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Air Drying Clay: An Unusual Element for Your Scrapbooks

The cost of embellishments from a scrapbooking store is often prohibitive in these tough times. But there is a way you can create you own unique embellishments for a fraction of store bought prices. Embellishments created with air drying clay add texture, bulk and interest to your pages, and once you get started you won’t know where to stop.

There are many types of air drying clay on the market, so there is bound to be one to suit your needs. The reason you use air drying clay is that it drys in the air – simple as that! You don’t need to have a kiln, or know about drying temperatures and glazes, and you don’t need a large workspace. You regular scrapbooking space will do fine.

Nor do you need a lot of fancy equipment. You can use items from around your home to work, cut and mold your clay.

The most popular air drying clay products on the market are made by Crayola and Das. There are many other brands that you can also try. Air drying clays vary in price but all have the ability to dry without kiln firing. The grain of these clays is very fine, so you can model them with your hands or tools, or press them into specially made molds. The clay is easy to work with, but you may fine that some natural red clays stain your hands. This comes off easily.

There are also many recipes for making air drying clay dough on the Internet, but be aware that flour based clays can go moldy if they get the slightest bit damp over time. Flour paste for glueing will have the same effect, so avoid flour based recipes in your scrapbooking.  For lighter clay embellishments, it is preferable to use paper clay, which you can also find on the Internet and in craft shops.

Now you have chosen your clay, you can get started. Cut off a portion of your block of clay to the size you want to work with. There is a special tool you can buy for this, similar to a cheese cutter with a wire strung across a handle. The cheese cutter, or just a piece of fine wire wound around wooden craft sticks will do as well. Just cut the wire through the clay.

Clay needs to be handled well before you start modelling. Knead it with your hands, and bang it on the bench occasionally to knock out air bubbles. Knead your clay on a protective surface such as a cutting matt or cardboard matt if you don’t want clay all over your bench.

When your clay is pliable, you can pinch off pieces and press them into molds, or roll it out with a pastry roller that you keep just for that purpose. Your nice flat clay will now take impressions from rubber stamps, found objects or cookie cutters.

Rubber stamping your clay with your favorite stamps give you almost instant embellishments that can be cut away from the rest of the clay and dried. You can paint the stamped tiles, or coat them with gold foil, or just leave them as they are for a rustic look.

Other items you can press into your clay are shells, coins, charms or fibers – in fact, anything that makes an impression can be turned to good use. You can also embed objects like sequins and stones into your clay while it is still soft and create stunning effects.

With cookie cutters, you can create clay die cuts that are much more fun than paper die cuts and which can be used in a variety of ways. You can mount them on their own, or pierce hanging holes in them with a canvas needle while the clay is still soft. Then you can hang your clay shapes on ribbon or fiber.

If you hate stick on lettering, why not make your own lettering in clay? You don’t have to craft the whole title, unless you want to, but clay letters can look very effective as embellishing capital letters. Use a template to draw the letters into the clay, or just wing it and cut them out. You can also use cookie cutters or rubber stamps for the purpose.

Children’s names are also great subjects for clay letters. You can cover them with craft glue and sprinkle with glitter powder, or paint with bright craft paints.

You don’t have to buy fancy tools to make your clay creations look good. An old credit card will do as a tool to smooth the surfaces and edges of soft clay, and thick canvas or knitting needles can be used for inscribing.

Inscribing clay is a delightful way to make unique embellishments. You can inscribe a name into the clay while it is still soft, a powerful word like `love’ or `faith’, or a whole phrase. Use a plain ruler to guide you while cutting out your clay tiles and plaques.

Decorate your clay projects any way you please, and mount onto your pages with double sided tape. It is a wonderful way to create embellishments that will stand the test of time, and make your pages look beautiful!