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Clay & Shell Vase Tutorial

Bean shares her birthday with her Daddy, and this year she has made him a special homemade gift... a vase inspired by his favourite place, the beach. These would make a lovely Father's Day gift too, or for an upcoming summer birthday.

This is such a calming, tactile activity, and once you have completed the first few steps to get the clay in place, it becomes a lovely, open-ended invitation to create. Suitable from age 3+ (younger children will need close supervision due to small loose parts)


White air dry clay (we use this brand)

A small glass bottle

Shells (please gather responsibly)

Sea glass, pebbles, buttons, beads, stamps (optional)

Strong glue (for repairing any loose shells once dry)


Step 1: Roll out the air dry clay with a rolling pin until it is roughly 1cm thick and has a surface that is large enough to wrap around your glass bottle, right up to the tip of the neck. Young children will likely find this step hard work. You may wish to prepare the clay in advance.

Step 2: Lay your glass bottle onto the clay and use a sharp knife to cut a straight edge parallel to the base of the bottle. This will allow your vase to stand up safely on the base of the glass bottle, without any clay obstructing the bottom.

Step 3: Wrap the clay around your glass bottle, then use your fingers and thumbs to mould the clay together at the seam, and to smooth out any creases or bumps. It can help to add a little water to your hands at this stage, or even use a small wet sponge. Keep manipulating the clay until you are happy with the finish. It doesn't need to be perfect at this stage, as the shells will cover most imperfections.

Step 4: Press the shells, sea glass, pebbles, buttons and beads firmly into the clay to create your own unique design. Leave your creation somewhere warm to dry overnight.

As with many of our adult-led creative projects, once Bean has completed the task at hand she is so often inspired to make something of her own, and her ideas are almost always 1 million times better than mine! Look at this beautiful 'owl' vase she made, inspired by the process.

Bean loves clay, and it is one of the materials that she has free access to. More often than not, we do not have an agenda when we get out the clay, and she is able to create freely. Would you like to see our clay tools and resources? Let me know in the comments, and I'll schedule in a blog post all about clay.

A reminder that not all of the activity ideas I share online are my own. I spend hours reading and researching, and pick up ideas from many places, but will always credit the original post if I am able to. Thank you for the inspiration @_dimity_

With love, Rowan

This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.

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