Homemade Air-Dry Modelling Clay {aka baking soda clay}

Homemade Modelling Clay | Mama Papa Bubba

Several years ago, we discovered the beauty that is baking soda clay during one of our annual Christmas ornament crafting sessions.  Since then, baking soda clay ornaments have become a regular occurrence in our house – and not only for Christmas either!  We’ve used the homemade modelling clay for all kinds of projects, and this year we’re using it for two new ones – something spring-themed and something Easter themed {so stay tuned for those!}  In the meantime, if you’ve not used it before, I’d highly recommend giving it a try.  It requires only 3 very basic kitchen ingredients, it can be used for all sorts of projects, and it air dries in a couple of days time.   

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We’ve experimented with several variations in the recipe over the years {and even made a gingerbread version!}, and truthfully, it has always turned out.  That being said, all of our variations have consisted of three main ingredients – cornstarch {aka cornflour on the other side of the world}, baking soda {also known as bicarbonate of soda or soda bicarb – baking powder will not work!!}, and water, and there is a recipe we use more often than any others, only because it’s really easy to remember.

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To make the clay, simply measure out the ingredients into a medium-sized pot and turn the element on to medium {or medium-low} heat, then stir pretty much constantly.

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As the mixture heats up, it’ll begin to thicken.  What you want is for it to reach a mashed or whipped potato consistency…  Keep stirring and turning the mixture over onto itself until you reach this point and then take it off the heat immediately.  {Two things to note – you should not have any extra water floating around in the bottom of the pot when done, and if you were going to err on the wetter or drier side of things, I’d err on the wetter side as a drier dough does seem to crack more often during the drying process.}

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Allow the mixture to cool in the pot for a few minutes or until you’re able to handle it without burning yourself.  When you’re able, dump the contents of the pot out onto a clean countertop, form it into a quick ball, and wrap the ball in a damp dishtowel or cloth.

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Allow it to cool this way for about 15 minutes or so.

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When it’s sufficiently cooled, unwrap the baking soda clay and give it a good knead.  This will make the dough nice and smooth and take away any residual stickiness.

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Now you’re ready to create!  You can use your clay to make next to anything, but here are a few things we’ve learned over the years…

1) When not in use, excess dough should be wrapped in a damp towel to keep it from drying out before you want it to.

2.  Thicker pieces tend to crack more during the drying process, so try to keep your creations on the thinner side if possible.  We usually aim for somewhere in the 0.75 – 1 centimetre thick range.

3.  Parchment paper is your friend!  Because baking soda clay is a lot softer than store-bought modelling clay, it can be a little bit more fragile.  Placing a piece of parchment paper on either side of the clay while rolling it out really helps!

4.  You want the drying process to be sloooow to avoid cracking.  In other words, air drying is best, and somewhere away from a heat source is optimal.  In Kuwait, where the weather is hot and there’s always a very steady flow of a/c, we’d cover our tray of ornaments with a just barely damp towel to slow the drying process down.  Gently flipping the ornaments over every now and then helps too.

5.  After your pieces are dry, they can be decorated almost any way you please!  We’ve painted ours with acrylics and watercolours, we’ve covered them with glue and dunked them in glitter, we’ve decorated them with markers and Sharpies, and we’ve glued embellishments onto them.  Anything goes!

Alright, now time for the recipe…

Homemade Air-Dry Modelling Clay {aka baking soda clay}

  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups of water

Place all ingredients into a pot over medium heat.  Stir the mixture almost constantly, until it thickens and becomes the consistency of whipped mashed potatoes.  Let cool and then knead until smooth and no longer sticky.  Done!  Now create!

 

Need some ideas?  Here are a few of our favourite baking soda clay projects from years past…

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handprint keepsakes

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clay monogram ornaments

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fingerprint heart ornaments

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Homemade Air-Dry Modelling Clay {aka baking soda clay}

  1. I can’t wait to make this! I made the handmade soap, but i only had soy oil. I found that i just had to use a little more and it worked perfectly! Must do it with the girls at school!
    Love your ideas! They always work!
    Sue

  2. I’ve used your recipe before and it’s the bomb!!! I love using air dry clay even more than play dough as I love the fact you can make it into things that can be kept and given away!

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