12 Dec Handmade Clay Decorations – By Claire Lock
…the basic law of children’s creativity is that its value lies not in its results,
not in the product of the creation, but in the process itself
~ VGOTSKY ~
Clay offers a wonderful sensory medium for open-ended childhood play. Some of our favourite ways to play with this tactile material are unstructured craft sessions or activities like making seasonal seed bombs, pinch pots, clay creatures, and handmade decorations. Playing with clay can be calming, with other benefits including supporting hand-eye coordination, fine motor skill development, creative and imaginative thinking, as well as inspiring a sense of pride and achievement in the creator.
Making clay decorations can also be a relaxing way to slow down as a family, and there’s no right or wrong way to create your pieces. Give children – and yourself – the time and freedom to explore, create, and just be.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- 500g non-toxic air-dry clay (a natural earth clay which air-dries solid)
- Placemat or cutting board to work upon
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Assortment of natural loose parts
- Small stick or skewer
- Baking racks
- Twine or ribbons
TIP: Water can be used to keep air dry clay supple during the making process. Once your decorations are dry, be aware that water can also cause them to deteriorate – a hanging spot out of the rain and elements will help their longevity.
1. Gather your materials. With your children, find and collect a selection of loose parts from your garden or around the neighbourhood. Observe which loose parts your children are drawn to and consider collecting items such as twigs, seeds pods, flowers and leaves like paper daisies, lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus (be mindful of choking hazards and select larger loose parts if you have young children).
2. Set up your space. Making clay decorations requires some room and can get a little messy – a larger table indoors or outside works well.
3. Get creating! Start with a small ball of clay (around the size of a walnut or passionfruit) and let your children experiment with the tools and natural materials. To create decorations like the ones pictured, use cookie cutters and customise with natural loose parts.
4. Apply the finishing touches. Use a small stick or skewer to create a hole for the decoration to hang from once dry. Place decorations on a baking rack to air dry for 24 – 48 hours (drying time will vary with the clay you use, thickness of your decoration, and air temperature).
5. Get ready to hang. Thread twine or ribbon through the decoration hole then hang from a Christmas tree, make a stick mobile, fasten to the wall or feature in another special spot!
6. Manage the leftovers. Remaining clay makes for hours more fun but needs to be stored properly to avoid drying out – simply apply some water to keep it moist then either wrap securely in a recycled plastic bag or beeswax wrap and store in an air-tight container.