Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Father's Day Cufflinks

Creating Beautiful Cufflinks for that very Special Dad

There are so many different designs and ideas that you could use to make your Dad a very special Father's Day Present!!

To create a base for the cufflinks you will need to roll out the Clay to an even thickness or at least one side of the base should be flat. This will ensure that you have a suitable surface to attach the cufflink backs too.

I normally find that a 1.5mm thickness provides enough weight and substance for a cufflink. If you want to create a textured surface then remember to place the spacers on the texture sheet before rolling out the clay. Once the clay has been rolled out, cut out the shape of the cufflink, by using mini cookie cutters or a craft knife. Place cut out pieces on a flat ceramic tile.

You can now add embellishments to the cufflinks with either rubber stamps, man made stones, Art Clay Syringe, etc. For the Cufflinks in the first picture above, I created a shape from Cork Clay which I then dried overnight. Once dry I placed this on to the square rolled out piece of clay and syringed around the Cork Clay, ensuring that it was attached on all sides to the piece of clay. When it was fired the cork clay burnt away leaving a hollow filigree like structure on the base. In the second picture I used rubber stamps and in the 3rd one I used a texture mat.
Once you are satisfied with the cufflinks, dry them thoroughly. Generally I find it best to do this in the oven at about 150 to 180 degrees C for about 30 minutes.

Allow to cool and using your sanding pads, ensure that there are no sharp edges or scratches. If you are using Sterling Silver Cufflink backs, you can add them now with a little bit of Art Clay Paste. Dry again with a hair dryer for a few minutes before firing.

The cufflinks can now be fired, using a gas hob, blow torch or kiln. Remember if you have used Cork Clay it must be fired in a kiln.

Once fired, allow to cool slightly and quench in some cold water. Using your Stainless Steel Brush, brush your fired Cufflinks to expose the beautiful silver. If you have attached the cufflink backs prior to firing you may notice fire scale on them. This can easily be removed by dipping the Cufflinks in a “pickle” solution or by filing away with a little bit of fine emery paper. If you haven't add the backs before firing, then you can either solder them on now or glue them on with a 2 part epoxy resin.

Depending on the finish you want, you can now burnish the Cufflinks or polish them up to a mirror finish with the sanding pads or oxidise them with a Liver of Sulphur Solution.

Add on the Cufflink bars and polish with a soft cloth. The cufflinks are now ready for that very special “Dad” to wear.

Your imagination is the only limitation for design ideas. He will love anything that you make as it is such a very special present.

More Art Cay Projects can be found at

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Simple Topiary Chickens Without Trimming

By S. Roberts

Since I was a child I have always admired topiary. The art of creating a living sculpture from buses and trees has always appealed to me. I would look in aura at topiary peacocks, squirrels and bunnies, even if they weren't particularly well formed.

I remember also as a child my mother clipping three small box buses into dome like shapes. Not quite the sculptures I admired but certainly less brash and easier to maintain. Funny to thick that nowadays simple topiary of geometric shapes is so popular, more so than the more elaborate birds and animals that were so fashionable in by gone days.

We recently moved house and in the garden were two dwarf conifers, which were rather old and had reached a height of four and five feet. I have never been a fan of conifers because they sap the earth's goodness without a single bloom to show for it.

Not really wanting such dull specimens in the garden I pondered on how to make them more appealing. And with a little tree training I transformed the two trees into a Mother hen and chick, giving a topiary appearance without any of the hedge clipping of trimming skills.

How to make a Topiary looking chicken...
Take an aged dwarf conifer and look down into the construction of its stems or branches. The tree sends up 'clumps' Mentally divide these clumps into four.

The tallest clump will form the head.
The smallest will be left as a tail.
The other two clumps will form the chicken’s wings.

You may have to dig the tree up if the largest clump is facing the wrong direction. But with a good watering the tree can be replanted happily.

Using a length of green garden wire, fix one end of the wire to just above half way up a wing clump. Then thread the wire down through the main body of the chicken so that the wire can not be seen. Pull the wire so that the clump bends down to form a right angle, this forms the wing. The tip of the clump points out behind the chicken. Fix the other end of the wire to the to the woody base of the tree where it wont be noticed. Do the same to the wing on the other side of the tree.

Creating the head of the chicken works on a similar principle to the wings. Attach one end of a piece of garden wire approximately one quarter of the way from the tip of the head clump and pull the tip down and bend it over roughly 45 degrees to form the head. Fix the other end of the wire to the main branch f the head clump. Arrange the greenery to hide the wire.

Leave the chickens tail to stand upright proudly at the back.

As a finishing touch wire a couple of fir cones in place as eyes.

The result is simple topiary chickens that don't require clipping and continual trimming. I'm sure you will agree that they are 'cheep' and cheerful.

Garden Tools and Supplies

S. Roberts wrie for and

Crazy Daisy Jeans

Funk up a dull drab pair of jeans with a little bit of flower power. Great for kids jeans or hippie ladies jeans or a project for a teenager, you’re bound to be a trend-setter in funky daisy jeans. Quick and easy to do and not a great deal of artistic flare is needed.

To make daisy jeans you will need…
A pair of jeans (cheap jeans are ideal), thick bleach, artists paintbrushes, thick card, scraps of bright fabric (look in the patchwork box in your local haberdashery) and a needle and thread.

Lay the jeans out flat on a table. Move anything from the area that would be spoilt should it come into contact with the bleach.

Push some thick card up the inside of the right leg of the jeans. This creates a firm base and prevents bleach from seeping through to the fabric below.

Along the bottom hem and up the side seem of the leg to the knee draw 4 to 8 daisies with a biro. The flowers can be assorted sizes. Start off with an “O” shape at the centre and draw six petals or so coming off from the daisy middle. Just draw the flower heads – no stalks or leaves.

Once you are happy with the design go over the daisies with bleach. Pour some bleach onto a plate (thick bleach is best) and using a paint brush, brush the bleach over the biro lines.

You need to work quickly because not only will some brush bristles melt, but the bleach will also be bleaching and attacking the fabric of the jeans. Really you want all the daisies bleached to a similar colour.

Reapply bleach to areas you feel needs it.

When all the daisies have turned white, immerse the jeans into a bowl of water and rinse three or four times to get all of the bleach out. Do not put them into the washing machine because the bleach will perish the rubber seal of the washing machine. Leave the jeans to dry.

You can leave the jeans like this, or you can give each daisy a coloured centre.

Here’s how to colour centres…
Draw around a mug or something onto the back of some brightly coloured fabric. Cut out and with a needle and threads sew a row of running stitches around the outside of the fabric circle. Draw the running stitches up so that the raw edges are drawn in. Flatten the circle out, this is your daisy centre. Adjust the tightness of the “Drawing up” to make the centre bigger or smaller to fit each particular daisy. Sew or Wonderwed the daisy centre into place on the jeans. Use invisible stitching, hemming stitch would be good.

Feeling adventurous?

Try covering the jeans in daisies, the front and back. Or just across the seat of the jeans. The funky design possibilities are endless.

More of S. Roberts craft ideas can be found at For Christmas crafts visit where you can also send a free letter to your child from Santa Claus. For Jewellery crafting, visit for beautiful home-made jewellery making projects.

Monday, 4 June 2007

How to make a special memories album

A special memories album is an ideal Christmas, birthday, anniversary, wedding or christening gift because it is a collection of special memories. The album could include photos, poems, certificates, concert tickets, and newspaper clippings, scraps of fabric or anything else that holds sentimental value. It could be a kind of “This is our life” album.

This special gift is easy to make, all you need is…
Glue, double sided sticky tape, ribbon, a hole punch, memories and contents and some multicoloured thin card (ring binder dividers are cheap and ideal, just cut of the holes and tabs).

Cut the sheets of card to the size you want the album to be.

Choose a coloured card for the front and back cover. The front and back covers need to be double thickness card to give the finished album some rigidity. Stick two sheets of card together, one on top of the other for the front cover and do the same for the back. Set to one side to dry.

The front cover will need a title of sorts, you could name it “Special memories album” or “An album for Mum” or “Grandad – This is your life”. You could create a title page on a computer with images and a decorative font and print it out and glue it to the front cover of the album. Alternatively you could paint or draw the title. You could cut out flowers from some wrapping paper to make a small collage to decorate the front of the album.

On the front of the front cover rule a pencil line 3cm in form the spine edge of the album. With a pair of scissors score this line, so that the front cover will open with ease.

Sticking in your memories…
Cut some strips of card, 1cm wide on assorted colours.

Take one strip of card and a piece of card and lay the strips diagonally over one of the corners and fold the excess strip behind the sheet of card to form a triangle. Remove the triangle from the sheet of card and trim away the excess strip of card. These are the “Photo corners mounts”. Make a set of four (one to fit each corner of a photo or document). Put some double sided sticky tape on the back of each photo corner mount and stick the memories into place in the album.

Between the memories can be decorated with stickers or more wrapping paper decoupage to form some continuity throughout the album.

When your album pages are complete you need to mark the centre along the spine edge of each page and also the front and back covers. This mark is used as a guide for the hole-punch to ensure all the holes are central. Hole-punch each page.

Put all the pages in order and thread the ribbon through the holes to tie the pages together, making sure the ribbon ends are at the front of the album. Tie a knot in the ribbon ends and then tie a bow for a decorative finish.

More of S. Roberts crafty gift ideas can be found at For Christmas crafts visit where you can also send a free letter to your child from Santa Claus. SantasPostbag is in association with together keeping Christmas Magical.