Homemade Clay Recipes

by: Trish Kuffner, author of The Toddler's Busy Book

These clay recipes can easily be made at home, and will provide hours of fun for your child.

(And if you want to take it to the next level and make your own play dough, check out our video!)

Child Playing with Homemade Clay

Use the following recipes to make clay that can be rolled or shaped into sculptures. Some clays should be dried overnight, while others are best baked in an oven. When hard, sculptures can be decorated and preserved with acrylic paint or finish.


Modeling Clay



  • 2 cups salt
  • 2/3 cups water
  • Saucepan
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water


  1. Stir salt and water in a saucepan over heat 4-5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat; add cornstarch and cold water.
  3. Stir until smooth; return to heat and cook until thick.
  4. Allow the clay to cool, then shape as desired.
  5. When dry, decorate with paint, markers, glitter, and so on.
  6. If you like, finish with clear acrylic spray or clear nail polish.
  7. Store unused clay in a Ziploc bag.


Bread Clay



  • 6 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 6 tablespoons white glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon detergent or 2 teaspoons glycerine
  • Food coloring
  • Paintbrush
  • Equal parts white glue and water
  • Acrylic paint or spray or clear nail polish


  1. Knead bread with glue plus detergent or glycerine until the mixture is no longer sticky.
  2. Separate into portions and tint with food coloring.
  3. Let your child shape the clay.
  4. Brush the sculpture with equal parts glue and water for a smooth appearance.
  5. Let dry overnight.
  6. Use acrylic paints or spray or clear nail polish to seal and preserve.


Baker's Clay



  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon alum
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Large bowl
  • Cookie cutters, drinking straw, and fine wire (optional)
  • Baking sheet
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Plastic-based poster paint, acrylic paint, or markers
  • Clear shellac, acrylic spray, or nail polish


  1. Mix flour, salt, alum, and water in bowl. If dough is too dry, knead in another tablespoon of water.
  2. Dough can be colored by dividing it into several parts and kneading a few drops of food coloring into each part.
  3. Roll or mold into ornaments.
    • To roll: Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters dipped in flour. Make a hole for hanging by dipping the end of a drinking straw in flour and using the straw to cut a tiny circle 1/4 inch from the ornament's edge. You can also use the straw to cut more clay dots for use as decorations.
    • To mold: Shape dough into figures such as flowers, fruits, animals, and so on. The figures should be no more than 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Insert fine wire in ornaments for hanging.
  5. Bake ornaments on an ungreased baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 250ºF.
  6. Turn and bake another 90 minutes until hard and dry.
  7. Remove from oven and cool, then smooth with fine sandpaper.
  8. Decorate both sides of ornaments with plastic-based poster paint, acrylic paint, or markers.
  9. Let dry and seal with clear shellac, acrylic spray, or nail polish. Makes about five dozen 21/2-inch ornaments.


No-Bake Craft Clay



  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 2 cups baking soda (1 pound)
  • Saucepan
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Plate
  • Damp cloth
  • Tempera or acrylic paints (optional)
  • Clear shellac, acrylic spray, or nail polish


  1. Combine cornstarch, water, and baking soda in saucepan; stir over medium heat for about 4 minutes until mixture thickens to a moist mashed-potato consistency. (For colored clay, add a few drops of food coloring to the water before it is mixed with cornstarch and baking soda.)
  2. Remove from heat, turn onto plate, and cover with a damp cloth until cool.
  3. Knead until smooth.
  4. Shape as desired or store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
  5. Dry sculptures overnight, then paint with tempera or acrylic.
  6. Seal with shellac, acrylic spray, or nail polish.


No-Bake Cookie Clay



  • 2 cups salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Medium saucepan
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Drinking straw
  • Paint, glitter, and other decorative materials


  1. Mix salt with 2/3 cup water in saucepan.
  2. Stir and boil until salt dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat. Add cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water and stir. If mixture doesn't immediately thicken, heat and stir until it does.
  4. Sprinkle cornstarch on table and rolling pin.
  5. Roll out clay and cut with cookie cutters. Use straw to make holes for hanging.
  6. Let dry overnight and decorate with paint, glitter, and so on.
  7. Remind your child that these ornaments are not edible!


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