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Make Pretty Air Dry Clay Ornaments – On The Cheap

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These little air dry clay ornaments are super easy to make, and once decorated look really pretty on a tree.  I mean for a few bucks in ingredients you can make ornaments that look pretty cool especially if you’re going for a rustic, handmade look for your holiday tree.  



Air Dry Clay Ornament Step By Step Instructions

You can find step by step tips and instructions below, with all kinds of troubleshooting ideas if you have issues with humidity and cracking.   There is a recipe card at the very end of this post that has the recipe for the air dry clay and the steps listed out so you can print it out. 

 

Materials and Tools required to make air dry clay ornaments. 

With the exception of the Mod Podge, you should be able to find most of the supplies at your local dollar store. 

Materials

  • Cornstarch
  • Flour
  • Glue
  • Vinegar
  • Baby Oil 
  • Hand Lotion
  • Mod Podge
  • Glitter

Tools

  • Cookie cutters 
  • Rolling pin 
  • Craft paper or parchment paper
  • Small paintbrush

Best tips for drying 

If you want perfectly smooth stars or cut outs, don’t use parchment paper.   I would use a heavy craft paper lightly dusted with corn starch to place the stars for drying.   Parchment paper absorbs the moisture from the cut outs, but it also crinkles, leaving a crinkle on the back.   You can see it in my photos.  I didn’t care because I knew I would be adding a layer of glitter to both sides and it would hide any ripples. 

It’s also a good idea to flip your stars over about 6 hours into drying to let the backside get some air.  This helps prevent cracking and puckering.

Your stars may pucker.  By pucker I mean the star will lift off the paper creating a curve to the clay.  Flipping the clay over after a few hours helps to lessen this.   But even if your stars do pucker, you can still use them in this craft project. 



Dealing with Cracks In Your Air Dry Clay Ornaments

Air-dry clay cracks. 

 I have tested ALL the recipes folks, and it is rare for me to make a batch of anything and not have a few cracks.  Sometimes the entire batch will crack, regardless of the recipe. 

The recipe will play a key role in preventing cracking, but it is not the only thing that factors in. 

 Humidity is the maker or breaker of your clay.   The higher the humidity, the less likely you are to have significant cracks.   Notice I said less likely, there are other factors that play into cracking or not cracking, but I will get to that in a minute.

If your drying area is dry, like mine was when I made my second and third batches, you will encounter cracks.  The clay dries too quickly, and I find when that happens, I am in for major problems.   



There are a few things you can do to prevent dry humidity cracking issues.  

  1. You can add a damp wet paper towel over the top while the clay dries.   This can leave impressions, so if you want perfectly smooth clay, try to create a tent over your cutouts so the paper towel does not touch. 
  2. About 6 hours into drying, turn the stars over.   Most of the cracks happen on the back, if you give equal airflow and drying time on each side, it helps limit the cracks you get. 

And if you do get cracks in your air dry clay ornaments,  You can fix them. 

  1. Minor cracks can be filled with a slurry of air dry clay and water.  Make a patching compound and just smush it into the holes. 
  2. If the cracks go all the way through the stars or cut-outs,  it is not worth your time trying to patch them.  Patching works for small cracks and fissures.  
  3. Minor cracks are also reinforced and covered by the coat of mod podge and glitter, they act like an extra skin holding everything together. 

Step 1: Make The Air Dry Clay

Make the clay  (see recipe at the bottom of the post)


Step 2:  Rolling 

Sprinkle corn starch on your surface, and roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Make sure the clay is super smooth, with no dusty layers inside the clay.  Any layers not incorporated into the clay fully will cause cracks later on.   You want the clay to be perfectly smooth. 



Step 3: Cutting Out Your Air Dry Clay Ornaments

Use cookie cutters and gently press into dough.  You should be able to pick up the dough without it stretching too much.    Continue to knead and roll out the dough until all your ornaments are cut out.  

**** Save about an ounce of clay in a ziplock bag with the air removed.  We need this for later steps if we encounter any cracks. ****



Step 4:  Drying The Ornaments 

Place cutouts on a thick piece of craft paper for drying, or on a smooth surface dusted with a bit of corn starch. 



Step 5:  Cutting out holes in the ornaments for ribbon, or hangers.

Use the tip of a knitting needle and use it to make a hole in one of the tips of the stars.   this is best done as soon as the stars are cut and transferred to the kraft paper as the air dry clay begins to dry almost immediately.  Make your holes large enough to add a ribbon or an ornament hanger.  Avoid making them too small, or you will fill them in when it comes time to add the glitter.   

I messed up my first test with this by making my holes too small and had to get the drill out with a small bit to reopen the holes.  It totally worked, but it was an extra step that is easily avoided.  I did crack a few with the drill, but not nearly as many as I thought I would.  

In my last batch of testing, I didn’t even bother adding holes.  I added a loop of twine to the back with a small dab of hot glue and it worked perfectly and gave me the look I was after. 



Step 6:  The first 24 hours of Drying 

Allow the stars to dry for 6 hours or so and then flip them over.  At the end of the first 24 hours inspect for cracks.  If you do have cracks make a slurry of 1 part water to 1 part air dry clay and patch any cracks you see.  Discard any stars that are cracked all the way through the back and front. 



Step 7: Reinforcing Your Ornaments with Mod Podge and Sparkles. (we like sparkles) 


Add a coat of Mod Podge and coat with glitter.   If you want to glitter both sides, wait about 30 minutes for the first coat of Mod Podge and glitter to dry and flip them over to do the backside.  Attach a pretty ribbon, some rustic twine, or even a simple ornament hanger and you’re done!



A few air dry clay decorating suggestions!

These air dry clay ornaments are very versatile.  You can make them any colour you want by painting them after they dry, and the shape and design are entirely up to you. 

I do suggest that you use uncomplicated cookie cutters to ensure the ornaments dry evenly.  Intricate designs will be a bit trickier to keep from puckering, or even cracking. 

But, once you have your stars, there are all kinds of things you can do with them beyond hanging them on your tree. 

If you make enough of them you could make a wreath.  Use a hot glue gun and a wreath form and you’re all set.   

They also make cute garlands and would make a very pretty window display hung in strings with some icicle lights.   

I had so many ideas for these little stars, but I started to run out of time.  I mean seriously WHERE does the time go between November and Christmas, I feel like I time traveled 4 weeks into the future and never got anything done.  

So instead of all those fun project ideas I just mentioned I simply added a loop of twine and hung them on my tree.  

Make Pretty Air Dry Clay Ornaments - On The Cheap

Make Pretty Air Dry Clay Ornaments - On The Cheap

Yield: 20-40 ornaments
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 30 minutes

Materials

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Elmers glue
  • 1 tsp baby oil
  • 2 tsp hand lotion (any brand)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups corn starch ( 1 1/2 cup for the clay recipe, with an extra half cup for rolling)
  • Mod Podge (I used matte, but you can use what you have)
  • Glitter (I use clear sparkly glitter)
  • Ornament hangers, ribbon, or twine (to hang your ornaments)

Tools

  • Cookie cutters (I used a simple star cutter in three different sizes)
  • Rolling pin
  • Craft paper or parchment paper

Instructions

Step 1: Make The Clay

  1. Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of white glue, 1 tsp of baby oil, 2 tsp of hand lotion (any brand), 1 tsp of vinegar to a medium-sized bowl and stir together.
  2. To the mixture add 1/2 cup of water and 1 1/2 cup corn starch and kneed until everything is smooth. I cheated and used my stand mixer with the dough attachment.
  3. The clay is done when the dough is soft and smooth, and a finger inserted into the dough does not bounce back. If it does bounce back, you will need to add more cornstarch. Add 2 Tbsp of cornstarch at a time and kneed until the dough can hold its shape.

Step 2:  Rolling 

  1. Sprinkle corn starch on your surface, and roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thick. 
  2. Make sure the clay is super smooth, with no dusty layers inside the clay.  Any layers not incorporated into the clay fully will cause cracks later on.   
  3. You want the clay to be perfectly smooth. 

Step 3: Cutting Out Your Air Dry Clay Ornaments

  1. Use cookie cutters and gently press into dough.  You should be able to pick up the dough without it stretching.   
  2. Continue to knead and roll out the dough until all your ornaments are cut out.  
  3. Save about an ounce of clay in a ziplock bag with the air removed.  We need this for later steps if we encounter any cracks.

Step 4:  Drying The Ornaments 

  1. Place cutouts on a thick piece of craft paper for drying, or on a smooth surface dusted with a bit of corn starch. 

Step 5:  Cutting out holes in the ornaments for ribbon, or hangers.

  1. Use the tip of a knitting needle and use it to make a hole in one of the tips of the stars.   This is best done as soon as the stars are cut and transferred to the kraft paper as the air dry clay begins to dry almost immediately. 
  2. Make your holes large enough to add a ribbon or an ornament hanger. 
  3. Avoid making them too small, or you will fill them in when it comes time to add the glitter. 

Step 6:  The first 24 hours of Drying 

  1. Allow the stars to dry for 6 hours or so and then flip them over. 
  2. At the end of the first 24 hours inspect for cracks. 
  3. If you do have cracks make a slurry of 1 part water to 1 part air dry clay and patch any cracks you see. 
  4. Discard any stars that are cracked all the way through the back and front. 

Step 7: Reinforcing Your Ornaments with Mod Podge and Sparkles. (we like sparkles) 

  1. Add a coat of Mod Podge and coat with glitter.   
  2. If you want to glitter both sides, wait about 30 minutes for the first coat of Mod Podge and glitter to dry and flip them over to do the backside. 
  3. Attach a pretty ribbon, some rustic twine, or even a simple ornament hanger and you're done!


See Tips and Tricks in the Notes below, or in the blog post to deal with low humidity and cracking ornaments.

Notes

There are a few things you can do to prevent dry humidity issues.  

  1. You can add a damp wet paper towel over the top while the clay dries.   This can leave impressions, so if you want perfectly smooth clay, try to create a tent over your cutouts so the paper towel does not touch. 
  2. About 6 hours into drying, turn the stars over.   Most of the cracks happen on the back, if you give equal airflow and drying time on each side, it helps limit the cracks you get. 

And if you do get cracks in your air dry clay,  You can fix them. 

  1. Minor cracks can be filled with a slurry of air dry clay and water.  Make a patching compound and just smush it into the holes. 
  2. If the cracks go all the way through the stars or cut-outs,  it is not worth your time trying to patch them.  Patching only works for small cracks and fissures.  
  3. Minor cracks are also reinforced and covered by the coat of mod podge and glitter, they act like an extra skin holding everything together. 


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