When I’m planning a party, especially a theme party like my Greek Dinner Party , I try to “shop” my garage and house to find anything that I might be able to easily incorporate into the plan. My napkin ring inventory yielded nothing, and I was stumped as to what I could use to make my own. I’m not one of the super-crafty gals like, Jennifer Maker, who has a crafting website that is out of this world! I kneel at her feet when it comes to doing fabulous crafts! Having said that, I do like to make beautiful things for my home, and do love to give a homemade gift when the mood strikes me. But my homemade gifts usually come from my kitchen.
I remembered seeing a close-up photo in a catalog a few days before that showed some kind of decor item with a really cool knot that somehow conjured up “Greek” for me, it has something to do with togas I think… I rifled through my pile of catalogs and found exactly what I was looking for, but now, how to make them look Greek. Rope wouldn’t do, as I wanted them to be white, and that kind of rope would have just looked nautical. Next.
I dabbled with polymer clay through the years, even doing the craft fair circuit in South Florida when the boys were young. I had been wanting to get into polymer clay again last year and had purchased new equipment and a supply of lovely clays that I want to use for Christmas and Hannukah holiday decor. I remembered the pearlescent white I had stored away and decided that I could figure out how to do this, after all, I’m kind of a clever gal…
Now I had to work the web to see what kind of knot it was and just how to tie it. Turns out it’s a clove hitch knot and is actually a pretty basic knot, even H.H. remembered how to tie one from his Eagle Scout/Boy Scout leader days. Here’s a link to teach you how to tie a clove hitch knot: http://www.101knots.com/clove-hitch.html
I first had to figure out how to tie the knot and keep a round opening for the napkin. I measured a few of my napkins rings and decided that the diameter of a toilet paper roll would be just perfect. Now, how to tie it onto the tube without it being on a surface.How could I suspend it in the air? I went into my garage once again and found an unused curtain rod, I figured I’d give it a try and see how it went. (yes, my garage is like a cavern chock full of seasonal decor, blog craft supplies, entertaining and cooking supplies and everyday house stuff)
I taped the ends of the tube to the curtain rod to make sure it held in place while I tied the knot. Suspending the rod over the edge of my kitchen counter seemed to be the way to go, but I needed to weigh down the rod so that it wouldn’t move. Easier said than done my friends. I tried several different methods, but found that a kitchen towel covering the rod and my trusty cast iron skillet, Blackie, did the trick. The towel nestled the skillet so it wouldn’t slip off the rod.
If any of you readers figure out a good way to do the tying process that doesn’t entail such crude methodology, please post it in the The Fab Life Facebook group page. With pictures, please!
Now you can condition your clay by hand, or use your pasta machine if you clean it well afterwards. But I got out my brand new Makin’s Professional Ultimate Clay Machine (I had conditioned my clay by hand and used a rolling pin back in the day), and was excited to see it at work. Just the name itself , “professional and ultimate” made me feel more confident in this endeavor. But since I’m what I call a “crafty dabbler”, I seek out expert advice and help when I need it for a project. When it comes to working with polymer clay, I get all the information I need from a great crafter, Ginger Davis Allman, at https://thebluebottletree.com/. Her site will give you all the basics you need to start working with polymer clay and hopefully, make your own napkin rings.
I don’t have a craft room, or even a dedicated area like I did in “the big house”, but as with all things downsizing, you have to give up some things to live a more streamlined life. So the dining room table, with 2 silpat baking sheet liners as my working surface would work just fine. A little ingenuity and we’re off and running.
So, let’s go get our hand dirty with some clay and create some great Greek Knot Napkin Rings!
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- 4 oz. Pearlescent white polymer clay (see notes)
- Toilet Paper Rolls
- Wax or parchment paper
- Dowel or Rod
- 2 Aluminum foil shallow pans
- Printout of clove hitch knot instructions from blog post
- Sharp knife
- Rubber crafting mat or surface
- Clay roller or rolling pin
- Oven (not a toaster oven)
- Organize your work space with all the tools and supplies for this project and wash your hands. (dirty hands=dirty clay)
- Slide the toilet paper roll onto your dowel or rod and tape to secure to one side so it cannot move. Tape lightly, as you will be baking the napkin ring right on it's roll later on.
- Unwrap your block of clay and start working it to soften it with the warmth of your hands. Once softened, break in four pieces and start to flatten each piece.
- Take each piece and run it through the thickest setting on your rolling machine or start rolling out* with your rolling pin.
- If using a machine, fold the clay sheet in half and put it through a second time at the same setting. Continue folding and running through the rolling machine at least 3 more times to fully condition the clay.
- If rolling manually, use the same process with your rolling pin and wax paper.
- Store conditioned pieces of clay in a small plastic storage bag to keep it fresh while working with remainder of clay.
- Before you start rolling your cords, you'll want to tape a section of wax paper onto your surface that is at least 26 inches square. This will give you plenty of space to let your cords grow in length as you roll. If you're using a large cutting board like I did for this process, place a wet kitchen towel under the board to keep it from slipping.
- You're looking for a finished cord of 23 inches long and about 7/10mm thickness. These figures are approximate, so don't worry to much about being completely accurate.
- The 23 inches is more than you need for each napkin ring, but it needs to be long enough so that it can be tied into the clove hitch knot. Toss extra cord into the storage bag for another napkin ring.
- Once you have the number of cords you need for your guests, cover them with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
- Arrange your rod so that the toilet paper roll is suspended in the air. Place a cord over the roll, with 2/3 hanging over the back and 1/3 hanging down the front.
- Using the instructions from the link provided in the related blog post, tie your clove hitch knot onto the roll. Tie it loosely, adjusting as you go, and continue manipulating the two ends of the cord into a knot. You'll be able to adjust the knot into the best shape once it is tied.
- Once tied, you will have excess cord on both ends. With a sharp knife, cut end, leaving about 2 inches and bend to one side. Make sure the top and bottom ends go opposite directions. Don't be tempted to make them too long, as this will increase the chance of breakage during storage.
- There will be two cords along the back side, gently squeeze them together while keeping them rounded . This will help strengthen the finished napkin ring.
- Arrange napkin rings on their rolls in a aluminum baking pan. Cover with a second aluminum pan to keep from browning.
- **Follow manufacturer's directions to bake your napkin rings in your oven. A toaster oven is not recommended for baking polymer clay projects
*Roll out between two sheets of wax/parchment paper to keep it from sticking.
**See related blog post for a link to help you to work with polymer clay.
I used Sculpey Primo Accents in Fresh White Glitter.