Sawdust Clay

2/3 parts fine sawdust (any kind except redwood)
1/3 part flour
Large bowl or bucket
Wooden spoon
Few people have used this type of clay, but after I tried it, I loved it!  It’s very inexpensive, and the results can be quite impressive.  When dried in the sun, sawdust clay becomes very hard and can be sanded with sandpaper before it’s painted.  Children of all ages can use it, clean up is easy, and one bucket of sawdust will keep you busy a long time.

To mix the clay, use a large bowl or bucket.  Mix 2/3 parts of sawdust and 1/3 part of flour together.  Pour in water and mix until it reaches a stiff but “squishy” consistency.  Add more flour if it is too crumbly.  The clay needs some kneading before the gluten in the flour becomes elastic, holding the sawdust together.  Work it in your hands or on a table top covered with newspapers.  Play with the clay a little until it becomes easy to shape.

This clay has a thick heavy texture, and the best type of projects seem to be “Indian” type pottery pieces.  Take large balls of clay.  Push your thumbs together into the center, shaping the sides as you go for bowls and other containers.  Sawdust clay can also be rolled flat and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.  Poke a hole in each cut-out with a drinking straw.  When dry, string with yarn to make simple wall decorations or Christmas tree ornaments.

This clay air-dries very hard.  It should be placed directly in the sun, if possible.  When dry, you can sand it or not, depending upon what you like.  Use tempera or acrylic paints to decorate the finished objects.  To give your pieces a glossy coating, spray with acrylic clear finish or paint with acrylic floor wax.

From the book Kids Create, Art & Craft Experiences for 3 to 9 Year Olds by Laurie Carlson