I think almost everyone has had some kind of encounter with clay in the past – rock-hard pottery clay, messy plaster, Play-Doh (the smell of which I’ve never been able to get past). After searching and experimenting with different types of clay this fall, I’ve come across a new favorite, just in time for holiday gift-giving: baking soda clay.
No more than mere baking soda, cornstarch and water boiled together to make a dough, baking soda clay is pleasantly soft and pliable, pure white. It’s excellent for painting once dried, totally edible and non-toxic. It’s also air dried, so no ovens to fuss over.
The steps are simple: mix 1 cup baking soda, ½ cup cornstarch and ¾ cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until a soft ball forms – the texture should be like stiff cookie dough. Remove clay from pot and put in a bowl covered in plastic wrap for about 10 minutes to cool. Knead until pliable and smooth.
From here, you can roll the clay ¼ inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut shapes, remembering to use a straw to poke holes in the top for easy hanging. Use stamps, lace, anything you can imagine to add texture or patterns to the dough. This is absolutely the perfect clay for making hand or footprint ornaments for a baby or a paw print ornament for a dog or cat.
Baking soda clay takes a while to dry completely, a few hours or overnight, but will dry out just enough to be unworkable within about 15 minutes, so do not take too much time to make designs. You could probably mist the clay with a little water if working on a particularly elaborate or frustrating decoration, but simplicity is your friend with this very soft clay.
Once the ornament is dried, use acrylic paints, glitter glue, paint pens or even colored pencils to decorate. Use ribbon, raffia or ornament hooks for hanging. Be creative and have fun.
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