This post shows you how to make some DIY clay ornaments for the holiday season that include a little extra sparkle.
I LOVE making homemade ornaments. They are so much more meaningful and enjoyable when you make ornaments rather than when you buy them. In addition to using ornaments on your Christmas tree, DIY ornaments also double as present toppers and can be used to embellish your stockings. These air dry clay Christmas ornaments also make great gifts.
If you have children, this is a project that is fun for the whole family.
For this Christmas craft I used DAS air dry clay but you can also make your own handmade clay ornaments out of salt dough or by using this recipe for making corn starch ornaments. You can also use a polymer clay and any homemade clay recipe.
Today, I want to walk you through the process of making these DIY clay ornaments. However, I want to start off with a caveat. These handmade ornaments took a fair amount of time to make. They are not complicated or difficult to make but they do require a number of days to create because you have to wait for the clay to dry. I started making these ornaments on a Friday evening and finished them the following Sunday afternoon.
Having said that, the end result is well worth the effort and time invested. Also, I have a greater appreciation for homemade Christmas ornaments.
So, with that, let’s jump in and get started.
DIY Clay Ornaments
As with any project, the first thing we need to do is gather our supplies.
Most of these items are available at your local craft store. For your convenience, I have provided links to online sources.
- DAS air-dry clay
- Cookie cutters
- 4 wooden paint stirrers
- Rolling pin
- Aluminum foil/ parchment paper/ wax paper
- Mod Podge
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Old sheet music
- Small screw
- Cookie sheet
Step 1 – Prepare your work surface
Before opening your package of clay, there are a couple of things I recommend you do in advance. It’s important to note that air dry clay is not food safe. So, use cookie cutters and a rolling pin that won’t come into contact with food. I had a set of slightly rusty old cookie cutters that I used for this project. You can use any Christmas cookie cutters for this project, but just remember that you won’t want to reuse them to make cookies. The rolling pin was an extra that I happened to have in my stash.
Also, you want to ensure that your clay is rolled out to ¼ inch thickness. To ensure that the clay is a uniform thickness, you are going to create some “guides”. I glued paint sticks together to act as ¼ inch guides on either side of my clay. (You will need 4 wooden paint sticks – a set for each side of the clay)
If you have any extra clay that you aren’t going to use, wrap it up in plastic wrap and put it in a ziplock bag.
Finally, be sure to lay down a sheet of aluminum foil on which you can roll out your clay. You can also use parchment paper or wax paper in lieu of aluminum foil. For this particular project, I chose to use aluminum foil.
So to recap, prepare your work surface by
- Finding cookie cutters and a rolling pin that you won’t use with food
- Creating some wooden guides to ensure a uniform thickness in the clay
- Laying down aluminum foil on which you can roll out your clay
Step 2 – Roll out the Clay
Using a piece of clay that is ⅔ the width of your rolling pin and placing the ¼” guides on either side of the clay, roll out your clay into a flat sheet on to the aluminum foil. When you first start working with the clay, it will look gray. Don’t worry! As it dries, it turns into white clay.
Then, using your cookie cutter shape, stamp out shapes in the clay. I used star-shaped cookie cutters and diamond shaped cookie cutters. You can use cookie cutters to create a wide variety of ornament shapes – including gingerbread men, candy canes, reindeer, etc. Peel the extra clay away from the shapes and repeat the process.
Using the end of a straw, punch a hole through the clay, near the top of the ornament.
Place your clay ornament shapes on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. I used a small bowl of water to smooth out any wrinkles or upturned edges on the ornaments.
Step 3- Let the Clay Dry
This is the part of the project that took the most time. Let your clay shapes dry for 24-48 hours.
For best results, flip them over every 10-15 hours. This allows both sides of the clay to dry and prevents cracking or the edges from curling upwards.
Step 4 – Decoupage the Ornaments
Although the air dried ornaments looked perfectly fine unadorned, I really wanted to add some panache. So, I decided to decoupage them using old sheet music. Here are the steps I took to create some added flair to the air dried ornaments.
First, I turned on the oven to its lowest setting of 175 degrees so it would be pre-heated. Then, I placed a sheet of aluminum foil on the table to protect the work surface.
Then, I tore some sheet music into tiny pieces. Here is a TIP: it’s important to tear the paper and not to cut it. Tearing the edges of the paper creates a much more uniform finish.
Using 220 grit sandpaper, I sanded each ornament on the front, back and edges. This helped to create a smooth surface and removed any pieces of excess clay.
I brushed Mod Podge on the face of each ornament, applied the pieces of sheet music, and then applied Mod Podge over the sheet music. Using a small screw I punctured a hole through the sheet music via the hole where the ornament would be hung.
I repeated this process for one side of all the ornaments and then placed them in the oven for 20 minutes.
After the ornaments were removed from the oven, I let them cool for 15 minutes. Then, once again, I brushed Mod Podge on the backside of each ornament, applied pieces of sheet music and then again brushed Mod Podge over the sheet music. Then I used a small screw to puncture a hole where the ornament would be hung. I repeated this process for all the ornaments and placed them in the oven for 20 minutes.
After the ornaments were removed from the oven, I let them cool for 15 minutes. Then, using some 220 grit sandpaper, I sanded the edges of each ornament to remove any pieces of paper or rough spots. The star ornaments took the longest to sand because each arm of the star needed special attention.
Once the edges of all the ornaments were sanded smooth, I brushed Mod Podge on the edges and dipped the ornaments into glitter.
This allowed the edges of the ornaments to be covered in glitter. One last time, I used the screw to puncture holes through the sheet music on each ornament and then used metallic twine to hang the ornaments.
The ornaments then dried overnight.
The next day, they were ready to be used!
Step 5 – Enjoy your DIY Clay Ornaments
This is the easiest step and best part of the project! Enjoy your DIY Christmas ornaments. You can hang them on your Christmas tree, tie them to gifts, use them as gift tags, attach them to stockings, or give them as gifts. This project was so much fun and now I will have ornaments I can use next year.
Here are a few variations to consider when making these homemade clay ornaments:
- Add a few drops of essential oils to the clay
- paint the clay ornaments different colors
- Press shapes into the clay ornaments – such as leaves, old keys, or patterns
- Decoupage the ornaments using illustrations from an old book
- Use metallic paint on the edges of the ornaments (instead of glitter)
Below are some images of the completed ornaments. Feel free to pin these images to your Pinterest account for future reference.
You can use branches from outside to display your ornaments.
You can get a better view of the glitter on the edges of the ornaments. If you don’t like glitter, you can use gold paint or rub n buff as an alternative.
The Mod Podge also seals the clay and protects it from moisture.
Here is one final photo showing the end result.
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Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some inspiration and that you are having a meaningful holiday season where you are able to connect with those you love.