- Supplies Needed
They are so easy to make that they are perfect festive activity for getting the kids involved. So why not grab some clay and enjoy a family afternoon of Christmas crafting?!
Why use Air Dry Clay?
Air dry clay is the home crafter’s dream! It’s easy to work with and style. And, as the name would suggest, it air dries over 1-3 days so no need to bake or find a kiln!
The end result is a wonderfully natural rustic ornament which is tremendously versatile and looks really striking on trees and against festive greenery.
It also produces a more porcelain-esque finish than its salt dough cousin. The finer grain makes it look a touch more polished and generally a tone paler too (assuming you use white clay of course!).
Just one thing to note: small cracks often appear in the clay as it dries and the edges may not be completely smooth. We share tips to minimise these imperfections below but we think that they all add to the character of the design anyway!
Ideas for Decorating Air Dry Clay Christmas Ornaments
In addition to these stamped and painted designs, there’s a whole host of other ways you can enjoy decorating air dry clay ornaments.
Here’s a few of our favourites:
- Press a small fern into the wet clay to leave an imprint for a lovely natural design.
- Add some glitter to the clay before you roll it out to ensure the ornaments glisten on the tree. This works particularly well with golden glitter for angels and stars, and silver glitter for snowflake shapes.
- Use a tiny cutter to cut out a heart shape on each design to spread festive love.
- Instead of using a cookie cutter, cut (carefully!!) around the shape of your little one’s hand to make a keepsake memento.
- Use fingerprints to create a festive design, e.g. Christmas tree lights. Check out our Fingerprint Christmas Cards for lots of ideas to incorporate.
Candy Cane Pom Pom Wreath
Ideas For Using Air Dry Clay Christmas Decorations
Of course these charming air dry clay decorations have a multitude of different uses. Here are some ideas to whet your appetite…
- Christmas Tree Ornaments. Hang them on your Christmas tree for a wonderful rustic homemade look.
- Garlands. Using thinner smaller clay designs to ensure they are not too heavy, these air dry clay decorations would look fabulous interwoven with dried fruit slices, greenery and other decorations to create a homemade garland.
- Table Place Names. Again use letter stamps to personalise the designs. Then tie them to the back of people’s chairs with a sprig of fern or place them on table settings. They’ll double up as a fabulous Christmas table gift as well!
- Drinks coasters. Larger designs would be perfect for drinks coasters around the house as well as at the Christmas dinner table! Ensure no one has to worry which is their drink!
- Gifts for Loved Ones. Particularly if you go for personalised designs or creations, these would make gorgeous thoughtful gifts, particularly from little ones to the family.
- Gift Tags. Just like the ones below that we’ve teamed with the fabulous Read Wrap Recycle newspaper wrapping paper, these air dry clay designs work brilliantly as gift tags! Why not stamp on the recipient’s name to create a tag that can be used again and again?
Brown Paper Gift Wrap Ideas
Equipment Needed To Make Air Dry Clay Decorations
However the list below will allow you to easily create your designs and decorate them fully too. All the items listed as inexpensive and will last ages, if not indefinitely.
Rolling Pin. Use a smooth metal or glass rolling pin to avoid the clay sticking to it. We love this one which comes with adjustable ends so you can select the thickness of your clay and guarantee an even roll. The pack also includes a crafting mat which is perfect for a smooth finish and less tidying up afterwards!
If you don’t want to invest in a rolling pin then tape two wooden skewers to the surface around 20-30cm apart and use an empty wine bottle or equivalent to roll out the clay. As long as your makeshift rolling pin has a smooth non-stick surface, anything can work!
Crafting Mat. Any smooth cool surface will work just fine. Do make sure it’s completely smooth though as it’ll be easier to clean up afterwards and also will prevent any unplanned texture being added to your designs. See above for our suggested rolling pin / mat combo for minimal effort with the tidying up!
Shape Cutters. We used a mixture of festive and general shape cookie cutters to create our designs. In fact I took a selection of cutters from my sons’ bumper pack, although this is a neat set of Christmas cookie cutter shapes. However any cutter shapes will work –you can even go free-hand with a knife if you’re feeling brave!
Alphabet Stamps. If you fancy adding some text to some of your designs these traditional style letter stamps are definitely the way to go!
Trays for Drying, lined with foil or wax paper. A cooling rack is ideal for allowing the air to both sides but unless sufficiently lined it will cause a pattern on the reverse.
Acrylic Paints (optional). If you’d like to add a splash of colour to your designs then a little paint will do the trick. You can use almost any kind of paint. Watercolour paints give a thinner paint layer and more natural finish. We used acrylic paints for a bolder candy cane design. Don’t forget the paint brushes too!
Varnish (optional). If you’d like to seal the air dry clay Christmas decorations and make paint colours really pop, add a layer of varnish. This is by no means essential – the clay ornaments will last well whether varnished or not as long as you don’t get them wet and you may prefer the more matte natural finish. However if you want to give the ornament some water-proofing, then sealing with varnish is a good idea.
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A Few Tips For Using Alphabet Stamps
A few tips for use:
- You can create the whole word in one go and stamp together but we rather like adding each letter individually to give a slightly less uniform design.
- Press firmly with the letters but don’t press too hard or you get the complete shape of the stamp as well as the letter.
- It’s worth rolling out a small piece of clay to practise first.
- Add the letters slightly above halfway on decorations if you plan to paint the bottom half.
- If you mess up, simply roll the clay back up into a ball, reroll and start again!
How To Make DIY Air Dry Clay Christmas Decorations
Air Dry Clay Christmas Decorations
- Lay out a crafting mat or find a cool smooth surface to work on (the residue should wash off easily with warm soapy water afterwards but could get caught in grooves on a textured surface so wax paper or a crafting mat are strongly recommended!).
- Tear off a handful of air dry clay from the packet. Kneed it in your hand for a while to warm the clay before putting it down to roll out.
- Use the rolling pin to roll out to desired thickness. I chose ¼ inch (around 6mm) for a more rustic look. If you want to make lighter decorations, choose around 1/8 inch (or 3-4mm) but be aware that the decorations will of course be more delicate to handle too.
- Use your cutters to cut out shapes in the clay and carefully peel away the remaining clay from around the edges. Set aside this excess clay to reroll.
- Optional. Wet your finger and smooth any rough edges (or leave for a more homemade rustic look).
- Add a small hole to each ornament with a straw or the end of your paint brush.
- Carefully move the decorations to the lined trays.
- Optional. Add words with the letter stamps. See our tips above for more details.
- Leave to dry. This will take 1-4 days depending on how thick your clay shapes are. Be sure to turn the shapes every 24 hours or so to ensure they dry on both sides.
- Optional. Once completely dry, file edges with sandpaper or a nail file if you wish.
- Optional. Paint your decorations: o For the spotty pattern, use the end of a paint brush dipped in acrylic paint.o For the stripy patterns, position masking tape across the areas not being painted. For the green and red candy canes, apply the first paint colour and wait for it to dry before repeating for the second. (Be careful putting masking tape over unsealed acrylic paint as it can peel off.)
- Optional. Once completely dry, apply a coat of varnish to seal the decoration and give it a glossy finish.
- Try to work reasonably quickly to avoid the clay drying out. If it starts to get dry, either use a mister to spray a little moisture over it or gently rub a damp finger across the surface of the clay.
- Be sure to wrap leftover clay up tightly and place in an air-tight container for future projects! If the exposed end is a little dry when you return to the clay you may be able to rescue it by moistening the clay as described above.
- Keep turning the ornaments as they dry to minimise cracks. Should cracks start to appear, try smoothing with a damp finger (this will only work up to a point so keep a close eye on your drying ornaments to avoid missing the point of no return!). Or simply leave for a natural homemade look!
- These ornaments will last for years after creation. To ensure they stay at their best, store laid flat in an air-tight container and well away from moisture.
Looking for more homemade Christmas décor inspiration? Check out our other ideas here.
More Décor Inspiration
12 ideas for easy creative scrap fabric projects to put old material to good use, without the need to sew.
11 easy hacks for Christmas decoration storage to keep them secure and make life easier for yourself next year too!
Ten creative ways to recycle Christmas trees for a planet-friendly end to the celebrations. Plus, what to do with potted trees.