How to Make Plasticine Clay

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Oil clay does not dry out or crumble.
Oil clay does not dry out or crumble. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Although Plasticine is used as an umbrella term for reusable modeling 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.

Things You'll 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 molds

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.

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.

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.

Pour the mixture into the molds. 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 & Warnings

  • You can color 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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