Craft a Rustic Tray from Air-Dry Clay

Make this pretty tray for fall with air-dry clay and paint. It's an easy and inexpensive craft project for adults and kids alike.  

Air Dry Clay Tray DIY

DIY Air Dry Clay Tray

Handmade holiday decor are usually the pieces that become heirlooms. Make this simple and pretty decorative tray for fall with air-dry clay and some paint. It's a perfect craft for adult and kids alike.

Photo by: Marian Parsons, Mustard Seed Interiors

Marian Parsons, Mustard Seed Interiors

Materials Needed

1 slab air-dry clay
plastic knife
rolling pin
non-stick work surface
platter or bowl in desired shape
acrylic paint in desired colors
glossy, non-yellowing spray polyurethane finish
1" paint brush
100- and 120-grit sandpaper

Roll Clay

Place half of clay slab on clean, non-stick work surface. Roll out with rolling pin to 1/4" thickness in a loose rectangular shape (Images 1 and 2). 

Create Imprint or Design

Use stamps or plastic knife to create a pattern in rolled-out clay (Images 1 and 2). Tip: Clay can also be imprinted with fabric, lace, flowers, leaves, shells, etc. Test it out and, if it doesn't look good, just roll out the clay and try again. The options really are endless!

Shape Clay

Carefully place clay inside a platter, bowl, or plate in desired shape. Gently press clay into the form of platter but don't press too hard or the design could be damaged. Cut rough edges with plastic knife and smooth out with a finger (Images 1 and 2). The edges will be sanded once clay is dry, so it doesn’t have to be perfect at this stage (Image 3). Allow clay to dry until hardened per manufacturer's instructions (usually about 24-72 hours). 

Sand Tray's Edges

Use a medium-grit (80-100) sandpaper to sand rough edges of tray, if necessary. Use a fine paper (120+ grit) for a final smoothing of the edges.

Sand Tray Edges: DIY Air Dry Clay Tray Step 4

DIY Air Dry Clay Tray Step 4: Sand Tray Edges

Use a medium grit sand paper (80-100) to sand rough edges of tray, if necessary or desired. Use a fine paper (120+ grit) for a final smoothing of the edges.

Photo by: Marian Parsons, Mustard Seed Interiors

Marian Parsons, Mustard Seed Interiors

Paint and Seal Tray

Paint tray in desired color with acrylic craft paints (Image 1). Once paint is dry, apply a spray-on, non-yellowing glossy clear finish to add shine and protection (Images 2 and 3). Allow finish to dry before use. Tray is for decorative purposes only and is not food safe. Tip: Tray can be left unfinished and/or unpainted, if desired. 

Next Up

49 Printable (and Free!) Thanksgiving Templates

Our free printable Thanksgiving materials will help you put the finishing touch on your fall festivities. Here, you'll find templates for blank menus, invitations, place cards, kids' crafts, pumpkin carving patterns and more.

Sophisticated Fruit and Vegetable Centerpiece

A stroll through the produce department of your local grocery store will yield the colorful materials needed to create this unusual centerpiece — no flowers necessary.

Fresh Fall Decorating: Make a Ribbon Rose Wreath

Craft a cheery touch of fall for your front door with a moss-covered wreath form and autumnal ribbon roses. 

Thanksgiving Kids' Craft: Foam Turkeys

Foam balls, googly eyes, paint and colorful paper straws are all you need to help kids craft these cute turkey decorations for Thanksgiving.

How to Make Elegant Stenciled Napkins

Classic white napkins can easily be dressed up for special holidays with a stencil and washable fabric paint. The creative options and themes are limitless.

Pecan Pralines Recipe

Send party guests home on a sweet note by preparing homemade pecan pralines.

Edible Fall Centerpiece

Pair ornamental kale with asparagus to create a stunning (and edible!) centerpiece for your fall get-together or Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Kids' Craft: Fingerprint Turkey

Keep the littlest Thanksgiving guests happily occupied with this fun craft that allows them to personalize favor cups they can then fill with sweet-and-salty snack mix.

Thanksgiving Kids' Craft: Paper Straw Necklaces

Help kids craft these colorful straw necklaces for Thanksgiving with our easy-to-follow instructions and free printable template.

Easy-to-Craft Fall Leaf Centerpiece

Looking for an inexpensive, seasonal centerpiece that will last through the fall? All you need is some patterned scrapbook paper, twine, glitter spray and a few branches from your backyard.

More from:

Thanksgiving Ideas

What's New in Handmade


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.