Modelling clay can be made from a number of ingredients (see Wikipedia) but at home it is usually made from flour and water. Oil or cream of tartar is added to help with elasticity - and salt is usually used to help preserve the clay (and stop it going moldy).
If you are new to making playdough, then there is a little more to it than just throwing all the ingredients into a bowl and mixing!
Here are some tips on how to make clay that will help you get the best results.
We all have slightly different ways of measuring things, different flours absorb at different rates, and even things like humidity can effect your recipe. So use the ingredients as a place to start rather than expecting things to be exact. Measure out your ingredients carefully - then slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Keep mixing and then adding a little more liquid until you get a nice firm clay. If the results are too sticky, add more flour. To flakey and dry? Add a little more water.
Most of the recipes call for all purpose or plain flour but I have had good results with bread flour. I think bread flour has a higher gluten content which helps to make the dough hold together well. You may need to adjust the water quantities if you use bread flour.
If you want colored clay you can add food coloring or tempera paint. If you are happy for all the dough to be the same color then just add the coloring to the water before you mix the ingredients. If you would like different colored batches then make up the dough first, divide into portions and knead in the colors separately. This will give you more of a marbled effect effect at first, but the color will spread as you keep kneading it in.
Store in an airtight container and keep in a cool place. It should keep for a couple of months but homemade clay doesn't have the preservatives of shop bought stuff. If mold develops - it's time for a new batch!
Feel free to experiment and develop your own recipes. Try different oil or flour. The cream of tartar in the recipes is optional, but it does help with the elasticity. You can find in the the store with the baking ingredients (usually with the baking powder and bicarb).
4 cups plain/all-purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 teaspoon powdered alum (optional)
1.5 cups water
Mix ingredients in a bowl.
This clay bakes best if the ornaments are not too thick - about 1/2 inch is best.
Bake your ornaments on an ungreased baking tray for 30 mins, then turn and bake them for another 90 minutes until they are hard and dry (keep an eye on them so they don't burn). You need a low oven temperature - about 250 degrees F or 120 degrees C. When they are cool you can smooth them with fine sandpaper before decorating and varnishing.
Oh my goodness! I am a home schooling mum of 4 and I have NEVER found a better site! Thank you so much.
Blessings, Jenny (New Zealand)
I wanted to say THANK YOU for your fabulous website. I found your website, and finally I have the confidence to take the plunge and take my daughter out of school and educate her at home, thank you, thank you. Marina (UK)
I cannot get over how much great information and super ideas you have here. Fantastic! Ruralmama (USA)
This is simply fabulous!! I just now found this site and I'm so excited!! The opportunities and suggestions as well as the need to inspire are exactly what I have been searching to fulfill!! I'm so thrilled to get started and even more excited to continue to explore all of the fabulous suggestions and creative ideas you have offered here!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Jennifer (USA)