A simple project for Spring Break

Clay beads that you can use to make necklaces or even a ring.

My almost 4 yr old daughter (gulp, where has the time gone?) loves doing projects like this one. And I love them because it will keep her occupied for a long time.

First you need to make up a batch, or two or three depending on how many children you have doing this project.

Self Hardening Clay Recipe

1 1/2 cups salt
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp alum (this can be omitted if you will bake the clay to harden it rather than let it air dry)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl first. Add water gradually.

When the dough forms a ball, knead the dough well.

Add water if it is too crumbly. It should have the consistency of dough (really? how surprising!)

If you wish to bake this clay you can put it into an oven set at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until they get hard.

Making the beads

Form the dough into small ball shapes whatever size you desire for your necklaces. Bearing in ming that if they are too small you will have trouble poking a hole through them without breaking the dough or causing it to become misshapen. And too large and you necklace will be very heavy. Though considering my daughter routinely makes and wears neckalaces made out of large wooden beads, this might not be an issue for the younger set.

Using a nail, make a hole through the center of the bead. Wiggle it around to make the hole roomy enough for whatever sort of yarn or string you will be using to string the beads. For younger children I prefer to use pipe cleaners in lieu of string.

At this point you will either want to put them in the oven to harden or let them sit out on a tray for awhile.

Other tips

You can paint the beads after they harden, but I prefer to separate the dough when I make it and use different colors of food coloring for each batch.

If you are going to use the dough for other things that aren’t going to be handled as much as beads, say little sculptures, then I would paint them after they are hardened.

12 Responses to “A simple project for Spring Break”

  1. Beth Ritzman Says:

    Um, call me a dork, but what exactly is alum, and where can I find it?
    I’d love to make this recipe for my 2 older girls!

  2. Katie Says:

    I was about to ask exactly the same question. Do I not get it due to being British. I think my Rainbow (young Girl Scouts) unit would love to make these one wek and make the necklace the next.

  3. chris Says:

    Ok, I replied to Beth via email. But I should just clarify here for everyone else.

    Alum is sold in a small jar in the spice section of your grocery store. It is a preservative. If you are going to bake your creations you don’t need to use it.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Cathy Says:

    I will be doing this project today - thank you!!!

  5. Ashley Says:

    What a great idea, I will have to give it a try.

  6. Novaks8 Says:

    You are so awesome!


  7. Elizabeth Says:

    You want to hear an interesting use for alum? My Mom always kept it in the medicine cabinet to put on canker sores. You dab a little on it, and it dries out the sore and makes it stop stinging! Interesting, huh?

    And, although I generally don’t do crafts, I like the idea of the kids being able to shape things out of this clay. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. t in hd Says:

    Love this idea, Chris. I can’t wait to try it with the kids. “Cooking”, clay modeling and beading–all in one project. Perfect for my kids. I asked my biochemist dh if he could get me some alum. I have no idea what it is but apparently he does and says he can get me some.

    Elizabeth, thanks for the great tip for alum. I have a terrible time with canker sores.

  9. Christine Says:

    We’re doing this today. It was an everyone-woke-up-psychotically-early day, and finished schoolwork early. FUN!

  10. Mary W Says:

    Dies it matter if you use kosher salt or does it have to be plain salt?

  11. Michelle R Says:

    Hi! I just nominated you for the Thinking Blogger award, be sure to check it out!

  12. starting traditions « JoyfulChaos Says:

    [...] ornaments out of dough.  we’ll keep some and give most away.  i stole the recipe from here.  i read her regular blog for entertainment, but this one has lots of good [...]

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