Step by step directions with photos for making DIY air dry clay Christmas ornaments. These charming little tags make the perfect handmade gift!
Several years ago, when I sold handmade items in my Etsy shop, one of our bestsellers was a line of Christmas ornaments made from air dry clay. For many reasons, I decided to stop selling handmade items, but I also wanted you to be able to decorate with these darling ornaments. What follows is an easy tutorial with detailed instructions and sources. These sweet tags make the loveliest handmade gift for a loved one…or for yourself. Enjoy!
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How To Make These Darling Ornaments
- To begin, prepare the rolling area by taping down two skewers about six inches apart. (You need a hard, smooth surface.)
- Tear off a chunk of clay and mold it in your hands. The chunk should be about the size of the palm of your hand. Knead it several times until it warms up.
- Place the clay between the skewers and begin to roll.
- The skewers will gauge the thickness of the tags, so roll and smooth until the pin glides smoothly over the skewers. Even though these air dry clay Christmas ornaments will not be perfect, it’s important to make them all the same thickness. This can only be accomplished by using skewers, or something similar, as guides.
- Using cookie cutters, cut out as many tags as will fit on the clay. It’s best to cut out 3 or 4 ornaments at a time. Don’t try to roll out a large piece of clay because it will dry quickly, and be more difficult to work with.
- Gently pull off the clay around the tags.
- Pick up each tag, and before placing on a cookie sheet, smooth the edges with your fingers.
- After placing on a cookie sheet, make sure each tag is as flat as possible. When you have a cookie sheet filled, it’s time to do your stamping (if desired.) Stamp the ornaments one tray at a time. Again, the clay will dry quickly, so stamping when they are still moist will garner the best results.
- Using the sucker stick, make a hole in the top of each tag.
- Let dry for 24 hours.
- Carefully turn each tag and let dry for another 24 hours.
- When completely dry, tie on a piece of twine for a hanger.
- Choose short words. Six letters or less is about all that fits on a tag.
- Hold the alphabet stamps tight together (as pictured below) and stamp an entire word at the same time. For the word “peace,” I stamped the first four letters and then added the “e” on the end.
- From a reader: “I use a small rubber band to hold my letters together before stamping.”
- Watch the pressure when you apply the stamps. If you press too hard, the outline of the stamp will show. This is one step in the process where practice will make the job easier. Before stamping on ornaments to keep, it’s best to roll out a piece of clay, and try out your words. Practice lining up the stamps, and get a feel for how much pressure you need to make the letters legible.
Basic Tips For Success
- As mentioned above, the skewers guarantee that the tags will be uniform in thickness. If you use a wider rolling pin (ours is 8 inches) place the skewers further apart.
- Anything will work for a rolling area as long as it’s smooth. If you have a pie crust mat, that’s perfect. The clay easily washes off with soap and water.
- Practice makes (almost) perfect. It’s helpful to practice rolling and cutting a few times before making tags to keep.
- Leftover clay can be re-used. The clay that is pulled off around the cut-outs can be re-rolled. If you make a mistake, just mold and roll again.
- When the ornaments are dry, the edges can be smoothed with a small nail file.
- How many ornaments can you get from the 2.2 lb. package of air dry clay? That depends on so many things…but my best guess is between 30 and 35. That’s if you roll out with scewers, and use 3 -4 inch cutters.
- These air dry clay Christmas ornaments will last for years if stored properly. They need to be stored completely flat, so layer them in a plastic bin with an air-tight lid. Use parchment paper or wax paper in between the layers.
Frequently Asked Questions
When we sold these in the Etsy shop, we did not seal them. I have made them a few times since then, and have not sealed mine…and they are still perfect. A reader left a comment saying she sealed her ornaments with watered down wood glue. She said the ornaments looked slightly shiny and very smooth.
We did not paint the ornaments for the Etsy shop, and I didn’t paint the ones I made for myself. So I have never personally tried. My best advice would be to try acrylic paint on one ornament and see if you like it.
I feel like a broken record, but again, I have never tried it. I don’t know if the ink would bleed into the clay or not. Experiment with one ornament and see what happens!
These ornaments are far from perfect…there are wrinkles and cracks. I believe that’s part of their charm, so just embrace the imperfections. No two are alike, and if you give them as gifts, the recipients will know you took the time to make them something handmade. In my opinion, that’s pretty special. This is a Christmas craft that takes a little planning, and some time. However, the outcome is so worth the effort. A handmade gift is something that you make with your hands, but it comes from your heart. This is a timeless gift for friends and family of all ages.
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