I'm excited to share this project with you guys because it marks my official entry into the world of air dry clay. I know everyone is doing it, at least all the cool kids are (probably explains why I am just now getting my hands dirty… literally). While this is a DIY tutorial on how to make your own fab mobile wind chime, since there are a million and one tutorials on how to use this stuff, I am keeping it short and sweet and just touching on a few of the things I found tricky or helpful.
I will actually admit that my very first adventure into air dry clay was one of my biggest project fails… to date. like ever. so, so bad. Since that ridiculous flop I haven't managed to get my stash out of the deep dark box I hid it in, so there it has remained for the last year and a half. Yikes. A few weeks ago I decided to pull it on out and see if it was still usable and when it was, I decided to give it another test drive with Amber for a project I have had on my mind for a while now. When that seemed to go well, I worked up the nerve to make my mom a handmade mobile and wind chime for Mother's Day and it couldn't have turned out better if I wanted it too. There really is something to that whole 'getting your hands dirty' thing…
These cool supplies were my secret weapons for getting this project to work and come together how I pictured it in my mind. It took a few tries to get the paint process right and find the right products to make the paint adhere and also waterproof this so it can be used outside in the wind.
It seems as though standard acrylic craft paints get a bit flaky and weird so I found that my Chroma Art Student paints and a final coat of Sculpey Glaze worked well as did the DecoArt patio paints which happen to be perfect for outdoor use all on their own.
// Amaco Stonex Self-Hardening Clay – White
// DecoArt Patio Paints or
// Chroma Art Student Acrylics
// Waxed Paper
// Rolling Pin
// 220 Grit Sandpaper
// Nylon Fishing Line or Thin Wire
// Stick, Drift Wood or Dowel
The steps for this are a bit self evident if you know anything at all about clay or even play-doh. Roll, make a circle shape with something and then pierce that sucker so you can hang it. I won't bore you with silly things… but I did find a few things helpful for making this process not so maddening. The first of these things is that it helps tremendously to work on wax paper. I was working on a different kind of non-stick surface and it wasn't working as I thought it might. The waxed paper helped so much, but ;use a gentle touch because if you roll your clay out with strength and vigor, it will tear and get stuck to your clay… that is annoying so avoid that. A rolling pin, dowel or even a tension rod as I am using above will work to roll your clay into a flat smooth surface.
As for thickness, you will want to aim for your discs to be somewhere around 1/8″ thick which is a compromise between durability and being thin enough to make the gorgeous sound these make when they 'chime'. I used a highball glass to create the larger discs and a champagne flute for the smaller discs. You will need 6-8 large discs and 6-8 small discs depending on whether you want 4 dangly pieces or 3. I chose 3 so I used 6 of each size. Also, pushing inward on your cut out is a far easier way to get your discs out than hoping for them to come out any other way.
Once you have your discs cut out, I found it easiest to smooth the edges with my finger. This helped any areas that got crazy in the process of trying to get the disc out of the glass. There were many of those instances so get your finger ready to do some smoothing. Also dipping your finger in water first helps and is also a great way to smooth the top surface as well as the edges.
I used the bottom end of a toothpick to create the hole I will use to string these babies up. I found it was important to pierce it on one side, then flip it and pierce it again on the other side. Then let these cute guys dry for at least a day or so then sand gently using a very fine sand paper to really perfect things. This last step was a game changer for any of those awkward areas that absolutely happened during this whole process.
Paint as you wish, just be sure that if you use acrylic paint of any sort that you seal it properly with a glaze to make it waterproof and durable.
Once everything has dried, you can begin to string up your discs. I used a nylon fishing line and looped it around and through each disc hole twice before securing it with a knot three times. I am constantly overkill in the securing department so this may not be necessary, but I live in a windy area so… who knows.
Here is the crucial step for ensuring that you get a gorgeous sound when these clack together. Overlap and secure your small discs above the large discs by about the bottom third of them. This gives them enough area to clack together when they sway in the wind and really makes the prettiest sound.
Once you have your bottom pair secured, fasten your top pair in place about 3 inches up. Above you see only the large disc in the upper pair so just something to note.
Secure each strand of your clay discs onto your wood piece and hang them at various heights so you can maximize the sound they make on their own and also when they clack against each other. It is glorious and I hope you make one of these for yourself or someone special. It's such an enjoyable thing to work with clay and this is a project you can't really mess up so just dive right in and enjoy! If you want to share pictures of your own version of this project, share on social media using the hashtag #builtTDCtuff and be sure to tag me so I see it! My handle is @thedesconf on twitter and @thedesignconfidential on Insta and FB.