Air-dry Clay Bowls

Air dry clay
Cotton fabric  approx. 12 x 14 inches (cotton sheets work great and can be found for next to nothing at thrift stores)
Rolling pins (I use dowels I made from a wooden closet rod)
Large Paint stir sticks cut in half (2 per child)
Wire for cutting clay
Plastic containers for tracing or flat stencil (You can even use paper for this but a hard edge is easier for younger children)
Cutting tools (traditional clay tool or plastic palette knife)
Fun tools (garlic press, sticks, tenderizer wooden hammer)
Bio color or Tempera Paint
Jewels, beads, or cut up mardi gras necklaces
Before you embark on your clay bowl I encourage you to play for a while. We like to use traditional clay tools, garlic presses, and an assortment of other handmade or purchased tools. You can use household items such as butter slicers, meat tenderizer, toothpicks and more.
Most children could play endlessly with the garlic press regardless of age. This clay string can be incorporated into the final piece you just want t make sure to smooth the ends into the base and remember it’s all quite fragile.
When you are ready to make the bowl follow these steps.
1. Roll out the clay.
To control the thickness we use  two paint stir sticks straddled on each side of the clay. Make sure to rest the rolling pin on the stir sticks. When you feel the sticks with your rolling pin and you are free of bumps  you are  finished rolling. This step often needs some adult pressure. It’s recommended that children stand and use the weight of their body to roll.
2. Next place your stencil (flat plastic, paper, or recycled container from cottage cheese, yogurt, etc..)
It can be helpful to stand while cutting. I instruct children to reach forward with their arm, then come down into the clay drawing the knife towards them. Pulling through clay is easier than pushing. 😉 We cut a little at a time, peeling off the cut extras as we go and turning the circle as we go so that we are always pulling towards our body.
3. Smooth your edges.
Smooth out the edges with water. Using a a finger or a small sponge smooth all the rough edges and lines in the clay. You need barely any water. I usually only pour about a 1/4 in. of water in a small apple sauce container. I encourage a one finger dip but sometimes the sensory experience requires the whole hand. 🙂
4. Time to paint!
Start with a choice of two colors and and add from there watching out for combinations that make brown when mixed together.
We paint on wet clay and it comes out fabulous every time. If working with bio-color paint or acrylic wear aprons!!!
5. Add jewels, sequins or buttons for additional decoration.
Make sure to push the decorations in so they are stuck into the clay.
6. Mold the bowls over fabric and containers is easier than it looks.
Let the paint on the circle dry as much as possible and then gently lift the circle off the cotton fabric and flip it over onto a fresh piece of fabric that covers the bottom of the flipped plastic container. You can use the same one you used as a stencil or a small container for a deeper bowl with a ruffle edge. Press down gently to mold the bolwl.
7. Paint the outside and bottom of the bowl.
8. Drying time.
After the first day pull bowls off of the fabric to continue to dry on the container or if they feel solid enough they can dry on their base.
9. Mod Podge
After the bowls are completely dry paint a thin coat of Mod Podge to bring out the color and add some shine. This will help all the decorations stay on as well. I usually water down Mod Podge with water about 1:3, water:Mod Podge.

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