Today, I will be showing you how I made a “marble” door plaque. This technique can be used to make all sorts of plaques to use around your home: labels for a linen closet or pantry, labels for storage boxes, affix them to canisters, or since most normal people have functioning doorbells, a pretty little plaque with your family’s name or motto to accompany your fancy, working doorbell.
I absolutely love this project and it’s easy-peasy.
Last year, I was in search of a bridal shower present for my lovely cousin when I stumbled upon the wonderful blog “A Beautiful Mess” and instructions for marbled clay bowls and instantly knew I’d found what I’d been searching for. Go HERE for the full instructions.
These dishes make the perfect bridal shower present because I think it’s so lovely to have a special place to put your wedding ring whenever you have to take it off to do the dishes, put lotion on in the morning, or just when you go to sleep at night. And when the dish isn’t keeping your rings safe it looks gorgeous just sitting there.
Another added bonus is that you can make them whatever size you want. So if you’re making this for your bestie who’s marrying a professional athlete: make a BIG one.
When I first made these bowls, I followed the instructions on “A Beautiful Mess” exactly except for one detail: the initials on the bottom. When the dishes were rolled out and ready to be baked I made a last-minute decision to add “A&M” in the shallow of the dish. And this is when I realized this marble clay technique could be used to make all sorts of things…like a plaque to cover the hole left when removing a broken door bell.
Not only would it cover the hole but it would look pretty and be super functional. Plus, the labels I was using to inform people that the bell was broken and to “please knock” were killing me.
Added bonus: I had most of the supplies on hand from when I made my cousin’s bowls.
(You may be asking yourself: why not call an electrician to fix said bell? That’s a reasonable quesiton…Alas, I do not have a reasonable answer. The only thing I can say is that I’m lazy and cheap. Plus my house is small enough that knocking works just fine.)
Supplies to make the “marble” clay for either the plaque or trinket dish:
- sharp pairing knife or Xacto knife
- clay (quantity and colors will be determined by what you’re making; I used varying amounts of the 2 oz. Sculpey brick; for the “Please Knock” plaque I used 1/2 of a 2 oz brick of white; 1/4 of black & gray; and smaller quantities of gold and yellow.)
- rolling pin or glass jar for rolling out the clay
- cookie sheet
- medium-sized artist’s brush
Extra Supplies for making trinket dishes: (You should go to A Beautiful Mess if you’d like instructions to make the trinket bowls.)
- gold liquid gilding
- small artist’s brush — but not your favorite because the gilding is tough to get out with just soap and water.
- a glass or something round to use as a template to cut out the circles
- an oven-safe ramekin or bowl that you’ll use to form the shape of the bowl and to bake it in.
Extra Supplies for making “Please Knock” plaque:
- two screws or pretty brass nails (it is critical that you have these on hand before you bake the plaque because you’ll need to make holes in the clay before baking it; you could also use Liquid Nails to mount the plaque if you want to avoid making holes in either the clay or your door frame.)
- screw driver and drill with drill bit the same width as your screws.
- letter stamps (my letters were 1/2″ squares that I’d picked up in Target’s $1/$3/$5 bin a year ago; the letters themselves are a little less than 1/2″ high.)
Steps for making “Please Knock” plaque:
1. Roll each color into “snakes”. Mine were 6 inches long. The white snakes were a little more than 1/4″ thick each, the gray and black snakes were about 1/8″ and the gold and yellow about 1/16″.
2. Press the snakes together so they form one column. Then hold each end of the column and twist in opposite directions. Once it looks like all the colors are equally twisted, roll it into a snake again until the snake has doubled in size. For me that was roughly 12″.
3. Fold the snake in half so the ends meet. Then wrap the “legs” around each other. I found it easier to manually wrap the legs around each other (i.e. imagine braiding but with only two strands) rather than twisting. Once it looks like it does in #3 roll it into a snake again until it’s doubled in length. Repeat this step 2-3 times. The more times you repeat this step the more mellow the “marble” effect will end up looking. (Don’t worry this will not be the only chance you get to tone down the “marble”.)
4. Take your final snake and squish it into a ball.
5. Roll the ball flat using a rolling-pin or glass jar. I wanted the plaque to appear substantial so I rolled it out to about 1/4″ thick. Tip: if after rolling it out flat you want to tone down the marble effect, squish it into a ball again and roll it out. You can repeat this until you get the desired marble look you’re after. Below is a picture of how the same clay ended up looking after I did this step two additional times.
6. (aka Step 1) Before starting, you may want to make a paper template to make sure the plaque will fit your space and to get the spacing right for the lettering. My template was 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″. Place the template on top of the rolled out clay and cut it out using a sharp pairing knife. I tried using a butter knife on an earlier version but it wasn’t sharp enough and left the edges jagged.
7. After you’ve cut out the rectangle, transfer it to the cookie sheet you’ll be baking it on. (Depending on the size of your cookie sheet you may want to roll it out on the cookie sheet itself. See Tip 8(a).)
8. Press the screws into the clay and leave them there until you’re done with the lettering. Using the screws as reference points, start pressing the stamps into the clay to create your message. Tip: (a) transfer your piece before you start making the pilot holes and stamping the letters; if you stamp first and then move, you risk distorting the lettering and changing the size of the pilot holes; and (b) make the pilot holes for the screws at least twice the size of your screws — or as big as will be covered by the screw/nailheads; because you will not be able to make the holes bigger once you’ve baked the plaque.
9. Place the cookie sheet in a pre-heated 275-degree oven for 15 minutes.
10. Once the piece has cooled down, brush a thin layer of the glaze on all sides of the piece. You’ll have to do the front and back in stages so it dries properly. Also, you may want to put on a few layers if your plaque will be exposed to the elements. Here in Northern California the climate is pretty mild. Therefore, I can’t promise you that this plaque will hold up in places that have real seasons. So, hey you there in Minnesota, tell me how these things hold up in you neck of the woods after winter. Tip: Don’t let the glaze pool because when it dries it will look like air bubbles in the clay.
11. Next step: installation. This is pretty straight forward. Using the holes in the plaque mark the holes with a sharp pencil. You may want an extra pair of hands here to help you keep the plaque level while marking the holes. Pre-drill the holes. Tip: use a screw driver rather than a drill to put the screws in so you don’t risk cracking the plaque…(“cracking the plaque”…Ha!…Does that make anyone else laugh?)
Well there you have it. The plaque installed.
I really wasn’t going to show you the after because of the white residue and because the plaque doesn’t cover the entirety of the area where the old door bell cover was. (Measure twice cut once. duh.) But we here at “they call her flipper” are all about keeping it real and even if it’s not perfect it’s a major improvement over what it looked like before, right?! #pleasedontusethispicturetosaveonpinterest
Alas my bravery extended only so far. This means you’ll have to wait until I get a few more things done to my front porch area before seeing a long shot of the plaque. (And by a few I mean: repair and paint front door, repaint storage cans, find, buy and install address plaque, find and buy pretty planters, find, buy and plant pretty plants to put into said planter, get new door mat, get new door hardware, get a door knocker…)
Let’s go back and see the plaque with a better background.
I’ve done this so many times I got a little cockey and did this particular batch with my school aged kids, which is probably why I forgot to get pictures of a few steps. Below are some other color combinations I did along with the ones my kids did. The color combinations are truly endless.
I’d love to hear where you plan on putting your plaque and what message it will say…