These little gift tags make the act of giving truly personal and special. What better way can there be to show someone how much you care about them? They are easy to make for all occasions
For your gift tags, you will need:
Porcelain preferably, although any clay would work – even red clay!
3mm thick roller guides
Small letter stamps – widely available from places like HobbyCraft or other art suppliers
Small pattern stamps – again widely available from art suppliers
Alternatively, you could use textured wallpaper, lace, wooden stamps or your own purpose-made stamps
A selection of underglaze colours or oxides
Reduce the bulk of a block of clay. The amount will depend on the number of tags you want to make but you will almost certainly need a larger slab than you think and you can always make extras if it turns out to be really large.
Beat the clay, on a sheet of plastic, with the side of your rolling pin. Work in measured, even strokes to avoid making deep grooves in the surface.
Roll out the slab between your roller guides, turning through 90º from time to time to ensure the clay is evenly rolled.
Smooth over the surface with a rib when you have finished rolling.
Draw and cut out a card template in the shape you would like your label to be – the example shown replicates a traditional package tag.
Make the template slightly larger than you require to allow for shrinkage in drying and firing.
Cut off a section of the slab to make the first few tags and transfer the clay to an absorbent board.
Cover the remaining slab with another sheet of plastic to avoid it drying out too quickly as you work on the first tags.
Place the template on the slab section as economically as possible to allow you to cut out the maximum number of tags, then cut around the edge with a sharp knife.
Cut as many as you can from this small section.
Use the letter stamps to impress your message – it can be season or occasion-specific or simply the person’s name.
Don’t worry if the letters don’t align; they often look better if deliberately offset at jaunty angles, as shown here.
Once your message has been impressed, add a pattern detail where it will fit without disturbing the lettering.
Impressing the details often distorts the shape of the tag – if this happens, just place the card template over the surface and carefully cut it back to shape.
Make a hole in the tag large enough to fit a generous ribbon through. Holecutters are available from kitchenware shops, especially in the cake decorating sections.
TIP: Rigid plastic tubing is great for cutting holes if you can’t find a purpose-made cutter. Look for the sort found in spray bottles or old pens etc. These tubes can be found in a surprising number of sizes and widths and can be easily cut into shorter lengths with a sharp knife.
Continue to make your tags with different messages and patterns.
When the first section of slab is used up, cut off another small section and make more in the same way.
Tags can be made in any shape, and a good alternative to making a card template is to use cookiecutters to cut out the slab.
When working on specific shapes, you’ll find it better to position and cut out the hole first – this will allow you to gauge how much space you have for the message and pattern detail.
The principle for completing the tags is the same as for the earlier examples.
Tags in a selection of shapes for different occasions.
Allow them to dry out completely then very, very carefully wipe around their edges with a damp sponge. This is delicate to do and requires a light touch so take care.
Bisque fire when dried out again.
After bisque firing, paint over the letters and textures in underglaze colours of choice.
When the colours have dried, run some sandpaper over the surface to remove the excess, leaving the colour behind in the texture only. WEAR A DUST MASK TO DO THIS.
Brush away the dust on the labels thoroughly with a soft brush then fire them up to your clay’s optimum temperature.
Thread your tags with pretty ribbon and wrap up your presents. Lovely!
This project first appeared in issue 21
See here for more projects