Thursday, 10 November 2016

Christmas Crafting Chaos

I was looking for a craft idea I could do with children at our Christmas Craft Fair. There seemed to be lots of airdry clay tree ornaments online . The recipe was simple, and used everyday ingredients. And it was supposed to dry porcelain white, much classier than old fashioned salt dough. So I thought I could make some discs and let the kids decorate them with felt pens, sequins etc. 
I decided to make a prototype batch . You mix 2 parts cornflour, 3 parts water and 4 parts bicarb.  Stir continuously whilst heating gently. It will turn to the consistency of mashed potatoes . Remove from heat,  cool 30 mins. Knead till you have a ball of soft dough.

Now roll out to ¼" thick.  Cut out shapes,  making a hole with drinking straw .  Either leave to air dry for 24 hours, or bake at 100'C for an hour.  
36 hours later - I have a tray of air-dried discs, which are still soft enough to dent with a finger nail, and a second tray of oven baked discs which whilst hard and white[ish] on top have ugly yellow stains underneath.
That one is a failure. Perhaps I shall try again - with slightly less water, and roll them thinner than the previously ¼" [measured carefully by making a frame of narrow chopsticks to keep the pin ¼" above the surface] Using a cup measure, 250ml of cornflour etc yielded 15 discs.
Then there were the "popsicle bracelets" Boil some lolly sticks in a saucepan of water for an hour then curve gently into a circular shape. Push them into a drinking glass to hold their shape as they cool overnight.
Another epic fail. The instructions all say "make some spares to allow for a few sticks cracking" Yeah,right, 50% of mine split. Furthermore it was hard to curve them into a small circle, or to find a really small glass to support the cooling sticks.
They dried [eventually] into semicircles which wouldn't really stay on a child's wrist. More of them fractured during the drying process. I think the problem is two fold. Firstly these are relatively cheap wood, hence the splitting and second [and more significant] they are too short!

I used regular 11cm lolly sticks - what I really need are 18cm tongue depressors. Just so you know, the finished items are supposed to look like these...

I shall have another attempt at the clay, but I think I only have small sticks in the Great Stash. Ah well, back to the drawing board!


  1. I applaud your honesty in showing us the failures - so much on the internet is edited to produce a picture of perfection! Do you think you could dry the clay more slowly - put it in the oven and turn it off, as if you were cooking meringues? I'm interested to read about this, as I've seen that cornflour-and-bicarb recipe several times, they look such a lovely clear white. Good luck with the next batch, let us know how you get on.

  2. You can make salt dough with cornflour instead of all purpose flour and you get a nice white ornaments too We have done both ways, but yes they take three days to dry! Also you can do cornflour and PVA mix The PVA mix one is great as it has a smooth finish so you can use felt pens on it!

  3. Thank you Jen - you are an absolute star - I know that recipes from you are tried and tested, and can be trusted. I will have another go...

  4. It was interesting to hear of your mixed success. You really did make me feel better as sometimes I wonder if I am just bad at following instructions and you are v good at craft matters. Shame about the lollysticks...


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!