How to Glaze Air Dry Clay and Make Trinket Dishes
THESE ARE SO CUTE!!! Maybe you’ve seen trinket dishes on Etsy and thought they would make good little gifts. Maybe you’ve thought about making them but you don’t have a kiln. You can still try making these little dishes at home with air-dry clay. This tutorial will show you some simple hand-building techniques that make it easy to create these little bowls. These are all techniques I learned in my traditional ceramics courses. And to make this SUPER EASY I have a printable template that will help you make shaped trinket dishes that will help your projects stand out. I also cover what I use to glaze my Air Dry Clay pieces to make them as similar to traditional ceramics as air dry can be.
Yes, I Have YouTube Videos on How to Make Shaped Trinket Dishes AND How to Glaze Air Dry Clay
I’ve decided that videos are totally the way to go for tutorial posts. In this post I actually have TWO videos for you. The first video in this post will show you what clay to use, how to use it, and all the tips and tricks to make trinket dishes with air-dry clay. The second shows you what glaze to use and demo’s glazing the trinket dishes. I hope you’ll watch both! And then keep reading below the videos for a supplies list, and a free printable template!
Project: How to Make Trinket Dishes with Air-Dry Clay and Glaze them!
I’m going to be demonstrating three different types of trinket dishes. The first two we’ll use a cookie cutter to get the shape we want. The third dish, a cloud-shaped trinket dish, uses a template that you can download from my Creativity Resource Library. Just print it out and then cut it out, and you’ll have a shape to trace into the clay.
Then I’ll show you how to use stamps to add pattern and texture to the clay. And to finish, I’ll let you know what glaze will give you the look of traditional ceramics and how to apply it. Yay!
What Air Dry Clay Should I Use?
My goal was to find a clay that worked, looked, and felt as much as possible like kiln-fired ceramics.
Of the clays I tried, the Crayola Air Dry Clay was also the one that I felt met these criteria the best*. It also looked the most like traditional ceramics once it was glazed.
For this tutorial, we’ll be using the Crayola Air Dry Clay. It’s a non-toxic clay that behaves a lot like regular potters clay. It is an air-dry clay (no oven needed) and takes 2 to 3 days to fully cure depending on the thickness of your project. It also dries to a really nice white color and has a weight similar to regular kiln-fired ceramics.
My biggest problem with some of the other air-dry clays I’ve tried was that it didn’t feel like clay once it was dried. One I tested felt spongy (Model Magic) and one (Primo Porcelain) felt plastic and dried a little translucent. I use porcelain clay all the time at the art center and this was nothing like it!
- I did not try all of the air-dry clay on the market though, so if you have an air-dry clay that you love please leave it in the comments!
What Glaze Should I Use?
Of all the different glazes I tried I really like the Triple Thick by DecoArt best. It didn’t feel rubbery, although it didn’t feel as hard as a baked piece.
How to Make Trinket Dishes from Air-Dry Clay
Supplies and Materials
Air Dry Clay Template- a FREE download from my Free Creative Resource Library.
Crayola Air Dry Clay (white)– I really like this clay the best from those that I tried. I have the Amazon link for your convenience, but you can easily find this at the craft store (and use a coupon).
Canvas Duck Cloth *
Water in a Small Dish
Cookie Cutter Set
Needle Tool (if you get one of the sets below this is included)
Cling or Rubber Stamps *- I use the circle from this Tim Holtz Bitty Grunge Set
Triple Thick Glaze by DecoArt
Non-Stick Craft Mat *
Clay Slump Molds*– You can use items around the house or a small bowl, I use my Fiestaware Salt Shaker because it’s rounded just right.
This page includes affiliate links- which means that you don’t pay extra, but I get a small commission when you purchase through them. This helps me buy more supplies for these tutorials! So if you choose to support me in this way, thank you!
Step One: Prep the air dry clay.
Grab a handful of clay, roll it and pat it, and set it aside to dry just a bit. When the clay first comes out of the container it’s pretty sticky and tacky and difficult to use. So I usually pull a few handfuls out of the container and roll them into a ball and then pat them a little flat (so there is more surface area exposed to the air). Just until it’s not super sticky feeling anymore.
Make sure that you put the cover on the container again so the clay in it doesn’t start to dry as well.
Step Two: Roll out the air dry clay on canvas fabric.
When I work at the art center near my home every hand-building table is covered with canvas duck cloth. I took that trick home with me and now at home, I have a small piece of utility fabric or canvas duck cloth that I lay out on the table. The clay doesn’t stick to it and I can fold it up when I’m done working. Instant clean up! I just take it outside and shake the clay dust and bits into the garbage.
When you roll out the clay use a regular wooden rolling pin that you’ve specifically designated just for ceramics projects (that means don’t use it for cookies after this). Even though the clay is non-toxic it’s just a good idea to keep your art and baking tools separate.
Roll out the clay and from different directions. Roll evenly, until it is about 1/4″ thick. If you need to start over, just ball it up and then roll it out again. If there are a lot of cracks in the shape ball it up a bit more compressing it in your hands or on the table as you do so. This is called wedging the clay. You’re removing air pockets and creating a more solid slab to work with. Then roll it out again. Some small cracks don’t matter though so don’t get all perfectionist about this.
Step Three: Cut out the shapes.
To cut the clay into shapes you can try using a cookie cutter, cut it freehand with a needle tool, or use a template and cut around it with a needle tool. In the video, I’m using a heart-shaped and round cookie cutters for two of the bowls. For the third shape I’m using the cloud template you can find on the Air Dry Clay Project Templates that is a free download in my Creative Resource Library.
The template technique is so easy and you can create your own templates in any shape you want. Just cut it out and set it on the clay. Then, using a potters needle tool cut around the template. Hold the needle tool straight up and down and just drag it around the template. Stopping occasionally if the clay is pulling or dragging too much. Pick it up, and then start again. It’s easy once you’ve tried it.
One thing to notice is that the cut edge when we use the needle tool is a lot rougher than it is with the cookie cutters. But even the cookie cutters leave a definite hard cut look to the edge. Traditional ceramics have a more rounded edge.
To get that look, just dip your fingers in the small bowl of water and with just a small amount of water gently go around the edges smoothing them with your fingers. Once you’ve done this the clay will be tacky again.
I usually set it aside to dry for 10-15 minutes or until it feels less tacky. You can tell the clay is ready to work again when you touch it with your finger and you don’t leave a fingerprint on the clays’ surface.
Step Four: Add a pattern to the clay’s surface.
This is my favorite part. I love texture! And with clay, it is so easy to get tons of awesome patterned texture layered into your surface.
To do this you can choose to use stamps, found objects, textiles, and really anything that can be pressed into the clay. You can also choose to draw into the clay with a blunt object once it’s hardened.
This is a great place to use many of the same stamps and texture techniques you use in mixed media art and scrapbooking. Or you can create your own rubber stamps and use those! I even have a video showing how easy it is to create your own rubber stamps. In the video, I used a rainbow stamp (that I show you how to carve in my rubber stamp video) to embellish the clay cloud trinket bowl.
The single most important thing to be aware of when stamping or adding texture to clay is to make sure that the clay is not too wet.
Again, if I was to touch it with my fingertip and see my fingerprints, then it’s not ready yet. Just let it dry a little bit longer, maybe another 10 minutes, until you can touch it and it’s not tacky. Then press your stamp or texture evenly into the clay surface.
Pro-Tip: To get the most professional look when using stamps, use a little bit of water and smooth out any outline impression that is not part of your actual design.
Step Five: Mold the clay into the shape of a small bowl or trinket dish.
With your hands gently bend the shape up around the edges. Make small gentle movements and go around the shape several times. Using force and creating a sharp bend will probably crack the clay. This works best when the clay isn’t super wet but isn’t dried yet either. So pick it up and test the clay. If it’s too hard, mist it with some water. If it’s too wet, let it sit and air dry a little longer.
The other way to create a rounded shape is to slump it over a mold. Examples of molds would be another bowl or something else that has the shape you’re looking for in your own piece. I often use a small dish or a Fiestaware salt shaker that are perfectly shaped for these small round dishes.
Pro tip: If you feel like the clay is sticking to the form you’re using for a mold, you can place a paper towel or a thin paper between the clay and the mold to keep them separate.
Remove the dish from the mold right away and set it right side up to dry. Let it dry. After 20-30 min. check it to make sure it hasn’t relaxed and lost its shape.
If that has happened, you can just use your fingers to gently bend the edges up again and reestablish the shape you want.
Step Six: Let Dry.
Let your bowls dry for 2-3 days. Until they are a solid white color and no longer cool to the touch. As the water evaporates from the clay and it dries, the condensation of the water as it evaporates creates a cool feeling. So those are two ways you can know your piece is ready to be painted and or glazed.
Step Seven: Little Finishing Details.
Even at this stage, you can still go over the piece once more, and use a little water to smooth the edges or any unwanted marks. If you do choose to do this, then make sure your piece dries again before you go on to step number eight.
Pro tip: Smoothing and shaping is a simple thing to do and really makes your pieces look more professional. Details matter and help your products look professionally handmade, not homemade!
Step Eight: Glaze the small clay dishes.
Time to glaze your pieces! Use a foam brush or reg. brush with soft bristles to apply the glaze. I used the Triple Thick Glaze by Decoart (the link is in the supplies list). Load the brush with a generous amount of glaze. Try to use as few brushstrokes as possible and try to apply as evenly as possible. This glaze does want to pool and drip when you apply it this thickly. So just be aware of that and check for drips. If you see them on the edges use your brush to gently wipe them back.
Do not glaze the very bottoms. The glaze will want to pull away from the clay and bond to whatever you set it on instead. Set aside the little dishes (preferably on a non-stick craft mat or the canvas duck fabric) to dry for 2- 3 days depending on the thickness of your pieces.
And voila! How to Make Trinket Dishes with Air-Dry Clay
One word of warning, glazing these bowls does not make them food safe. As far as I know, there is no acrylic based glaze that can do this.
Check out my OTHER Air Dry Clay post, How to Sculpt Air Dry Clay Trinket Dishes and learn simple techniques for crafting more shaped dishes of air dry clay!
For More Ideas and Inspiration!
Be sure to check out my Air Dry Clay Board on Pinterest– it’s loaded with ideas and tutorials from other blogs as well as enough examples of what’s possible to make your head swirl!
And if you would like to know more about the Crayola brand of air dry clay check out the Crayola Air Dry Clay product page!
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