Sunday, November 30, 2008


Cold Porcelain is available as a commercially made mix you can buy - but you can also make a similar clay yourself from three simple ingredients. This clay is fun to use, dries super hard and can make solid chunky pieces or wafer thin translucent pieces. You can colour it with paints or paint on it when dry - add glitters, sand, etc and it sticks easily onto wood or glass to decorate items. Varnish to make fully waterproof.

So, let's make cold porcelain -


The recipe will be different depending mainly on the brand of glue you use – for this one I used Elmer’s Glue-All – a white pva glue.


2 cups Glue
½ cup water
3 cups cornstarch
2 tablespoons baby oil


Plastic microwavable bowl
Strong wooden spoon or flat stick
Cup and Tbs measures
Spatula or blunt knife

Put all the ingredients in your plastic microwavable bowl, stir together until they are fairly well combined.
Note, you don’t need to sieve the cornstarch and you don’t need to mix until it’s really even – just break up any big lumps.
Pop it in the microwave -

NOTE – all microwave ovens are different – some cook super fast, some very slow.

Your cooking times will also depend also on the size of your bowl in relation to the amount of clay you are making – big bowl, little clay, it may take longer, big bowl, lots of clay may be slow at first then cook really fast once it gets hot.

So, err on the slow side at first – I do 1 min @ 10% or the lowest setting first – if it is barely warm I move to 1 min @ 30%.
Each time you finish a microwave session, take the bowl out and stir the clay – as it cooks the edges with harden first so it’s important to scrape them and stir them in.
You don’t need to make a smooth paste, just break up lumps and pull in the edges to into the mix.

When the mix starts to get significantly thicker, harder to scrape off and stir, shorten your microwave times to 45s
It should take about 4-5 minutes in all to get to the point where the mix sticks to the spoon/stick. As it gets thick enough to hold it’s own shape but will still stick to your finger when you touch it, shorten your times to 30s

When it's ready it will hold fairly well together when you mix it in the bowl and it will not stick to your fingers anymore when you press your fingers in.
BUT it's okay to take it out when it's still a little sticky and knead in more cornstarch: In general, it's better to UNDERcook a little than to overcook.
Now you are ready to take it out of the bowl and knead it.

Sprinkle a generous layer of cornstarch on your table and over your hands.
Turn out your lump of clay, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as best you can, then sprinkle some cornstarch in the bowl and scrape some more – the rest will come off more easily as the cornstarch dries it.
Don’t worry if some is left back – let it dry and then it will peel off very easily – this is my recommended clean up method.

If you choose to wash out your bowl, make sure you allow a lot of water to flow so the gluey mix does not clog your drains.

But, don’t clean up now – you need to pay attention to finishing your clay – so, cover your hands in lots of cornstarch and knead your dough.

Caution – your clay may be very hot – so check first before you plunge your hands in. But start kneading as soon as it reaches a temperature you can handle – if you leave it too long, a crust will start to form.

Dust your hands - no, smother them in cornstarch - and start to knead.

You’ll find it easily kneads into smooth consistency dough. Pull it apart to get the insides to the outside and make sure the whole dough get mixed in during kneading.
Look out for when it starts to have ‘cracks’ that don’t stick together – it’s ready at that point or when it forms a nice roundish lump of clay that doesn’t stick to you or the table.

Put it in a plastic bag and tie it.
NOTE: always keep clay you are not using in plastic sealed off from the air – this clay dries quickly and when it half dries, it is difficult to form good shapes from it, so keep it wrapped up.

Colouring The Clay

You can easily colour this clay using any water based paint - acrylic, poster, watercolour, food colouring will all work. Some oil paints will also work but they may cause it to dry very slowly or may not mix in and will exude oil so be careful and try it out on a small bit first.

NOTE: Opaque paints will make your clay more opaque, translucent paints will help keep it see-through if you want to make decorations that the light will shine through.
Whatever paint you choose, take a lump of clay, make a small well in the middle by pushing down on the clay with your fingers. Squeeze a little paint into the well and then wrap the edges of the clay over the well.
Don’t worry if paint sneaks out – as long as it doesn’t spurt out all over you, just keep pulling the clay and wrapping it over itself in any random way and the colour will mix in.
Just keep an eye out for the clay getting too wet from the paint – if so, pick up any cornstarch or drier bits of clay left on the table with the clay or if necessary, sprinkle more cornstarch onto the clay.

You’ll find it can get quite wet without becoming sticky if it is made well. And at the other end of the spectrum, don’t mix it until it starts to dry out either! You can add in more paint i.f you want a stronger colour
You can choose to mix until it’s a uniform colour or stop when it is still marbled with natural and your colour. You can marble two or three colours together also – just roll out two coils and twist them around each other, then fold and twist and roll, fold, twist and roll over and over until you get to a marble pattern you like.

When you’re done colouring, and marbling, pop the clay in a plastic bag and tie it off.

Let us know if you try this out - and if you have any questions - just pop it all in the comments box - love to hear from you.

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You may download this tutorial for personal use or use in your classroom - if you wish to use it for any other purpose, please use the contact form to ask permission.


Mary Moss said...

Oh my gosh, these are amazingly detailed and helful directions! Thanks so much for the pictorial step-by-step.

finola said...

You're welcome Mary and good to see you exploring my blogs - I'm taking a look at yours too.

And I just realized I'm missing the tip to put lots of cornstarch on your hands also - I'll add that in now!

The Masterpiece said...

thanks for your woderful comment..i really liked the tutorial for the cold porcelain..if i find time im gonna try them..kool...

Martin in Bulgaria said...

Quite amazing, what a good step-by-step post.

finola said...

thanks Masterpiece and Martin - glad you liked the tutorial!

Maren aka hilobeads aka Palms, Etc. said...

I love it when people post tutorials without asking to be paid for it. Wonderfully detailed, should be easy to follow if I find the time ...

finola said...

Thanks Maren, and you're welcome (for the info :) Hope you find the time - it is fun!

ALLinRueThyme said...

This is a wonderul tutorial! I can't wait to "play"

finola said...

Hope you have fun! I'd love if people would like to show some of their own creations in the cold porcelain - use the contact form if you'd like to and we can organize that!

Kid Crafts said...

Very nice step by step explanation and I am eager to make them for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi! This was a great tutorial but this is a tip I've learned from making porcelain myself. Mixing water in your clay doesn't help at all. Its better just to mix the glue and cornstarch till it forms the paste then microwave. But hey it just may be me. ^^ adding water to clay makes it cracks as it dries because the water trapped inside is evaporating. Yah for research!! ^^

finola said...

Anonymous, thanks - that's interesting; I have made with and without water, but not done exact tests to see if I cook the same if one cracks less or more...I have to make some CP today, so perhaps I will do this test.

I do find the main problem with CP is that sometimes it cracks...I added in some heavy hand cream once and I did like the texture - many tutorials suggest cold cream but I just used a cream for ultra-dry hands :)

Very grateful for those of you who read this and do make your CP to share your tips too! I will put them all together into a post if I get SHARE please!

Anonymous said...

No problem just trying to help the next clay creators. By the way I'm only 15 ^_^ and I can make just about anything out of clay. My first piece was a moon pendent made myself. NEVER TAKE IT OFF!! I attached to it lol. Anyway, keep creating these great ideas please. =)

Amber DeGrace said...

Love this! Looks like it will be a great project with my son. Thank you for the excellent and easy to understand tutorial and I'll be subscribing to your blog.

Caribbean Island Girl said...

I can't wait to try this!! I've been wanting to make charms for wine glasses for some time, I'm gonna do this!!

thanks Finola

finola said...

You're welcome! Just remember that this clay needs complete lacquering to be waterproof! Otherwise it's a lovely hard clay when dry, but just not totally waterproof.


Anonymous said...

Is it possible to make frame photo or candle holder ??

finola said...

Yes - it is possible to make both frames and candleholders - but in both cases, it is probably easier and better to use a base of a premade item such as a plain wooden frame or a glass jar or such for the candleholder.

You can make lovely candleshades with cold porcelain applied to glass - it is translucent, so if applied on the glass outside, and a candle (tea light) placed inside....very pretty

kathy said...

Thank you for your reply. one more question, is it easy to broke if wear earrings or keychain or etc ?

finola said...

Hi Kathy, no it is very strong - doesn't break easily - just needs varnish of some kind to make it waterproof.

Would anyone like to send in pics of things they've made?

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of cold porcelain
can't wait to try it.Thank you so much for this great idea !Yes, will send a pic of my efforts!

Finola Prescott said...

Have fun experimenting - it's certainly an almost addictive medium :-) and yes please, do post pics!

ColorCat said...

Hello. I wish I had found you blog faster. I used a recipe without water for my cold porcelain (1 cup cornstarch, 1 cup glue) and it came out a little lumpy. Also, it cracks a lot after drying. Could it be the glue? The PVA I had was not as liquid. It was the kind used in constructions. It's not called "white glue" in my country, but I think it's similar. Thanks

Finola Prescott said...

Hi ColorCat - so happy it's been helpful.

First, I find different glues give very different results - there was a white wood glue I used for a while and I found it tended to crack a bit.

This is why with some very strong glues I add the water

Also, too much oil I think makes it crack.

But most wood (construction) or paper pva based glues should be fine (with a bit of water) as long as they don't have lots of other additives - my advice - experiment a bit and if you have interesting results and a camera and would like to share - please let me know - that goes for anyone who reads this - we can put together a collaborative post with links to your blogs/sites if you have - how about it?

Hope that helps! Have fun - and where're you from ColorCat?

ColorCat said...

Thanks for answering.I figured it could have been the glue. Also, maybe cooking it on the stove was too strong. I'll try microwave, maybe it cooks more even. I'm from Romania and people don't really know about cold porcelain here.

Finola Prescott said...

Romania - wow :-)

Yes, no-one here knew about Cold Porcelain either (in St. Lucia, Caribbean)

I found stovetop cooking VERY difficult - I think you'll like the microwave - good luck!

Anonymous said...

thanks for share...

Mika said...

I'm trying to find a recipe of clay or porcelain that could work to make a bowl where people could actually eat from... Would this work for that? If so, do you know what type of varnish should I apply on it? It wouldn't be used often, my best friend hates cakes but loves cereal so I was thinking of making a birthday cereal bowl, with a place for candles, decorated etc :p

Finola Prescott said...

Mika, I don't think cold porcelain would really work - not for anything that is liquid to be held in it - dry cereal, nuts maybe. I am not one who likes to use varnished items for food that is wet, but there should be waterbased polyurethane or acrylic varnishes and epoxy resins that would be reasonably food safe for dry foods.
For a real cereal bowl you'd need real kiln-fired clays and glaze.
Sorry not to have better news!

Mika said...

Ohhh lol thank you! I tend to have great ideas but hard to turn them into real things, at least not with things i can easily find or make at home! I must find out how though, sooner or later cause ive had this idea for a few years... Thanks for the help!!

Anri-Irene said...

Hi! I have a few new recipes for cold porcelain!