One Design = Many Projects

Once I get started making a project, I seem to always have a lot of excess “stuff’ on my desk. If I am making elements for a card or cutting up felt for a project, I usually end up with pieces cut out that are all ready to use – but they are more than I need for this particular project. I have learned over the years that stopping at the end of a project is the wrong place to stop. Now I finish when I have used the materials on hand. That way I not only stretch my creativity to find new uses for the project or materials, but I also end up with embellishments and items ready made for future projects. Sometimes, as a bonus, I end up with multiple finished projects all from a single idea – some for me to use and some to give as gifts.

This is what happened with the “great mushroom project.” I was playing around with AMACO Cloud Clay which is an air-dry clay that comes in great colors, mixes well with itself and with acrylic paints, and  is great to work with. I was thinking miniatures as I love making cute and tiny things.

I was thinking earrings at the time, and with the clay colors laid out in front of me, the red, white, and green were demanding my attention. I immediately thought about mushrooms with white stalks, red tops dotted with white dots, and green grass around the base. The project makes for really cute earrings. Here’s what you need:

  • AMACO Cloud Clay: Red, White, Green (This is a great project for the Assortment Pack which includes 1 oz. each of Green, Red, White and Blue clay.)
  • Scissors
  • Non-stick work surface
  • Acrylic roller
  • Ranger Glossy Accents (optional)
  • Earring findings: headpins, jump rings, earring wires, tools

To make the mushrooms, pinch off pieces of Red, White, and Green clay and work each color in your hand to soften and condition it. I like to pull the clay out to a longish piece, fold it in half and in half again, and then repeat. In a few seconds, it is smooth, warm and pliable.

Roll some White clay into a teardrop for the stem of the mushrooms. Roll a sphere of Red for the tops, flatten it a bit and push onto the mushroom stem. While these pieces are drying a bit, roll some Green clay flat using an acrylic roller. It needs to be pretty thin – set it aside to dry.

Pinch tiny seed-size pieces of White clay and roll into balls. Press on the top of the mushrooms.

Once the Green clay is dry enough to handle – this will take a few minutes – cut it into a strip of grass using the scissors. Wrap the grass around the base of the mushroom. If the clay is having problems sticking to itself, dampen it with a little water and it will stick tight.

Once the pieces are dry, you can push a headpin vertically through each mushroom from bottom to top, wrap the end into a loop, and attach an earring wire using a jump ring.

So far so good, but why stop at one set of earrings? Once you’ve made a couple of extra sets for gifts, it’s time to think outside the box. I upped the ante to make a pencil topper. Simply make a larger-size mushroom – or two side by side – and push the piece onto the top of a regular pencil and leave to dry.

To make this pencil topper more robust, coat it with Ranger Glossy Accents – this is a glue as well as a glossy cover coat and it helps not only to protect the piece but also to stick it firmly to the top of the pencil. I also like to use Glossy Accents on the earrings too so they last really well and it also gives them a great shine.

I made a few extra mushrooms to sit around on my desk – you never know when they might come in handy. And I finished off with this “oh so cute” tic-tac-toe game board in green and white – complete with mushroom playing pieces in red and purple.

Next time you’re crafting, challenge yourself to think out of the box – what else can you do with your design and your supplies? Pieces of paper left over from a scrapbook page can be affixed to a tag for gift giving or used on a card. Clay designs can be used for all sorts of purposes and extra pieces from a jewelry project look great dangling from a mini scrapbook or made into a barrette.

by Helen Bradley (

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