How Do You Make Glow In The Dark Clay?

Glow in the dark clay is a unique craft material that glows when charged with light. It’s made by mixing regular modeling clay with glow powder, a phosphorescent pigment that absorbs and stores energy from ambient light. When the glow clay is placed in a dark space, the stored energy is slowly released as a soft glow.

The appeal of glow in the dark clay is its ability to create handmade sculptures, jewelry, decorations, and more that illuminate in darkness. Making your own homemade glow clay allows you to achieve any color glow you want by using different colored pigments. It’s an engaging craft for all ages that results in mesmerizing glowing creations.

Glow clay is commonly used to make night lights, Halloween decorations, jewelry, ornaments, party decor, and fun arts and crafts. Its versatility and luminous effect make it a unique DIY project for crafters.

Materials Needed

To make your own glow in the dark clay, you will need the following materials:

  • Polymer clay – Any brand of polymer clay will work, such as Sculpey or FIMO. Avoid air-dry clays.

  • Glow powder or pigment – Look for glow in the dark powder made for arts and crafts. These are usually strontium aluminate based.

  • Craft tools – Clay sculpting tools, a rolling pin, acrylic roller, or pasta machine to condition and shape the clay.

  • Sealant – A water-based polyurethane sealant or epoxy resin to seal the finished piece.

You’ll also need basic craft supplies like an oven, baking sheet, and paint brushes.

Choosing Your Clay

When selecting modeling clay for a glow-in-the-dark project, there are a few key factors to consider:

Firmness – The firmness or hardness of the clay impacts how easy it is to sculpt detailed shapes that will hold their form during baking. Polymer clay is very firm and can capture fine details. Air-dry and homemade clay is more malleable but can become misshapen when baking.

Workability – Some clays are quite sticky and difficult to knead and shape. Polymer clays are smooth and easy to condition into a pliable state. Homemade clay often requires adjustments to the recipe and kneading to achieve better workability.

Baking requirements – Polymer clays require baking at relatively low temperatures to cure and harden. Other clays like air-dry clay will solidify when left out. Make sure to choose a clay that fits your baking capabilities.

For glow clay projects, polymer clay is often the best choice. It allows for detailed sculpting, holds its shape well, and bakes up strong at relatively low temperatures. Premier brands like Sculpey and Fimo are recommended for their smooth texture and vibrant colors.

Types of Glow Pigment

There are a few different options when it comes to choosing a glow pigment for your homemade glow clay. Each type has its own unique properties and considerations.

Glow Powder

Glow powder, also known as luminous powder, is one of the most common types of glow pigment. It’s made from phosphors such as zinc sulfide or strontium aluminate. Glow powder comes in a fine, powdery form that can be easily mixed into clay.


  • Creates a bright, long-lasting glow
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Relatively affordable


  • Can feel gritty in the clay
  • The fine powder can be messy to work with
  • May alter the color of the clay slightly

Glow Acrylic Paint

Glow in the dark acrylic paint is another option for creating glowing clay. The paint contains phosphorescent pigments suspended in an acrylic base. A small amount of glow paint can be mixed into clay.


  • Provides vibrant color when charged
  • Mixes smoothly into the clay
  • Easy to control the color intensity


  • Can be more expensive than glow powder
  • The acrylic medium may hinder pliability of the clay
  • Glow effect may degrade over time

UV Resin

Adding UV resin to clay creates a glossy, glass-like finish when cured under UV light. The resin itself will not glow, but it can be combined with glow powder or paint.


  • Enhances glow effect
  • Leaves a smooth, protective coat
  • Dries quickly under UV light


  • Requires additional safety equipment and UV lamp
  • Can be difficult to evenly mix into clay
  • Resin can feel tacky if not fully cured

As you can see, each glow pigment has its own advantages and limitations. Consider the texture, color, and longevity you want when selecting the best option for your project.

Combining the Ingredients

Once you have selected your preferred clay and glow pigment, you are ready to combine the ingredients. This is the most crucial step, as proper mixing will ensure your finished pieces glow brightly.

First, condition your clay according to package directions until it is smooth and pliable. Pinch off a portion, roughly the size you intend to sculpt. The more glow powder you incorporate, the stronger the glow effect will be. As a general rule, use 1 part glow powder to 10 parts clay.

Knead the glow powder into the conditioned clay, folding and pressing repeatedly to distribute evenly. Work in small batches for best results. If you add too much at once, you may have difficulty fully incorporating it which can result in patchy glowing effects.

After a few minutes of kneading, the clay should take on a uniform glow powder color. If any specs remain visibly unmixed, keep working the clay. Insufficient mixing can lead to the powder washing out during baking or wearing off during use.

Once thoroughly combined, the glowing clay is ready for sculpting. Store any unused mixed clay in an airtight container. Over time, glow intensity may decrease so use freshly mixed clay whenever possible.

Sculpting the Clay

One of the best parts of making your own glow in the dark clay is that you can sculpt it into any shape you desire! The clay will maintain its form as it bakes, so let your creativity run wild. Here are some sculpting techniques and fun shape ideas to try:

  • Roll pieces of clay into balls, snakes, or flat slabs for sculpting.
  • Use cookie cutters to make shaped cut-outs like stars, hearts, or moons.
  • Form creatures, animals, or figurines by hand.
  • Make jewelry like beads, pendants, earrings, rings.
  • Shape into letters or numbers for nightlights or wall decor.
  • Press designs, textures, or shapes into the clay using stamps, rollers, or cutters.
  • Layer and blend colors of clay for cool effects.
  • Make flower shapes by ruffling and curling petal pieces.
  • Cut out silhouette shapes or landscapes to create shadow boxes.

The options are endless when working with glow clay! Let the shapes and designs reflect your personality. Just remember that thinner pieces will glow brighter than large, thick ones. Have fun sculpting your glow-in-the-dark art!

Baking Instructions

After sculpting your glow clay creations, you’ll need to bake them to set the clay and activate the glow pigment. Follow these baking instructions closely:

Preheat your oven to 275°F. While the oven preheats, place your clay sculptures on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake smaller creations for 15-20 minutes, and larger sculptures for up to an hour. Check them periodically and bake until the clay has hardened. Clay sculpts 1/2 inch thick or less will need less time.

When done baking, turn off the oven and leave the pieces inside as the oven cools completely. This prevents cracking from a sudden temperature change.

Once cooled, you can apply a sealant if desired. Then charge your glow clay creations under light to maximize the glow effect!

Applying a Sealant

Applying a sealant to your glow in the dark clay creations is highly recommended to help protect the finish and enhance the glow effect. Without a sealant, the glow powder within the clay can rub off or fade over time with handling. A sealant creates a protective barrier that locks in the glow powder.

To apply a sealant:

  • Allow your clay creations to fully cure and cool after baking. Clay must be completely dry before applying a sealant.
  • Choose a water-based acrylic sealant, either glossy or matte finish. Avoid oil-based sealants as they may prevent the glow powder from absorbing light properly.
  • Apply 2-3 thin, even coats of sealant using a soft paintbrush. Let each coat fully dry before adding the next.
  • Ensure you cover the entire surface of the clay, including any crevices and undersides.
  • Let the sealant cure for 24 hours before handling the clay.

The sealant helps lock in the glow powder, protect the clay’s finish, and makes the glow effect last longer. Always test sealants on a clay scrap piece first to ensure compatibility with the specific clay type. With a sealant added, your glowing clay creations will shine bright for many years.

Charging Up the Glow

Once your glow in the dark clay creation is complete, you’ll need to “charge” it up to get that gorgeous glow. There are a few different ways to do this:

Sunlight – The most natural (and free!) way to charge your clay is by putting it in direct sunlight. The UV rays in sunlight activate the glow pigment, causing it to absorb the light. Just 15-20 minutes in direct sun should be enough to give your clay a nice bright glow once the lights go out.

UV Flashlight – A UV flashlight, also called a blacklight, emits ultraviolet light that will charge the glow particles in your clay. Shining the blacklight over your creation for 5-10 minutes will result in a great glow. You can find inexpensive UV flashlights online or at most hardware stores.

Other Bright Lights – Any bright light can charge glow in the dark clay to some extent, including lamps and lightbulbs. Fluorescent and LED lights tend to work the best. Just place your clay under a bright lamp for 30-60 minutes before turning out the lights.

No matter how you charge it, make sure to place your clay in a dark space once “activated” to see the magical glow. The more time you take to charge it beforehand, the brighter and longer-lasting the glow will be. Have fun illuminating your handmade creations!

Fun, Glowing Ideas

Making your own glow in the dark clay opens up tons of fun and creative possibilities. Here are some glowing ideas to get your inspiration flowing:

  • Make magical night lights in fun shapes like stars, moons, planets, animals, or your favorite cartoon characters.
  • Create personalized glow in the dark jewelry like bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings or hair clips.
  • Sculpt glow in the dark figurines from your favorite movies, TV shows, video games, books or sports teams.
  • Craft spooky Halloween decorations like jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, witches, spiders, or haunted houses.
  • Fashion one-of-a-kind nightlights for kids like fairies, superheroes, dinosaurs, rockets, unicorns or their names.
  • Make colorful fluorescent party decor like table centerpieces, place card holders, coasters or banners.
  • Design magical glow in the dark jars, vases, pots or bowls to decorate your home.
  • Create glowing holiday ornaments, tree toppers, garland and table decorations.
  • Make luminous garden art, stepping stones and outdoor decor.
  • Fashion glow nail art like polka dots, stripes, flowers or abstract designs.

For more inspiration, search sites like Pinterest, Etsy or Instagram for glow in the dark clay projects. Let your creativity shine and have fun making mesmerizing works of art that glow in the dark!

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