How to Make Plasticine Clay

Written by clare edwards
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How to Make Plasticine Clay
Oil clay does not dry out or crumble. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Although Plasticine is used as an umbrella term for reusable modelling clays in general, it's actually a registered trademark relating to a particular kind of reusable oil clay. The original Plasticine was developed by art teacher William Harbutt in 1897; Harbutt wanted a clay that would not dry out so that his students could correct their sculptures. The exact recipe of Plasticine is a trade secret but oil clays with approximately similar properties can be made by mixing powdered clay, talc, limestone or other minerals with oils or petroleum jelly.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Two old metal cooking pots (not to be used for food)
  • Water
  • Stove
  • Beeswax
  • Measuring cup
  • Limestone powder
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mineral oil
  • Coconut oil or linseed oil
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Heatproof trays or moulds

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Add water to the larger pot. Place the smaller pot inside the larger pot to make a double boiler. Place the pots on the stove. Bring the water to a boil.

  2. 2

    Break the beeswax into pieces. Place in the small pot. Melt the beeswax at a medium heat. When the beeswax has melted completely, measure in 3/4 cup of the limestone powder and stir into the beeswax. Stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.

  3. 3

    Add 6 tsp of mineral oil, 2 tbsp of coconut oil or linseed oil and 3 tbsp of petroleum jelly to the mixture. Stir for 30 seconds, mixing thoroughly. Remove the mixture from the heat.

  4. 4

    Pour the mixture into the moulds. Allow to harden. Test the consistency of the clay by breaking off a piece and rolling it in your hands. If it is too soft or too hard, return the clay to the double boiler and melt it again. Add a little more limestone powder if the clay is too soft; add a little more oil if the clay is too hard.

Tips and warnings

  • You can colour the oil clay by adding powdered pigment to the mixture while it is still melted.
  • Always use a double boiler to melt the wax and oil. Don't allow the mixture to overheat. Do not use the utensils used to make the oil clay for food.

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