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How to Make Simple Air Dry Clay Ornaments

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There’s something special about a handmade ornament. Once you learn how to make these simple air dry clay ornaments, you’ll find yourself wanting to include them as stocking stuffers for the whole family.

Air dry clay ornaments in circular shape and angel shape decorated with pressed flowers and paint with text overlay reading "How to Make Air Dry Clay Ornaments"

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How to Make Clay Ornaments

For those wanting step-by-step details, I have a complete YouTube tutorial on making these DIY ornaments with air-dry clay.

You’ll find more behind-the-scenes info in that video, and I hope you’ll take a moment to join me as a subscriber too.


What to Know About Air Dry Clay

If you’re new to working with air dry clay, here are a few things to know about the medium before you get started.

  • The air dry clay used in this tutorial takes about 24 hours to dry and does not require baking.
  • If your clay begins cracking, simply add a few drops of water with your fingertips to create more moisture and pliability.
  • The clay is safe for all ages to use, so grab the kiddos and have some fun!
Air dry clay ornaments with leaf pattern and jute twine string with wooden beads

Kids might especially enjoy making my air dry clay gnomes, which has another step-by-step tutorial on the blog, or some of these air dry clay projects for kids that come as a kit.

If you want to make your own clay with household ingredients, try my no-fail salt dough ornament recipe. You can bake it in the oven for 2 hours, which is convenient. However, it’s more difficult to make imprints like you can with air dry clay.

How to Press Flowers for Clay Ornaments

If you’re interested in pressing flowers, I highly recommend this microwave flower press. You can use my coupon code FIRSTDAY10 for 10% off your order.

Pansies and rose petals on microwave flower press waiting to be dried
Pansies and rose petals before pressing in microwave

I have a beginner’s guide to making DIY pressed flower art with this same press if you do end up buying one.

I also have a tutorial on how to press flowers if you want to explore other methods as well.

Air dry clay ornaments painted and texturized with natural stems in round and angel shapes

How to Make Air Dry Clay Ornaments

Author: firstdayofhome.com
Make beautiful air dry clay ornaments using items commonly found in nature. Learn how to paint and decorate your ornaments with various techniques including acrylic paint and pressed flowers.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Active Time 20 mins
Additional Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d 25 mins
Project Type Arts & Crafts
Cost (US$)10
Yield 20 ornaments

Equipment

  • Glass bottle or rolling pin
  • Paint brushes
  • Straw or dowel
  • Flower press (optional)

Supplies
 

Instructions
 

Standard Round Ornament

  • Begin rolling out a small handful of air-dry clay using a glass bottle or rolling pin until the clay is about 1/8-inch thick. You can use wax paper underneath for easy lifting.
  • Add a few drops of water with your fingertips if the clay begins cracking while rolling. You will need to continue to add moisture the longer you work with the clay.
  • Place stems or leaves onto the clay. Gently roll over the stem with the bottle or rolling pin to imprint the pattern onto the clay.
    Imprinting a stem onto air dry clay
  • Carefully remove the stems/leaves to reveal your pattern. Then use a cookie cutter to create your ornament shape.
    Cutting shapes in air dry clay
  • If hanging the ornament, use a straw or dowel to create a hole at the top.
  • Allow at least 24 hours for the ornament to dry completely.
    Round air dry clay ornament with imprint of cedar branch before drying
  • Once dry, paint the surface of the ornament using acrylic paint.
    Painted clay ornament with imprint of cedar stem
  • If desired, you can press flowers and then use Mod Podge to adhere a flower to the ornament. Apply a top coat of Mod Podge onto the flower and let it dry for 20-30 minutes.
    Pansy flower pressed onto clay ornament
  • Add jute twine or string to hang the ornament. As an option, you can add beads to embellish your design.

Angel Ornament

  • Follow steps 1-7 above. Be sure to use a small dowel to make two small holes in each wing of the angel.
  • Optional: Paint wooden beads with white and gold acrylic paint, lightly brushing the paint on for a more rustic effect.
    Wooden beads ready to be painted with white paint
  • Using jewelry wire, attach the wooden beads to the ornament to hang.
    Air dry clay ornament in shape of angel with painted wooden beads to hang

Notes

For best results, dip your fingers in water and smooth out any rough edges on the ornaments before air drying.
For a lightly brushed painting technique, make sure you dab off any excess paint before applying it to your ornament.
There is no need to seal painted ornaments (except when applying flowers), but you do have the option of applying a coat of Mod Podge for a more finished look.
Tried this project?Let us know how it was!
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12 Comments

    1. Hi Katie! You can try using a varnish or acrylic sealer to protect the stakes, but I believe they may eventually show some wear and tear if left outside in the rain and sun. I’ve made some decorative garden accessories with air-dry clay before, but I kept them under a covered patio and tried to avoid letting them sit in water. I hope this helps!

  1. Would you happen to know if the sculpey air dry clay works as well as the kind you used?
    I’m looking for a way to make my clay ornaments look nicer… ive been using the bake clay .. but I’m just not happy with the results.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Bekah! I haven’t tried Sculpey for air-dry clay, but I’m sure it would work just as well. I’ve used FIMO bake clay, so I think I know what you’re talking about in terms of the results. You can always add a nice gloss/matte coat with Mod Podge when you’re done if you’re looking for a more finished look. I hope this helps! Good luck!

  2. I look forward to trying my hand at them! We have a Christmas tradition that my mom started and I’m walking. What a special tradition. I’m very passionate about myself, so I love the idea of giving your grandchildren a gift to enjoy for many years to come. And very careful to make these earthen ornaments from garden items.

  3. I am so looking forward to trying my hand at these! We have a Christmas tradition that my Mom started and I am carrying on…finding or making Christmas ornaments for each of the grandchildren so that when they are grown they will have Christmas ornaments for their own tree in their own homes. Cheers!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Kay! What a special tradition. I’m very sentimental myself, so I love your idea of giving grandchildren a gift to enjoy for many years. I know they will treasure your creations. I hope you’ll consider sharing some photos when you’re done! Best wishes, Crissy