When I first began searching Pinterest for clay ideas, I ran across one called "cold porcelain" a few times. For some reason, the name kind of rubbed me the wrong way and I didn't pay it too much attention. I think I randomly categorized it as a child's clay or a play-dough alternative. And well, it can be those, but it is also an amazing air dry clay that you can create for just a few dollars and it is very versatile! I created the mended heart in the ornament above from it. I'm going to tell you how to make it and give you some tips along the way.
To make cold porcelain you need:
1 cup of corn starch
1 cup of school glue
(if measuring glue sounds fun, let me spare you some messy grief.. you basically need 2 full bottles of the regular sized glue as show below)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp mineral oil, or baby oil, or a kitchen oil
(i was given a ton of baby oil with all three of my babies and i never use it on them - so that is what i used)
Lotion - for kneading
*This is a microwave version, you can absolutely cook it on the stove over low heat. Whatever utensils and/or pots that are used, please use them for crafts only and do it use them for food.
1.) In a microwave safe container, mix the glue, oil, and lemon juice together with a disposable spoon. Then add the corn starch and carefully mix together until well blended. It will resemble something like curdled cream.
If you have children that love to help, this is the best step for them to be involved.
2.) Place the mixture in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Quickly take it out and mix it well with your spoon. You will do this a couple of times.
How long? Well.. a number of recipes I found on the internet gave me all sorts of intervals and it always undercooked my clay. Here is my advice, you need to pay more attention to what the clay is doing rather than how many times it has been in the microwave. The clay will be ready when it is pulling from the sides of the container, it will have a matte sheen and hold a stiff peak. It roughly takes me 2 minutes total, but please pay more attention to the clay then time.
3.) Once the clay is well cooked, it will be super duper hot. Like Hades hot.. and you have to knead it. Don't let the kiddos help with this. Cover your hands well with lotion - this help the clay from sticking to you and it helps with the intense heat of the clay. Knead, knead, knead. You can do it on a lotioned up piece of saran wrap as seen below. Your clay will have a delightful, slightly elastic texture to it. Wrap it up in the saran wrap and place in an air tight container. Let it rest overnight in the fridge and you can play with it tomorrow!
Since this is an air-dry clay, you must try to keep it wrapped up tight. It can last for several weeks if well protected.
It will dry completely in 24-48 hours. Don't try to manipulate it during the drying process or it will become vulnerable to cracks and breaks.
It will be a translucent cream when dry unless you add pigment to it. You can color it with acrylics, oils or chalks. You can also paint it after it has dried. The heart I created was painted after the drying process.
Since this is an air-dry clay, there is considerable shrinkage during the drying process. I've never had a piece crack or break, but your optimum minimum thickness in my opinion would be 1/8-1/4" thick. Definitely something to consider if you like to use an armature. I am happiest with its use in molds or moldings without armatures.
It is a great clay to play with and because it is so relatively inexpensive, this is a great clay to use with children. I think it has amazing potential for more sophisticated art pieces as well.
I hope you will give the recipe a try and please let me know if you have trouble. My first batch was a messy, gigantic failure that occurred right before the baby woke from a nap. FUN! And if that happens to you, just try again. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to really mind the consistency changes of the clay during the heating process. You want it matte, pulling away from the container and stiff peaks!