Homemade Play-clay

B has been expressing a desire for some play-dough lately, and by that I mean begging me to buy him some..every..stinking..time we go to any kind of retail store and most of the time in between *rolling eyes*

Since I don’t have an unlimited play-dough budget I was unable to fulfill his burning needs. Also, *real* play-dough contains gluten so we really shouldn’t have it around because of M. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to limit my children’s artistic expression. The solution? Homemade clay that is gluten free, of course!

In my previous life I worked in daycare, which included a few preschools, so I know play clay 😉 Most homemade recipes use flour, which of course won’t work for us, but there are a few that don’t. These include several edible doughs like chocolate clay, candy clay, peanut butter clay. Some of these won’t work for us either-peanut butter clay for instance calls for powdered milk which is also off limits for M-and all have the disadvantage of having a limited shelf life. There is also the option of using a recipe for gluten filled dough and substituting a GF flour. Since the flour we had in the house was rather pricey I nixed that idea, especially since I have never tried this and didn’t want to waste the ingredients if it didn’t work.

After looking up several recipes and checking out what we had available in our cabinets I decided on this recipe for Corn Starch clay:

from Cooks.com

1 c. cornstarch
2 c. salt
1 1/3 c. cold water

Put salt and 2/3 c water in a pot and bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch with remaining water and stir well. Blend these two mixture together and knead into clay. Make 3 cups. Mold the clay into various shapes or objects and let dry (takes several hours). You may paint them when dry. Store unused clay in a plastic bag in refrigerator.

I added some food coloring to the cornstarch/water mixture to color the dough. We ended up with three batches. B likes to play with them on an old cookie sheet.


The clay is kind of sticky but it doesn’t seem to bother the kids any. I suspect we could take care of that problem if I added some more corn starch to the dough but we used it all up and I keep forgetting to buy more. It’s been in the fridge for over a week and is still usable but does dry nicely when left out. It’s also very sparkly from all the salt.

B had become quite creative since having unlimited access to clay. Here is him with one of his masterpieces, a snail!

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Since making this dough I have come across some other recipes for corn starch clay I would like to try. They look (in the pictures at least) a lot less sticky then the dough we made. I think I’ll pick up some more ingredients when I go shopping and try one or two!

Homemade Cornstarch Clay
from Natural Family Online

Large saucepan
2 cups baking soda
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
Paints and brushes (optional)

Stir the cornstarch, baking soda and water together in the saucepan thoroughly and bring to a boil on medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until the mixture is the texture of mashed potatoes, then cover and cool to room temperature.

The clay is now ready for play! Use it for play or make ornaments and sculptures.

Dry your clay
Allow the clay to air dry, turning the piece over every 12 hours. If your oven is capable of baking at less than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, you may choose that option, though the ornaments will be more brittle.

Make ornaments
Roll out 1/8- to ¼-inch-thick slabs of clay. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or children’s play knives. Poke holes large enough to thread a ribbon or fishing line through, using a pencil or other object. Use watercolors or other paint to decorate the clay before it dries.


Play Clay
from Argo Starch

Yield: 2 pounds

1 cup Argo or Kingsford Corn Starch
1 pound (2 cups) baking soda
1-1/4 cups cold water
1 tablespoon Mazola Oil
1 tablespoon food color OR 1 to 2 teaspoons Rit Dye or paste food color
In medium saucepan stir corn starch and baking soda. Add water and oil all at once and stir until smooth.

Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture reaches the consistency of SLIGHTLY dry mashed potatoes. (Mixture will come to a boil, then start to thicken, first in lumps and then in a thick mass; it should hold its shape). If Play Clay is overcooked, crafts may crack.

Turn out onto plate and cover with damp cloth; cool.

When cool enough to handle, turn play clay onto work surface dusted with corn starch; knead until smooth and pliable. If not using immediately, store completely cooled clay in tightly closed plastic bag or container.

Shape Play Clay as desired by molding into shapes, balls or ropes with hands. Or, roll flat with a rolling pin or press with hands, making pieces of moderate thickness. (Items less than 1/4-inch thick tend to be fragile; very thick pieces often dry unevenly and may crack). Press or etch designs into soft Play Clay. Plan to glue small pieces together (including heads to bodies) rather than press Play Clay shapes together.

Air-dry Play Clay overnight on wire racks, turning occasionally for faster and more even drying. To oven dry: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then turn oven OFF. Place undecorated items on a wire rack on a cookie sheet. Place in oven until oven is cold. Repeat as necessary.

Decorate with water color, acrylic paints, markers, colored glue, glitter glue, or crayons. Let dry completely. Coat decorated items with clear acrylic to seal.

Store un-shaped Play Clay in an airtight container OR heavy plastic bag in a cool place up to 2 weeks. Knead stored clay until smooth before using.

MICROWAVE METHOD: Stir corn starch and baking soda in 2-1/2 quart microwaveable bowl. Add water and oil all at once and stir until smooth. Microwave at HIGH (100%) uncovered, 2 minutes; stir. Microwave 3 to 4 minutes longer, stirring after each minute until mixture reaches consistency of SLILGHTLY mashed potatoes. Complete using directions above.

I also found several recipes for different clays at Buzzle.com’s Play Clay Recipes.


One response to this post.

  1. Thanks so much for the recipes!


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