The Crafty Mom: New Year's by the Numbers!

By Mary Lyon

Since January brings us new calendars and new days to start counting, why not make your own number stamps? This craft takes a couple of hours, tops, and is a great way to help the little ones practice their numbers. It's a fun project for you to do together on a cold wintry day. Just make sure there's proper ventilation when you start baking!

What You Need

  • five 2-ounce bars of polymer clay - each in a different color

  • a bag of alphabet pasta

  • cutting tool - for clay work only

  • toothpick or hole-poking tool

  • box of cornstarch

  • craft paintbrush

  • two large pieces of cardboard

  • Sharpie™ marking pen

What You Do

1. Open the package of clay and break off two lumps. Roll each lump into a smooth ball about the diameter of a quarter. Make sure there are no wrinkles, seams or folds anywhere. Then slice each ball into two halves. Smooth the cut sides so they don't have any wrinkles either.

Click Here for the Crafty Mom Archives2. Open the alphabet pasta and sort through it until you find all the numbers from 1 to 8, plus 0. Find a P for the number 9. Spread them all out on the cardboard surface - right side down.

3. Take each half-ball of clay and gently press the flat part down onto one of the reversed pasta numbers. When you lift the half-ball up, you should see the number embedded in the clay - right side up. Set the remaining half-balls aside.

4. Set the half-balls on the second piece of cardboard and place it in the oven, at 275 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool.

5. When the half-balls are cool, take the hole-poking tool and gently work the pasta number out of the clay - leaving its imprint behind. The number should be reversed. You've just made a mold! Dip the tip of the paintbrush into the cornstarch and lightly dust the imprint. Dust off the excess.

6. Take the remaining half-balls and roll one side of each into a point. Gently push one of the points into the mold, and then pull it away. The cornstarch should keep it from sticking.

7. Check the pressing you just made. You should see the same number, sticking out - but reversed. If it doesn't look exact, you can perfect the shape, using the poking tool or toothpick as a sculpting tool. Make sure the number's surface is nice and smooth and flat, but be careful not to push it back down into the clay. You want it to stick out. Then bake for 20 minutes at 275 degrees.

Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you have all the numbers completed. You should have 10 homemade number stamps. Label the top of each stamp with the Sharpie, and you're ready for the ink pad. You can also try this with the letters of the alphabet, or a fun-shaped button or charm. You'll wind up with a mold and a stamp for each - and a lot of future crafting options!

The Crafty Mom, Mary Lyon, is the author and illustrator of The Frazzled Working Woman's Practical Guide to Motherhood and former host of DIY Crafts TV show. For previous Crafty Mom projects, check out the Crafty Mom archives.

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