“Zog, the biggest dragon, was the keenest one by far. He tried his hardest every day to win a golden star” – Zog, Julia Donaldson.
When a friend mentioned that her daughter was obsessed with Julia Donaldson’s Zog, I had to find out more. Little did I know that my daughter and I would become even bigger Julia Donaldson fans, watching the animation by Magic Light over and over, which was aired on BBC 1 in 2018, now available on BBC iPlayer. This began her (our) love affair with Dragons!
We absolutely love the message behind the story, the illustrations by Alex Scheffler were amazing and the animation was pretty true to the story line and so brilliantly put together from the effects to the story line incorporating all the important aspects of the story!
My daughter would jump from the sofa with her butterfly wings on pretending to be a dragon, adorable memories and over breakfast we still listen to the Original Score by René Aubrey and recall each scene. It’s been amazing seeing her recall even the smallest details – like she is replaying the movie in her head (which is great as it’s reduced her TV time!)
My daughter has also spent most of her schooling (from the middle of her pre-school year to the end of her reception year) in lock-down. You’ve just got to feel for the little ones!
So in an attempt to cheer everyone up at the end of the school year, my daughter and I decided to gift everyone something handmade. And what better way than one of Madam Dragon’s Gold Stars!
These make awesome DIY Christmas Gifts and are the perfect Christmas Craft for families, children and schools but also End of Year gifts. The method can be split into 3 main steps. Making the Star, Painting the Star and Attaching the Pin and Ribbon.
We wanted to make it sturdy enough for children, safe and tactile. But I also wanted to make it fun for my daughter to make – so I made the executive decision to produce these out of Air Dry Clay.
We made a batch of 35 for all the students in the class and teachers! You can size the proportions up/down depending on how many you want to make.
You will need:
- 1kg Block of Hooby Craft Air Dry Clay (White) – This will make 40+ Stars depending on your cutter size.
- Rolling Pin
- Parchment Paper
- Star Cutter
- Water for Smoothing
- Tray for drying
- Yellow Paint (Poster or Acrylic, both work great)
- Antique Gold Acrylic Paint
- Varnish Mod Podge (Matte) or PVA glue also works great)
- Badge Pins
- Red Ribbon 6mm
- Yellow Ribbon 20mm
- Glue Gun
- Glue Sticks
- Protective Surface
- Fabric Glue
Tips before we begin:
1. The clay is quite fibrous and can be smoothed with water.
2. When applying water, be sure to use the least amount as introducing excessive water to the clay can cause cracking.
3. Smoothing the clay is important as this reduces the amount of sanding you need to do when they are dry.
4. We recommend using a silicone mat or parchment paper when rolling out the clay as it can be quite sticky.
5. The clay will shrink ever so slightly so don’t worry this is normal.
6. Ensure your clay is fully dry before painting.
7. Priming the stars yellow first and then gold reduces the number of coats required to get even coverage on the clay. I’s one of my magic tricks for working with air dry clay and metallic paint!
8. Be sure to purchase the correct size pin badges for your star size as these come in a variety of sizes.
8. This craft and final pieces do contain sharp parts so please make your own assessment on what you feel the appropriate age is for both completing this craft and gifting this craft is.
Making the Stars
1. Work with half the block of clay initially as it dries out quite quickly and roll out to 5mm thick.
2. Cut out as many stars as you like and gently push them out of the cutter.
3. Dampen your finger with water and smooth all edges and the top of the star.
NOTE: Don’t worry too much about the back of the star this will be covered by the ribbon and pin.
4. Gently place this on a tray with parchment or directly onto it’s surface. Newspaper will stick so anything non-porous is great!
5. When you’ve cut out as many as you can, roll the remaining clay into a ball and roll again if you want to make more, otherwise it will live perfectly in an airtight container and can be rehydrated any time.
6. Allow the stars to dry at room temperature. Then gently turn the stars after 24 hours. You can see here that the clay has turned a chalky white colour on the outter most edges and the centre of the star is still dark, indicating the clay is still wet.
7. Depending on the temperature of your room and ventilation, these stars might take 48+ hours to dry and recommend you leave them for at least 3 full days turning daily. Though tempting, keep them away from radiators and other heated devices as this may cause the clay to crack (due to it drying too quickly)
8. When dry, you can smoothen any rough edges with sandpaper if you need to. We recommend doing this outside as it creates a lot of dust.
Painting the Stars
9. When dry the stars will be ready for their first layer of paint. This is the Hobby Craft Ready Mixed Paint which works really well on air dry clay.
10. Paint one side and the edges, let this dry and then paint the remaining side.
So much fun for little ones!
11. Because we have introduced moisture back into the clay, let these dry for another 24 hours.
12. When fully dry paint the stars with their first coat of Antique Gold acrylic paint. The antique gold matches perfectly!
13. As we had so many to get through, by the time we finished the first coat it was time to add the second coat of paint. Paint both sides.
14. Leave to dry for another 24 hours.
15. It’s time to seal in all that good work with 1 thin layer of Mod Podge (Matte finish) to protect the final pieces from moisture and damage.
16. Leave them to dry for another 24 hours.
Attaching the PinS and RibboNS
17. These 2.5cm pin badges worked perfectly for the size of our stars, and have been attached with a generous amount of hot glue.
18. Prepare the ribbons. Glue the 6mm Red ribbon onto the centre of the 20mm Yellow ribbon. I’ll admit I wasn’t brave enough to use the hot glue here as I didn’t want the glue seeping through the fabric and discolouring it, so I opted for a fabric glue that I had on hand. Hot glue will work but requires a light hand.
19. We approximated that this would be around 7.5cm in length – enough to cover the back of the pin badge and give us the length. You will also need a cut of the yellow ribbon only which can be approximately 7cm.
20. Hold each cut edge of all of the ribbons over a flame for no more than one second to reduce fraying.
21. Then apply a generous amount of hot glue over the top of the pin badge as shown in the photo and immediately stick the striped ribbon facing downward.
22. line up the plain yellow ribbon at a slight angle and stick it on top.
23. Complete this final step for all of the pieces!
My daughter and I were so pleased with the outcome!
Little One chose to bag them up individually and we stapled a little note on them for all of her classmates!
The teachers and students loved them and most importantly the message was that we try our best and never give up!
We hope you’ve loved this blog post and have a go at making these Zog Inspired Golden Stars and if you’re like us and huge fans of Julia Donaldson you know how exciting this is to make and a really magical gift! It also teaches little ones the various stages of creating something and seeing it all come together in the end.
If you loved this project and want to work more with Air Dry Clay – why not check out our Abstract Air Dry Clay Kit – A Craft kit for adults! Though this is a great kit to complete with kids too! Make your own Pinch Bowls, Trinkets, Ring Trays and give it that decadent look with Metallic Foils and Acrylic Paint. Digital Tutorials are included too!
Keep it Crafty,