We had Bible School earlier this month. I was looking up palm crosses on the internet, meaning to find instructions for the little palm frond crosses that are folded at Easter time. While looking, I came across these carved crosses (also called comfort crosses, clinging crosses) that I had seen before. I wondered if we could make them out of clay, and so developed this method. They are sturdy and simple, meaningful and inexpensive and the kids enjoyed making them.
In the interest of cost, we made white crosses with color mixed in, or added designs to the surface of the prepared cross. You can buy bulk boxes of the oven bake clay at WalMart or craft stores. I used about 2 oz. of clay per child, (the size of a small block of Sculpey clay) pre-cutting the box of clay before class for easy distribution. Instruct students to condition the clay by bending, rolling and kneading it until it is soft and pliable. If they want to add colored clay, they can work bits in when conditioning, or add designs to the cross when it is formed and before baking. Each student had a large paper plate to work on. Hands should be washed first to keep clay clean, and should also be washed again when done with clay work. Red clay will stain hands and transfer, so be aware when using it.
Roll clay into a fat "snake" on the plate. This picture shows my first cross, and it was a little small. The clay roll should be almost as wide as the smooth part of the plate base.
Cut off about a third of the roll.
Cut that third in half.
Attach the two halves to the longer piece to form the arms of the cross. Be sure they are molded on and tightly attached. If you want to add a design to the surface of the cross, now is the time. I made one with a red heart in the center and small red dots at each end of the cross pieces, but did not get a picture of it.
Hold the formed cross in your dominant hand as shown above.
Gently squeeze cross until it fits comfortably in your hand. You want it to form to your hand, but not become too misshapen or thinned out from squeezing too hard.
Before releasing the cross, gently form the ends of the cross by pushing them in toward your clenched palm. This improves the appearance of your finished cross, and forms it more comfortably to your hand.
Gently open your hand and lay the formed cross onto the paper plate or glass baking pan to bake. Bake according to your clay package directions. Follow all package instructions and cautions when working with and baking clay.
The kids enjoyed this and many of them made a second cross to give as a gift. These are meant to be used as prayer aids and comfort items for the elderly, ill or those in the service. My sister-in-law had the idea to make one with her own hand to send to her lives-too-far-away daughter to hold during labor.