Cornstarch Clay Creatures

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Cornstarch Clay Creatures
Total Time 1 to 2 hours Ages school-age

Recommended by Ann Hallock and kids, Sarah, age 5, and Nat, 8

My kids and I love making crafts, particularly the kind that Sarah calls "make-it-however-you-like projects." That's why we have this clay recipe taped to the back of our cornstarch box. It takes about five minutes to "cook," and the resulting concoction is warm and pliable and the perfect consistency for kneading, modeling, and embellishing with stuck-on odds and ends.

Recently, making the clay and the creatures filled an entire empty afternoon and seemed to inspire that dreamy state kids can get into with open-ended projects: "Maybe this guy should be Frankenstein ... these beads are his monster eyes ... what should his arm be?" The sculptures dried to a hard, pearly finish, and our countertop is now populated with a one-of-a-kind menagerie of aliens, animals, snowmen, and robots.

Our Tips

  • This recipe yields enough for two kids to each make a sculpture or two, but if friends are over (as they often are on winter weekends), definitely double the ingredient amounts.
  • Put out decorative "stick-ons" in little bowls or paper cups. Fun embellishments, as shown above, include sequins, tacks, keys, cup hooks, soda-can tabs, nuts, bolts, washers, and screws. The end piece from a lamp pull-chain makes a nice bell to hang on a reindeer's neck.
  • A cookie sheet covered with waxed paper can serve as a drying rack (sculptures take a few days to harden).

  • What you'll need

    • 2/3 cup salt
    • 1/3 cup baking soda
    • 1/2 cup cornstarch

    How to make it

    1. In a small saucepan, mix the salt and baking soda with 1/3 cup of water and bring to a boil.

    2. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water and stir well.

    3. When the salt mixture boils, remove it from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Stir vigorously for a minute or two to thicken the clay. Spoon it onto a sheet of waxed paper and allow it to cool before working with it.

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