Saturday, June 8, 2013

Father's Day coming up soon

Well, my father passed on several years ago, but  a lot of my 'fishiness' can be attributed to him.  I fished with him quite a bit as a kid--our family spent many weekends in the Whiteshell before it became crowded.  Although I didn't catch a lot of fish, I remember it as a fun time.  Yah, sometimes it was scary, particularly when he said I was going to have to take the boat in to shore...(I learned how to ROW that day) but most of the time it was a good introduction to a sport my DH engages in.  I learned a lot about fish, watching him fillet  and that even helped during University Days in my comparative Zoology classes.

I know lots of kids like to make gifts for their Dads (or grandpas or uncles) and here is a little fish key chain I made up as a project to use next week when I am in some elementary classrooms.  Feel free to adapt!

Polymer Clay Fish Key Chain



¼ package Premo Polymer Clay

Split Key Ring (¾ inch size or larger)

18 inch piece waxed cotton cord (1mm diameter)

Two or three round toothpicks

Larger bore wooden skewer

Roller or pasta machine dedicated to polymer clay (you can use your hands to flatten the clay if you do not have the rolling tools)

Plastic knife

Two similarly sized scallop shells if you have them--otherwise use a round toothpick

Paper clip and pen ‘cap’

Small bit of corn starch

Eye cane - or small bits of white and black clay for eyes

Work surface

Toaster oven 275 degrees

Dedicated baking sheet, or card stock


NOTEJ Make sure your hands are very clean and also remember to wash your hands after using the polymer clay

1. Condition the clay well. Using a roller, flatten the clay into a thin pancake and lay it on your work surface. Use the plastic knife to divide your clay into four equal parts. One of the parts will be used to make the beads and the other three parts will be used for the fish itself.

2. Use the one fourth section of clay and divide it into three equal parts. Roll each part into a simple round bead. Place a small amount of cornstarch on the end of the tooth pick. Insert the tooth pick into each bead and twist to form a hole. Remove the toothpick and insert it from the other side. Repeat with the other two beads. Dip the thicker bore skewer into the cornstarch. With this skewer, make the opening slightly larger. Leave the three beads on this skewer to bake.

3. Reserve a small bit of clay for later, and form it into a ball/sphere about ¼ inch across. Gather the remaining three sections of polymer clay and compact them together. Roll them into a firm ball (sphere) and then into a cylinder. Dip a toothpick in cornstarch and insert the toothpick into the cylinder. Twist it gently and make sure it goes all the way through the centre of the cylinder. With your fingers, form a cone shaped point on one end. Roll this smooth by rolling slightly on the smooth work surface. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the cylinder slightly to a flatter form.

4. Make a small dorsal (top) fin by slightly stretching the top part of one side. Round this off. Squeeze the tail by flattening it slightly and flaring out the ends on either side of the toothpick. Do not make it too thin. It should have a slight “V” by pinching the tips of the tail.

5. Place the tail between the two shells and make ridges or rays in the fins. If you do not have shells, make slight parallel marks in the tail fin using a toothpick marking several lines going in the same direction as the fish. Do the same for the dorsal fin, but this time make the rays at right angles to the fish’s body. Make sure to mark the fins on both sides if you are using a toothpick instead of the shell.

6. If you have an eye cane, take two small slices and position them on the head, not too near the opening on the cone shape (head). If you do not have an eye cane, roll two small bits of white clay into tiny little balls no larger than 1/8 inch across. Place these where eyes would be located. Flatten them slightly by gently pressing them with your fingers. Using two even smaller bits of black clay, roll into even smaller balls, flatten them and place these inside the white circles. Move the fish up to the end of the toothpick on the head end.

7. Take the small sphere of colored clay you reserved from step 3 and flatten it slightly. Place a toothpick in the middle of it and place this little circle over the hole where the mouth would be. Adhere it to the fish’s head securely. Make two indents so it looks like the fish is smiling.

8. Transfer the fish to the larger skewer, where the beads are. Enlarge the hole by gently twisting the skewer through the fish’s body.

9. Fish need to breathe, and they do so by gills. Take a paper clip and open it up. Reform the wire into a gentle curve by forming it around a pencil. Place the rounded part behind the eye and Make an imprint like a “C” with the ends pointing toward the fish’s mouth. Do this on both sides.

10. Fish have scaly bodies. To make the impression of scales, use the rounded part of a pen cap (the little part that juts out). Make alternating rows of three or four scales each, on the sides of the fish’s body. Again, these should have the ends pointing toward the fish’s mouth.

Make sure the fish can twist around the skewer. Gently move it back and forth. Also, make sure the beads are loose enough to be removed after baking.

11. Place the skewer, with the fish and beads on the card stock. Set the oven for 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature regularly using a reliable oven thermometer. Some toaster ovens have a tendency to spike (go to a high heat) and do not heat accurately according to the dial on the outside of the oven. Bake the fish and beads on the skewer at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. Turn the oven off and let the items cool in the oven. Remove when cool.

Assemble the key chain as follows:

Fold the piece of cord in half. Make a lark’s head loop over the key ring and secure the cord. Put one bead on the two cords. Make a tight overhand knot right up close to the bead. Place the fish on next. Make another tight overhand knot close to the fish’s tail. Put on another bead. Make another knot. Put on the last bead. Make a final knot. Trim any remaining cord close to the knot. You may wish to put a small bit of crazy glue or clear nail polish on the ends of the cord to prevent fraying.

Enjoy your fishy key chain.


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