Fossils out of home made air drying clay

There is something about making prints into play though and does not matter if its animal footprints, stones, sea shells or any household objects, Teddy just loves it. I have first introduced this activity to him when he was just over 1 year old and he loved it then. Of course back then he just loved pressing objects into the play dough and subsequently squashing it not giving it much deeper thought, he just had a fun! Now while he still has a good time I can see a different thinking process going on. When making animal footprints he actually thinks about the the pattern their feet make, I can see a prediction and logical reasoning going on. He also loves to make the prints for me to guess the animal or vice versa.

We also loved making fossils printing seashells and some pebbles and one of my friend told me that they use clay to make the fossils more permanent, which I though is really great idea! I did not want to spend loads of money on ready made clay so I decided to make one at home. In the past we made some salt dough which was similar but I did not like the long baking or rather drying process in the oven and it was very fragile when finished. In the end I came across a recipe for air drying clay which we adapted a little bit. Teddy loves baking and helping in the kitchen so even the process of making it was enjoyable for him.

All you need is:

  • 150 ml corn flour / starch
  • 150-200 ml PVA/school glue
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of oil (we used sunflower but you can use  any vegetable or baby oil)

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Empty the cornstarch into a bowl and add the glue, it should be even amount of glue to cornstarch, however we did not have the desired effect so we added more glue until we were happy with the consistency.

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You are looking for a runny consistency similar to icing. If you happy add spoon full of vinegar and spoon full of oil, mix it well and place it into a microwave for 30 sec, stir it again and place it back into microwave for another 30 sec.

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You are looking for sticky, firm consistency, If you mix is still very runny place it back in for additional 10 sec or more if required.

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When you happy with the consistency scoop it out onto a mat dusted with a corn starch and knead it. It will be very sticky at first but it will quickly form into a nice stretchy and non sticky clay ready to be used!

If you would like to have a colourful clay just add a drop of food colouring and knead it in or add it when it still in a liquid form.

If you do not want to use it straight away or you would like to make it in advance you just store it in a air tight container or a zip lock bag. We decided to try it straight away and make some nature prints so Teddy keenly took his basket and went to garden to gather some leaves and flowers.

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He came up with a great selection!

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We rolled up our clay and cut circles using a cookie cutter and started the printing

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It was lovely to see the different prints, unfortunately not many of our plants made prints that would be visible enough so we tried making fossils with some cones and sea shells

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And of course Teddy couldn’t resist and make some animal prints

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We ended up with a great collection in the end!

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When you happy with the result just let it dry it takes around 24 hours. We made it in the evening and in the morning I could see the ends turning upwards so I just flipped them upside down and left them again. They dried nice and flat,only those really thin rolled pieces (stingray and a centipede had wonky ends)

They were really thinly rolled and the prints are almost see through but they still make great fossils. They are firmly but springy in the same time. Making them.more resilient to everyday handling.

They can be painted if you want. Teddy painted few with a black felt tip pen. He painted across the whole fossil, rubbing it in with his finger that actually made a lovely end result.

I’m sure we will be doing more fossils in the future and we are looking forward to seeing yours!

Thank you for reading us!

Teri & Teddy

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