Monday, December 14, 2015

Sculpey Clay and Diamond Dust--Essential for N'Little Ornament Cuteness

My SLP buddy and I carefully considered which material to choose for making tiny ornaments with our high schoolers with autism.  I wanted resistant material so they would have to exercise their fingers, she wanted something that was easy to spread into a pancake and would be easy to use with the variety of cookie cutters.  The frugal therapist in me wanted to make it from scratch, but bread dough would have to be painted since it isn't exactly a pretty color.  After going through my personal n'little homemade ornaments this weekend I decided that the baking soda/corn starch recipe  that I used a few years ago might be too brittle to make it home successfully with the students.  Alas and alack, I used the Walmart gift card graciously given to us by the school's PTA/PTSO to spend $6 on a l lb. pack of white Sculpey.
Now, when you buy a pack of Sculpey you have to make sure it's sufficiently squishy to allow seldom-worked fingers to manage it independently.  There I stood, in the crafts aisle, squeezing the Sculpey through the little cellophane window of its box.  I found one that was just right.

Students washed their post-snack hands, formed the ball of clay into a thick pancake, then rolled it to about 1/8-1/4" thick with a mini rolling pin.  Many students were unable to flatten it without lots of physical prompting.  It worked best if they used a flat hand instead of trying to push down on the handles.

Students asked for the design of cookie cutter they wanted to use and figured out how to put two cookie cutters on one "pancake"--a little spatial relations challenge.  Then, they asked for the color glitter they wanted and bored a little hole in the top of the shape for a string to later be passed through.  My SLP always is watching me to make sure that I wait until the students use words to ask for what they want to use; I always forget to keep a firm grasp on the items until the students make their requests.
There were a couple of students who did not like the feel of glitter in their palms, so we shook some from the bottle onto the parchment paper for them to pinch and sprinkle over their ornaments.  No, we do not just shake it from the bottle, that is way too easy.
When I was searching at home for glitter to use in this project I came across this little jar of "Diamond Dust," leftover from the 1980's when my personal children spent many snowy days making n'little ornaments of their own.  It has such a magical feel to it, like icy, blue fairy dust sprinkled over the white ornaments.

Wondering why the bottle of glycerin is on the table in the first photo?  Years ago my good, arteest buddy, Angie, told me that she rubs a little drop of glycerin on her palms and fingers prior to working with Sculpey, since the material seems to leech the oil from the skin.  I don't know if she still does this when she makes her beautiful designs, but I think the clay stays more pliable when I use glycerin on my hands.

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