Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Corn starch dough tutorial

For those people who asked me more about corn starch dough (also known as "maize dough" or "pasta di mais" in italian) after reading my previous posts (1 and 2) about it...
... these are some things I made with mum during these holidays with this surprising dough:
They are pendants and small figurines of animals I like (and a tiny house and some beads). You can see them better in my Flickr album here.
Working with it is super funny and simple, a great idea to keep the children busy too! You can made almost anything with this dough: you can find a lot on the web, for example writing "pasta di mais" in google images.
I took some photos while mum was preparing the dough, so I can explain you a bit how to do if you want to make it for you (Pam, I know you want! :P).
A sort of tutorial, in my not-so-technical style (sorry!).
- 1 cup (we used a yogurt pot) of corn starch
- 1 cup of vinyl glue
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 tabelspoon of liquid vaseline (vaseline oil) 
- mix glue+vaseline+lemon in an old pot/pan
- add corn starch and blend it very well to the liquids (no clots, please!)
- put the pot on your kitchen's burner (low fire) and go on blending till the dough will thicken and separate itself from the pot
- turn the fire off, remove the dough with your hands (some people suggest to massage your hands with some moisturizer before) and start knead till the dough will be cold.
- save the dough in plastic wrap (it lasts 3-4 weeks if well closed into the wrap)
With this method you will have white dough (mat or translucent, it depends of the quality of the glue you use).
But the funny thing is that you can colour it simply adding some drops of tempera paint (add it to the dough and knead it till the tempera is totally absorbed).
You can even mix two coloured dough to have the color you want (example: mix some yellow dough and some blue dough to have green).
after shaping your corn starch dough into something (pendants, animal, little bowls...) you have to wait 1-2 days for the drying.
Simply place your masterpieces on a fabric cloth and... wait! :)
No oven or other cooking methods; and this is good!
After the drying the dough will be strong and smooth.
When the dough is dry you can decorate it with drawings and paint.
Mum made some beautiful pendants adding some flowers or lines+dots with tempera paint on the dry surface. I painted some snowflakes (I know, I'm obsessed!) and a mountain landscape.
And don't forget to embellish your masterpieces with some transparent varnish to protect them!
I hope this post is clear.
You can also look at this video to see all the passages (in italian, but intuitive for all, I think).
Please, let me know if you try!!! :)


  1. Grazie Silvia! I am very interested in playing with this material. I have never even heard of liquid vaseline or vinyl glue! So not only am I in for a new adventure but it looks like it will be a learning experience4 for me as well!!!

    Once i get it all figured out - I am thinking to start with Mushrooms!

    1. Mushrooms? oh, lovely idea!
      I like mushrooms! :)

      liquid vaseline and vynil glue... I thought to send you little bottles of each of these ingredients, but I'm quite sure it's forbidden (for international shipments)

  2. This is such an interesting recipe, Silvia! It reminds me a little of "cold porcelain," but I suspect that the addition of vinyl glue would prevent the clay from cracking as it dries the way cold porcelain can. I'm excited to give this a try - and given the commenter who came before me here, it appears I have a clay-making buddy already! :-)

  3. Oops, it's me again. I wonder, do you know of any other names for vinyl glue? In Googling around, I find something called "contact cement" that glues vinyl, but I'm not sure if it's the same thing you're using.

  4. Diane and Pam...
    I'm looking for more informations to help you (and other readers from USA) making this clay.
    The only thing I know is that vaseline oil can be replaced by a particular oil used for skin care; we call it "olio johnson's baby", I think you can find it everywhere in the world.
    It is (oh mt god!) almost 100% plastic, because its ingredients are:
    you can use it instead of vaseline oil (please, don't use it on your skin, because it's really a bad think for skin care, it's plastic!!!)

    for viniò glue... I'm still studying, hope can you help a bit!

  5. Thank you Silvia! I love that Diane is as interested in playing with your clay too!! Wish you could just hop on a plane and join in! And bring your mother!

    I have found some products online which are available in Blick (American go to craft supply shop) that claim to be "vinyl glue" but by your description in your note it may be something closer to white glue - more research needed but we will solve it I am sure.

    The ingredients will be helpful for the vaseline oil search.


  6. I love this! Y'all have probably solved one part of the puzzle by now--wouldn't "olio johnson's baby" be Johnson's Baby Oil? And if so, that is mineral oil with fragrance added.

  7. The maize starch has wider applications as the anti stick agents. They are used as the anti stick agents for various medical products.


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