Mask making is an ancient art going as far back as 20,000 years. We create masks to enhance ourselves for a brief time to become mysterious and colorful. They are a playful expression of our human nature. This design takes the mask to a whole new level and deserves to be called a crown.
The Jungle Crown is made with polymer clay canes which come together like a flower arrangement. If you would like to make a crown but are not interested in learning caning, use the polymer clay leaves portion of the instructions for Leaves of Autumn, use the leaf embossing tools to create multicolored leaves and layer them the same as if you used cane slices.
Some of you may have already mastered caning and have some canes on hand to play with. For those who are beginning their caning journey, please see the polymer cane how-to's below.
In order for the crown to be worn, it needs to be comfortable and durable.
Tip: When making canes, choose contrasting colors for a dramatic effect.
Making the Wire Crown:
Working with the 14 gauge wire which is still attached to the spool, and using a pair of round-nose pliers, make a split-ring loop (like a key ring) on the end of the wire.
Using a pair of chain-nose pliers, make a 3/4 inch wide by 4-1/2 inch long accordion pattern in the wire. The width will give you a stable band to add the polymer to.
Continue forming the front of the band by making taller accordion spikes.
The measurements for the design shown are: 1st spike, 2 inches; 2nd spike, 3 inches; 3rd spike, 4 inches; then the middle spike, which is 2 inches.
Repeat forming the spikes and the accordion folds to create a mirror image of the first half of the crown. Finish with the split-ring loop.
Using the flush-cutters, cut 30 inches of 18 gauge Zebra Wire. Form a loop on one end then anchor the loop to the wire on the back of the crown, close to the double loop. Using your hands, weave the wire in and out of the spikes, twisting it around the base every few spikes so it is anchored in place. Once you have woven the entire length of wire, anchor the other end to the other end of the crown, next to the double loop.
Using chain-nose pliers, flatten the 18 gauge wire down in the places where it was looped over the base so that the band that sits against your head is comfortable.
Covering the Crown in Polymer Clay:
Using the Poly-Roller machine, condition two blocks of copper and one block of beige flesh Kato Polyclay, mixing the colors together as you condition.
Roll the conditioned clay through the Poly-Roller on the #6 setting to create one sheet.
Using the blade, cut two sections of clay 4-1/2 inches long by 1-3/4 inches wide.
Place one piece of clay over the accordion wire section, pressing the two sides of the clay together well, so that the outline of the wire shows. Repeat on the other side of the crown.
Cut two sheets of clay 10 inches long by 5 inches wide. Place one sheet over the wire on the back side of the crown, letting some of the clay fold over to the front. Tack the clay to the tops of the spikes then cut the clay in the shape of the crown.
Add the second sheet of clay to the front of the mask then press the clay sheets together until the shape of the wire appears.
Using the shape of the wire as a guide, trim the clay around the wire with a craft knife so it is only one layer of clay thick. Press the edges of the clay together, making sure to cover the wire.
Tip: Put a headband on your head and gently test the fit of the crown base. Bend the wire as needed for a better fit.
Adding the Decorative Touches:
Find a tapered bowl or flower pot that you can place the crown on so that the base is slightly elevated off of the work surface. To hold it in place, secure a piece of wire through both the loops.
Tip: Keep the slices as thin as possible. The thicker the pieces, the heavier the crown.
Cut the cane slices 2mm thick, add the cane slices to the clay, covering the crown, working from the back toward the front of both sides at the same time. This will line the slices up so each one you add covers up the tip of the one before. The cane slices will meet in the middle of the crown, creating a focal point.
Tip: You can add the canes symmetrically or asymmetrically, play with the pieces and have fun.
Optional Side Dangles:
Cut graduating lengths of cup chain. Sandwich one end of the cup chains between two strips of clay and add a jumpring to the top to attach to the crown. Repeat for the other side of the crown. Form a leaf around the bottom of each cup chain. After baking, attach with a jumpring to the felt or leather added in Step 6.
Baking the Crown:
The piece will have to be baked on the bowl you made it on or on a good size pile of batting. If you are baking on the bowl and haven’t secured it yet, the back loops have to be connected with a piece of wire otherwise the piece will slide off of the bowl and break.
Bake the piece at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. It is important the temperature not exceed 300 degrees as the leaves will slump more than they should.
Tip: Bake in a large oven roaster bag in a conventional oven or in a table-top oven without an exposed heating element.
Caution: This is a large piece and a convection oven or craft oven will be too small. The polymer cannot come in contact with the heating elements in these units or the polymer will burn which will cause toxic smoke. Once the piece has baked, turn the oven off but leave the piece in place and allow it to cool to room temperature before removing.
Cut a piece of felt or thick leather to fit the inside of the band. Use rubber cement to glue the material in place. Allow the adhesive to cure before wearing the crown.
The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We
encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.