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Tutorials - Air-Dry Clay

This tutorial provides a general introduction to using air-dry clay.  However, it is important to ensure that you follow the directions on the packet of whichever brand of clay you purchase.

Air-dry clay is often available in a variety of colours, which can be used as they are, or blended together.  It is also available in white, often in larger blocks than the other colours, which can be painted using acrylic paint once it has dried.

Air-dry clay can be used to create jewellery, accessories and even to decorate handmade cards.   Several of the earrings, necklaces, key chains and mobile phone charms available on Elaina James Jeweller have been made using either Makins or Eberhard Faber air-dry clays.

To make your own clay mobile phone charm

  1. First decide what charm you would like to make, such as a flower, butterfly, Christmas tree or ice skate etc. and draw a picture the size that you want.  However, bear in mind that you will be cutting this design out of the clay, so don't make it too intricate or complicated (at least not on your first attempt)
  2. Trace your picture on to a piece of thin card, which you can cut out and use as a template to cut the clay. 
  3. Cut off a piece of clay from the block and roll it out to your desired thickness.  Whilst it is essential that you cut off a large enough piece of clay for your design, it is also important not to cut off an excessively large piece, as it will start to dry out and may become more difficult to work with if rolled out multiple times (though this varies depending on the brand of clay used).  Slightly dried out clay can usually be softened by kneading with moistened hands.
  4. Once opened ensure that the unused clay is stored in an airtight container to prevent it drying out.
  5. Place the template gently on top of the rolled out clay, being careful not to press down, as this will flatten the clay.
  6. Use a clay cutting tool to cut around the template.
  7. Carefully lift the template off the clay and remove the excess clay.
  8. Gently pierce a small hole near the top of your clay shape (large enough to attach a jump ring later).
  9. Smooth the edges of your clay shape using the clay tool with a little water.
  10. Leave to dry as per the instructions on the packet, usually a couple of days or so.
  11. Once dried, the clay can be sanded or drilled as required.
  12. You can usually paint dry clay using acrylic paint (check the guidelines on the packet first).
  13. Once dry, open a jump ring and slide it though the hole in the clay shape.  Then add the mobile phone charm and close the jump ring.