How to DIY Your Own Faux Coral – {Monthly DIY Challenge}

It’s time for the Monthly DIY Challenge!  This month we got to work with a material that most of us had never used before, air dry clay, and man did it test us!

8 AMAZING things to do with Air Dry Clay!!!

I was thisclose to making this a “How to not DIY your own faux coral” post, but I do think it can totally work, just with a few tweaks that I’ll talk about.

I STRONGLY encourage any of you coastal style decorators to find (or make) faux coral to use in your displays rather than real specimens.  You can rarely tell the difference and it helps discourage the horrible collection trade of coral from coral reefs.

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com
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Supplies for DIY Faux Coral

  • air dry clay (I used Crayola’s)
  • toothpicks
  • cake tester (or similar poking/smoothing device)
  • sand (optional)
  • spraypaint (optional)

First up, I formed the base of my coral.  This air dry clay is much more like true CLAY clay than I thought it would be.  I used toothpicks to support the arms as needed since the clay is pretty dense and heavy.

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

Now, this is where I will suggest that you do this differently than I did.  After making my base, I continued attaching all the arms and towards the end, they ALL started sagging and falling (insert shocked emoji here).  I tried to fix it as much as I could, propping them up on things for the drying time, but in doing so alot of what I had done got sacrificed :/  

So, I suggest making the base and inserting however many toothpicks you think you’ll need for arms into it, then letting that dry on it’s own (dry time is about 24 hours).  THEN proceed with putting the arms on.  I think this will allow the base to be much stronger and not cave with the weight of the arms.

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

To make the arms, just roll some of the clay with your hands, making it slightly smaller at one end.  Stick a few toothpicks in it to help hold it, I guess you could even use small dowels too.

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

I wanted my coral to be spiky so I rolled some little pieces into a comma shape, then stuck and smoothed them carefully onto the branches.

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com
I used my super high-tech clay working device to make the coral’s “polyps” all over, as well as try to smooth out any places I could.  After that, I sprinkled some fine beach sand over it to give it a little more texture.

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

The air dry clay takes about a day or so to fully dry, so I just made sure it was in a safe place (and all propped up) while it dried.  I really thought about spraypainting this piece but liked the matte look of it and it dried lighter than I thought it would so it worked out.  But if you want a crisp white or even a fun, bold color you can spraypaint it once it’s all dry.

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

Even though my first try at air dry clay coral had some hiccups, I think this is an awesome way to get the look of coral without having to buy and condone the selling of real pieces.  Plus, you can make it whatever size you want for where you want to put it!

Now, hop around and see what the other girls created with their air dry clay!!

end of post - pin it2

How to DIY Faux Coral - Using air dry clay, it's easy to form your own coral sculpture to use in your coastal home decor! www.tableandhearth.com

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18 thoughts on “How to DIY Your Own Faux Coral – {Monthly DIY Challenge}

    1. A beginning art student’s sculpture maybe! I definitely plan to practice with this stuff and figure out how to make it even better :)

    1. I think the sand would look really great if it were spraypainted because you’d definitely see the texture then. Something to try on the next one!

  1. I love that you are always practicing what you preach. So true about not needing to bring or buy real coral… leave it in the ocean and make your own out of clay! :)

    1. Ha! I’ll see if I can hone them a little more, although the thought of shipping these makes me shudder…I’m scared to even move mine :) But thank you Erica!

  2. Emily,
    It looks great!
    Did you use a photo for a model, or make it from your imagination?
    You said you used your ‘special tool’ for the polyps, so I imagine you’re familiar with coral structure.
    Your project made me want to try my hand at it, too!
    Thanks.

    1. Thanks so much Ellen! I did not use a photo or anything, just went by the real ones I’ve seen, particularly the Acropora species…and yes, I studied corals for my master’s degree, so the nerd is strong! :) Good luck with yours, great thing about the clay is that you can always remodel a piece if you need to :)

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