Instructables

Homemade (Oil-based) Modelling Clay

Picture of Homemade (Oil-based) Modelling Clay
I enjoy stop motion animation, so was inspired to attempt making my own plasticine.

It's not exactly cheaper than buying the factory made plasticine, but its fun for a rainy afternoon so the kids can stay entertained.

My recipe is experimental, so I'll attempt to keep improving it. These measurements will give a soft textured plasticine modelling clay.
 
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Step 1: Collect your ingredients

Picture of Collect your ingredients
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As this recipe was rather experimental - I kept adding ingredients until the texture of the plasticine seemed malleable and firm enough to sculpt.
 



The recipe was based on Wikipedia's description of the history of plasticine - calcium carbonate, wax, petroleum and mineral oil. 

The closest thing to calcium carbonate I have is a material to make fillers for tiles and concrete and also called hydrated lime - the stuff used to make your own paint.  Some recipes online recommend paraffin wax. Others say this will result in a crumbly mix. Also there are toxic fumes to consider when remelting paraffin wax. On the other hand beeswax is quite safe.

Calcium carbonate / calcium hydroxide powder is available at any hardware store. Wear a dust mask and eye protection for safety when handling lime powder / sand - also during cooking is advisable. Fumes rise up when mixing calcium carbonate with water and begins to heat up and bubble when away from the stove. (Can damage the lungs and respiratory system if inhaled. I was coughing for weeks).

("Lime is an alkaline substance and therefore, caustic. You need to wear gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection to avoid the possibility of lime burns." - Janine Bjornson (Green Home Natural Building Plaster)



Beeswax has the advantage of being remelted over and over, so I decided on experimenting with beeswax, that way I can constantly adjust my recipe until I'm happy with the texture. It has a pleasant fragrance as well.

So after a bit of mixing and adjusting -  these were the final measurements to make a cup of cream-coloured  plasticine.

(You need two old pots for melting everything - not to be used with food ever again)

Ingredients

1 A4 sheet 100% beeswax (70g-100g)
6 teaspoons mineral oil (baby oil)
optional - 1 tablespoon liquid paraffin
4 tablespoons petroleum jelly (vaseline)
2 tablespoons 100% coconut oil / linseed oil
3/4 cup limestone powder (calcium hydroxide ie. hydrated lime)


Purpose of ingredients
According to Wikipedia, the original recipe by William Harbutt in 1897 is kept secret.  But then lists the ingedients - "Plasticine is composed of calcium salts (principally calcium carbonate), petroleum jelly, and long-chain aliphatic acids (principally stearic acid)."
Beeswax is the binder and helps the dry and oily ingredients to stick together.
Coconut oil and linseed oil both contain 8% stearic acid which helps the stay smooth in a way the mineral oils and petroleum oils do not
Liquid paraffin - preservative (optional I do not personally use this in this recipe, because of the fumes, I believe beeswax to be safer)
Limestone powder gives bulk and body to clay

 
william chong3 months ago

Hi,We want to know why the color come while we play with clay?

Why kind of pigment should we use and how to get it ?

We appreciate your reply.

Thanks,

William Chong (Malaysia)

Gomi Romi (author)  william chong3 months ago

I used oil paint

Dear Gomi Romi,

Thanks for your reply,noted.Could you recommend us how to get the oil paint in market.Thank you.

Hello, I have some doubts as to the proportions.
First ask apologize bad english, I'm Brazilian.

I used 300g of beeswax, different this, to which I came in a dark bar.
3x each measure used oils, and also lime. Oh, and I opted for flaxseed oil instead of coconut.

Following this recipe, got a soft dough and was brittle. She "crumbled/brittle,", so I added more wax and oils.. Result was no longer brittle mass, until it was found in the sweet spot, but when you start modeling, she was too clingy. Stuck on the fingers, and the work tools.

melting again what ingredients should I add?
I really need your help, anything: Marcelo.nantes@msn.com

Surely its revenue and encouragement is what I need as amateur sculptors,
Thank you!
Hello, I have some doubts as to the proportions.
First ask apologize bad english, I'm Brazilian.

I followed the recipe site: http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Oil-based-Modelling-Clay, believe it is their recipe, right?
I used 300g of beeswax, different this, to which I came in a dark bar.
3x each measure used oils, and also lime. Oh, and I opted for flaxseed oil instead of coconut.

Following this recipe, got a soft dough and was brittle. She "crumbled/brittle,", so I added more wax and oils.. Result was no longer brittle mass, until it was found in the sweet spot, but when you start modeling, she was too clingy. Stuck on the fingers, and the work tools.

melting again what ingredients should I add?
I really need your help, anything: Marcelo.nantes@msn.com

Surely its revenue and encouragement is what I need as amateur sculptors,
Thank you!
Hello, I have some doubts as to the proportions.
First ask apologize bad english, I'm Brazilian.

I followed the recipe site: http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Oil-based-Modelling-Clay, believe it is their recipe, right?
I used 300g of beeswax, different this, to which I came in a dark bar.
3x each measure used oils, and also lime. Oh, and I opted for flaxseed oil instead of coconut.

Following this recipe, got a soft dough and was brittle. + Added a bit of wax and oils. Result was no longer brittle mass, until it was found in the sweet spot, but when you start modeling, she was too clingy. Stuck on the fingers, and the work tools.

What ingredients should I add?
I really need your help, anything: marcelo.nantes @ msn.com

Surely its revenue and encouragement is what I need as amateur sculptors,
Thank you!
kaeldra1 year ago
FYI calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in tums antacid tablets and in most calcium supplements. I take it almost nightly for acid reflux. You can buy a bottle of 60 tablets with 500 mg of calcium carbonate per tablet of the generic tums at the dollar store for a buck. Many "clay" recipes I've found online have said you can simply crush up supplements into a fine powder to use in these preparations. It is also used in many other pills as a filler and is a common food additive so I'm pretty sure you've ingested it at some point.
If you use food grade mineral oil and the coconut oil I don't see why you couldn't simply wash the pans afterward and still use them for cooking in. There is also food grade paraffin wax that is in gum, candy, etc. and it is the wax they use to wax dip many cheeses. While it's unable to be digested it is perfectly safe to consume. The fumes that are toxic are from burning it or melting it at very high temperatures, as in the hundreds of lit candles you've been around in your life might give you cancer someday. Remember those candy wax lips, wax soda bottles, wax teeth etc.? They are paraffin, as are crayons. Many candles still contain paraffin.
So all in all this seems pretty safe other than consuming high quantities of calcium carbonate can cause kidney damage and don't burn your paraffin. Don't eat it, (it would probably taste horrible anyway) and don't burn it, but otherwise you should be good to go.
NicOmbra3 years ago
Where can you get the beeswax and limestone powder?
Gomi Romi (author)  NicOmbra3 years ago
Limestone powder is also called hydrated lime. it is a filler for the plasticine. i went to a hardware store to buy the limestome power

the other type of calcium carbonate is mixed with additives to make concrete or quicklime. i wouldn't use this, but used hydrated lime with stays malleable.

i found beeswax in the yellow pages and found a candle specialty shop which sold it so you could make your own beeswax candles.

it cost $20 for 10 sheets. the other place i found it on ebay for much less. as i said, its not necessarily cheaper to make it yourself, i made it for the fun of figuring out a working recipe. all the best!
I created an account just to say DO NOT USE HYDRATED LIME in place of calcium carbonate! Perhaps the oil prevents much caustic lime from dissolving and attacking your skin, but people who are working with cement without gloves get alkali burns from that stuff. Someone with sweatier hands than OP will burn themselves doing this. if you want an inert mineral filler, use an INERT mineral filler.

You will be able to buy ball clay, feldspar, talc (magnesium carbonate) or calcium carbonate at a pottery store. It will be just as cheap or cheaper than caustic hydrated lime, and you can buy smaller quantities of it.
Gomi Romi (author)  elbiot2 years ago
Really appreciate the warning, thanks!
canadian nh2 years ago
Thank you for this easy recipe, but I need to know if this clay is air dry or not. Thanks
Gomi Romi (author) 4 years ago
If you mean air dry clay, I'm sorry to say this is a a heat sensitive modelling clay, melts very quickly in a double boiler. It hardens best in cold weather.
I think that this oil-based clay composition containing a microcrystalline wax. Paraffin wax, microcrystalline wax, stearic acid, modified. Talcum powder, Vaseline, ductility, plasticity
Gomi Romi (author)  kalawaqiao3 years ago
Yes, I think all these things would work well together too.
LilG4 years ago
can it dry?