It’s also called Victorian Salt Clay, I even love the sound of it. The question was “ What if you want to make tiny dishes but don’t have paper clay?” I wondered if a homemade, air-dry clay could work and the answer is yes. It was a fun experiment plus I love the way it smells – I was immediately 11 again.
Salt is the main ingredient. It produces a clay that is a little more textured than paper clay. It takes a while to dry – a day or two. You shouldn’t bake it but you can put it someplace warm to speed up the process. My oven has a pilot so it’s always a little warm and I put my pieces in it overnight. The small things were dry but the larger pieces needed another day. It’s very hard when dry and can be sanded and painted – I have tips for that below. First let’s make the clay.
You will need:
1 cup of salt
⅓ cup water
½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
!. Mix 1 cup of table salt with ⅓ cup of water. Heat in a small pan over medium heat, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat.
2. Quickly stir the ½ cup cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. It’s very important that you sprinkle the cornstarch a little at a time stirring constantly or it won’t mix properly.
3. Put the salt mixture back on low heat and add the cornstarch mixture stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken. Keep stirring until it becomes dough like – this happens pretty quickly.
4. Scoop it out onto a plate and let it cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, knead it into a smooth ball. It’s ready to use – you can roll it like cookie dough or sculpt it. Left over clay can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. I did find it a little crumbly when I took it out of the fridge the next day but after I kneaded it again it was sculpt-able.
I tried making some plates and cups from the tiny dish tutorial and got good results. When I formed it over things it was looser than the paper clay but it still worked. And in the plate tutorial I recommend letting it dry about halfway before cutting the shapes. With the salt clay you can’t do that – it becomes too brittle. It’s a pretty stiff clay though so easy to cut.
Over-all I was pleased with the results – not as fine as the paper clay but still charming and I definitely value heart over perfection in tiny dish making.
Plus it’s fun to make the clay!
I sanded the pieces and painted with watercolor, acrylic craft paint and finished some with nail-polish. Use quick multiple coats of paint. I found if I overworked the paint it would lift.
The handle on the tiny cast iron frying pan broke when I sanded it but I glued it back on and painted it with black nail polish. The teacup got painted with black nail polish too. The soup kettle was made by forming the clay over a handle – similar to the process for creating the teacup in the dish tutorial.
Parts for a little doll experiment showed up too. Such a funny little lady, I love her. I’ll post a photo when she’s finished.
And magic stones.
I made them, that’s how I know for sure they’re magic. They are painted with watercolor and acrylic and finished with a layer of nail polish. The clay and stones would be a fun project to do with little folks and a magic rock in your pocket can’t hurt.
I hope you make victorian salt clay!
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