clay for about 10 minutes.)
Plan a design, using one, two, or more cooky-cutter shapes in patterns or random combinations. Roll out the clay to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes with the cooky cutters.
Assemble the wreaths
To make a single wreath, overlap shapes in a ring on the cooky sheet. Brush the entire surface of each shape with water, then seal them together by pressing down lightly where they overlap.
If you want to make a wreath larger than the size of your cooky sheet, try overlapping two cooky sheets, making sure the combined sheets will fit in the oven. Be warned, however, that large wreaths are more apt to break.
To make a double wreath, form a ring of adjacent cooky shapes for the bottom layer and brush them lightly and evenly with water. Place another ring of shapes (not necessarily adjacent to one another) on top, so that each shape of the upper ring straddles two shapes underneath. Press down lightly on the upper pieces to seal the two layers. Brush with water.
For a triple-layered wreath, add one more ring of clay shapes on top of an unbaked double wreath. To avoid making the wreath too heavy, make the shapes in your third layer slightly smaller and thinner than the others. As long as the two lower rings are firmly attached to one another, you can position the third layer pieces wherever you like--or, for extra strength, straddle each shape over two shapes in the layer below it. Press down to seal. Brush tops with water.
For a strikingly three-dimensional two-layer wreath like the daisy wreath pictured on page 118, make and bake two single wreaths, one slightly larger than the other. Place the smaller wreath over the larger and carefully tie them together in two places with thin 28-gauge brass wire. If the wire shows, cover it with a ribbon or a sprig of greenery.
Bake and glaze
Bake the wreaths in a 300| oven for about an hour or until hard and lightly browned. If you've used tea to make the clay, bake at 250| until hard, about 2 hours.
Let the wreaths cool on a rack, then paint or spray them with clear craft glaze or polyurethane.
Photo: Cut shapes with cooky cutter and overlap to form wreath. To help pieces stick together, brush surfaces with water before baking
Photo: A circle of clay doves hanging in a window makes a striking silhouette
Photo: Overlapping shapes in two shades form a multilayer holiday centerpiece
Photo: A profusion of daisies, each made with a flower-shaped cutter, results from stacking two single wreaths
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|Date:||Dec 1, 1984|
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