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Holiday Craft — Air Dry Clay Ornaments

2012 December 6
by Becky

I said a few weeks ago that I had all kinds of holiday projects in mind. As of today, I’ve only made a dent in the list.

Too many things have come first! Like the Scottish Walk weekend, a choir concert, traveling for Thanksgiving, and, most importantly, the assembly of Ethan’s two big gifts…I can’t wait to share all the nitty gritty of what we have planned for him. I admit, these two projects have caused a few stern words to fly between Stu and me. Common, isn’t that the fun part of DIY?

Anyway, one of my goals was to make ornaments for our tree. I’ve never spent a lot of money on ornaments. To this point I’ve used cheap glass blass from Target, some glass icicle thingys, glittery snowflakes, and poinsettias with a few nicer after-holiday-sale animal ornaments to achieve what I think is a really pretty tree ever year. At least I’m happy with it!

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This year I found myself hanging everything toward the top of the tree to keep breakables away from little hands. But what fun is that? We needed some kid-friendly ornaments that Ethan could handle.

Enter air dry clay.

I saw this post from the blog Meet the Dubiens a while back—the project was actually featured by Martha Stewart! It looked PERFECT! I couldn’t’ wait to try!

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Ok, these are beautiful, right?

BUT, they are a little deceiving. While they look like hard smooth white clay, they are really foamy and not-always-so-smooth. AND they can get a little fuzz or speck of dirt stuck in them in a split second.

If you’ve never used this clay before, it comes in a bag, all ready to go. You can take it out, play with it, then put it in an airtight container/bag to play another day. OR, you can set out your creation for 48-72 hours to dry.

Though not what I anticipated, these are REALLY cute ornaments to make with your kids. Ethan LOVED it. And at about $.20 a piece, he can take them on/off the tree whenever he wants! Plus, with my twist, they look a little fancier…

Here’s the stuff we used to make our ornaments.

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[pinterest]
dough ornaments, clay ornaments, making ornaments with kids, crafting with kids, holiday crafts for kids, air dry clay ornaments, spray painting ornaments, toddler ornaments
[pinterest]
I got one of each kind of clay Michael’s offered. The Creatology (blue bag) was $2.99 and the Crayola $3.99. I can safely say, spend the extra dollar and go with Crayola. As you will see later, it’s less sticky and works better with intricate cutters.

I got some new holiday cookie cutters! A whole collection of snowflakes with fancy cut-out capabilities. If you live near Old Town, stop by La Cuisine on Cameron Street for a set of them…they are SUPER cool. We also had a whole box of other holiday shapes to work with, staving off my cookie-making urge for a bit longer.

Anyway, my twist on the project was metallic spray paint. I ended up using the chromeThe spray paint helps to mask any fuzzies or speck that will inevitably get stuck in your dough. Kids just seem to be covered with this stuff.

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[pinterest]
dough ornaments, clay ornaments, making ornaments with kids, crafting with kids, holiday crafts for kids, air dry clay ornaments, spray painting ornaments, toddler ornaments

Ethan was REALLY excited to get his hands on some clay. We rolled snakes, made some turtles and fish, then I showed him how to use the rolling pin and he did an exceptional job rolling…for a two year old. It was kind of a miracle we didn’t have a clay-eating incident. Ethan can’t get enough samples of “dough” (he calls everything we make dough) when we bake so I’m sure it took a lot of will power to hold off. With my help he was able to cut the dough, making very pretty shapes which we laid on wax paper to dry.

**NOTE: If your shapes are riddled with bubbles, knead your dough for a bit and try rolling out and cutting again. 

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[pinterest]
dough ornaments, clay ornaments, making ornaments with kids, crafting with kids, holiday crafts for kids, air dry clay ornaments, spray painting ornaments, toddler ornaments

The clay differences I mentioned above? It can been witnessed here. The penguin was left with little edges all around it because the Creatology clay stuck to the cookie cutters. I couldn’t make any snowflakes with this clay as they were way too intricate and the clay stuck like glue. So we only used the Crayola for the fancy shapes, sticking with basic shaped in the Creatology clay. I solved the “ugly edge” problem by tapping the funky clay down flush. Not the end of the world, just less flexible so I thought I’d pass the word along!

DO NOT FORGET TO CUT HOLES!!!!!!
I have heard way too many stories from friends about how they made beautiful ornaments but forgot to punch holes for ribbon. Yikes! I used a drinking straw to cut a perfect hole.
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After 2-3 days of drying, I hosed about half the ornaments with the chrome spray paint. Do this OUTSIDE and put plenty of paper/cardboard/plastic/drop cloth underneath. I was successful this time but usually end up getting spray paint on something…like the driveway (that was another recent project, and I did get it out of the asphalt…thank goodness).

We added some pretty blue ribbon and ended up with lovely, very kid friendly ornaments! They may even live to see a few more seasons.

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[pinterest]

Overall this was a really fun project! And super easy. And cheap. All good things!

We have more ornament projects planned but, to be honest, I doubt we will get to them. I’d rather use any extra time (after finishing Ethan’s presents, making his birthday decorations, and finishing my christmas shopping) to do some holiday baking. Toffee and oreo truffles are calling my name!

Have you made ornaments this year or in years past? How did they turn out?

12 Responses
  1. Lauren G permalink
    December 6, 2012

    Wow! Your tree and especially the snowflakes look amazing! I’m struggling to get all our crafts done as well. Now if only we’d get a little snow for a little extra holiday fun!

    • Becky permalink*
      December 8, 2012

      Right! We bought a sled just in case we do get some white stuff on the ground. Would be fun! Can’t wait to see what projects you’ve been working on.

  2. Erika permalink
    December 7, 2012

    I love the little handprint ornament! Will definitely have to store this one in my arsenal of kiddo projects!!!

    • Becky permalink*
      December 8, 2012

      You’ll be doing these projects before you know it. :)

  3. Grandpa Joe permalink
    December 7, 2012

    We’ll be back there for toffee and truffles.
    Loved the Hand Print Ornament.

  4. December 7, 2012

    Great idea to have ornaments he can play with. Really makes sense!

  5. Samantha permalink
    December 19, 2016

    Do you find that the air dry clay is sturdy or does it break easily? I’m trying to find a good clay to make handprint ornaments with and breaking is a concern for me.

    • Becky permalink*
      December 20, 2016

      Hi! They dry to a firm foam consistency. Our are still intact today and look fine, so I’d say they are pretty durable! Not sure about doing a handprint, I’m assuming you’d want to make the clay thicker so it will take longer to air dry but maybe it will be even stronger! Plus, it’s nice that these are so light, they don’t weigh down branches like other clay can and they won’t break if little hands hit them off the tree. I say go for it, it’s a fun project!

  6. Annie Reeder permalink
    November 16, 2017

    How many handprint ornaments do you think you can get out of one crayola package? I’m working with a crowd!

    • Becky permalink*
      November 16, 2017

      This was a loooong time ago so I don’t really remember, but I do know I overestimated how much we’d get through. Sorry I can’t be more help!

      • Annie Reeder permalink
        November 16, 2017

        fair enough!

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