You know the ingredients your kiddos like to stockpile for making slime?  Use this simple DIY recipe to learn how to make air dry clay with everyday, household ingredients.  This DIY clay is silky smooth and pure white; a super sensory activity no matter what you choose to make with it!

Air dry clay ingredients….

Grab some white glue.  We buy Elmer’s glue by the gallon because it so much cheaper than picking up the little bottles at the store.  Head to the pantry and grab cornstarch and  white vinegar.    Lastly you’ll need a bit body lotion and baby oil.

What a weird combination, right? 

These air dry clay ingredients may sound a little odd and a lot sticky.  But in the right proportions instead of slime you get a super smooth white clay that will air dry perfectly, no heating required at any step. And best of all is the fact that all of those ingredients common.  

This DIY clay is a perfect replacement for the more expensive store bought air dry clay or polymer clay like Sculpey.   

Updated to add this DIY clay will not be the same consistency of polymer clay.  While it can be a substitute for polymer clay in some applications it is not meant to be a replica of polymer clay.  This DIY clay is super soft.  It is perfect for lots of arts and crafts projects and an amazing sensory experience just to follow the recipe and make your own clay!

Use this easy DIY clay recipe to learn how to make air dry clay for kid's crafts. Household ingredients are all you need- no cooking or baking required!

How to make air dry clay, the easy way….

Mix all air dry clay ingredients together in a large mixing bowl till smooth.  Chances are your DIY clay will still be sticky mess at this point. Do not panic- this is normal and it will get better!

Start with the ingredient amounts listed below and slowly add bits more cornstarch until the mixture can hold no more.  Add just a little at a time.  Soon the air dry clay will go from being sticky to smooth, stretchy, and super soft.  You’ll know you have added enough cornstarch when it becomes difficult to mix more in. 

There’s quite a bit of wiggle room for getting this mixture “just right” so don’t hesitate to let your kiddos get in there and do the dirty work of mixing and measuring!

Prepare your counter….

Prepare a clean counter with extra cornstarch spread out much like you are rolling out a pie crust.  Splash a little cornstarch on your hands as well.   Turn clay out onto counter and knead it like dough.  If it’s still sticky- again with the cornstarch. 

 Add tiny bits of cornstarch at a time and the air dry clay recipe will absorb it.  Try to stop adding cornstarch before the clay starts to feel dry and stiff.  We have revived air dry clay that got a bit too dry with a tiny splash of additional baby oil.

This process totally reminds me of making a pie.  Not that I make many pies of my own but I have great memories of my mom and grandma making them.  The great thing about letting your kids take part in this mixing of the homemade clay recipe is that this isn’t rocket science. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be super fun, a great memory, and a totally usable ball of homemade air dry clay to craft with!

Use this easy DIY clay recipe to learn how to make air dry clay for kid's crafts. Household ingredients are all you need- no cooking or baking required!

Ready to use air dry clay….

At this point your DIY clay is ready to use.  Mold it, make , let it dry- it’s really that simple.  The drying time will depend on the thickness of the finished clay product.  Projects that are super thick will take longer to dry while thinner projects made with this air dry clay recipe should be dry in a day or so.  

I’ve used many DIY clay recipes that looked awesome when they were wet but when they dried they left behind a cracked mess and tear stained cheeks of a little artist.  Art that ends in tears is not my favorite.  We have made this air dry clay recipe over and over and have never had a cracked project.  I’m not saying that it can’t happen but it’s more than likely you’ll end up with a great finished project.  That’s as much as you can ask for in the world of kid’s art!

Preparing your air dry clay ahead of time…

If you’re not ready to use your air dry clay quite yet or you have leftovers you can wrap it up and save it for later.  Spread a layer of cling wrap with a squirt or two of lotion and wrap tightly around your DIY clay.  This keeps the air dry clay from sticking to the wrap; not necessary but definitely helpful.  Put in the fridge and store for up to a week.

What to make with your DIY clay…

Now that you know how to make air dry clay the possibilities are endless.   

Air dry clay texture pendants….

These are such a fun, simple activity that results in the sweetest little necklace pendants.  This is a great project when you’re looking for a gift or finished product that really “pops” but isn’t a cookie cutter craft!   If you’re working with a larger group these also take very little clay and very little storage room while they dry!

Leaf bowls from DIY clay….

These leaf bowls are another great example of how to use this DIY clay.  These are so pretty and colorful.  Nature provides the shape and details of these bowls.  We finished ours with watercolor and oil pastel but there are lots of possibilities!  These are a great project for any age or skill level.   I can see these being really successful in class with kids or adults that may have special needs and need accommodations.  

Colored air dry clay….

Another fun possibility is to learn how to make colored air dry clay!  Add one additional ingredient and making air dry clay turns into a color mixing experiment.  The finished product won’t even need to be painted, the color is already there! 

Use this easy DIY clay recipe to learn how to make air dry clay for kid's crafts. Household ingredients are all you need- no cooking or baking required!


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The Artists and the Elements is a year long visual arts curriculum that connects the elements of art, art history, and hands on, fun art projects!