Cute Clay Snails
Updated: Apr 8
So I love making these cute clay SNAILS which are in part, inspired by Julia Donaldson's book "The snail and the whale". We have made so many variations of snail at home now that I have a display cupboard to keep them all safe. The ones I made in this tutorial are made from air drying clay, but you could use homemade dough, playdoh, fimo clay etc. I have made some snails with fimo clay and I have to say, they are my FAVOURITE! They are baked in the oven until set and they are so much more sturdy than the easily breakable air drying clay. The only problem with fimo is that my children found it NOT as easy to shape and squish. I found out at my workshops that some children don't like the messy aspect of the air drying clay either! A great all rounder is probably homemade dough. I found that regardless of your choice of clay, these fragile little snails are not suitable as TOYS, but can make a unique display in your home. You could line them up on a shelf or windowsill, or even place them in a plant pot. Children aged 5-11 will probably find this activity easier than under 5's, although younger children love to do this too and my own 2 year old LOVES to join in!
My SNAIL admiration actually began as a child, saving snails and slugs from our neighbour who poisoned them because they ate his lettuces. My sister and I made mini gardens in old sweet tins and put the slugs and snails in them. Then a few years ago I purchased my first GIANT African Land snail and my obsession grew. . I originally got the snail for my 9 year old son, as they are easy cared for PETS. I then purchased another and another, and well... So a lot of INSPIRATION for this snail craft also comes from watching and handling our own snails at home. They are such interesting creatures and I Iove them as much as my dogs!
So lets get STARTED with the tutorial! To do this craft firstly you need to choose the type of clay or dough that you want to use. Remember, each type also dries differently. Make a small ball from the clay and add a drop of water if it begins to dry quickly. You also need an empty sea snail type SHELL, or a garden snail shell. You could find these on the beach, on NATURE walks or in your garden. You can also purchase shells online but i think there is something special about using a found shell as it has MEMORIES of a place and time.
I also used google eyes for this SNAIL, which can be purchased in most craft stores and online sites. Finally, this is optional, but i like to have a platform for the snails to sit on, especially while drying. For this I use WOOD slices which you can get online, but you really could use anything. Why not try a piece of bark, a leaf or a stone?
Roll the ball of clay into a sausage shape. Be careful not to roll it too thin as it will be more flimsy and break quicker. A thinner shape will not support the weight for your snail to sit up by itself. You also may not be able to fit the shell or google eyes on properly!
Start to shape the tentacles. Pinch a bit of clay at each side of the top of one end of the sausage shape. Keep pinching it until you start to make the tentacles the shape you want. They can be thick as in the photo or you can make them thinner and longer.
Bend half of the body of the snail, so that it can sit up without you holding it. You can now smooth over any cracks and rough parts in the clay with your fingers. Also pinch the tail a bit so that it goes more pointy and thinner.
You can now make your snail more life like by adding the shell! Press the shell gently onto the back of the snail. No glue is needed as the shell will be held in place by the clay, even when dry.
Add character to your snail by adding eyes! Again, gently press the google eyes onto the face just below the tentacles. Try different sizes and shapes of eye. You can also paint eyes on when the clay has fully dried! Use acrylic paint for this for best results. You could also use modelling tools to create holes for eyes and a mouth instead.
Set your snail on the wood slice or whatever you choose as a platform. Place It in a safe place to dry overnight. Once dry it is more breakable. You could also paint the snail if you wish. I recommend any brand of acrylic paints for this.
I hope you enjoy this craft as much as my own children and myself has! Remember, check out the YouTube tutorial on our Learning Labyrinth channel and don't forget to subscribe so that you don't miss out! You can follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcmK30kBsb_-HpQvtoe7uTg/channels?view_as=subscriber or click on the YouTube symbol anywhere on the website www.learninglabyrinth.co.uk. Please share your creations with me by emailing your photos and name to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance for them to be featured on social media!
Looking forward to the next craft tutorial, see you soon!