- Before you begin the project, set the ground rules and expectations. Keep them short and sweet. One of my ground rules is that the clay needs to stay on the teflon mat. Let kids know that the clay needs to dry, so they don't expect a finished project immediately.
- Select a few tools to work with. I generally have three of four things available. A rolling pin. The handle of an old paint brush for drawing and etching in the clay. Cookie cutters. Texture plates. Embossing folders. Shapes cut out of chipboard for tracing and cutting clay shapes. Clay extruder. And the list goes on. You probably have other craft tools, too, that can do double duty as clay tools. Lots of household items are great for clay work—like a fork for textures. Remember, kids don't need every tool for every project.
- Sometimes it's nice to collaborate on a project with kids, especially younger ones. Let the kids do everything they can, but let the adult work with the sharp or difficult tools. My grand-daughter loves the clay extruder, but her hands aren't strong enough to depress the plunger. So, we cooperate. She selects the tip and rolls the clay into a long narrow snake that fits into the tube. She loads the tube, and I press the plunger.
- You don't always have to have an end in mind. Give kids a lump of paperclay, and let them have at it. Certainly not all their products will be museum quality, but if your child is happy with the end results, it is a success. The point is for kids to have fun and learn to enjoy art and working with clay.
- Decide how long you intend to spend, or if you're OK with an open-ended time period. If the child decides to leave the project before it's complete, I say let them go. Art is supposed to be fun, not punishment and something to be endured. I do have a ground rule that you can't just walk away—the work area and tools need to be cleaned and the clay put away.
I hope you have fun introducing the young ones in your life to Creative Paperclay.