Introduction: Clay Loch Ness Ashtray

In primary school we used to work with natural clay a lot. You know - big chunks of gray / brown pottery stuff. Not being a very colorful or flexible material, it isn't easy to get good results from it. But the process of modelling - no tools and bare hands in a mud-like substance - it is almost Zen.

We made ashtrays  for our dads (mom never had an ashtray). For his birthday or Father's Day or whatever occasion  These were the 70's and all daddies were smokers... Today it is not done for children to make ashtrays - a good thing, of course. But, since an ashtray is the only decent thing a 9-year-old can make from natural clay, they don't use it in school anymore - at least not that often. The clay being slightly poisonous might be a reason for that as well :).

Anyway, I made an ashtray (for myself, my father died of emphysema years ago...). You can use it as a coin tray as well!

Materials used:

- Natural clay. In Holland it is called "river clay". You don't have to bake it.
- Some water
- Acrylic paint and brushes
- Wobbly eyes.


Take a lump of clay and make a tray. You do this by putting your thumbs in the middle and hollow it while making it bigger. Be careful your "walls" don't get too thin - this is not a subtle material and not suitable for fine work. By making your fingers wet, you can even the surface and remove cracks. Be easy on the water - you don't want to end up with a pile of mud.

Having finished the tray you make two rolls of clay. One for Nessy's head and one for her body. Model the head. You can stick the body and head in the tray by using a bit of water. Use wet fingers to remove the seams.

Now you have to be patient, waiting for your tray to dry. This will take a week or so. You can bake it if you want to, but it might crack or even fall apart. So you better be patient :).

When you are sure it is dry, you only have to paint the thing. In school we used gouache, but I just love acrylic paint because of its bright colors and shine. Add wobbly eyes as a finishing touch!