Clay Wise Men Ornament

Clay Wisemen Ornament
The only craft teacher I’ve ever had was Carol Duvall, in the glory days of HGTV when it showed something besides room makeovers. She introduced me to stamping techniques, paper crafting, and most foreign to me, polymer clay. Following her example I’ve experimented a bit over the years, and now I’m a big fan. Polymer clay is easy to work with, incredibly forgiving, and can bake in your home oven without any special firing. The colors it comes in are so vibrant, I knew it would be perfect for some fancy wise men.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 1
I prefer not to use any strict measurements, especially when making figures of people. The different heights and shaped heads only adds to the charm of things. But,  roughly, I took a brick of peach clay, cut it into 9 equal pieces, and divided that small piece to make a round head, and three small balls. Two of those balls will be for the hands, and then roll the third one flat to make the neck.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Make the body by rolling clay into a cone about 3 inches tall, give or take. I like to use scrap clay for this part, whatever I have left around from an old project, because it will all get covered up. If you make the cone in some kind of a flesh color, you can save yourself the step of covering the neck.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 3
Cover the top of the cone with the flat square of peach, then stick the head on top. You can work the clay by hand and roll it out thin with any kind of a roller, but if you pick up a small pasta roller available where you buy the clay, you’ll be able to get that flat square super thin.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Roll out a square of clay until it’s large enough to wrap around the cone and cover the bottom. Trim off any ragged edges to get a clean neckline, and cut a U-shape in the middle of the top edge to create a scoop neck. Blend the edges in to create a smooth tunic.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 5
Roll two snakes in the same color as your tunic, about an inch and a half long. Press the end of a paintbrush  into one end of each sleeve to make room for the hand. Attach the arms to the top of the body and blend in.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 7
To make the vest, roll out a square of olive green big enough to cover the back, trimming the edges with a razor blade or exacto knife to create a smooth hem.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 6
Roll out one more square and slice it down the middle to make the front of the vest. Join the front to the back at the shoulders and blend the seam smooth.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 8
Roll out a small ball of brown to make a belt, leaving the edges messy.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 9
Press the small peach balls into the space we made in the sleeves. Roll out a long, thin, snake of clay and coil it around the head to make a turban. To make the face, add a small ball for the nose, small black seed beads for eyes, and then use a toothpick or the back of an exacto blade to indent a couple of wrinkles around each eye, and a smile for the mouth.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 10
Make a gift for the wise man to bring to the manger by squeezing some clay into a rough square, and adding a gold handle.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Wiseman 3
Once you have the basics down, you can vary the details to make the wise men look distinctive. This wise man has a beard, some hair and a crown, a round package instead of a square one, and a jacket instead of a vest.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Wiseman 2
This wise man just has an embellished tunic and a scarf, with a bag for a present.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 11
Once your wise men are all made, poke a whole through the shoulders with a medium gauge wire. Then bake in the oven following the instructions on the clay package.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 12
When the wise men are baked and cooled, line them up together and thread a length of wire through the holes you made.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 13
Close the wire by bending the ends around to make a loop, then attach another piece of wire in the same way to make a hanger.

Wisemen Ornament Tutorial Step 14
Since the wise men aren’t joined together by anything other than the wire they’re hanging from, they dangle freely. Instead of hiking across the desert, they kind of look like they’re dancing their way there.