Clay Strands With
a Garlic Press
Press - Buy a cheap metal one that is not self-cleaning.
I bought mine for $1.99 at Big Lots.
paper or deli wrap sheets – cut into 2” squares
- You’ll want to use soft, flexible clay. I’ve
used Sculpey III, Premo and Kato clays with
success. Translucent clay can be added to
to soften hard or crumbly clay. I
usually mix pearl or soft metallic clay into all of my colors. This makes the clay softer and gives the
final project a soft sheen. This is
important if you are beading your work because you will not be able to
buff the finished object. In addition,
the mica particles really help make the beads shine.
– Use at least a
2 oz. package of clay so that your strands are long
enough to have fun with. My garlic press
makes strands about the thickness of #1 on an Atlas pasta machine, so I
condition enough clay to cover the object with #1 clay plus a bit extra. I always make too much on purpose and use the
leftover strands to cover a Bottle of Hope or two.
Clay for the
1. Single Color – Roll the clay into a
log that is a bit
smaller than the inside of your garlic press. Cut
the log into chunks that are a bit shorter than the depth of the press.
Make any type of Skinner Blend. Roll the
blend in the same direction as you
folded it so that your pretty colors are across the roll.
Your log needs to be a bit smaller than the
inside of the
garlic press. If it is too thick, roll it
to make it thinner. If it is too thin,
push in the ends slowly to form a plug of the right diameter. Cut the roll into chunks that are a bit
shorter that the depth of the press. Be
sure to keep the chunks in order if you want to maintain your Skinner
3. Series of Individual
Form chunks of clay that will fit into
the garlic press. I usually form plugs of
the right diameter with my chosen colors and then cut them into chunks. Play with the order of the color chunks until
you find a pleasing pattern of color. The
colors will blend into each other a little when you change color
chunks, so consider if you really want purple next to yellow and the
resultant brownish-gray transition area.
the first color in the garlic press. Place a square of wax paper over the
clay and squeeze completely.
The mid-air technique with two hands works well. Or you might want to try laying the press
“holey” side up and pressing down on the handle. You
can lay the press and strands down sideways at any time but avoid
compressing the clay strands.
pry up the handle. A little sideways
jiggle motion works for me. You may have
to fold back any clay that has mooshed up over the press plate. If you don’t use
the wax paper square and the clay strands want to stick to the press
plate when you lift it, slam it shut firmly and try again.
If a strand is determined to pull up then just
knock it off
the plate back into the press.
any leftover clay to the bottom of the press and add the next chunk of
clay and square of wax paper.
directions for steps 2 and 3 until you’ve pressed all of the clay
for Working With Clay Strands
push down on your strands of clay. Just
lay them loosely onto a sheet of wax paper.
your strands will last forever, it is best to use them soon after
your clay strands have been sitting around a while they may want to
break when you bend them. Try warming them
up on a heating pad on low for a while or wake them up by gently
rolling the strand with warm hands. I
never have warm hands so sometimes I’ll wrap them around my warm tea
you need longer strands you can easily piece them together. Overlap the strands about 1/8”, pinch together
and then roll that area to smooth and make the same diameter as the
rest of the strand.
you ended up with an ugly transition color or too much of one color
just cut out the offending bit and rejoin the ends.
for Cleaning the Garlic Press
1. Alas, you really
completely clean out the garlic press. Mine
came with a little plastic cleaning tool, but it leaves
lot of clay. I use an orange stick with
a flat end to scrape out as much as possible and poke in the holes with
is to do your
first color the same as your last color the time before. My second best
is to press two chunks of your first color so that if you need to cut
yucky stuff you still have enough of the first color. My third best
to press a wad of translucent clay several times to collect any colored
you just have translucent bits on the ends of your next strands.
You could buy a
press every time you make clay strands!
press with the clay bits. I thought that
this would make it easier to get out the clay. WRONG! The cured clay was now
harder to get out. I just ended up with cured clay bits mixed into my
strands. Not good!
could try soaking
the garlic press in alcohol and then scrubbing.
Sounds like too much work for me.