Making your own homemade clay might seem like a huge, time-intensive project that you have to put aside a whole day for. In reality, most ways of making clay are surprisingly quick and most likely only require ingredients that you already have in your house.
Clay is often a necessary tool for artists and students, and can be a huge source of fun for kids. So many things can be made with clay, from beads to pots to school projects – playing with clay is also an effective stress reliever! But if you’ve ever gone to an art supplies store, you know that clay is expensive.
Most of the following clays are made completely with common cooking ingredients, meaning that they’re 100% edible. While you won’t want to eat the clay as if it were actual food, this clay is completely safe for kids who get a little too curious.
Working with Clay
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional artist, or just like messing around with art supplies, you have the potential to make something great. If you want to try your hand in clay modeling, you’re going to need clay modeling tools. Fingers can only do so much.
These wooden tools are perfect whether you’re a beginner sculptor, or advanced. If you want to write words, hollow out your clay, or add details to your work, having real clay working tools is important. Luckily, these tools are no more than $10 a set.
There are even clay working tools for kids!
Regular clay tools are sharp, and can be extremely dangerous for kids to use. But, if you know a young artist who wants to explore the world of clay sculpture, these might be the perfect tools for them.
Homemade Clay Recipes
Clay makes for great kid-friendly activities and simple DIY projects. You can make figurines, decorations, Christmas tree ornaments, and more. You don’t need much to have homemade clay at your disposal. A few common household ingredients can go a long way when used in the right recipe.
Air Dry Clay with Salt or Baking Soda, Cornstarch, and Water
To make this clay, you will need:
Step 1 – In a saucepan over medium heat, combine ⅔ cups of water with either 2 cups of salt or 2 cups of baking soda. Either one will work, but it’s up to you to decide which ingredient you have more of to spare.
Step 2 – Add in the cornstarch and stir constantly. The clay will start forming at this point. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan. When it starts turning doughy, take the clay out of the saucepan and put it onto a piece of wax or parchment paper. Remember not to touch it yet, or you’ll get burned!
Step 3 – Once the clay is cool, you can start forming it into shapes. You can also dye the clay by using a few drops of food coloring and kneading it into the clay until evenly distributed.
The speed at which your clay air dries depends on how thick your clay piece is. Thinner pieces will dry faster, while thicker ones may take quite a while. On average, this clay will air dry if you let it sit overnight. If the clay is still not firm enough, let it sit out for a full day or two. If you want to speed up the process, you can put this clay in the oven for just a few minutes (5-10) or until your clay is hardened.
Air Dry Clay with Flour, Oil, Salt, and Cream of Tartar
This clay’s texture is a bit smoother than the clay above. It is similar in consistency to playdough.
To make this clay, you will need:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup salt
- 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Food coloring (optional)
Step 1 – Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and stir until combined. Then transfer this to a saucepan. Begin stirring constantly over medium heat.
Step 2 – Once the mixture is starting to take on a dough-like consistency, take it out of the pot and put it on a piece of wax or parchment paper to cool. The clay will still be hot at this point, so make sure not to touch it with your bare hands.
Step 3 – After the clay has cooled for only a few minutes, begin kneading it with your hands until you form a cohesive ball. If you want to color your clay, put in a few drops of food coloring and knead until the color is evenly distributed.
This clay will harden if left out for about 2 days, but can take more or less time depending on how thick or thin your clay piece is.
Tips for Baking Your Homemade Clay
If you choose to put your homemade clay in the oven instead of letting it air dry, note that clay can explode when exposed to high temperatures. Clay can also melt in the oven if it’s in there too long.
I recommend setting your oven to 275°F. Then, put your clay piece on a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes at a time. It’s better to make the baking process slow than to ruin your hard work. It usually takes about 15 minutes per ¼ inch of clay.
If your clay is very thick (over 2 inches thick), try hollowing your piece out using a ribbon tool. This is the clay tool that has a metal loop on the top that lets you easily remove excess clay from the inside of large clay sculptures.
Now that you know a few more things about making homemade clay, do some experiments with making your own and have fun! There are countless things you can do with clay, and you won’t have to worry about money loss if you make a few mistakes along the way.