Tutorial by Adria Filion

Published December 11, 2006

 

I began making these years ago after hearing the enchanting story of the Christmas Spider. I hope you enjoy making them and remember to tell the story when you're giving these as gifts, the story makes it all the more valuable!

 

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Supplies

Materials
Polymer clay for base color, one 2 ounce package (I used Green Pearl Premo)
Colored plastic-backed foil (Jones Tones)
40 (or more, for longer legs) bugle beads
40 (or more, for longer legs) seed beads
22 gauge wire
Krazy glue or similar

Tools
Work surface
Wire cutters
Round nose pliers
Ruler
Sharp blade
Brayer, roller or pasta machine
Needle tool or toothpick for piercing
Polymer-friendly glaze

Optional
Liquid clay
Brooch back/pin back

Instructions

Step 1

Condition your clay and pull off what you'll need to roll two balls, one larger than the other, set aside leftover clay . I didn't give measurements here because depending on finished project you'll want a larger or smaller spider. See my photo for the size I used. Set aside.

Step 2

Roll out a very thin sheet of your clay, mine was a 7 on my Atlas pasta machine, just short of 1 mm. This doesn't need to be a large sheet. 2 x 3 is plenty. Smooth your sheet down to your work surface to get it to stick.

Step 3

Lay your foil, shiny side up, over the clay and burnish well, running back and forth with your blade. Peel back foil quickly (like tearing off a bandage!) If you find little holes just repeat, they shouldn't matter too much!

Step 4

Use your sharp blade to slice the clay into long thin stripes or triangles. You can also use small cutters to cut out shapes for a different look!

Step 5

Use your blade to lift shapes from work surface and apply to bead bases in a pleasing manner, allowing much of the background to show through. Roll smooth.

Step 6

Optional
To make a brooch carefully press a pinback into the larger of the two beads. Remove and put on a thin layer of liquid clay. Push pinback back in and cover with a thin strip of clay.

Step 7

Use a needle tool to pierce a hole through both beads. Cure beads at manufacturer's recommendation. When beads are cool, coat in at least two layers of polymer-clay-compatible varnish to protect foils.

Step 8

Cut one piece of wire 4" long. And 4 others at 8 inches each. Set aside the 4 long pieces. Make 4 or 5 small loops on one end with your round nose pliers.
Insert wire through both beads trimming if necessary to leave a 1 inch tail. Use your pliers to loop and tighten the wire.

Step 9

Bundle your 4 long wires together and tightly wrap them around the wire between the two beads.

Step 10

Begin beading each leg. For a spider brooch make the legs shorter, for an ornament, longer. For this example I started with a bugle and ended with a seed bead, 14 beads in all. Trim excess wire to one inch and use pliers to make tight little loops at the end (we don't want these to snag on anything!) Remember the beading pattern and repeat on each leg.

Step 11

If your spider feels loose as mine frequently do, add a good drop of glue to the place where the two beads meet and the wires cross, let dry well. If using as a tree ornament, attach wire for hanging.

Variations/Final Thoughts

The Christmas Spider Legend
A long time ago in Germany, while a mother was busily cleaning house in preparation for Christmas, the spiders that usually stayed in the living room corner fled upstairs to the attic to escape from her broom. From the attic they could hear all the excitement from the living room as decorations were being made for when Santa was to come on Christmas Eve and bring gifts for the children. Frantic to see the decorated tree, the spiders slowly crept downstairs for a view. Oh, what a beautiful tree! In their excitement, they scurried up the trunk and out along each branch. They were filled with happiness as they climbed all through the tree to see the glittering beauty. But alas! By the time they were through climbing all over the tree, it was completely shrouded in their dusty-gray spiderweb. When Santa came, he smiled as he saw how happy the spiders were. However, He knew how heart-broken the mother would be if she saw the tree covered with the dusty webs. So He reached out and touched the webs, blessing them and turning them to silver and gold. Thus, the custom to have a spider ornament amongst all other decorations with tinsel of gold and silver on the Christmas tree was born.

 
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