Decorative Clay Bell DIY

Clay Bell DIYI've been crushing on the ceramic bells I've seen pop up in a few of my favorite stores all summer, so it was high time I tried to make something similar myself. These are purely for decor and don't actually make that lovely sound that hand-thrown clay bells make, but they sure look fancy on my wall. These have a bit of a summer vibe but would also be easy to gild with some metallic paint for the upcoming holidays. 

Easy Clay Bell DIY by Rachel Denbow for ABMSupplies

Supplies:
-oven bake clay (I find the Sculpey brand is much softer than FIMO and easier to shape without crumbling. There are a variety of colors to choose from, or you can just use white and paint them.)
-acrylic paint and paintbrushes in various sizes
-gloss paint for oven bake clay 
-leather cord
-1/4" copper pipe length (They come in 2' lengths and are sold separately or in packs at Lowe's.)

Tools:
-copper pipe cutter
-pliers
-scissors
-something flat and long to cut through your clay such as a popsicle stick, ruler, etc.
-a smooth roller such as a glass or rolling pin
-baking tray
-oven

IMG_1372Step One: One block of clay (shown above) can make a larger bell or two smaller bells. Roll your clay until smooth.

IMG_1373Step Two: I split each of the two balls of clay so that I had a smaller piece and a larger piece. The smaller piece will be the top of the bell and the larger piece will be the tube. They should look like the two pieces on top. Then I stretched my large piece into a long, rectangular shape and flattened my small piece into a circle, like in the bottom two shapes. 

IMG_1374Step Three: Roll your rectangular piece flat. Use your popsicle stick to help flatten the top and bottom edges. Also use it to cut the rounded ends off as shown above. You want your clay to be about 1/4" thick. Keep your excess and use it to make the circular top thicker.

IMG_1377
Step Four: Roll your rectangle into a tube shape so that your edges overlap about 1/4" and press them together. If you press them together against the table, it'll keep a smooth outer edge. 

IMG_1378Step Five: Gently rub over the seam on the outside and smooth it out. 

IMG_1381Step Six: Round the edges of your top as shown. 

StepStep Seven: Place it down into your tube. It should fit snugly. If there is a gap, take it out and try again. 

Step2Step Eight: Press the edges of your tube around your circular shape. Then gently smooth the seam out. This takes a little practice, but clay is forgiving. You can just start all over if you aren't happy with it before you bake it.

IMG_1395Step Nine: Smooth out the seams on the inside of the bell as well. Then place a popsicle stick down into it to make the hole in the clay. I used leather cord so this was the perfect shape. If you use yarn or twine, you can use something with a similar shape to make your hole.

IMG_1401Step Ten: Cut your copper pipe according to manufacturer directions. I trimmed mine down to 2" and 3" pieces. 

IMG_1402Step Eleven: This is the cord I found at my large local craft store. It comes in a few colors. You could also use paracord, thick twine, yarn, etc.

IMG_1403Step Twelve: Cut about 15" of cord and tie a knot about 2" from one end. 

IMG_1404Step Thirteen: Place your copper pipe over the short end of the cord and press flat with pliers to secure it to your cord. Set aside.

IMG_1406Step Fourteen: Before you paint your bells, stick them onto a cookie sheet or baking tray of some sort and follow manufacturer's directions for baking. Mine needed 15-20 minutes at 275°.

Wait until they've cooled, and then feel free to paint them. I taped off one section of the bell for a smoothly painted edge on one, and then just free handed stripes on the other. I also used a pen to illustrate x's on another. Once your acrylic paint has dried, you can add gloss over your bell for a ceramic look.

IMG_1409Step Fifteen: String your leather cord up through the bell. Then tie another knot gently on top of the bell so it stays put. I then tied a loop knot on each bell, but you can also tie all of the cords in one large knot together.

Simple BellsPainted BellsYou can tie them all together at the top after making them different lengths or bundle them three at a time on a decorative hook or a door handle that isn't in use. They aren't terribly fragile if bumped around gently, but I wouldn't advise using them on doors that are used regularly.

You Need These On Your WallThese would be a lovely gift for a friend or a beautiful way to decorate for the holiday. Don't you think? –Rachel 

Credits // Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.