Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pinterest Road Test - DIY Clay Decorations

Clay Christmas Decorations from The Woodside Kitchen

The Woodside Kitchen's
original clay decorations
I've been looking for a good bake at home clay recipe for a while. The last time I made salt clay, my dog ate the decorations right off the tree. So finding one that didn't appear edible was a good thing, and corn flour and bicarb soda does not sound appealing to me. 

So first things first ingredients...

The Woodside Kitchen gave the ingredients as Cornstarch, Baking Soda and Water, but there was a lot of discussion in the comments about the decorations cracking or staying rubbery which comes down to some different names for ingredients depending on where you are. What you want to use is:

1/2 cup of Corn Flour
1 cup of Bicarb Soda (or Baking Soda - basically needs to be sodium bicarbinate)
3/4 cup of water

Ensure you are using the correct ingredients otherwise you will not get a hard clay decoration or you may get cracking.

 The mixing together is very easy. Just put it all in a saucepan, stir together then heat over low-medium heat.

There were some questions about whether you could do this in the microwave... I did not test this, but if you are going to give it a go only heat it in small increments (20-30 seconds) at a time, and stir in between. If you try this, please let me know.

It's done when it becomes stiff and silky (like smooth mash potatoes to borrow The Woodside Kitchen's term)

Scoop it out into a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth until it cools slightly so you can knead it.

I left it for about 15 minutes and it was still warm when I kneaded it (I was impatient) but you can wait longer, especially if you are giving it to your kids to knead and want to make sure they don't burn themselves. The damp cloth will stop it from drying out in the meantime.

Sprinkle some more cornflour on the bench or breadboard (easier cleanup) and knead out as you would any dough. Mine was quite sticky so used more cornflour to keep it doughy. The kneading and rolling out is lots of fun (and cleanup is very easy) so feel free to let your kids have fun.


Roll out to 1cm high then cut with cookie cutters, or mould into whatever shape you want. I also did coin size disks that I intend to paint up and stick magnets on the back. I'm also replacing my tree star that my dog ate ;) which I moulded by hand.

Lay your decorations out on a tray with some baking paper. I skipped putting corn flour on the paper and regretted it - they all stuck and I had to sand the paper off, so don't forget that!

If you are planning to hang these on your tree, remember to poke a hole in them for your ribbon (I used a chopstick). I also pressed little circles around the edges, but you could do anything to decorate, or keep them plain for painting.

Pop them in the oven to bake. Here's another point that comes up when sourcing recipes the world over... The Woodfire Kitchen says 1 hour at 175', but I suspect this is Fahrenheit (which would be 80'c) As I cooked mine for only 1/2 hour at 175' and they were rock hard I suspect this is the case. I'll test again at 80'c and see how they go. If you beat me to it, please post in the comments!

The Woodfire Kitchen recommends flipping them over half way and this would stop any bubbling or cracking - and give a nice even finish. As I said, mine were rock hard 1/2 hour in so I just took them out. I had some bubbles and a few small cracks, but nothing worth worrying about.

One thing I did do was give them all a quick sand to clean up the edges and take off any imperfections, which I think made all the difference.

Now time for painting!

I gave them 2 coats of white acrylic then painted some lovely Scandinavian designs in red. You could also finish them all off with a coat of lacquer to give them a nice gloss finish.

Overall a pretty easy project, but I'm glad I did a quick Google search to confirm ingredients before I started as they could have gone very wrong without that clarification.

Have you tried this project? Let me know how you went.

Road Test Results

Ease - I'd put this as low-medium difficulty. There was some confusion about the ingredients but with a quick Google search I got to the bottom of these
Time - A bit time consuming. All up about 6 hours as you have to wait for baking time and drying time between each coat of paint. But this is up to you as to how much effort you put in.
Ability - Beginners can do this project quite easily. However if you aren't used to painting details keep this to a minimum. Try block colours or even use stamps.
Cost - Cheap as free. I had cornflour and bicarb in my cupboard. But even if you had to buy the supplies you could get away with this project for around $5.
Cleanup - easy, the uncooked clay dissolves in water so can easily be cleaned up. I would tip any extra on a patch of garden you don't mind much about though as it may clog up your sink.


Original Inspiration - The Woodside Kitchen
Pinterest Inspiration Pin - Cornstarch & Baking Soda Clay Christmas Decorations

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