Creating Ornaments with Homemade Play Clay

ingredients and ornament

The COVID quarantine has taken a toll on most of us. Chances are pretty good that you’re getting a little bored with the usual activities and you’re starting to run out of ideas. It’s time to try creating ornaments with homemade play clay.

You may as well try something new, after all you’ve sewn some masks, taken your dog on the third walk of the day, and watched everything on Netflix… twice. You’ve played board games with the kids, made a double batch of chocolate cookies together, and frankly, you’ve running out of ideas.

Play Clay is easy to make and you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

Play Clay

When I was little, my mom would make up a batch of play clay. It would keep me busy on the first day, rolling it out and cutting the shapes. And then two days later, when it was dry, I would busy myself for a few hours painting the ornaments or coloring with markers. (At the time, my mom called them “liquid crayons.”)

I don’t know where she got the recipe, but I do know that she had it at least since the early 1970s. It’s not a very workable or pliable clay, but is best using for rolling out and cutting shapes. I made some Ohio shapes and a few house shapes as a reminder of our time at home thanks to the corona virus. 

After drying, you can decorate the cut-outs with either paints or markers. You can use craft paints or, if you are working with little ones, washable paints or markers. If you plan on leaving the ornaments white, painting them with white paint results in a better end product.

Normally I would use a clear polyurethane spray on the ornaments when they were completed. With a stay-at-home order in effect, I didn’t want to make a special trip out for something non-essential. I will give them a spray later. It really does add a nice shine to the project and protects them for years. 

Mementos

Kept carefully, these will last a long time. There are a few that I made with my mother nearly 40 years ago. I still drag them out and put them on the tree every year. There are also have hand and/or foot prints that I made of my children as babies. I wrote their names and dates on the back and they have endured some 20 years now. 

I like to cut my shapes directly on the wax paper and cut away the excess. It is too difficult to cut and transfer as you’ll lose some of the shape. 

When you are done cutting shapes and have a bit extra, you can craft small clay shapes. I’m not very artistic, so I made a snow man just for illustration. 

Have fun with the project. You can craft holiday shapes or shapes to commemorate special events, like a graduating senior, a new home, a new baby, or even a pandemic quarantine.

Wanda’s Play Clay

2 cups baking soda
1 cup corn starch
1 1/4 cup cold water

Mix ingredients until smooth in small sauce pan. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, approximately one minute until the consistency of mashed potatoes. 

Spoon out onto a plate and cover with a damp cloth and keep cool. 

When cool enough to handle, knead lightly and roll out onto waxed paper. (Note: I taped waxed paper onto an old cookie sheet.)

Cut design with cookie cutters, or by hand. Shape leftovers by hand. Let dry 24-48 hours.

Paint with water colors, craft paint, or use markers. Shellac if desired.

Final Notes

A few more notes from me…..You can halve the recipe (I did for this article) to make just a few ornaments. You can double it if you’ve got a large crowd.

Don’t forget to use a straw to poke a hole in the top if you’ll be attaching a string or ribbon to hang. You can also poke two holes in the shape to string a ribbon through for a package decoration.

Looking for some great ideas with this dough? Head over to Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments. It’s our follow up article showing some additional uses as package decorations and Christmas ornaments. There are details on using the dough to make hand, foot or paw print ornaments of your children or pets.

If you’re looking for Ohio cookie cutters, I found my at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend the trip. I don’t see the cutters on the site, but you can check them out at Lehman’s. They have an 800 number and you may be able to order the cookie cutters that way.

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