Ceramic-Dough Craft

by Dawn Rivera
Homemade ceramic dough is an inexpensive, versatile modeling medium.

Homemade ceramic dough is an inexpensive, versatile modeling medium.

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Ceramic-dough craft is a longtime favorite among craft enthusiasts. Modeling dough is the basis for a number of crafts from beading to flower making. Material preferences range from commercial brands to homemade recipes. Crafters cite texture, workability and cost among their reasons for choosing one above the other. Ceramic dough is easy to work with and holds detail well. It is also fairly sturdy when cured, which makes it an ideal material for making miniatures and jewelry.

Types of Dough

Ceramic dough goes by many names including Italian dough, salt dough, polymer clay and cold-porcelain dough. With the exception of polymer clay, which is a commercially made product, dough can be made at home. Recipes vary with some using just flour, salt and water. Others use different combinations of ingredients such as cornstarch, white glue, glycerin, lemon juice and more. Various recipes produce differences in texture and color with some claiming to be smoother and more translucent than others.

Curing and Preserving

Once the dough has been modeled into a desired shape, the next step is curing. Polymer clay is baked on a glass or metal pan or plate at a low temperature. Baking time varies with the thickness of the dough. Other types of dough are air-dried or baked at very low temperatures for as long as 10 hours. Cured dough holds its shape and is resistant to breaking and chipping. Starch-based dough is sealed with varnish to preserve it.

Techniques for Coloring

Methods for coloring craft dough vary among crafters. Some prefer liquid food coloring kneaded into the raw dough for uniform color. Others prefer powdered colors that are applied to the molded dough and then steamed so that the dough absorbs color variations. Still others prefer to paint the finished product with craft paints. Fans of polymer clay, which comes pre-colored, combine several colors to achieve desired results. Combining coloring methods gives a wide variety of color choices.

Uses for Dough

Ceramic dough is versatile enough to be used in many crafts. Molded flowers and leaves are commonly found in mounted arrangements, jewelry and ornaments. Dough is used for crafting miniatures and bead making is another area where this material excels. Except for polymer clay, ceramic dough is not suitable for applications where it might get wet. Using salt dough in humid climates can be problematic since the salt attracts water. Sealing the finished item well will help reduce this problem. Dough containing starch and glue may also attract hungry insects. Inspect your items periodically and toss those with insect damage.


  • "Mudworks: Creative Clay, Dough, and Modeling Experiences"; MaryAnn F. Kohl; 1989
  • "Creative Dough Crafts: 100 Delightful Designs to Make in Your Own Kitchen"; Brigitte Casagranda; 1999

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images