Wednesday, July 26, 2017


I have artsy kids, so anytime we can review art supplies is sure to be fun. Almost daily, someone is drawing, coloring, or folding origami creations, but it's not as often that we pull out the super messy supplies. The Rigid Wrap and CulluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products definitely falls into that get-your-hands-dirty category. Along with the kit, we received the ACTÍVA Products' Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS eBook that's filled with project ideas. 

ACTÍVA: Basic Materials for Creativity is a company that has been dedicated to quality arts and crafts supplies since 1959. They offer all sorts of materials from multiple types of air dry clay to plaster and molds for casting to colored sand and dried floral products and more. Along with their merchandise, their site is full of useful information like instructions, tips, techniques, and safety sheets. 

I knew the kids would be excited to start crafting as soon as the package arrived in the mail. I opened the box and immediately knew something was wrong. There was a white, powdery substance all over the kit and inside the shipping box. I carefully opened the kit to discover an even bigger mess. The CelluClay had a gaping hole in the clear, plastic packaging, causing the powder to cover the contents of the box. The two bags of Rigid Wrap, the instruction and project sheet pages, the remaining CelluClay, everything was a mess. I sent a quick email and received an equally quick reply. Within a few days, I received another kit, sans hole in the bag. Good customer service is always a plus for a company.

We really weren't sure what to expect with these products. I pulled up the free eBook and browsed through the ideas with the kids. My daughter (9 years) immediately was drawn to the bold beads made from Rigid Wrap plaster cloth strips. She loves making bead jewelry, so the ability to design her own beads was very appealing. The book lists skill level, time, materials, directions, and tips for each project. The directions for the beads was a little confusing, so it took some trial and error to figure it out. And though some of the beads were a little rough around the edges or bumpy and misshapen, that didn't stop her from exclaiming dozens of times how much fun she was having. She said, "I just can't stop making these!" Some more practice, I am sure her technique will improve and the bead-making addiction will be even stronger.

The boys, however, were not impressed with any of the suggestions in the book. (They were initially excited when I read "Deadly Dinosaur," but when they saw a friendly brontosaurus-type dino with a smile, they were disappointed.) They also did not prefer the projects that came in the kit either (which were mostly the same as the book and looks like a photocopy of a photocopy and blurry with one page so crooked that half of it was missing). Instead, they each decided on a project that we found while looking through the video demonstrations on the site. I found some old jars, gave the boys trays and bowls of water, and cut strips of Rigid Wrap. They got to work dipping the strips in water, removing the excess liquid, and wrapping the jar. My 7-year-old made his own (which he filled with roses and gave to his grandma, heart melt.) and my 11-year-old  helped his 5-year-old brother make one. (Make sure to check out the video at the end of the post he made of the process and see how easy it is to create your own!)

Both the beads and the vases dried quickly, but the kids didn't get a chance to paint them until the next day. That part was equally fun. I always like watching their creativity and differences as they design their masterpieces. The acrylic paints worked very well on the dried Rigid Wrap.


Next was trying to decide what to make with the CelluClay. This isn't a true clay, but rather an instant paper mache clay made from 100% pre-consumer recycled paper. Since no one wanted to recreate a project idea from the book, we brainstormed ideas and searched the web. It came as no surprise when we settled on a working volcano. (There is actually a volcano idea in the book, but it is a simple sculpture, and honestly, not what we were looking to make.) 

We enlisted the help of my husband to design the structure of the volcano. Then we used the CelluClay to coat it. This is where we ran into problems. There are no instructions whatsoever for the clay in the box. There's nothing on the bag. There's nothing in the eBook. There's not even anything in the description of the product on the website. Everything just says "mix the CelluClay in a Ziploc bag," but nothing is mentioned about amounts or process or anything. He did a search and found that it's recommended to use 32 oz of water to 1 lb of clay (which, I find a bit confusing, since the free eBook calls for 2.5 cups of clay for one of the projects. One is based on weight and the other volume. They're not interchangeable.) Just to be safe, we used 24 oz of water for our 1 lb, because you can always add water if needed, but you can't take away. Our oldest mixed the concoction, but instead of forming into a ball of clay, it stayed as a soupy pulp. It still worked to form the volcano, it was just sticky and messy and not clay-like. I enjoyed the process, but the kids did not like the feel of the goop. 

The volcano took a couple days to dry and the thicker parts finished off with the help of a fan. Next came a coat of spray paint, and our masterpiece was ready to erupt. The kids always enjoy watching the reaction of baking soda and vinegar. The CelluClay softened up again after multiple eruptions, and it seems that the vinegar has slightly eaten away at parts of the volcano, kinda giving it the feel of real lava destroying things in its path, ha. 
All in all, we love these products. I really hope they will improve their directions, both in the Rigid Wrap and CulluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit and in the ACTÍVA Products' Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS eBook. I did eventually find the full instructions on the website, but it took some searching around. I think it would be helpful if they linked to the instruction page on the product page. The Rigid Wrap was simple to use and the kids really enjoyed crafting with it. I'm eager to use the CelluClay again, with some tweaking of the amount of water. The possibilities of these products are endless!  

Here you can watch my 11-year-old create a vase with the Rigid Wrap. Super simple. And though the video is sped up, it only took him 7 minutes in real time to create it. You can see how he chose to wrap the top also, whereas his younger brother decided to leave it uncovered (in the vase and roses picture above). The best part of art is your creativity and uniqueness!

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You can read more reviews with fun projects made by kids on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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