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Make Adorable Pebble Magnets With Air Dry Clay

August 17, 2014

I have long admired artists who paint on stones and I wanted to give the craft a try myself. The trouble was, I didn’t have any stones, so I made a batch with air dry clay. I then turned my creations into magnets and the project went so well that I decided to make another batch with a Halloween theme.

Below I’ve outlined the entire process of making my Halloween themed magnets. My daughter is too young to participate in painting just yet however, I would imagine that this would be a really fun and simple craft to do with a child or a group of children.

The magnets (in whichever theme you choose) can be given away as gifts or they could even be used as place card embellishments and party favors for big get togethers, holidays or even weddings which the recipients can take home afterwards. 

Required Materials 

Air dry clay

Acrylic paint

Paintbrushes

Flat magnets

Glue

Varnish (optional)

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First make the pebbles.

I will warn you in advance, air dry clay can take a good few days to dry out.. The last batch I left for 5 days before applying paint to them.

When moist, the clay will behave much like normal clay that you fire in a kiln. To form the pebbles just pinch off a chunk and roll it into a ball, then flatten it out into the shape you want. I find that the palm of my hand makes a great lumpy mold. The one thing you need to be sure of is to get the back flat. The fronts can be as lumpy as you like but the backs need to be flat so that the magnets have a good surface to adhere to.

Once you have the shape you want you can dip your finger in some water to smooth out the surface and repair any cracking.

Leave the clay out to dry according to the instructions that come with whatever brand you’ve purchased. I flipped my pebbles every day to ensure that they were drying evenly. I also have a handy metal file which helped me finish them off once they were dry however, filing wasn’t an essential step.

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Once the pebbles are dry you are ready to paint. I find that acrylic paints are ideal for just about all of my crafting needs and they’re inexpensive as well as easy to obtain.

If the clay was white to begin with that is perfect because whatever color you put on top will lay much brighter than if you are trying to apply paint to grey or brown clay. If the clay was not white to begin with, I suggest that you prime with white in however many coats it takes to make them uniformly white.

In this tutorial I have used a mix of unpainted white pebbles and repainted (re-purposed) green pebbles that were duds from my last project.

After the pebbles were all white and dry I laid down a uniform layer of orange for all of them to provide a consistent background.

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Once the background is dry you can paint designs on the pebbles. It’s important to do this in at least two steps, allowing the paint to dry completely between layers. My magnets illustrated here took four painting sessions to get all the details on including embellishments.

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The magnets that I have in supply right now are thin ones that I can trim down. The benefit to these is that they’re thin so the magnet is fairly flush with the fridge, the downside is that the thinner the magnet, the less strong it is.

I trim my magnets to size and then glue them on with some good old white school glue. You can also use hot glue if you prefer.

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Finished Magnets

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2 Comments
  1. Diane permalink

    Do you add the varnish before you glue the magnet on?

    • I did not varnish mine, and they’ve held up pretty well. If you’re going to apply varnish, it’s probably a good idea to do it before the magnet goes on to keep it tidy, however if you’re careful it doesn’t really matter which order the magnet is glued on in. :)

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