We are feeling the love around here this year with tons of fun Valentine’s Day crafts for kids and adults. ( Because mama needs some craft time too!) We spent so much of last year feeling too down to do much crafting. This year we have decided that things are going to be different. Sure, we still have tons of things going on from meltdowns to migraines. However, we aren’t going to let that get in the way of fun this year. This fun DIY Valentine’s Day garland featuring colorful conversation hearts is a great project to do with the kids this year. It comes together so quickly and is a great alternative to traditional salt dough crafts.
The clay used in this colorful heart garland is made from items most people already have in the house which makes it a great low-cost craft. Once the clay hearts are created you can leave them white or paint them with acrylic paint, add glitter, or do your own unique touch to make them your own. We used letter stamps to put words on ours. However, if you don’t have letter stamps you can hand letter the clay hearts by using a clay tool before baking.
How Do You Make Air Dry Clay from Cornstarch
This clay is a great alternative to salt dough clay. You can leave it out to air dry or you can put it in a very low oven for a short while to speed up the process if you prefer. It makes a much smoother finished product but can crack slightly if not handled properly. The best way to avoid cracking in baking soda and corn starch clay is to dry it very slowly. Trying to rush things can end up in a less than desirable finished product. Put on some music, grab a cup of tea, and let the clay do its thing!
Ingredients for DIY Air Dry Clay
1/2 C cornstarch
1 C baking soda
3/4 C room temperature water
Directions to Make DIY Air Dry Clay
Place the cornstarch, baking soda, and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until a milky liquid is formed and no visible clumps are present.
Stir the mixture frequently as it warms. I use a whisk for doing this because it helps keep things smooth and break up even little clumps that form.
After a few minutes (about 5-8 depending on the temperature settings) the mixture will begin to thicken. Keep stirring as the mixture thickens up. After a while, your mixture will reach a consistency similar to mashed potatoes.
Remove the mixture from the stovetop and transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let it cool down for about 20 minutes, or until it is no longer warm to the touch.
Directions to Make Air Dry Clay Hearts
After the mixture has cooled turn it out onto a hard surface and knead until a smooth dough is formed. You can use a little extra cornstarch to keep things from sticking, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble as the dough is very smooth. I rolled mine out on a silicone baking mat and had no issues with sticking.
Roll the dough out just as you would with cutout cookies. You can use cornstarch on your rolling pin as well if needed. Using a heart-shaped cutter cut the heart shapes out of your dough and transfer each to a foil-lined baking sheet.
Using a plastic straw poke a hole in each of the hearts so that you can hang them later. If you are making magnets or something you won’t be hanging you can skip this step. If you don’t have any plastic straws available you can use a toothpick or clay tool. You just want to make sure you have a big enough hole for the string or ribbon you are using to hand your garland. I prefer straws because they automatically pick up the clay removed when you use them to make your hole.
You can let your clay air dry for several hours or place it in a low oven around 175 degrees F for up to an hour. I usually check these around 30 minutes, and again at 45 minutes to ensure that they aren’t cracking, browning, or doing anything else they aren’t supposed to be doing. A little discoloration while baking isn’t too big of a deal if you will be painting them. However, if you are making white hearts it could put a damper on things.
Personalizing Air Dry Clay Hearts
We painted our hearts with acrylic paints to make them match the colors of conversation heart candies. Many colors that we already had on hand from other projects worked out well for this one. This dough will get about 8-10 hearts per batch depending on the size of your hearts. You can do all different colors or create a color pattern if you prefer. You can do a glaze before or after painting but I find that this clay holds up well to paint if you let it dry between layers. I decided to leave the glaze off of ours so that they would have more of a matte finish.
There are two ways to go about adding the fun Valentine’s Day phrases to the clay hearts to make them conversation hearts. As mentioned above you can do the phrases by stamping or carving the phrases before baking. This will give the hearts more of an embossed feel. We opted to stamp the phrases on with black ink after the clay hearts were dried and painted. I have seen actual conversation heart candies done both ways so this is really just a matter of personal preference.
Hanging Your Valentine’s Day Garland
You can use anything from string to yarn and even ribbon to hang your Valentine’s Day conversation heart garland. We decided to go with a more natural look by using a jute twine rope to hang our conversation hearts. It holds up well and can easily match any decor so I already had a TON of twine on hand lol.
Make small loops of your twine, ribbon, yarn, etc through the holes you created in each of your hearts. You want your loops to be big enough to hang your hearts but not so big they will shake around much and possibly break. Once you have a loop on each of your hearts you can pass one long piece of twine, ribbon, etc through each of your loops to make your garland. Hang in the window, on the mantle, or wherever you have chosen to put your garland and you’re done!
This DIY air dry clay holds up well for many years if properly handled. It makes a great keepsake craft to do with kids because you can reuse this garland for years to come. It also makes a great gift to send to grandparents or family friends. It would be a great idea to do with a bible school or preschool class. Each child could paint a heart to be put together on a fun Valentine’s Day garland displaying all of them together!
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