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Baker's Clay - Bread Basket

You will need
  • Rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Ruler
  • Pointed stick or sharpened pencil
  • Small cup of water
  • Small paint brush
  • Ovenproof bowl
  • Aluminum foil & plastic wrap
  • Baking sheets
  • Beaten egg
  • Medium-size pastry brush (for egg glaze)
  • Clear shellac or varnish
  • White glue
  1. Prepare mold. The best size bowl to use is 4 1/2" deep with a 7" diameter and 22" circumference. Turn bowl upside down and cover outside of bowl completely with aluminum foil, pressing it smooth with your hands. Tuck excess foil inside bowl.
  2. Make dough. (See recipe here)
  3. Cut strips. On a lightly floured board, roll 2/3 of dough into a rectangle about 12 x 14" and 1/8" thick. Measure and cut six strips, each 3/4" wide and 13" long. If your bowl is smaller or larger, place a tape measure over the center of inverted bowl from rim to rim and use that measurement for the longest strips. Cut other strips proportionately shorter.
  4. Weave lattice. Place a piece of foil on a flat surface. Arrange half the strips as in Figure 1. Leave 3/4" spaces between them. Weave one of the other 13" strips through the center of those on the foil. Weave remaining strips in same length sequence and spacing as the horizonal patter. As you weave, every place where the strips overlap, seal by brushing lightly with water between the strips, then pressing down on each intersection with the pointed stick or pencil. Handle gently when weaving to avoid stretching or breaking strips. If strips break, repair by wetting the ends, overlapping, and pressing to seal.
  5. Transfer lattice to mold. Hold inverted bowl so top is level with edge of table. Pull lattice by foil over the bowl, let both lattice and foil fall gently over bowl. Tuck excess foil inside bowl. With a knife, trim overhanging strips so that all edges are flush with the bowl edges. Place on baking sheet. Press lattice lightly with your hands to conform to bowl's shape. Where 8" and 10" strips curve down and overlap, seal with water and pointed stick. Cover lightly with damp paper towels and set aside.
  6. Make roped edge. Knead remaining dough scraps till smooth (add some unused dough if necessary). On a flat surface, roll with palms of hands to form two ropes, each 1/2" thick and 26" long. Place them side by side and twist into a rope. Brush bottom ends of lattice strips on the bowl with water. Wrap rope around rim of bowl and press it against the lattice strips to seal. Moisten ends of rope where they overlap, and press together.
  7. Bake at 325° F for 30 minutes. While bowl is baking, beat one egg with 1 tsp of water. After 30 minutes, remove bowl from oven. Turn it side up and gently remove bowl and foil. Place basket back on baking sheet (upside down) and brush outside of basket with egg; bake fifteen minutes. Turn bowl side up and brush inside with egg; bake another 15 minutes. Repeat until basket is golden and feels dry but not brittle, both inside and out. Remove from oven and cool.
  8. When basket is cool, paint with shellac or varnish. Let dry completely after each coat.
  9. Optional Decorative Handle - You may want to add a decorative handle to your basket. Using some of the remaining dough, roll out two ropes, each 1/2 " thick and 16" long. Intertwine and seal at the ends. Place on a baking sheet in a semi-circle. Break or cut a stick to the width of your bowl. Bake with the stick at the bottom of the handle; the outside edges of the handle should line up with the ends of the stick. Bake fifteen minutes, then turn the handle over and brush with egg. Repeat baking and brushing, till handle is hard and golden (about 30-40 minutes). Check often during the first 15 minutes to make sure the ends of handle don't expand beyond the length of the stick.

    When handle is cool, fit to inside rim of basket and glue in place. NOTE: This handle is only for decoration and isn't meant to hold the weight of the basket.

If properly sealed with shellac, your basket should last for years. Be sure to store in a dry place.
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