CMA Stories

Penguins and Alligators, Oh My! Make Your Own Clay Creatures

Bring the zoo indoors by following along with our step-by-step instructions for creating your own clay penguin and alligator. You will need modeling clay (we suggest Model Magic), a small piece of cardboard, a set of clay tools, and a pencil. Feel free to get creative and share any creatures you create with us using the hashtag #cmanychallenge!

How-To: Clay Penguin

Roll black clay into a cylinder shape for the body of the penguin and bend the top to form the penguin’s head.

Cut a small piece of white clay and form it into a small cylinder shape.

Flatten the white cylinder onto the body to create the chest of the penguin.

Using a dull pencil, poke 2 holes in the head for the eyes.

Roll 2 small white balls of clay for the whites of the eyes and insert into the holes.

Roll 2 very small black balls and press onto the whites of the eyes to make the pupils.

Roll a small orange ball for the beak.

Form the orange ball into a triangle shape and press onto the face of the penguin.

Roll 2 medium black balls and form into cone shapes for the wings. Flatten and attach to the sides of the penguins.

Roll 2 medium-small orange balls for the penguin’s feet. Flatten and attach onto the bottom of the body.

Take a square piece of cardboard and spread blue clay over the entire surface to form a base for the penguin.

Place your penguin on the cardboard and adjust as needed. Show off your new feathered pal!

How-To: Clay Alligator

Roll green clay into a cylinder shape and use the clay tool to cut a small piece off the end.

Roll the small piece to make a small cylinder. Cut small piece into 4 equal sections and set aside.

Roll large cylinder into a cone / carrot shape.

Pinch the larger part of the cone into a neck and form the tip into a cone shape.

Using a dull pencil, poke 2 holes in the head for the eyeballs.

Roll 2 small white balls of clay for the whites of the eyes and insert into the holes.

Roll 2 very small black balls and press onto the whites of the eyes to make the pupil.

Using your clay tool, cut the head in the center to create an open mouth.

Roll 2 skinny white cylinders that will be used for the top and bottom rows of teeth. Attach inside the cut you made.

Use the small end of the clay tool to cut grooves for the teeth.

Smile!

Use the pencil to poke 2 holes for the alligator’s nostrils.

Take the 4 pieces you cut in Step 2 and form them into bent L-shapes for the legs.

Attach the body of the alligator and adjust so it stands on its own.

Pinch along the top of the body to create spikes and use the tool to cross-hatch texture along the top.

Take a square piece of cardboard and spread blue clay over the entire surface for the base of the alligator.

Place your alligator on the cardboard and adjust as needed. Display your new creature!


While our doors are closed, CMA is here for you and your family with at-home art projects to keep children entertained and engaged. However, every day we’re closed puts the future of CMA in further jeopardy. 

Will you be there for us? Every dollar you donate directly supports the Museum and ensures that CMA will remain a pillar of educational and artistic leadership in New York City. Click here to donate.

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