This year, M decided to make her Daddy a key bowl...
|A key or coin bowl, made by M (June 2013).|
|Daddy's foot, made by M (June 2013).|
|M's handprint, with a LOT of glitter (June 2013).|
And a chicken... Along with Mummy's Snail.
|Mummy's snail and M's chicken on the right (June 2013).|
M worked hard on these, making the clay, moulding, sculpting, stamping, painting and glittering the result. All with a little help and guidance from Mummy of course.
This is what we did.
Firstly we made the clay, which is based on cornflour and bicarbonate of soda (or corn starch and baking soda). I could have made salt dough, but for some reason every time I try, the dough never turns our right. It always seems to be gritty and unpleasant to handle, so I don't think I've hit on the correct recipe yet. Either that, or it is supposed to be that way. The cornflour clay however produces a smooth, pliant clay which feels a lot like commercial playdough to handle. It doesn't dry the skin, is pleasant to work and can (in theory at least) be left to air dry or dried in an oven. We last used this recipe to make Christmas decorations, so I hoped it would work out for M's first attempt at sculpting.
- 2 cups of bicarb
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup cornflour
|M adds cornflour.|
|Cornflour, bicarb and water being cooked.|
It was ready when it became difficult to stir any more and resembled thick mashed potatoes.
|When it resembles thick mashed potatoes, the clay is cooked.|
|Five minutes kneading later...|
I took a small quantity of the clay and rolled it out a little before pressing it into a plastic bowl which acted as a mold. M decorated the bowl by stamping it until she was satisfied with the effect.
|M works on the key bowl.|
|Stamping a pattern into the bowl.|
|M is working on a chicken.|
|A chicken in progress.|
|Daddy's foot before drying.|
|M's hand print before drying.|
It should be possible to air dry this clay but the previous time we used it, I dried it in the oven. That time however we made Christmas tree decorations which were all thin, even layers or shapes produced by rolling the clay out and cutting with cookie cutters. This time, M's creations were various shapes, thicknesses and sizes, so I decided to give air drying a try.
I put things to one side and waited... And waited... And waited... For a week... The day before Father's Day, the clay was dry to the touch, but still soft. Worse cracks were starting to appear, something we never saw with our efforts at Christmas. I decided enough was enough and dried the pieces the rest of the way in the oven. Dave helped - yes, I know, he wasn't supposed to know, but how do you keep creations these fantastic secret for that length of time?
Drying in was done in batches, at the lowest oven setting (about 80C) over several hours, carefully rotating the pieces to ensure they dried fully.
|Daddy's bowl, foot and a chicken (cracks!)|
|M's hand print including an impressive crack.|
I can honestly say, M had as much fun painting her creations as she did making them in the first place. While I may have helped a little with the sculpting, adding colour was all down to M's discretion. As the artist's assistant, my job was to supply paint and glitter in suitable containers when asked to do so, clean brushes and carefully move the finished pieces to somewhere safe to dry.
|M paints Daddy's key bowl.|
|The inverted bowl, set aside to dry.|
It was a fun project that I know we'll have to repeat, possibly just making things for M's enjoyment next time. I'd like to experiment with drying methods, while air drying would be great, it took too long and I'm fairly sure was responsible for the cracking we saw. Force drying this clay off in the oven does cause minor discolouration, which is not a problem if you intend to paint your sculptures, but may be an issue if you want to preserve the natural white colour.