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Muddy Faces

Clay pictures

Simple activity using clay and natural materials. A great little creative early years project.

Art & Creating


Well dressings are used to decorate wells, springs and water sources and are commonly seen in towns and villages around Derbyshire and Staffordshire. They are made from natural materials and clay and can be very ornate. Look out for them between May and September.

We've created a rainbow well dressing - but you can use the same method to make anything you like!

What you'll need

  • natural clay
  • rolling pin
  • cardboard or wooden chopping board
  • natural materials

This activity has been provided by

Useful items from our shop

Item available from our shop

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • use natural materials from your own site, that have fallen off the plant
  • use natural rather than air-drying clay

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • identification of hazardous plants


Muddy Faces recommends using natural rather than air-drying clay. Air-drying clay usually has nylon fibres in it to help reinforce it when it dries – these can get into the natural environment. For the same reason we suggest you do not decorate with glitter as the small particles are plastic and do not break down naturally.


Using natural clay allows you to leave the clay outside and for the finished piece to be 100% biodegradable.

Look around your outdoor space and gather lots of petals, leaves and other natural materials for decorations.

Step #1

Look at what colours and materials you have collected to give you inspiration and plan your design.

Draw out a pattern on paper first or go straight to the clay if you feel confident.

Art & Creating

Step #2

Roll the clay out onto your board to create a 'canvas' for your decoration - you could do any shape you like - be creative!

Either draw your design straight onto the clay 'by eye' or lay your paper pattern over the clay and prick through the paper with a pencil to mark out your design.

Art & Creating

Step #3

Get your natural materials ready and start adding the petals by pressing them gently into the clay.

A clay tool with a pointed end is useful for this, or a stick might do the same job.

Art & Creating

Step #4

Keep adding the natural materials until you are happy with your finished piece.

Leave the clay to dry.

Take it further:

Take a trip out to see some of the Peak District & Derbyshire Well Dressings - they are spectacular!

If you have a pond or water source on your site place your well dressing near it - you could put it near your handwashing station!

Watch how your well dressing deteriorates over time.

Buxton Well Dressing Festival

Watch this time lapse video from the Buxton Well Dressing Festival, and see the professionals in action!

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

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