Clay for my Dad

Made by Judith Jewer

Hi there Jonnie. My Dad is 90 and has dementia. He used to be a woodworker but managing the equipment is no longer possible. He has asthma and COPED. I know that modeling with clay will help him. I have been getting him to use plasticine and he has really enjoyed it, but the smell of the dollar store plasticine left him struggling to breath. Do you know of an unscented hypoallergenic dust free clay that we could make or buy? Many Thanks, Judith

5 thoughts on “Clay for my Dad”

  1. I had read the book called Tuesday with Morrie, the main character who had suffered a dying disease said when people are older, they have chance of being child again.

  2. I am so impressed with your dad’s need to continue creating, despite such challenges! Creativity continues on!!

    How about Crayola’s Model Magic? It is super-soft, and I don’t think it smells much at all. I was going to suggest polymer clay, but that can be difficult to work for challenged-by-arthritis hands. Model Magic, on the other hand, is very soft and air dries quickly. Plus, it can be painted or you can buy it in colors

  3. What about some of the clays they have for kids? Play doh has a very distinct smell but I don’t think it would trigger asthma. There is one called magic sculpt that I don’t remember having much of a smell. I suggest the kids ones because of kids and all the allergies they have…the manufacturers would have to be cognizant of that when developing the clay. These can be found in any craft store in the kid section. Otherwise, I would go with the ceramic clay like Jonni suggested. The only problem with that is that you have to buy so much of it at one time.
    Another suggestion, he is a retired carpenter, why not give him some wood scraps and some wood glue and see what he comes up with? Good luck!

  4. Hi Judith. I like the Laguna Beach WED clay – it’s a wet clay that has additives that keep it from cracking. You can see what it looks like when someone’s playing with it here. It’s made for modeling, not firing, but it will last a long time after it dries if the pieces aren’t too thin and fragile. To me, it smells like mud – but your dad’s sensitivities might pick up the scent of whatever they put in it. If he doesn’t mind getting wet clay on his hands, you might be able to find a potter’s clay at your local pottery store. They would have no additives except sand or some other gritty stuff to help the clay hold together. But even if it’s the pure clay, the minerals in each type would be different, and each one would smell different. Still, they wouldn’t smell like petroleum products.

    There are some modeling clays based on wax, like Monster Clay, but they usually need to be heated to get soft enough to use. In fact, most artist’s oil-based modeling clays tend to be fairly hard to work until they’re heated. They can easily burn you if you try to pick them up before they’ve had time to cool off, so it doesn’t sound like a safe alternative, even if your dad doesn’t mind their smell. Perhaps one of our readers will have an idea for you. Good luck with it! 🙂


Leave a Comment