Clay in a Day: Polymer Clay Projects For Art Camp

Summer is almost here!  Are you looking for fun, engaging art camp projects that can be completed in a session or two? Try polymer clay!

I taught my own small-group art camp for three summers. I use ceramic clay during the school year, but I don’t have a kiln of my own. I was able to do two of my most popular ceramic clay projects using polymer clay.

Polymer Clay Sculpture

Materials:

  • White polymer clay in bulk, such as Sculpey Original Polymer Clay 1.75 Pounds/(white)
  • Toaster oven or kitchen oven
  • Aluminum foil (I use my favorite pre-cut pop up foil sheets)
  • Toothpicks
  • Acrylic paint and small brushes
  • Pan or cookie sheet for baking

White Sculpey is available in boxes up to 24 lbs.

 

I adapted ceramic lesson plans for use with Sculpey. I started with this ceramic penguin lesson from Deep Space Sparkle (AKA “Patty’s Penguins”). Here is my version in polymer clay.

Protect work surface with foil for easy clean up.

Penguins made with white Sculpey, painted with acrylics.

And here is my ceramic sea rocks project in polymer clay:

Polymer clay sea rocks painted with acrylic.

Tips:

  • Give each camper a sheet of foil to protect work surface. Polymer clay won’t stick to it, and you can throw it away at the end of camp
  • To condition Sculpey: give each camper a fresh piece and have them twist it over and over as if it were taffy. Ready in 2-3 minutes!
  • A toothpick is a super tool for Sculpey, both for adding detail in the soft sculpture, and for dotting on color in the baked piece.
  • Dedicate a baking sheet (and maybe a garlic press) just for polymer clay use. You don’t want to use it for food after this.
  • Cover baking sheet (or toaster oven pan) with foil before use.
  • Make small projects – design the project to fit your (toaster?) oven.
  • Michael’s crafts sells Sculpey in bulk here in the U.S. – check the internet, Sunday newspaper or mail for a coupon before you shop there.

 

In the U.S.: use coupon to get Sculpey in bulk.

You can do cool things with Sculpey that you can’t do easily with ceramic clay.  For example, we made Oaxacan Alebrije porcupines by inserting painted toothpicks into Sculpey. I baked them in my kitchen oven. Success! Sculpture in a single afternoon.

Oaxacan Alebrije porcupine made from Sculpey and toothpicks, painted with acrylic.

Oaxacan Alebrije insect made from Sculpey and paperclips.

 

These projects were hits with all campers from grades 1-6.

If you haven’t tried polymer clay, give it a try. No dry time, no slip required! Its ‘clay in a day’.

Want more ideas for art camp? Check out my art camp part 2 post. You also might want to check out art camp part 3: money, liability and safety.

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