Y’all I have recently become very crafty! Ok, “very” is an overstatement. So maybe I have just done a project or two.
I am so inspired by the lifestyle brand A Beautiful Mess and have wanted to try ALL THE THINGS they post tutorials for on their blog. And even though their projects are doable, my attempts have mostly remained a delusion of grandeur. Until I found myself at Target with yet another armload of holiday-themed decorative garlands.
At Christmastime, ABM (as their friends – like me! – call them) had posted a tutorial on how to make a “7 Swans A Swimmin’” garland with a bit of oven baked clay and a few baubles. In preparation for Valentine’s Day I whipped up a few flapping flamingos instead of swimming swans and successfully created my own version. (And – true to form – hung it up about a week and a half after making it because I am the WORST).
Inspired by my own project (and insatiable need to play with clay) my kiddo wanted to make her own version. While the oven baked clay was fairly simple to work with, it was not quite easy enough for a 6-year-old to be able to steer the project on her own. So for her version we turned to Crayola and their super easy air dry clay.
The instructions for this project are pretty loose, so instead here is a supply list:
- Crayola “Model Magic” Air Dry Clay (any air dry clay will likely do, but we used Crayola and the dry times will be based on that).
- Glitter Glue
- Acrylic Paint
- Adhesive Back Magnets
- Embroidery Needle
- Toothpick/Bamboo Skewer
- Cookie Cutters
- Rolling Pin
We decided to make both a heart shaped garland as well as individual fridge magnets so we could give them out as gifts. I laid down a few sheets of tin foil on our table. Beyond that I did not need to do much prep work.
The clay stayed together nicely enough for my 2 ½ year old to mash a fistful and not destroy my living room with it, so this step is pretty child friendly. Once ready, simply roll out chunks and cut with a cutter, just like you would cookies. Quite honestly, you don’t necessarily need a rolling pin for this step. You could even simply flatten with your hands. However note, the clay WILL dry with the finger impressions. A rolling pin will help to keep the shapes the same thickness (which I do recommend as dry time can vary vastly depending on thickness of the clay).
At first we used a heart cookie cutter, (which obviously has very little detail) but later used a unicorn cookie cutter. As long as you cut all the way through the clay it should hold the shape well. (The ABM tutorial has a good tip about using the eraser end of a pencil to gently tap out the clay from the cutter if you’re worried about warping the shape).
If you’re making a garland, once you’re done molding use your toothpick (or skewer) to poke holes for the string. We made hearts so the hole placement was pretty straightforward, but if you’re doing an awkward shape consider how the piece will hang before deciding where to make your holes.
We simply let our shapes dry on some paper plates in an out of the way spot. The hearts were a bit thicker and took about two days to completely dry. The shapes we made for magnets were rolled out pretty thin and were ready overnight. The air dry clay will ultimately feel like foam when completely ready (as opposed to a harder clay) but will not lose its shape when you press it.
You can use almost any sort of paint, glitter, or glue for these. For our hearts we used pink clay so we simply decorated with some glitter glue pens (a good choice if, like I did, you want to let kiddo do most of the project themselves). For the magnets we did paint them with some acrylic paint (which I included here but you could use any sort of paint). I will say that on the white clay it took about two coats of paint to get rid of all the streaks (if that matters to you).
You will probably need to use a needle to thread the string of the garland. I used an embroidery needle and embroidery floss. Yarn or bakers twine would work too. Basically anything you can thread through a needle. For the magnets, I initially got out my hot glue gun but was psyched to see I would not be needing it. The adhesive on the magnets (at least the ones I included in the supply list) strong enough on its own.
Pretty simple, right? For the most part I was able to let my 6-year-old craft her little heart out. It made for a peaceful afternoon! Until the next day when she asked repeatedly about the drying status of the shapes. Can’t win ’em all.