Modeling clay is a staple of classrooms, craft workshops and professional art studios. Unfortunately, it is not always readily available when inspiration strikes. Instead of losing the idea for your next sculptural masterpiece, try making a modeling clay substitute out of household items.
This quick and easy formula makes a grapefruit-size lump of clay out of basic baking ingredients.
Combine 1/2-cup cornstarch, 1-cup flour and 3/4-cup water in medium sauce-pot. Heat the mixture on a low setting. Continually stir the pot's contents for five minutes or until firm. Empty the clay onto a cookie sheet. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes. Once the clay is cool enough to comfortably handle, knead it for five minutes. Sculpt it into the desired form and allow it to harden overnight. Store leftover clay it in an airtight jar or zippered sandwich bag.
Flour, Oil and Salt
Cooking is not required to make this modeling clay substitute.
In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of bleached white flour and 1/2-cup of water into a smooth paste. Gradually add 1/4–cup of vegetable oil. Fold 1/2-cup of salt and 1/4-tsp. of antibacterial liquid soap into the mixture. Knead the dough until it develops a firm consistency. Allow projects to dry for two to three days to ensure maximum durability. Place any unused clay in covered container and store in the refrigerator.
The greatest thing for making emergency modeling clay is sliced bread.
Remove the crust from two slices of packaged, white bread. Rip the slices into 1-inch-by-1-inch squares and place them in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tsp. of white glue and two tsp. of water to the bread cubes. Knead the dough for five minutes , then model into the desired form. Allow the piece to harden over night, then coat with water-based polyurethane. Since it does not keep well, dispose of any excess white bread clay after use.
Preparing this modeling clay is as easy as “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”
To make two cups of shampoo clay, simply knead 1 1/2-cups of bleached white flour, 1/2-cup of white glue and 1/3-cup of shampoo together in a bowl. Sculpt as desired, and allow to dry overnight. Store any leftover clay in an airtight jar or zippered sandwich bag.
This clay substitute also makes a tasty snack.
Thoroughly mix 2 cups peanut butter and 1-cup honey in a large bowl. Gradually stir in 3 cups of instant milk powder. Transfer the mixture to a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Allow it to harden in the refrigerator overnight. Model the peanut butter clay into the desired form and decorate with edible embellishments like chocolate chips, raisins and nuts. Sculpture made from peanut butter clay will keep in the refrigerator for a week, but is best when enjoyed immediately.
- “Glues, Brews, and Goos: Recipes and Formulas for Almost Any Classroom Project”; Diana F. Marks; 1996
- “Let’s Play with Clay "; Childcraft- The How and Why Library; 1992
Amanda Flocke is a freelance writer and artist based in Houston, Texas. Her broad range of expertise includes green living, interior decorating, woodworking and primary education. Flocke holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture from the University of North Texas.