Spooky festivities are just around the corner and we decided to have fun with some string lights by dressing them up in something a little more interesting. Using polymer clay, they have been covered up to look like little glowing jellyfish. Here we'll show you how you can enjoy these little guys too!
- Translucent polymer clay (Fimo, Sculpey brand etc...)
- one small light bulb
- string of small indoor or outdoor lights
- non-porous smooth work surface (like glass for example)
- smooth non-porous roller (not wood, it will stick too much)
- thin crafting or jewelry wire
- thin flexible blade
- tinfoil pan x2
- wipe out clay tool, or just a butter knife will do too
- alcohol inks (totally optional; it's for decorating )
Set up your work area with materials at the ready. Dust very easily shows on the clay surface so when working; if it's a bother for you definitely have a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol handy to wipe down surfaces and tools.
Cut yourself a small slice of clay not even a quarter of an inch thick. Start conditioning the clay by kneading and squishing it, being careful not to trap air bubbles inside. This is important as it will make it easier to work with and do what you want. Once it's warmed up (literally) and feeling malleable roll it between your palms into a ball. Doesn't have to be perfect, just watch out for air pockets- those are bad.
Place your ball of clay down on your work surface (I just used an old piece of glass from a cheep frame with the edges taped for safety) and roll it out into a flat circle. The circle also doesn't have to be perfect. When you've got it about 2mm thick take a tool or butter knife and trim any uneven edges, again not worrying about perfection just going for fairly circular.
In the center of the circle cut out a small hole the same diameter as the lights your using. (The light bulb from the string lights will fit inside this opening to hang the jellyfish later.) This too doesn't have to be perfect and you can poke a light through there after making your hole just to be sure it's the right size. If your unsure, shoot for smaller rather than larger as it's easier to take away clay than to add it.
Gently lift your circle of clay off the glass and get your little light bulb out. Place the clay over top so the little hole you made is in the middle of the top of the bulb and fold down on two opposing sides and then the other two so you have a little diamond shape as pictured.
Now we're going to pinch together the sides all the way around like so. Lift up one side and crease it in the middle making a little fold. Repeat the process all the way around. See snazy video below....
You can smooth down the folds with your fingers.
Gently lift the edges away so you can remove the light bulb. Once it's out, tuck the ends of the folds up inside of the body. You can use thumb and forefinger to give them this little curl like so. You can smooth down the ridges with your finger and now we have our bell shaped body of jellyfish.
Tentacles. We're gonna need those. So, now take those extra clay bits you trimmed off earlier and reconstitute them together. Roll them out into fairly thin little sheet. Then take your tool and slice them into little strips.
Peel up a strip and start to pinch little segments back and forth, the idea being to create folds and waves rather resembling a lasagna noodle. See video for a better visual description...
Turn over your jellybody and attach the tentacles to the underside of the curl of the jellyfish body. They should stick with a gentle pinch.
Alrighty now, in order to bake this little fella to completion it'll need some help in the oven. We'll need to make a little tinfoil form for it to sit upon. Taking some aluminum foil scrunch up a ball a smaller than the light bulb you used. Add a sheet of foil over top and let the excess hang below. Gather and twist that excess foil together to form a cylinder to stand up the ball which is what the jelly will rest over. Then flare out the bottom stand part so it has a flat surface to stand on; like a tiny tinfoil volcano. Add any necessary extra foil if you feel it wont stand straight up in the oven. The stand needs to be able to fit in the tin foil baking pan for later so don't make it taller then the edge of the tin pan.
Place your jellied friend over the tinfoil stand you've made by gently putting the rounded foil end inside the domed body. Let the tentacles dangle below.
Here is where you can take out the alcohol inks (or markers) and decorate the outside. While on the stand I painted on a colored fringe. Here you do whatever you want I just took some inspiration from photos of jellies online.
Take out the foil baking tins and place your jellyfish & stand in one and place the other baking tin over top, like a lid. You can put as many as you like in there (I'm just doing it one at a time for a demonstration). You can clamp the edges together with metal clips or some tinfoil scraps. This is going to protect your creation from burning while in the oven (translucent clay is pretty susceptible to that) while creating a nice evenly heated prison. Preheat the oven to the temperature on your package of clay and bake for the time directed. My suggestion is to set a timer for yourself so as not to forget about it. Let them sit in the tin when you take them out to cool down slowly.
Once they're cooled off take out the wire and a marker or pen. Take one end of the wire and wrap it around the marker a couple or times making a coil. Slide it off and leave yourself 4 or 5 inches of excess wire then cut.
Take your baked jellyfish and slide the straight end of the wire up through that hole you left for the lights. The coiled bit acts like an anchor and should be larger than the hole thus preventing the jellyfish from slipping off.
You can squeeze the rounded bit of wire into a more angular shape as well to keep it from slipping through the opening. Take out your string lights and slip the jellyfish over one bulb with the wire part poking out the top. Wrap this excess wire around the base of the bulb and wire to keep the jellyfish in place.
Hang your lights and enjoy!