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What Are the Best Tips for Making Homemade Clay?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
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Making homemade clay can be a fun project, and there are many practical tips for making the process easy, including those that involve researching one's options on the Internet. There are many different recipes that allow a person to choose the right clay for his project; select the colors he wants; and in some cases, even make clay without going out to buy anything. Additionally, some of the best tips are those that recommend using non-toxic ingredients and preparing in advance for an easy cleanup.

There are many options to consider when making homemade clay. There is more than one way to make clay at home, and a person can typically find many different recipes on the Internet. As such, he can search and choose one based the type of clay he wants to make. For instance, he may want an air-dry clay versus one that dries when baked — he might even want to add color to his clay for some projects rather than leaving it a natural color. Additionally, he can compare recipes based on the materials he already has on hand, which may make the process easier since he won't have to shop first.

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Another tip for making homemade clay is to use non-toxic substances to add coloring to it. Many people add food coloring or colored powdered drink mixes to produce the colors they want in their clay. Since food coloring is safe for eating, it is also considered safe for clay, even when small children will use it for craft projects. A person can also use paint to color clay, though this is often accomplished after the clay has dried. For example, a person can create a vase out of clay, allow it to dry, and then finish by painting it.

Good preparation can make cleaning up easier, and as such, some of the best tips for making homemade clay also involve proper preparation. For example, a person may do well to protect surfaces with newspaper, drop cloths, or even plastic bags. One of the best things about taking this step is the fact that it makes cleanup easy, as an individual can just wrap up the mess and dispose of it. If the surfaces have been well protected, it may not even prove necessary to wipe the surfaces underneath. Additionally, people are often advised to take extra care with food coloring, which can stain some surfaces and fabrics.

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anon349436
Post 6

For the person who made the clay mug in school which was fired: You were likely using real clay, terra cotta, that is, which is water soluble and restorable until it is fired. With terra cotta, or potter's clay-- ceramic ( meaning glass), the clay is made up of tiny grains of silica and other organic matter, which is fused together when it is fired in a kiln. The first firing is called the bisque firing. Its purpose is to fuse the particles and remove all the water from the clay. Clay, to be useful as kitchen ware, usually needs to be glazed, forming a glass-like layer over the clay, making it water-proof. This requires a second firing, called the glaze firing.

You might ask at the art department of your local community college if they know of a local potter who would be willing to fire your pieces for a fee (electricity to fire a kiln can run up the bill). You might also ask about taking pottery classes, and join pottery clubs in your region. Ceramic Monthly is/was a periodical my potter mom used to read. It might be available online, along with many others. Youtube might also have some good introductory flicks. --Jabbahdah.

myharley
Post 5

Making your own homemade clay is the best! What I love about it is how long it stays soft and pliable.

When we are done playing with it, all I do is put it in a baggie and the next time we are ready to get it out, it is just as soft as the first time we used it.

It seems like the clay we buy from the store dries out and gets hard much quicker.

My kids also love to be of the process of making it. Their favorite part is choosing the different colors. We separate the clay in more than one batch so they can make many different colors at once.

bagley79
Post 4

I have made a lot of batches of homemade clay with my kids over the years. Now I am using the same recipe with my grand kids.

It doesn't take many ingredients or very long to mix up a batch. All that is used in my recipe is flour, water, vegetable oil and food coloring if desired.

Since there isn't anything toxic in the recipe it doesn't hurt if they eat it. Most kids will try to eat it at some point. It really doesn't taste very good, but it won't hurt them.

indemnifyme
Post 3

When I was younger my mom used to make us homemade clay. She used to let us help her make it, so that made it extra fun! Sometimes we would dye it with food coloring, but sometimes we would just leave it colorless.

When we didn't use food coloring, we would paint our projects after they dried. That was really fun! It also gave us a wider range of options because instead of it being one color, we could paint the homemade clay many colors. In fact, my mom still has a magnet I made and painted to this day!

ysmina
Post 2

I remember making a clay mug in art class in High School. It was pretty easy and a lot of fun too. If I could get the same kind of clay material, it can be done at home. We did put the mugs into a kiln to dry them though. I wonder if there are kilns available for public use, like if you made the clay objects at home and then just had it fired up at the kiln?

If I could do that, I could make all sorts of ornaments and pots and bowls. I think some craft stores sell glazes as well, so I could glaze them over in different colors.

fify
Post 1

I've made flour playdough for my kids before, which is a great and a safe alternative to real clay. My kids always have a lot of fun making shapes with them and it's really easy to color it with different food colors too. The problem with this is that even though it does air dry and become stiff overnight, it's never as hard as clay and ends up breaking and crumbling.

I've also tried the bread and glue clay that I read about online. It's basically a mixture of Elmer's glue, bread pieces and a little bit of flour. This works much better and dries very quickly without breaking. But I never feel totally okay with my kids handling it and playing with it. It is glue after all, how safe can it be?

I'd love to find an easy, safe clay recipe that I can make for the kids that will dry overnight. Any suggestions?

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