My five-year-olds love working with clay, paint, and beads. Making necklaces using air-dry clay involves all three! The toughest part was reminding them that clay and paint need time to dry. For these pendants I was inspired by the simple geometric jewelry I’ve been seeing in magazines, but feel free to include all different kinds of shapes. Kids also love to show off their knowledge of triangles, circles, and diamonds, so get creative and let them lead the way!
• Air-dry clay
• Kid-size rolling pin
• Cookie cutters (optional)
• Waxed paper (optional)
• Cookie sheet (optional)
• Beading cord
Roll out your clay. Air-dry clay is denser than play dough but rolls out just the same, however it shrinks as it dries so make the pendants at least .125” thick. Next, cut out a variety of pendants. We grabbed tools from the kids’ play dough bin and raided the kitchen drawers, then cut the clay. Small cookie cutters worked well. Once you have the shapes, try using a butter knife to score simple geometric patterns on the surface. The kids also added some texture by pressing plastic canvas on the surface.
Use a toothpick to add large holes for beading.
Dry your pendants by placing them on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and putting them in a safe place. Certain brands of air-dry clay suggest allowing 2 to 3 days to dry, but mine were totally dry and hard within 24 hours. A big perk of this project -- cleanup is a breeze.
Clay dry? Time for more fun: painting! Since the pendants are small, I opened only a few paint colors for the kids, but feel free to get as creative as you like. Acrylic paints dry fast and cover the air-dry clay beautifully.
Assemble your necklaces. The kids chose their cord and added beads and I tied the knots -- it was a great system! This project showed me that necklaces aren’t just for girls. My son calls his necklaces "amulets" and incorporates them into his superhero costumes. You never know where a child’s imagination is going to go!
Now your necklaces are finished and ready to wear! Air-dry clay is really easy to work with, and this project has made my mind spin with other ideas (read: gifts for grandparents). What have you made with air-dry clay? What ideas did this DIY inspire?