Friday, April 26, 2013

DIY: Air-Dry Clay

Since we have enjoyed making oven bake clay, it made sense that we would like this recipe, too. When I saw it on Pinterest labeled as a "Model Magic" type clay I was intrigued. I have always wanted us to try out the Model Magic, but I had never wanted to pay for it. So, as you can imagine, I was pretty happy to find out how easily it can be made at home. Plus, I am always looking for more fun things to do with food coloring. You can also paint this clay after it hardens, I am told, but I have not tried that since I wanted to experiment with the food coloring.

We made this batch of air-dry clay back at the end of March, so it easily will last you 2 weeks if kept in an airtight container. I made some final beads with the last of this clay 3 weeks after mixing it up, and decided to bake it, which had mixed results. The pink came out very well after I sprinkled a small amount of corn starch onto a cereal box liner and started rolling it out. The purple, however, was very moist, and several additions of corn starch did not seem to remedy this. Undeterred, I made beads with both colors because I truly wanted to know how long this stuff would keep.

I also decided to try baking the beads since I realized the recipe was very similar to this one for Bright White Clay Dough (same ingredients, different proportions), which I had also seen on Pinterest. So, I baked my last few beads on a parchment-lined cookie sheet at 175 degrees for 2 hours, flipping half-way through the baking time. Then, I let them cool in the oven. The pink beads turned out great, and as expected, the purple beads did not. Although they firmed up and were functional, the color had turned a putrid shade of brown, so in the end, I tossed them out.

So, my final conclusions are that a) This recipe definitely works for making an air-dry clay cheaply and easily at home! b) You can also bake this clay, if you prefer not to give up counter space for a couple of days while it hardens. c) Food coloring will work for this clay. Colors fade after they dry/are baked, but that is to be expected. d) Clay will keep for 2-3 weeks in an air-tight container.

{Mia's sculptures + some purple beads, BEFORE drying}
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • food coloring (optional)
  • large pot
  • spoon
  • bowls (1 per color, if making more than one color)
  • damp dish towel (1 per bowl) 
  • optional clay tools: rolling pin, cookie cutters, straws, knife, rubber stamps
  • container to keep clay (if not planning to use it all right away)
Directions for Making Air-Dry Clay:
  1. Combine baking soda, corn starch, and water in a large pot. If desired, add food coloring. (Note: I actually divided this into 2 half batches in 2 different pots and added neon pink food coloring to one and neon purple food coloring to the other, 5 drops per batch.)
  2. Cook on medium heat, stirring almost constantly until the mixture forms a mashed potatoes-like consistency.
  3. Place clay into a bowl (I used 2 since I had 2 colors) and cover with a damp dish towel. Allow clay to cool.
  4. Knead the clay until it is smooth. If damp, add a little corn starch. Tip: We did this on top of a cereal box liner (free "wax paper") and it worked very well to keep the counter clean. Plus, the clay didn't stick to the surface.
  5. Make things with the clay. You can make free-form sculptures like Mia did. (Note: Parts of her sculptures did start to fall off and I don't know if that is because of the material or because of how she made things.) I chose to make beads. Another option that we didn't try this time around is making ornaments/tags by cutting with cookie cutters, using rubber stamps for designs, and punching a hole for hanging using a straw. How To Make Beads: 1) Roll clay into coils. 2) Slice segments with a knife. 3) Use a straw to punch a hole all the way through the clay.
  6. Set aside to dry in a safe location. I found that this takes about 48 hours
  7. Store extra clay in an air-tight container. I used old Cool Whip tubs, not at all fancy, but perfectly functional. As I mentioned, this clay still worked fine after 2 weeks, but only some of it turned out after 3 weeks, so that gives you an idea of how long it will last.
{Here are the oven-baked beads: 1 purple and 3 pink}

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