Janice's Doings in Tübingen

All Sorts

Baking Soda Clay - 26 October 2011

This clay is just so much fun, I thought I'd share the recipe (below) and a few fun things my 5-year old and I made today! (I also used this clay for my Owl Tealight Tutorial.) Baking Soda Clay has a super texture, is very malleable and stores well, plus models air dry very quickly and are a beautiful pure white color.
             a little bunny                                        my daughter's gruesome ghost duo...

... and a trio of silly ghosts for Halloween

And here's sweet Mio from Mio Mao fame (a claymation series by Misseri Studios in Italy).
There's a great YouTube video, showing how one of these little cats are made; my daughter made this cat from watching this:

Baking Soda Clay Recipe (courtesy of Mudworks, by MaryAnn F. Kohl, who calls it Play Clay)
1. mix 1 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup cornstarch in a saucepan
2. add 2/3 cup warm water and stir until smooth
3. over medium heat, boil and stir until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes
4. put on a board to cool some, knead it and play away!
5. store leftover clay in an airtight container - this will keep for several weeks
6. modelled figures will air dry very quickly and are pure white in color

Just a happy doughnut!

Baking Soda Clay Heart Ornaments - 23 November 2011

I'm pretty pleased with how nicely these little heart ornaments from baking soda clay turned out. I posted the recipe for Baking Soda Clay earlier and this clay works very nicely if you do your modelling within a week of making. I like the clean white color of this clay and the beaded patterns - made with the help of a toothpick - stand out well. I got the inspiration for these ornaments from these lovely porcelain ornaments on Etsy.

I might make some more of them
and add little drops/lines of food coloring to the shaped-but-not-dried ornaments
to do a bit of marbling on them, like these beautiful decorated heart cookies
OR I might try doodling on the dried ornaments with markers, a la Zentangle style:

Owl Tealight Tutorial - 26 October 2011

I'm really quite pleased with my little owl tealight; not only is he pretty cute, but I love playing with clay and this little guy can be made in a jiffy!

Owl Tealight Tutorial
1. Make a nice smooth ball of baking soda clay about 2" in diameter.
2. Using your index finger, make an indentation on the back half of the ball.
3. While leaving a ridge all around the back edges, gently enlarge this indentation, making it the size of a tealight candle while also working the front part of the ball up to form the head of the owl. Smooth the back ridge and the place where the candle sits.

4. Using your index finger and thumb, make a small pointy ear on each side of the head

5. With your thumbs in front of the face and your fingers on the inside, gently massage your thumbs in small circles to make two round eyes, pushing a little stronger towards the middle between the eyes to make the beak and just above the eyes to make a brow. Use your small finger to smooth out each eye.
All done!

Here's a freshly-made owl on the left and the dried/hardened version on the right:

Baking Soda Clay Revisited - 7 Feb 2012

Some time ago I promised a few commenters that I would look into baking soda equivalents for us folk living in Germany, plus how well the baking soda clay takes to food coloring. I'm happy to report that I've finally done this and with a happy degree of success!

I recently made 2 batches of baking soda clay:
The first one used a surprise find at the Mix Markt in Betzingen: a 500 gr. box of Natriumhydrogencarbonat (only 55 cents (€)!). The Mix Markt carries a line of products largely from Russia and eastern Europe and they have 100 stores throughout Germany, so hopefully you German followers can find one.
The other batch I made with Natron, purchased at the cost of 1 kilo for 2.31€ from Lebensmittel.de but they charged a whopping shipping cost of 4.90€! Never again will I do that for a lone purchase!

In any case, both batches turned out just beautifully! (Oh, I did try some very cheap Waschsoda at one point but although my hands got very clean it did not ever produce a working clay consistency.)
Here are photos of each clay in the mashed potato stage (so right at the end of cooking) with the matching baking soda packaging.

Then I divided the cheapie batch to try out the various dyes I have. Yellow was the winning color and I used
4 drops of McCormack's liquid food coloring in one batch,       two small blobs of AmeriColor's gel food coloring here,

and a tiny pinch of powdered German Lebensmittelfarbe from Birkmann in the third batch.
In each case I kneaded in the coloring and, although each a different shade, they are all quite pretty.

I then made a bunch of stars and, as you can see, I also dyed a separate small portion with some red gel food coloring and rolled a rope of that together with a rope of plain white to get those swirly marble effects.

After they air-dried for a day or two, I did a bit of doodling on a few of them. For that my Stabilo fine-tipped Write-4-all worked best. Some of the stars did crack a little bit on the back side, but I will admit that I didn't put too much time into making these perfect. My heart ornaments were much better.

Clay Owl Tealights - October 2011

The white ones were made with baking soda clay which is quite lovely to work with, is a pure white color and dries very hard. Tutorial and clay recipe can be found under 'Other Crafts'!

The brown and golden owls were made with sand clay, an interesting tactile experience (unless the clay is too gooey, as was the gold batch)! I used decosand on these - which may also be the reason that the gold was not an ideal texture - and the brown had lovely glittery sparkles in it which the kids appreciated. This clay is also great to work with and dries to resemble stone.

Sand Clay Recipe
(courtesy of Mudworks, by MaryAnn F. Kohl)

1. mix 1 cup sand, 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1 teaspoon alum in a saucepan
2. add 3/4 cup hot water, stirring vigorously
3. add food coloring, if desired
4. cook over medium heat until thick in pan
5. cool (this is VERY important - let it cool because otherwise it is way too gooey!)
6. mold as desired
7. leave to dry, may take several days
8. store leftover clay in an airtight container

Have fun with this. The sand in the clay leaves hands feeling wonderfully smooth after you've played with this for a bit. Nice exfoliating properties!

Scented Hanging Decorations - October 2011

These seasonal scented hanging decorations are very easy to make but do take a few days of advance preparation in terms of drying orange and apple slices. I like the fun of adding found/scavenged items from nature walks to this (the 'berries' and rose hips) and using a cookie cutter to cut out pairs of shapes from sheets of beeswax. Beads, little jute stars, cloves and cinnamon sticks add to the rustic feel and lovely aroma.

Simply thread a piece of yarn on a large needle, make a loop for hanging and then sew on each of your items, making a knot in the yarn below each piece. For the little beeswax pieces, cut out two using a cookie cutter, line the thread up in the middle of the piece and lay the other beeswax piece on top, pressing well to have them adhere to each other.

I found the idea for these at http://www.kidsweb.de/herbst/dufthaengerli/dufthaengerli_basteln.htm
and, yes, that is a German website with lots of kids' craft ideas. 'Duft' means 'scent' and 'haengerli' is 'a little something that hangs'. Ganz klar! (Completely clear!)

String Ornaments - October 2011

Has anyone NOT made one of these string ornaments as a kid or with their kids? Kids' Christmas crafts don't get much simpler - or much messier! - than these. Simply blow up a water balloon and wrap glue-covered string all around it, let it dry and finally pop and remove the balloon. Add a ribbon to hang it up!

Just a note or two:
This is VERY messy and drips a lot! Make sure your surfaces under the balloon are well protected.
For the glue, I mixed it very roughly 1-to-1 with water.
My string pieces were about 1 yard long. Dunk in the whole piece of string, then run the string through your thumb and forefinger to remove most of the glue.
Or you could try a version one of our moms used: wrap the balloon well with the string and THEN dunk the whole thing in the glue. This made for a LOT more dripping, but the balloons were very nicely and consistently covered.
It's amazing what you can get done in one and a half hours of concentrated work with a group: from just that one 3rd grade class, we now have about 30 string ornaments, 36 snowflake cards and 21 8-pointed star cards to sell at our Lantern Fest! And that's just for starters. Three more classes and 6 more crafts to go!

Mini Ribbon Ornament - 5 December 2011

Here is a little ribbon and bead ornament I whipped together yesterday!
I found packs of 3 rolls of holiday ribbons for sale
and decided to play around with them a bit.
This guy is only about 2 1/2 inches tall
and fits nicely into the hand of my helpful 5-year old!

This doesn't take much effort to make and unfortunately I forgot to measure the length of the ribbon that I had cut, but it is essentially curving the ribbon back and forth while sandwiching a bead between each fold.

I have the idea from
and her cute paper tree:

And here's my little cutie admiring my handiwork
(or her beautifully extended finger)!

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