Clay Crafts

With a small lump of polymer clay and a little imagination, it takes on a balled shape for accessories, toys, and crafting materials.

Martha Stewart Kids, Volume 13 2004

Magic happens when a small lump of polymer clay takes shape. At first it's just a colorful blob. Then suddenly, with the help of a child's imagination and a little rolling and smushing, a tiny nose appears, two circles seem to stare, a skinny strand breaks into a smile -- and the creation comes to life. The amazing quality of polymer clay is that it stretches as you work with it, so no matter how the design starts out, it may surprise you in the end: Stripes can veer into zigzags; a flower's petals may blossom even larger.

 

For the projects here, we used clay in many ways. Snakes of clay were twisted and mashed together until the colors marbleized; dots, swirls, and flowers were applied to balls of clay. Whatever you're shaping, you'll need to make the clay soft and pliable. When a new package is opened, the clay may feel hard or crumbly -- just knead it and roll it in your hands. Be sure hands are clean when switching to a different color so the shade doesn't transfer.

 

Basic Techniques

There's no mystery to polymer clay -- it's all how you work it. Depending on how you roll, smush, and shape it, and the differently-colored clay you use, a child can spend hours busily making stripes, spirals, a bull's eye, paper clips, faces, dots, flowers, or thumbtacks. Learn the technique to help them make each and every kind. Master them all and you can make all kinds of clay crafts.


How to Make a Clay Necklace & Bracelet

This craft is made from the heart. Small hearts and circles are shaped by hand; meanwhile, bigger hearts are easily shaped using a cookie cutter. After baking, thick clay shapes require the power of a drill or rotary tool to make the holes that transform them into beads. Learn how to use a Dremel drill with a fine bit for this step. We also recommend that you use clear cord for threading beads into bracelets, and use colored string for securing rings and buttons; this helps them pop with a little extra color.


How to Make Clay Buttons and Thumbtacks

These clay pins may be small, but they have a big impact. In no time, you can have a bulletin board covered with colorful patterns, faces, and flowers. These buttons were tailor-made for kids. To craft the different shapes, a plastic knife or small cookie cutter will work; poke holes with a toothpick.

 

Important safety note: An adult should cook the clay creations: Place pieces in a baking dish or pan that's lined with parchment paper or index cards (this helps avoid shiny spots). Then bake in the oven at 275 degrees (use an oven thermometer) for 6 to 15 minutes, or according to package directions. If the clay hasn't hardened after it cools, bake it for a few minutes more.

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