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How to Use Air-dry Clay to Make Christmas Ornaments

How to Use Air-dry Clay to Make Christmas Ornaments main article image
Posted on December 18, 2021 by Jennifer Carroll

It’s that time of year! For some of us, it’s been that time of year for a few months. We creators start early for every season. Christmas is a big deal for the crafting community. I know that I spend months planning my holiday activities and crafts. I’m almost at the finish line! We have one more show before Christmas and since it’s by special invitation only I’ve tried to make a few special things that I’ve never offered before.

I scour websites, group pages, and YouTube looking for inspiration. I came across some air-dry clay projects that I admired, and I wanted to try them.

This is the kind of clay that I have. I bought it on Amazon, but I’m sure you can get it at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s too.

I keep my clay in a Ziploc bag so that it doesn’t lose its moisture. It had been a while since I used it though and I noticed that it was slightly dry. No problem. I just sprinkled a little water on it as I worked with it, and it was just fine.

I have an acrylic square that I use to roll my clay out on, and I sprinkle it with a little corn starch so that the clay doesn’t stick to it when it’s time to lift the ornament.

I used a rolling pin to roll the clay and I made it about a quarter-inch thick. There are a few ways to use air-dry clay. You can put it in silicone molds. There are plenty of companies that make beautiful molds. Iron Orchid Designs (IOD) and Prima are popular ones that I know of. If you can’t find a stockist or they’re sold out, because they often are, don’t despair. You can use any silicone mold. Just go to Walmart or Hobby Lobby and look in the crafting section. Or better yet the baking section. Fondant molds are perfect for air-dry clay. Another unexpected crafting item! You’re welcome.

Ok back to our ornaments. I decided to do the imprint method this time. But what to use? Silicon stamps are an option and like the molds, there are plenty of them out there to choose from. But I am trying to stay in my lane, and I don’t need any more crafting supplies. I can’t believe I put that in writing. This is one article that I will never show my husband. He would be pleased to know that I did choose free items to imprint my clay.

I snipped a little branch from my Christmas Tree, and I used a pine cone from my stash to imprint a festive pattern into my clay. Just press your item into the clay lightly but firmly and make sure to apply the same amount of pressure to the length of your evergreen sprig. I just pressed the same sprig in three different places and turned it or bent it to change the shape and direction of each imprint. Then I pressed the pinecone into the air-dry clay. I like the way that this project Is looking. I used the end of a small artist paintbrush to add a hole so that I can hang my finished ornament. To shape my ornament perfectly I used a glass to cut around the imprint, like a cookie-cutter. Then I left my clay to dry overnight.

I wanted my ornaments to be flat, so I left them on my silicone mat. If I was making this imprint on the clay so that I could apply it to another surface I would glue it to that surface while the clay was still malleable with Gorilla Glue or E-6000. Once your clay is dry, you won’t be able to use it on a curved surface, so plan ahead and do accordingly.

Let your air-dry ornaments cure for at least overnight. I have a lot of projects to get to, so I let mine sit for a few days before I got to them. When they were fully dry, I gave them a light coat of white acrylic paint. I didn’t want a thick coat of paint because I wanted the pattern to keep the depth that I had created with my imprint. I let the paint dry completely before I moved on to the next step. And honestly, you could stop right here, and your ornament would be just about ready for your tree. Take a double strand of jute cord that you’ve tied a knot in and thread it through the hole you’ve made, tie a slip knot, and hang it on the tree.

Or take your project up to the next level and paint your branches and pinecone. Just water down the colors you want to use so that you have a thin wash. Use a small artists’ brush to paint in the lines you imprinted and wipe off any excess that may have gotten on the flat surface of your ornament. Let it dry and add that hanger.

Or once again you can choose to take things up another notch. Wood beads are a popular item in crafting these days and there are dozens of projects you can add them to. I buy them in bulk from Amazon, but if you need some today and you have a festive project in mind for them – head to Walmart. They have wood beaded garlands in their Christmas section right now for a reasonable price and I love that they’re already painted the colors that I need for holiday crafting. Just take a few beads and add them to the jute cord after you tie it to your ornament. Tie a knot at the end of the beads so they stay put.

There are so many ways to use air-dry clay and so many natural elements you can use as “stamps”. I’m sure you’ll come up with your own ideas and I know they’ll be great. Until next time – happy crafting!

Please follow me here to see my latest creations!

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1 Comment
Melicia de Meyer

November 4, 2022

Lovely! Gonna use this idea on a lot of stuff

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