Thursday, June 4, 2020

Modeling Clay Recipe

Make this simple modeling clay right in your own kitchen! 

Step 1 Combine all these ingredients in a medium pot.

Step 2 Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly until it starts to bubble and thickens into a dough like consistency.

Step 3 Transfer the dough onto a wet cloth and wrap it up in the towel to cool. Remove when cool enough to touch.

Step 4 Form your clay sculpture.

Step 5 Paint clay with watercolor, tempera or acrylic paint.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Play Dough

Who doesn't LOVE

Here's an Easy Peasy homemade play dough recipe you can make right in your very own kitchen.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Clay Slip

How to Make Clay Slip

Slip - is liquid clay, it is used to join pieces of clay together like glue, it can be poured into molds or used for decorating. 

1. To make slip you break off some grape-sized chunks of clay and let them completely dry out. You can dry your clay chunks in the sun or simply leave them in the open air overnight. 

2. When they feel dry put them into a small plastic container and add enough water to cover the clay. 

3. The clay will break down absorbing the water, it will look soft and mushy. 

4. This mushy stuff is the slip and it is applied between clay pieces to glue them together. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Clay Tools

Clay Tools

Believe it or not, your finger is one of your best clay tools. 
It's great for pinching, poking, pulling and smoothing the clay.


Here are some good tools for little hands when exploring and creating with play doughs.

1. Spatula for cutting and scraping clay off surfaces
2. Blunt scissors to cut the clay
3. Roulette for making wiggly lines into the clay
4. Rolling pin for flatting clay
5. Standard set of sculpting tools made of plastic for making marks


Here are the simplest tools that I recommend for beginners working with clay.

Most of these you probably have in your home already.
They are all you need to help you get started working with clay.

1. Popsicle stick -for cutting and poking
2. Tongue depressor -for making notches
3. Pointed dowel -for drawing
4. Plastic knife -for cutting
5. Plastic fork -for making line patterns
6. Tooth brush -for scoring clay
7. Kitchen sponge -for smoothing clay
8. Plastic dish- for water


If you want to step it up a notch, try these.

1. Scratch-Art tool - has a small needle on the end to draw thin lines. Available at:
2. Kemper Potters Needle - used to score and cut the clay. Available at:
3. Drawing tool - one excellent tip for drawing lines and the other tip for smoothing clay. Available at:
4. Felting Knife - used for cutting clay. Available at:
5. Box Wood tool - used for creating lines - great for making a furry texture on animals. Available at:
6. Metal fork - used for making line patterns.
7. Scratch Wire Brush - used for making scoring lines when joining clay pieces together. Available at:
8. Flat brush - used for applying slip.
9. Paint cup - used for holding water. This type is great because it comes a with brush/tool holder lip.
10. Natural sponge - has a great shape and holds up longer than a synthetic sponge. 

Rolling pins are great for flattening clay. They come in different widths and lengths. Most are made out of wood because the clay doesn't stick to the surface. The ones with the ball bearings in the handle (1) are the easiest to roll back and forth with. Extra large rolling pins purchased from a ceramic supplier work well when flatting large slabs of clay for big projects for art students. Smaller sized rolling pins (3) work best for children's little hands. You can make your own by just using a wooden dowel (2). 

To help make slabs evenly rolled or a certain thickness you can use dowels (1) of various dimensions on either side of your clay. The dowels will keep the clay from thinning out too much. Available at: your local hardware store. You can also purchase a leveled clay roller kit (2) like this one at:

Slab rollers make rolling out clay a cinch, but are super expensive. Mostly art teachers and ceramic potters own them. 
Rolling pins are even available in different textures.
These are Texture Wheels.

Cotton Duck cloth - used as a messy mat and to keep clay from sticking to the table top surface. It can be stretched onto a board to make moving around clay projects easier. Available at: Walmart and JoAnn's in the fabric section.

Here are some great add on tools to have in your tool box.

1. Roulette tool - used to roll wavy lines into the clay. Available at:
2. Loop tool - used to carve out clay. One with a flat and round end gives you more options. Available at:
3. Fondant tools - these have some unusual tips and make great impressions. Available at:
4. Cleaning tool - used for scraping bone dry clay pieces. Good for cleaning up edges.
5. Hole cutter - used for carving out holes in clay. These come in various dimensions. Available at:
6. Ball Stylus - used for pushing in round holes into the clay and shaping forms. Available at:

This a great Potter's Starter Kit and is reasonably priced. I bought mine in college and I still have it 30 years later! Available at:
These are Scoring Tools and they all work great! It all comes down to a matter of preference on which one to use.

1. Scratch Wire Brush   
2. Scratch-Art tool   
3. Scoring Tool available at:
4. Steel Scraper Ovoid available at:

I LOVE these sponges! They are shaped like a traditional Kidney tool and fit in your hand great. They come in different absorbencies which makes them nice for smoothing surfaces. 

Cookie cutters make great tools when you are trying to cut out uniform shapes. 

You can make a simple circle cutter by using a can. 

A clay slicer makes dividing clay into slabs super easy. 

Found objects make great tools too!

                                So just look around your house for interesting stuff.                                 You never know what could make a great clay tool.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Children's Developmental Stages Using Clay

Why do kids love clay so much?

The most loved art supply by children is clay. It is the perfect tactile and moldable material for little hands to manipulate. Working with clay can be very calm and relaxing. Manipulating clay can help relieve stress. Having the freedom to explore and discover on your own is very freeing. To a child clay is magical. They love to squeeze it, poke it, pound it and shape it. Combine it with a child's imagination and its possibilities are endless. They are naturally fascinated by it and will create with it for long periods without help from an adult. They often get into the flow state without even realizing time has past so quickly. Playing with clay has many great benefits for children of all ages. 

Here are some of children’s favorite things to create with clay. 

The Pizza Pie

One of the number one things kids love to shape out of clay is a pizza pie. With pepperoni of course. So many kids are familiar with playing with their food, so making it out of clay comes naturally to them. Pounding clay flat is so much fun! Once flat it is easy to imagine it as a pancake or a pizza. They even like to pretend they are eating it. 



Making a coil out of clay naturally looks like a wiggly worm or a snake to a child. Of course it's a child's favorite - snakes are cool!


Boys especially loves making these erupting things.

Pinch Pots

Making food and the containers to put it in comes naturally to a child. Clay can be easily shaped into a bowl or drinking cup.

Children's Developmental Stages Using Clay

Exploration Stage

early childhood

This stage is characterized by the pure sensory experience of the modeling material. Children will pat it, pound it, squish it, poke it, pinch it, and play with it. They will make no attempt to make the clay or play dough into something. They just enjoy partaking in the sheer pleasure of exploring it with their senses and manipulating it.

Control Stage

age 4-6   kindergarten

At this stage, children use their fingers and palms to make basic forms with the clay like a ball, pancake or worm. Their fine motor skills are beginning to take shape and they can start to control the clay or dough.

Named Forms Stage

age 6-7   grades k-1

During this stage children give names and labels to modeled forms. They engage in narrative play with their products and use them like toys. Playing with clay engages the child's imagination and lends itself to the benefits of the creative process naturally. Clay is the perfect creative material because it can be reinvented over and over again by a child's imagination. 

Symbolic Forms Stage

age 6-9   grades 1-3

After repeated experiences working with clay, children can now plan the forms that they want to make. They can use their fingers to join pieces together, add details, pull forms out of a larger piece of clay and use clay tools. Their finished products will be recognizable by others. They start modeling people, animals and food. 

Providing children with repeated experiences working with clay, helps children to develop skills towards mastery. Children can then use clay as a medium to express their own ideas and life experiences through art making. Skill development requires children do similar activities over and over. 

Written by: Art Teacher Ruth Post