Cute Little Clay Creations – by Guest Blogger Ms. Radha Srikanth

Taking imagination and fantasy from the world of magic and transforming it into something beautiful in this world; is what I do every day. Does that sound interesting? Hello everyone, I am Radha, a clay artist. Doing something creative by shaping earth with your hands can be an incredibly humble, joyful and healing experience. I enjoy working with clay. Minutes to hours and hours to days, I do not realise how time flies when I am working.

My journey as a clay artist started in 2012. I was highly impressed by a clay artist named Iris Mishly and her clay crafts. Indian clay crafts – terracotta jewellery has always been my personal favourite. Yes, I am a self-taught artist. I have not taken any formal training in clay modelling. But arts and crafts were always my hobbies since childhood. I like all kinds of painting: including oil painting, fabric painting and mandala painting. Anything challenging and creative, I do not mind trying.

Initially, I made jewellery for myself – mainly small earrings and pendants. Friends and family loved it as I made a few for them too. Then as I learnt more complex patterns and forms, I made more designer fashionable jewellery. Learning, designing and creating more and more new projects in clay continued for a few years. And by now, I had developed a steady hand and good speed in working with clay. What started as a hobby is now my full-time profession.

Later after a few years, making small figurines or dolls from clay interested me a lot. Then I started making dolls for the shop. The appreciation for them was overwhelming. Everyone liked the new dolls. They were a great success. It has been 10yrs since I set off on this journey. Now I have a store online where I design, make and sell clay dolls as cake toppers, fridge magnets, pencil toppers, keychains, jewellery and more. You might want to take a look at my work. They make great gifts too!

Creations by Radha

‘Clay’ has many forms; air dry clay, polymer clay, wet clay, and porcelain clay. And among them, a personal favourite to work with is Polymer Clay. It is more versatile and flexible to work with comparatively. Earlier I used this clay for most of my works. However, later as I started making figurines, polymer clay did not give me the option to produce it in large quantities. Hence I chose to create using air-dry clay. To make a clay model, we would need clay – Polymer or Air-dry (whichever one would like to use), moulds, acrylic paints and brushes. Clay modelling tools if and where required. Glue and embellishments if you wish to decorate them further.

Materials that are available locally and with ease make it an attractive hobby to take up. Other than that, it involves a lot of finesse and patience. It does not require much space either. I design the model on paper, select the clay and material and then begin to create it. Even I got stuck while converting the design on paper to the model. I needed to make modifications or rework some of it. Finally, the Clay project is ready to be shipped after a week of hard work. Shipping an article that is this fragile and hoping it reaches the customer perfectly the way it is, used to give me nightmares. With time I learned to wrap it up with enough cushioning, to ensure the clay model reaches the buyer safe and sound.

I like to personalise and customise my orders. ‘Cake Toppers’ are my best sellers. There was one order that I distinctly remember. It was quite a challenge to design a doll sitting on a swing, while the swing was hanging from a tree. It was sweet, cute and delicate. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to know the customer’s reaction when she receives it. The wait finally ended when she replied “I have received it. It is in great condition and I simply love it. It is exactly what I was looking for!” I was so relieved. It made my day.

There are a lot of things that one can make using clay. Food miniatures are a trend picking up very fast. Realistic-looking miniature pieces of foods to create displays or for the dollhouses are called food miniatures. Wedding Memories of a couple, decorations for gift hampers as well bottle caps are all popular clay figurine models. If you are thinking of taking up clay crafts as a hobby, I suggest you stop thinking and take it up. It is something I feel all creative artists will like and can give a try.

Make a simple clay model with me

Make a simple clay model with me :-

  1. I use air dry clay for my project. Most of them are available in different colors or you can mix them accordingly to your project design.
  2. For the face I use skin color, hair black color and for the dress use colors as per your choice.
  3. If you have a mould simply press the clay into the mould as required. Clean up the extra. It helps to make multiple pieces.
  4. Once the desired design is complete, unmould the design and smoothen the edges. For the hair I use black clay depending upon the hairdo, I use resin eyes or acrylic paints for the eyes and eyebrows.
  5. Now let the clay air dry for the next 24 hours or until it’s solid.

And it’s ready! Your first easy clay project. Have an Arty Weekend!

Ms. Radha Srikanth is a clay artist and the owner at ‘Cute Li’l Things’. A mother of two, Radha manages to keep a balance between work and home.

The Clay Effect – Air Dry vs. Bake

Nature has it’s way of healing. Clay has been used for making arts and crafts since times immemorial. An easily available, natural material, used to make numerous household and decorative items ; mud and clay also have cooling properties. Playing in mud or working with clay can have therapeutic effects too.

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai has a section dedicated to the evolution in this art. They take us through different types of clay that were used and the evolution in designs of the objects made from clay. Yes! Even though it is called ‘pottery’ world over, many artisans have unique methods in : mixing the clay, making the art and designs and drying the objects.

I got to work on the potter’s wheel thrice. We made pots of different designs each time. I don’t think I can do it all by myself though. Pottery is a very skilled art. We definitely need help from the artisan for the start and the finish. At summer camps they call a local artist and arrange for the potters wheel as an added attraction. One thing that I clearly noticed is, that all the potters had a different mix of clay. They used the local soil or mud and mixed it with other ingredients such as minerals to prepare their clay.

Once the pot was dry, I would decorate and paint it. ‘Pot Decorating and Painting’ as they call it, is an art anyone would enjoy. Those who work in the kitchen might find it similar to working with a dough. We also make toys or models from clay. India is a country of festivals where we make idols of gods and goddesses from clay. Clay sculpting is a very well known and age old art form here. The ‘Diyas’ we make during the festival ‘Diwali’ are an example of painting clay pots and lamps.

Then there is another art, where we use mud or clay to decorate the walls. It is called ‘Lippan Art’. ‘Lippan Art’ is a traditional art in India where mud mouldings are used to make decorative designs on walls or panels. Thereafter the entire panel or wall is painted in white. Once dry they embellish it with mirrors. It is definitely worth a try if you get a chance. Essentially in white, we also get them in coloured designs. Workshops in Lippan Art are held during the summer holidays.

These crafts are best done in their studio settings or at the artisans place. In India as tourists when we visit the countryside or village, we may get a chance to try them. Whenever I visit the interiors I make it a point to learn, try a local art or interact with the local artisans. It is very insightful and is my idea of a fun and interesting holiday. These clay arts are difficult to do in a home setup. At home, we can make other items that have a simpler process.

For arts and crafts at home, we use Clay that is available at art and craft stores. Basically for hobby crafts and crafts at home there are two types of clay : one is the air drying and the other one that needs to be baked. We can use them to make many artistic objects from the comforts of our home. I have made wall murals, decorated wooden and glass panels, mirrors, jewellery and toy models with both types of clay. Yes! I know friends who have made saleable products from these. They are now successful small businesses.

‘Lamasa’ is a clay craft where the clay is coloured using natural ingredients from the kitchen. The clay is a type of a dough made from corn flour. The process includes mixing and heating the clay dough. Varnish is applied to the dried clay models for lustre. Statues and sculptures made using this technique are expensive and famous world over. Have you heard of it?

Plaster of Paris (POP) is also a kind of clay used for craft projects. POP Sheets are used to make decorative ceilings. We also mix ceramic powder with glue to form a paste. Fill it in cones (like mehendi) and make designs. I have used this method in making traditional Indian folk style wall murals.

Unfortunately I made these artworks more than a decade ago and I don’t have pictures to share. If in future I make these again, I will be happy to share them. There are loads of images, designs and videos on all these crafts online, if they interest you.

There isn’t a recommended type of clay here. It is to understand one’s crafting process and decide which clay will be suitable. There are some differences in properties and methods on processing both types of clay. We need to understand these differences to choose the clay best suited for our project.

Air Drying Clay – As the name suggests, this clay hardens naturally if left open in air. It is available as two separate materials to be mixed well for a chemical reaction. The clay made from mixing hardens over time in natural air. In the meantime we have to shape it. The time we get is barely a few hours. This clay is a bit messy and sticky to use. So, we dust it with talcum powder while working. This clay is either black or white. We can paint it with acrylic paints after it dries completely.

Bake Clay – This clay is available in a variety of colours. It is oil based and needs heat treatment to produce a chemical reaction for bonding. The clay hardens only if it is baked in the oven for the correct time at the right temperature. It is quite advantageous for an artisan to work with it, if the design or product is time consuming.

For my artworks I have used the white clay of the brand ‘M-Seal’. White so that it is a good base to paint any colour shade. Moulding Clay by ‘Fevicryl’ is also good. For the bake clay, I used the pack from the art store by the brand ‘JAGS’. There are other brands and types, but I am happy using these. If you wish to try, you may use the same ones for your crafts.

Here is a short intro to clay crafts. Have you tried any of these? Do share your experiences in the comments below. Have an arty week ahead!