Clay Popcorn and Cranberry Garland

Clay Popcorn Garland

The first step in decorating a Christmas tree is adding the garland. Well, the first step on a pre-lit tree anyway. And for a tree focused on the traditional treats of Christmas, a popcorn and cranberry garland seemed a natural fit.

But have you ever tried to make one of those? It’s a total pain in the butt. Neither the popcorn or cranberries seem to want to be strung. The cranberries are as hard as pebbles as you force the needle through, and the popcorn crumbles as you try and make a hole. Then the whole thing grows stale so that by the end of the season you’re eager to get rid of it and have to start the process from scratch next year. As much as I love the iconic look of the popcorn garland, I was not eager to dedicate time every year fighting to get that made. A permanent option was required, so I pulled out the polymer clay.

This is a great project for polymer clay newbies. It’s just rolling ball shapes, you don’t need any tools or sculpting talent, but you can achieve the traditional popcorn garland once and for all and never have to make it again.

Popcorn Step 1
White polymer clay will pick up every speck of dirt, so wash your hands before you start and work on a clean surface. I like to work on parchment paper because it’s non-stick, makes cleanup easy, and I can use the same piece to take the work straight into the oven.

Popcorn Step 2
Cut the brick into quarters along those marked lines, then cut those columns into thirds.

Popcorn Step 3
Cut those thirds into thirds again, and then set one of those small pieces aside. Each piece of popcorn will use two of those third pieces, which by this point in our cutting works out to be 2/36ths of the entire brick. If I did my math right.

Cut one of those small third pieces into fourths.

Popcorn Step 4
Roll each of your pieces up into a rough ball shape. The best thing about sculpting a piece of popcorn is that you’re aiming for chaos. So precision actually works against you in this project. Wonky shapes and ovals only make things look more realistic.

Popcorn Step 5
Press each of the small balls into the bottom of the larger ball and arrange them as desired to get the most “popcorny” look.

Popcorn Step 6
Take a tiny ball of yellow clay and press it into the bottom of the popcorn piece.

Popcorn Step 7
Push a skewer through the middle of the popcorn to make a hole for stringing. Don’t be afraid to make this nice and big, you’ll thank yourself during the stringing process.

Cranberries Step 1
When you’re all done with the white clay, then break out the cranberry colored clay. Red clays leave marks on everything, so don’t even think about working on this before your popcorn pieces.

Cut the brick into four pieces along the marked lines, then fourths. I liked a little variation in the size of my cranberries, so I cut some pieces into fifths instead of fourths, but it really doesn’t have to be precise.

Cranberries Step 2
Roll your pieces up and run them through with the skewer. Bake all your pieces according to the instructions on the packaging, keeping the cranberries and the popcorn pieces on separate cookie sheets so the colors don’t transfer. When they’re cool, thread them onto a piece of yarn.

Clay Popcorn Garland
So I admit that this isn’t the speediest project I’ve ever designed, but what you put out in labor one year you’ll be grateful for every other year as you get that wonderful homey look without any additional effort.