How to make your own eco-friendly modelling clay
Being creative is fun. And air-drying modelling clay is great to let your creativity run wild. Because you can easily model small figures – or even elaborate sculptures. You don’t need an oven, just a little patience. Your finished works of art will set all by themselves.
The challenge: A great recipe with natural ingredients
In shops, you find ready-made products that are excellent for modelling. But I wanted to create a clay by using only natural materials. My first attempts were rather modest. The clay was difficult to handle or looked crumbly – and even disintegrated in the end. Finally, I started looking for some ideas on the Internet.
During my research, I came across a recipe that works completely without plastic. I tried it out and modified it a bit. The result is easy to work with – even for elaborate pieces. The finished artworks are also light, absolutely break-proof and without cracks. In short: great.
As easy as baking a cake
The recipe is simple. Well, as with all my natural recipes, you should have fun working and experimenting – and you need a bit of patience. But in the end you will have a wonderful self-made modelling clay – non-toxic, environmentally friendly and for only a few cents. These simple recipes inspire me again and again.
And you only need materials that you may already have in your kitchen anyway. It is also an elegant way to get rid of toilet paper that may have piled up in the beginning of the pandemic. Fittingly, you even need a bit of white flour for this clay. Fortunately, these materials are now easily available again.
Recipe for natural modeling clay:
The recipe consists of two parts: First you make a glue, which, by the way, is also ideal for non-toxic handicrafts with paper.
Part 1: The glue
- 1 cup of cornstarch
- 2 tbsp guar gum (available in health food stores, large supermarkets or in the drugstore for binding cold dishes)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 2 cups of water
Pour the water with the salt, and vinegar in a saucepan, then add the cornstarch and guar gum. Cook everything on the stove, stirring constantly, until you have a relatively firm, slimy glue.
Then let it cool down. The finished glue should be as smooth as possible and almost without lumps.
You can store the glue in a sealed bag in the refrigerator for a few weeks, but once it has cooled you can use it to make your modeling clay right away.
Part 2: The modeling clay
- 1 cup of your homemade glue
- about 2 meters of three-ply white toilet paper (recycling is also possible, but it should be better not printed)
- 1 tsp body lotion
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- a few teaspoons of white wheat flour as required
- Tear the toilet paper into small pieces.
- Put cornstarch, body lotion, and glue in a bowl and stir everything together.
- Gradually mix in the toilet paper. This is a pretty sticky affair and works best with your hands.
- Then knead the mass smoothly – for about 20 minutes. Pull apart thick lumps of toilet paper and knead them under.
- The toilet paper gradually dissolves and results in a homogeneous mass with the other ingredients. Okay, that’s a bit of work, but it’s worth it.
- When the mixture is almost pliable, add about 2-5 teaspoons of white flour, depending on how thick it is, and continue kneading.
- The way the clay behaves depends on the weather and the humidity. So you may have to add a little more starch at the end.
- When your modelling clay is barely sticking, transfer it to an airtight container. For example, I take old freezer bags that I close with a clip seal.
- Let the mixture rest a little in the refrigerator – at least half an hour, better longer. When you take it out, it is usually quite sticky. Then add some more flour and a little more starch. You will quickly notice when the clay is ready. It should just be a little squishy and no longer stick to your hands.
- Keep the clay in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it quickly.
Tips for modeling
This natural modelling clay is easy to work with – even the smallest details are possible. So far, it’s the best I’ve ever come across .
As with any modelling clay, your figures need a support frame. Otherwise they are too soft and difficult to work with.
The best thing to do is to build a substructure. This works, for example, with crumpled newspaper that you wrap with masking tape or wire. Or you can use cardboard or sturdy but flexible wire. It also works the other way around: For my figures I usually make a kind of skeleton out of floral wire that I wrap with newspaper. I then model my figures on it. These dry within a day or two. Then you can smooth the surface with sandpaper.
The result convinces me: The finished pieces are pleasantly light and my test model survived the meter-high fall on the tiled floor in the hallway absolutely unscathed.
Make some beautiful things
If you have already prepared the glue in advance, older children can make the modelling clay themselves. It is important that it is absolutely smooth and that the toilet paper has completely dissolved. With the finished modelling clay, even smaller children can be creative.
You can use this clay to make everything you can think of: figures, houses, candle holders. If the weather is bad, just make yourself comfortable indoors and have a creative afternoon. With this material you can let your creative vein run free and make for example beautiful decorative pieces or small gifts for Christmas. Have fun trying!