Exploring neighbourhood nature with young children: Clay flower prints

Today on our nature walk we collected fists full of wild flowers growing on patches of grass around our neighbourhood and brought them home to make prints.

I pulled out a small block of grey air dry clay and a mat. Althea found the circle cookie cutters and the rolling pins. Ottilie busied herself with a tub of crackers.

We rolled the clay in to smooth balls before rolling it out to about 0.5cm thick. This took a few tries. We discovered that if it were rolled too thin then it was hard to peel up afterwards, too thick and we would run out of clay.

We then used the cookie cutters to make circles, pressing them down hard to slice all the way through, then we peeled away the edges before gently prodding it out. Too much pressure and our fingers would pierce through. Sometimes we could push the clay back together, smoothing out the joins and creases. Sometimes with a ‘hmph’ we would have to start over: a ball rolled smooth between two hands; then rolled flat, but not too flat; the cookie cutter pressed down; excess clay peeled away; finally, a circle.

We then chose our flowers, Althea preferring the simplest, a single stem. After watching me lie the flower on the surface of the clay she does the same, gently pressing it down with her fingers so the clay cradles it in place. The next step takes some trial and error, too much pressure and the clay looses its round shape, it flattens and sticks and swallows up the flower. We dig it out with our fingers and try again.

When she peels it away theres an imprint, if we look closely we can see the detail of the tiny petals pressed into the clay.

We carefully peel it up and place it to one side to dry. And then we start over.

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