A place on the refrigerator must be earned, and now that I’ve outgrown report cards, I fill that hallowed space with postcards pilfered from my favorite restaurants. I have one from Eastern Standard in Boston (the place that first ignited my love for the cocktail), one from Leo’s Oyster Bar in San Francisco and a recent acquisition from Mr. West here in Seattle.
I think my love of jewelry has been well documented here, so it should come as no surprise to you that sometimes my baubles get in the way of my work. That is, often my many rings and/or bracelets get in the way of my typing and I end up slipping them off for a few hours of the day. I keep reaching for a cute little ring dish in which to safely store my accessories atop my desk, so rather than go out and buy one, I decided to make my own.
Sometimes DIY projects flop, and sometimes they turn out even better you thought they would. Now, I’m definitely no sculptor, so please don’t judge these against the work of real artists. That being said, I’m pretty darn happy with how these a-little-bit-naughty-a-little-bit-nice busts turned out. I got the idea for these saucy tchotchkes after spying a vintage bust vase on the perfectly styled dresser of Sara over at Emily Henderson’s obsession-worthy blog. I was hoping to click my way right to a purchase, but after Sara noted it was a vintage piece, I thought I’d do the next-best thing: make one myself.
Admittedly, mine’s not as…shall we say, polished…but I’m sort of into the imperfect charm of my handmade version. And yes, it took a few tries to get the shape right (it turns out it’s not so easy to sculpt perky-but-non-vulgar boobies on the first try), but overall this project was super easy. All you have to do is sculpt a couple of busts while you’re finishing an episode of American Crime Story, pop them in the oven while you watch another episode (even though you should be going to bed), paint a few red dots then slap on a coat of clear varnish and you’ve got yourself a miniature vase. Or matchstick holder. Or place to corral bobby pins on your bedside table. The possibilities are endless—as long as they involve things small in scale. What can I say? I love miniatures!
For this project, you’ll need the following:
• one 8 oz. block of white Sculpey oven-back clay, 2 oz. blocks of yellow and hot pink Sculpey oven-back clay
• red acrylic paint
• Sculpey Gloss Glaze
• X-acto knife
1. To make the perfect shade of soft pink, start with a big block of white clay (for reference, I used about 4 oz. of white clay for the large bust, and about 2 oz. for the small bust. Then, shave off about a pea-sized chunk of yellow and pink clay. Make a long snake out of the white, pink and yellow clay, then roll them all together. Keep rolling and twisting and kneading until all three colors are totally combined. At this point, if you want to tweak the color at all, you can add more pink or yellow clay and mix it in.
2. Once you’re happy with the color, roll the clay into a rounded rectangle that’s just a little bit taller than the finished height you’re looking for.
3. Using the X-acto knife, shave off some of the bottom so that you have a nice, flat surface so your vase won’t wobble at all when you’re done.
4. Now’s the time to put your sculpting cap on. Using your fingers and whatever tools you have laying around (I dragooned a bobby pin and a kitchen knife into service) to form an approximation of the female form. Once you’re happy with the shape, use the X-acto knife and a small spoon to scoop out an inch or two of the innards, depending on how big your bust is.
5. Pop that sucker in the oven and bake according to the instructions on the clay package.
6. After the bust cools, use a small paintbrush to dot the nips and belly button with bright red paint. A little goes a long way here.
7. Once the red paint dries completely, go over the whole bust with a coat of the gloss glaze and you’re good to go!
I’m always looking for ways to corral my collection of rings, which seems to scatter throughout my apartment as I take each one off to do dishes, slather on some of my favorite hand creme or stagger to bed at the end of a long day.
My dresser is strewn with a fair number of ring holders, but as I remain a weak-willed human when it comes to jewelry of all shapes and sizes, my collection is fast outgrowing its housing. Rather than picking up a few more ceramic egg crates to solve my problem, I decided to save time and money by whipping up a few of these charming marbled ring cones.
I love how little space they take up atop my dresser, and I appreciate that I can easily see each ring stacked up, rather than having them all thrown together like a golden grab bag. Not including baking time, these little beauties only took about 30 minutes to make, and I used less than $5 worth of clay. All the more money to put towards one of these fantastic creations.
1. To marble enough clay for one ring cone, pinch off about a third of a block of white clay and about an eighth of a block of silver clay. Roll the white clay into a thick snake about five inches long. Roll the silver clay into a thin snake the same length.
2. Twist the white and silver snakes of clay around each other like a candy cane, then roll the twist between your hands until the clay once again forms a snake.
3. Repeat the process of twisting and rolling your snake of clay about three times, or until you achieve the marbled pattern you’re looking for. Then, roll the clay into a ball.
4. Lightly roll the ball of clay between your hand and the table, pressing down slightly until you have a short cylinder. Starting at the right end of the cylinder, apply light pressure and roll the clay back and forth as you move your hand to the left. Keep repeating this process as you slowly form a cone shape.
5. Once you’ve achieved the thickness and heigh you want (I used a ring to test the size as I was rolling the clay), stand the cone up and gently press the bottom into the table so you create a firm, flat base.
6. Bake cone according to the instructions on the package (my cones had a base diameter of about one inch, and I cooked them for about 40 minutes) and let cool.
7. Once your cone has cooled, add paint! I opted for a simple band of gold along the bottom of one, and I enhanced the marble detailing with gold paint on the other.
This is such a satisfying project because the finished product is achievable in such a short amount of time. I love creative instant gratification. And rings.
Let me know if you make some ring cones of your own!