Cooky-cutter wreaths Essay

Cooky-cutter wreaths Just flour, salt, water, and a bit of elbow grease can produce astriking table centerpiece or a wreath to hang in a window, on a door,or on an indoor wall. Composed of overlapping cooky-cutter shapes, these wreaths gettheir sheen from a clear craft glaze applied shortly after baking. Youcan make brown clay shapes for contrast by using extra-strong teainstead of water in our recipe. The baker’s clay takes about an hour to make and shape,another hour to bake. One batch will make two or three 11-inch wreaths.

Children can easily complete the project, but they should be cautionednot to eat the clay and to handle finished wreaths with care. To make the wreaths, you’ll need a large mixing bowl, arolling pin, cooky cutters, nonstick or foil-covered cooky sheets, asmall paintbrush, and clear craft glaze or polyurethane. If you want towire overlapping wreaths together, use short lengths of 28-gauge brasswire. Make the dough Combine 4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup salt. Slowly add 1 3/4cups water (or strong tea for a brown clay), mixing thoroughly with afork. Form the dough into a ball and knead on well-floured board for 20minutes or until the dough is elastic but not sticky; add more flour ifnecessary.

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(If you have a mixer or food processor that will knead breaddough, use it to knead the clay for about 10 minutes.) Plan a design, using one, two, or more cooky-cutter shapes inpatterns or random combinations. Roll out the clay to about 1/4-inchthickness and cut out shapes with the cooky cutters. Assemble the wreaths To make a single wreath, overlap shapes in a ring on the cookysheet. Brush the entire surface of each shape with water, then sealthem together by pressing down lightly where they overlap. If you want to make a wreath larger than the size of your cookysheet, try overlapping two cooky sheets, making sure the combined sheetswill fit in the oven.

Be warned, however, that large wreaths are moreapt to break. To make a double wreath, form a ring of adjacent cooky shapes forthe bottom layer and brush them lightly and evenly with water. Placeanother ring of shapes (not necessarily adjacent to one another) on top,so that each shape of the upper ring straddles two shapes underneath.Press down lightly on the upper pieces to seal the two layers. Brushwith water. For a triple-layered wreath, add one more ring of clay shapes ontop of an unbaked double wreath. To avoid making the wreath too heavy,make the shapes in your third layer slightly smaller and thinner thanthe others. As long as the two lower rings are firmly attached to oneanother, you can position the third layer pieces wherever you like–or,for extra strength, straddle each shape over two shapes in the layerbelow it.

Press down to seal. Brush tops with water. For a strikingly three-dimensional two-layer wreath like the daisywreath pictured on page 118, make and bake two single wreaths, oneslightly larger than the other. Place the smaller wreath over thelarger and carefully tie them together in two places with thin 28-gaugebrass wire. If the wire shows, cover it with a ribbon or a sprig ofgreenery. Bake and glaze Bake the wreaths in a 300| oven for about an hour or until hard andlightly browned. If you’ve used tea to make the clay, bake at 250|until hard, about 2 hours. Let the wreaths cool on a rack, then paint or spray them with clearcraft glaze or polyurethane.

Photo: Cut shapes with cooky cutter and overlap to form wreath. Tohelp pieces stick together, brush surfaces with water before baking Photo: A circle of clay doves hanging in a window makes a strikingsilhouette Photo: Overlapping shapes in two shades form a multilayer holidaycenterpiece Photo: A profusion of daisies, each made with a flower-shapedcutter, results from stacking two single wreaths

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