I must admit that when it comes to art I am a painting/drawing type person, rather than a crafting person. But my kids have used air-drying clay before and they LOVED it so when I recently ventured back into some shops again and I spotted air-drying clay I popped it into my shopping basket not knowing what we were going to use it for. I went for the white clay and not the terrocota one just in case the kids wanted to paint on the clay.
Then, while we were out enjoying a sunny day and my son was picking some leaves to explain to me which of his dinosaurs ate which leaves, I suddendly remembered someone talking about doing nature imprints in clay. So I very quickly gathered together a few trys (because the clay can get messy and I wanted to try and save my outdoor table), our clay, some cutting tools and some greaseproof paper.
The kids started gathering some grasses from our garden and rolling out the clay into small sections, pressing the different grasses and items into the clay.
Working outside with the leaves and clay
My kids really enjoyed the tactile elements of pressing the grasses into the clay and then pulling them out to reveal stunning imprints. You do have to make sure the grass or flower is pressed in quite hard to leave a good imprint.
Pressing the leaves into clay
A stunning imprint left behind!
You may need to add a bit of water to your clay if it starts drying out. But apart from the slightly wet, sticky hands there actually was not that much of a mess afterwards and the bits of clay that did get stuck on their hands came off very easily with some soapy water.
My kids were very happy just using their hands to press the items into the clay (I think they enjoyed that feeling of working with the clay) but we did also try and press some items with books. If you are doing this, please do remember to put some greaseproof paper between your books and the clay so you do not ruin them! I am honestly not sure if using the books made much difference to the end results. I suppose it is personal preference.
Leaves and flowers ready to be pressed into clay with a book
After we removed the book (which we protected with greaseproof paper)
The clay after we removed the flowers and leaves (before it has dried out)
Making clay imprints was a lot of fun and we ended up with some stunning imprints.
Some of our final results
Wonderful clay imprints!
Leaf images in clay
We had heard that you could paint your clay imprints with water colours so we experimented with a few of them and this is what we ended up with.
Painting the imprints with watercolours
I quite like the painted imprints and think you could possibly take it a step farther and turn them into a hanging decoration of some sort. My kids on the other hand say it is just fun working with the clay and making imprints and they were not so keen on the painting part. Try it and see for yourself!
This is a guest post from Shelly. Shelly is a home educating parent of two children aged 10 and 12. She blogs at ofamily learning together where she shares ideas on the different learning activities that they do including lots of hand-on maths, arts and crafts and anything else that is part of their home educating lifestyle.
You can find more guest posts by Shelly, and a list of all our guest posts, here.