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2 Awesome DIY Art Projects (Kid Friendly!)

Updated on June 1, 2015

If you need some activities to occupy your free time (i.e. your child’s), or are just looking to express yourself in the usual DIY fashion, here are 2 awesome DIY projects that are both inexpensive and guaranteed to keep you engaged for hours on end. These are just summaries of the projects and their relative difficulty and cost along with links on where to get complete info on the DIY, as well as tips that I learned from the process so you can avoid some of the mistakes that I made. If you have any questions about either of the projects, please ask! It might save you some frustration or confusion.


Making Dorodango (Playing with mud)

Roughly translated as “happy little mud balls”, the art of turning dirt into shining balls been performed by the Japanese for centuries (great project to do with kids!). Here are the basic materials that you’ll need:

  • Soil (something that is a mix between sand and clay is recommended, but I've met success with just about any kind)
  • Fine Sift (I just used an old window screen)
  • Containers (You can sift the dirt into margarine containers, clay pots or just onto your driveway or sandbox. I liked containers because I could sift a variety of dirt types and mix and match however I wanted)
  • Some Patience!

The basic principle behind making dorodango is to make a tight ball with wet dirt and then slowly sprinkle and rub dirt onto the ball and slowly add finer and finer layers until it reaches a high level of shine. This is a fascinating project that is incredibly rewarding if given time, and it produces a beautiful finished project. Here a couple of links to give you all the details and get started:

The key to success here is patience. Go ahead and accept that your first few will not be your best few. The three in the picture were my 6th, 7th and 8th respectively. Here are some tips that I learned through trial and error while working with dorodango:

  • When adding the water, less is more. Pour a little; mix the dirt around until you get a consistency closer to cookie dough rather than pudding. If you get too much water, add more dirt or let it sit and evaporate a little while.
  • If cracks are appearing during the initial ball forming and adding of the preliminary dirt, you’re squeezing the ball. Doesn’t matter how much you think you aren’t, you are. Be even gentler.
  • If you are still having trouble with cracks forming, dip your finger in water and smooth them over, then set the ball down for 20 minutes on a sock and let it harden a little.
  • In between sessions of working on the ball put in a plastic Ziploc to speed up the drying process, and continue to do it until no more dirt sticks to the ball for the best shine.
  • Be PATIENT. You will get it right eventually! Shoot, there’s plenty of dirt to go around, so no need to be worried or stressed. This is all about the process, the journey of transformation. If one falls apart, start another and experiment with different types of dirt until you get it.

From start to finish this project could take you between 5 and 10 hours, depending on type of dirt, layers made, drying, etc. (and can cost you nothing!). Each dorodango you do will teach you more about what does and doesn’t work and hopefully teach you something about yourself as well!

Clay Model
Clay Model

Make A Clay Model

Using modeling clay to create a work of art is a very simple, forgiving, DIY project. The clay can be used in conjunction with a few other tools to create just about anything. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Modeling Clay
  • Optional items- aluminum wire, wood (for making a base), clay sculpting tools.

There isn’t a whole lot to this one, just decide what you want to sculpt (or just start throwing clay together) and see what comes of it. Modeling clay never dries, so if you don’t like what you’ve made, mash it up and start again. The total cost for creating your own DYI clay model can be under $15 (non-toxic clay can be purchased to make this a very kid-friendly project). I’ve written a very detailed hub on the entire process, which can be found below, along with links to places to purchase clay, wire, and sculpting tools:


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