During a recent trip to the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycraft’s show at Birmingham NEC, I was introduced to the wonder that is Jumping Clay. Taking its name from the fact that a ball of the stuff bounces when dropped, Jumping Clay actually possesses far more properties than its name implies. Being a completely non-toxic air drying modelling clay, probably describes its primary function more accurately. Bouncing when in ball shape, I feel is somewhat secondary. With regards to modelling, other perhaps more important qualities are the fact that you can seamlessly mix the 8 standard colours to create any colour you desire and that it sticks to itself exceedingly well so is easy to model. But, hey, maybe bouncing is just more interesting.
The texture of Jumping Clay is really hard to describe; it feels incredibly soft when moulding and when dry it’s very lightweight with an almost dense foam like quality. Mixing colours is easy to do – you just take lump of each colour you want to mix, squidge them together and pull apart repeatedly until mixed, which doesn’t take very long. Modelling itself is a bit trickier as it really is VERY sticky, weirdly only to itself though, and if you accidently stick say an eye in the wrong place it is nigh on impossible to remove without making a pig’s ear of it. Until dry the clay doesn’t have a huge amount of stability and if you attempt anything with too much top heavy weight i.e. a larger body on thinner legs, you will find the legs don’t support the weight and it will become lopsided as the legs bow. After a bit of investigation on Youtube I’ve seen that people use frames to mould around, then the shape possibilities are limitless.
With regards to Jumping Clay being a suitable activity for preschoolers then I would say it is probably best suited to slightly older children, perhaps of 5 years onwards. This is mainly due to the fact that the clay is quite expensive – the mini gift set I bought was £18. Until they are able to make something at least semi-recognisable as more than a “blob” it is a bit wasteful. That being said my 3 year old daughter enjoyed the texture and mixing the colours together.
As you may have guessed the picture is of my first attempt with the stuff. A pony thing. My daughter named it “Cacky”. I’m not sure what to make of that. As she seemed delighted that “Cacky” didn’t have to go back in the pot like the playdough, I’m assuming that the choice of name wasn’t representative of its attributes! So whilst Jumping Clay might be a bit too advanced for preschoolers to mould themselves, it is great in the fact you can make things for them that they can play with once dry.
For more infromation visit: http://www.jumpingclay.co.uk/