Make, Bake, Decorate
For making, baking, and decorating instructions, watch our Instructional Video above. Or take a look at our printable Instructional Chart.
Below is the list of questions that we hear most frequently from customers like you. Let us know if there is something you want to know that is not answered here. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about Products and Ordering:
What is a ClayPaws® Kit?
A ClayPaws® Kit is a convenient way to make a lasting keepsake of a beloved pet's paw, claw or hoof! ClayPaws® prints can be used to celebrate special events such as birthdays or adoptions, or to memorialize when pets are euthanized. Visit our About ClayPaws® Kits section of our website to learn more.
Each kit contains one patty of clay, a tip sheet, and a protective bag for storing or transporting the print. Each kit is intended to make one print and the kits are the right size for almost every animal. If you have a large dog, you may find it easier to combine multiple kits to make a larger patty. We've made this easy with our Patty Pads and Molds! HoofPrint kits are large enough to imprint most hooves.
What is the shelf life of the modeling compound?
After purchase, ClayPaws® Kits should be stored in a cool location (under 85° F) away from direct sunlight. High temperatures may 'advance' the clay, causing it to crack and feel stiff as you knead it. When stored properly, our modeling compound will not dry out. Due to its oil base and our protective packaging, your clay should remain pliable even one year post purchase.
We offer a six month guarantee on our products. If you are dissatisfied with your ClayPaw® Kits, simply return them to us for a refund.
Are there other products available?
Yes, World by the Tail, Inc., offers several accessories and gifts to complement a ClayPaws® Print. View our entire product line in our online store. You can also download our order form to mail or fax an order.
Which clay is right for me?
Our Soft White clay is quicker to knead and soften. The extra-soft consistency also makes it easier to make an impression, especially with puppies, kittens, and very small pets. However, the resulting print is lighter in weight and some feel it picks up dirt more readily than our other clays.
Can I make a copy of an existing print?
Yes. Using our ClayPaws® Copy Kit or Large Copy Kit, available in our online store, you can make additional copies of your existing print. Follow the tips and instructions below to make your additional prints. For prints larger than 4" in diameter, click here.
Before you begin, be sure your original ClayPaws® print has been baked. If you are unsure, please call us at 1-888-271-8444 or visit read this FAQ.
To make a reverse-impression stamp of your existing print:
• Use one ClayPaws® Clay patty to create a reverse-impression stamp of your existing ClayPaws® print.
• Prepare one patty of ClayPaws® Clay by kneading for a couple of minutes, then form it into a ball.
• Wipe your original, baked print with a damp paper towel to slightly moisten the surface. The thin layer of moisture will act as a releasing agent to make it easier to separate the unbaked reverse-impression stamp from the original print.
• Carefully press the ball of ClayPaws® Clay into your original print until it covers the same surface area and is about as thick as your original print. Be sure to press firmly enough to get all the details, including any claw marks!
• Once you've created the reverse-impression stamp of your original print, carefully release it from the original print starting at the edges. At this time, you can smooth out any marks or details you don't want replicated with your finger. (Remember: If, for any reason, you don’t like how the stamp turned out, just re-knead the clay and repeat the steps above.)
• Place the stamp, print side up, in an ungreased glass or ceramic baking dish.
• Preheat a conventional or toaster oven to 275°F (135°C). We recommend using a separate oven thermometer to ensure the correct baking temperature. Once your oven is up to temperature, bake the stamp for 20 minutes.
- For high altitude baking (above 3500 feet), increase baking temperature to 295°F and bake the stamp for 20 minutes.
• Allow the stamp to cool completely in the baking dish before moving on to the next part.
To make the new impression:
• Prepare ClayPaws® Clay patty by kneading it. Then use the Patty Pad and Circle Mold to flatten, shape and smooth the clay (Detailed clay preparation and baking instructions are printed on the ClayPaws® Kit insert materials as well as on the Patty Pad.)
• Wipe your baked, reverse-impression stamp with a damp paper towel to slightly moisten the surface. The thin layer of moisture will act as a releasing agent to make it easier to separate the stamp from the new print.
• Press your stamp into the desired area of your prepared clay patty.
• Carefully peel the stamp off of the raw clay and smooth away any unwanted marks with a clean finger.
• Decorate your print as desired. For example: create a hole(s) for a ribbon, write or use stamps to add a name or dates, press decorative charm accessories into the clay. (Remember: Any decorative accessories must be able to withstand the baking temperature).
• Place the copy of your ClayPaws® print, print side up, in an ungreased glass or ceramic baking dish.
• Preheat a conventional or toaster oven to 275°F (135°C). We recommend using a separate oven thermometer to ensure the correct baking temperature. Once your oven is up to temperature, bake the print for 20 minutes.
- For high altitude baking (above 3500 feet), increase baking temperature to 295°F and bake the print for 20 minutes.
• Remove your print from the oven after the 20 minutes and allow the ClayPaws® print to cool completely before removing it from the baking dish.
• Once completely cooled, your print is now finished or ready for additional decorating, if desired.
• If you are considering painting your new print, use only 100% water-based acrylic paints. Do not use Sculpey® Finishing Glaze on a print that has been painted. The combination will create a tacky finish that will not dry.
What's the best way to order?
It's easy to order through our online store 24/7 but you can always reach a customer service representative by calling us toll-free at 1-888-271-8444 or at our local number 970-223-5753 during normal business hours. You can also print our order form and fax or mail that to us. Our fax number is 970-223-1226 and our mailing address is:
World by the Tail, Inc.
134 W. Harvard St., Ste. 5
Fort Collins, CO 80525
What types of payment do you accept?
For your convenience, there are several ways you can pay for your orders. Online, you must pay with a Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express. You can also pay with Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express when you call or fax your order. We will accept checks, however, payment must be received and cleared before we can ship the product to you.
Call us if you have questions about your payment! 1-888-271-8444.
Questions About Preparing ClayPaws® Prints:
Do I have to knead my ClayPaws® print?
You MUST knead your ClayPaws® patty before making your print! Our clay is quite soft to begin with (especially the Soft version), but it must be kneaded in order to evenly distribute the oils. This activates strong bonds when baked and ensures the long life of the print. Please don't skip this step!
Take the patty of clay and knead it in your hands for a minute or two until you can tell it has softened. Once it is softened, roll the clay into a ball.
Place the ball on a clean, smooth surface, like an acrylic clipboard, large porcelain plate, or one of our Patty Pads. Flattened the ball into a patty (use our Molds to get a perfect shape) and position the clay under the paw, rather than trying to move your pet's paw to the print.
What's a good way to soften a ClayPaws® patty?
One key to getting our clay soft enough to knead quickly is warming it just a little. Here is our trick! With the clay still in the protective plastic bag, sit on it for a minute or two. The heat from your body will provide warmth and make the clay more flexible. Note: DO NOT microwave our clay or warm it in low temperature oven! This type of warming actually advances the clay and will make it stiffer and more difficult to knead!
Can I add color to the clay before making a print?
Yes! Simply knead Sculpey® Bake Shop™ Oven-Bake Clay (available at craft stores) to soften, then add it to an unbaked white (Original White or Soft White) ClayPaws® patty. Blend the two together for a variety of color:
Full Color: Use the entire package of Bake Shop™ Oven-Bake Clay. Knead and roll together until patty is deeply and evenly saturated with color.
Pastel: Use 1/4 package Bake Shop™ Oven-Bake Clay. Knead and roll together until solid pastel color is achieved.
Swirls: Twist a pinch of Bake Shop™ Oven-Bake Clay into white patty and knead together to soften and blend.
You may also find you need to remove the same amount of white clay as the colored clay you added if using our Circle, Heart or Oval Molds.
Questions About Making ClayPaws® Prints:
How do I make a ClayPaws® print?
Clean hands and paws! This modeling compound attracts fur, dirt and ink.
Recruit help. Some pets have sensitive paws and resist print making. One person can gently restrain the pet while the other makes the print.
Adults should assist children when making and decorating paw prints.
Knead the clay for several minutes until soft and warm. DO NOT soften in a microwave oven as this may ‘harden’ the clay.
Roll clay into a ball and place on hard, clean, smooth and portable surface (dinner plate, plastic clipboard or a Portable Patty Pad with a Circle Mold*).
Flatten ball into a patty and turn over to reveal smoothest side.
Lift the portable surface to the pet’s paw and center the paw on the clay.
Firmly, but gently, push the center pad of paw into the clay and, without removing paw, press each toe pad and nail/claw into the clay.
If print does not meet your standards, start over and try again.
When satisfied with your print, you must bake it. See instructions further down this page.
How do I get the best possible impression?
Step 1. Prepare clay patty as directed above.
Step 2. Place the center paw pad slightly below the mid-line of the clay patty. Press hard on the paw above the center paw pad to ensure a deep print.
Step 3. Without moving the paw and keeping pressure with one hand on the center paw pad, use the other hand to apply even pressure to each individual toe one at a time. Be sure to press hard on each toe pad and follow through to the nail.
Step 4. Carefully unstick the nails from the clay and lift the paw from the clay patty in one fluid motion.
Step 5. Check to be sure you have room on all sides of the print to decorate as desired. If not, roll the clay into a ball, prepare as before and try again.
What do I need to do BEFORE I bake my print?
If you want to hang your ClayPaws® print like an ornament or wall plaque, you will want to make holes near the top before baking. Using a toothpick, matchstick, crochet needle or other sharp object (our Stylus works well), make two holes side-by-side that are about the size of a pencil. Once your paw print is baked, you can thread yarn, ribbon, or decorative cording through the holes. You can also carve or stamp your pet's name into the clay and embed other oven-safe decorations, like our charms, before baking. Explore our ClayPaws® Accessories section for more ideas.
How can I keep dirt and hair off of my print?
If you're worried about dirt or fur making its way into your clean clay print, you can cover the patty with plastic wrap. (Note: The "cheaper" brands work best because they are thinner than the more expensive "name" brands.) Be sure there are no wrinkles in the wrap, then press your pet's paw into the patty. Remove the plastic wrap before decorating or baking!
Got ClayPaws® Hands?
Occasionally, the paw print making process leaves a slight residue on your hands. The best solution we've found for removing this residue is Lava soap because the pumice in Lava soap works against the oils in the clay. Or, rub a drop of alcohol-based hand sanitizer into your hands, wipe clean with a paper towel, then wash your hands with soap and water. (https://thebluebottletree.com/10-simple-polymer-clay-tips/)
Questions About Decorating ClayPaws® Prints:
How do I decorate a ClayPaws® print?
If you wish to hang the ClayPaws® print like an ornament, make two small holes using a match stick or crochet needle near the top center of the patty prior to baking. Be sure the opening is wide enough to pass a ribbon through.
Add a pet's name by using a toothpick, large needle, or Alphabet Stamp Kit to carve or imprint letters.
Accessorize the print with items like beads, collar tags, or Assorted Charms. Arrange and press items into clay prior to baking. (Note: Decorations must withstand oven temperatures of 275° F.)
If desired, finish print with decorations like ribbon, 100% water-based acrylic paints, glazes made for use with polymer clay, or items that can be glued to the surface.
Baked clay may be carved or sanded. PLEASE NOTE: The color of the Terra Cotta clay will lighten wherever it is carved or sanded and there is no way to reverse this discoloration.
Prints may be displayed in a variety of ways including hanging or easels, shadowboxes, or frames.
Browse our online store for products we offer that may help you in your decoration goals.
How do I write a name in my print?
There are many ways for you to personalize your prints. Some of them are elaborate processes and some are easy. Choose the way that works for you!
use a pointy object such as our Stylus. You can "carve" the name in your own handwriting. It takes a little patience, but works well in the end.
use a stamp kit. Our kit is actually a leather tooling kit, but we have found that this is the simplest way to get a name into the clay. Simply press the letters into the clay.
wait until the clay is baked and paint a name on. You can use acrylic paints or a pigment-based marker to do this. Avoid Sharpies or "permanent" markers that are made with solvent-based dyes. (https://thebluebottletree.com/10-simple-polymer-clay-tips/)
glue embellishments on after baking (such as letter beads, etc.)
before baking, smooth out the clay if you don't like the way it is looking and try again. After baking, it is more difficult to fix mistakes.
How do I write on the back of my print?
The following tip comes from Denise Andrea:
"To do this, one must write with a gentle hand.
Carefully close the Patty Pad, AFTER you've done the impression.
Turn it over, and carefully peel the Patty Pad off the back side. Do this SLOWLY, so it doesn't damage the back side.
You're ready to write your very own personalized message about your dog, cat, etc. Ideas on what to write include their nickname, birthday, and a saying like "Forever Loved" if they've passed away.
Use a toothpick as your writing tool. Lightly, write your message. It shouldn't be done with deep strokes since it could ruin your impression on the other side.
Once you're finished writing, close the Patty Pad and turn it over again. Carefully peel it away, and it should reveal the front side of the clay patty still intact without imperfection.
It's ready to bake. When it comes off the dish, you'll be able to see your finished product!"
How do I add embellishments to my ClayPaws® print?
You can be as creative as you want to be with your print. Before baking, you can press embellishments into the clay. Make sure they are safe to be baked at 275°! (No plastics, etc.) Try our handmade charms - hearts, fish, bones, and stars! These charms are available for purchase through our online store. You can also use our writing and stamping tools to stamp names, dates, or other decorations.
After baking, you can add glitter, plastic beads, etc. Use Elmer's glue to affix embellishments to the surface of your print. You can also add ribbons to your prints if you've made holes before baking.
Questions About Baking ClayPaws® Prints:
How can I tell if my print is baked or not?
If a print is baked, it will feel like a piece of pottery. It won't ever feel as hard and smooth as porcelain or china. Unbaked clay will typically feel slightly moist and quite flexible. If a print has been unbaked for several months after being made, you may start to see small hairline cracks appearing. You can smooth these cracks out with your finger prior to baking your print. For deep cracks, use Sculpey® Bake & Bond to fill in the crack then smooth with your finger.
Call us at 1-888-271-8444 if you have further questions about your paw print.
How soon do I need to bake the ClayPaws® print I received?
While it is okay to not bake your print immediately, we suggest that prints be baked within about 30 days. We understand it can be a difficult step to bake this precious memory of your pet.
If waiting to bake your print, it is best to store your unbaked print away from danger of being crushed or flattened. Also, store the unbaked print in its original plastic storage bag to avoid getting dust on the clay.
If left unbaked for a long period of time, cracks may start to form in the clay. These can be smoothed out before baking, but the durability of the print may be compromised. To reinforce the print if there is a crack, use Sculpey® Bake & Bond to fill in the cracks and smooth with your finger before baking.
How do I bake a ClayPaws® print?
Baking instructions are included on the Tip Sheet in each ClayPaws® Kit. If these instructions are lost, or not included, the instructions are below:
To Bake a Paw Print:
Prints should always be baked in a well-ventilated oven and area and for best results bake within 4 weeks.
Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 275º F (135º C). (For altitudes above 5,000 feet, increase temperature to 295º F.) Please use an oven thermometer to be sure your oven’s temperature is accurate. Over-baking or baking at too high a temperature may cause discoloration, cracking, or burning.
Place your print in a clean, ungreased baking dish and bake in your preheated oven or toaster oven for 20 minutes. The print will not look any different after it is baked properly. Baking simply “sets” the impression so it is permanently preserved. Do not bake in a microwave oven as these ovens may not allow the clay to bake thoroughly or equally.
Remove the baking dish promptly from your oven and allow the print to cool to room temperature before touching. Your print is quite delicate when just removed from the oven and will harden as it cools. After the print has cooled, gently work a spatula under the edge of the print to loosen. It’s normal for your print to seem “stuck” to the dish but, once it is cooled, your print will easily "pop" loose.
What should I bake my print in/on?
Glass, Pyrex®, or ceramic containers or tiles are great heat conductors and ensure that the heat from your oven is evenly distributed. This allows your print to bake evenly and completely.
HINT: If you don't want your print to stick, place parchment paper between the baking surface and your print. Be aware that once the print is baked, it will not have any traction on the parchment paper and is likely to slide around on the surface. If your container has no edges be sure that the print does not slide off as you remove it from the oven! Do not use a nonstick spray on the baking surface as it will damage the print.
Where can I bake my ClayPaws® print?
Please do not treat your print like a piece of ceramic pottery! Our clay will NOT withstand the temperatures found in firing kilns. Also, our clay will NOT bake evenly or thoroughly in a microwave oven. The uneven "advancement" of our clay that can occur with microwave baking may cause cracks or breakage in your print.
The recommended method for baking our clay is the use of either a conventional oven or a toaster oven, both preheated to 275° F. (See baking instructions above). Use an oven thermometer to ensure that your oven's setting is correct before baking. A convection oven may be used but it will not cut down on baking time. You will still need to bake your print for the full amount of time recommended (20 minutes) for other ovens to ensure that your print is baked thoroughly.
Can I bake a ClayPaws® print in a convection oven?
Yes you can, but if you decide to bake your print in a convection oven, you will still need to bake the print for 20 minutes to ensure the print is baked thoroughly.
How do I know if my print is done baking?
To be sure your print is fully baked, allow it to cool completely before removing it from the container. The cooling process actually helps the clay to harden. If you believe your print is not completely baked, pre-heat the oven to 275° again and bake the print in five minute increments. Most prints require about 20 minutes to complete. Please don't over bake as you may see some discoloration in your print.
While it can be hard to tell if your print is completely baked, if you leave the print in the oven too long, it can become discolored.
Our baking time of 20 minutes has been repeatedly tested and we have found that almost all prints are completely baked after 20 minutes. The exceptions to this would be prints that are very thick or very large, like those made from horses, very large dogs, wild animals, etc.
Be sure to allow your print to cool completely after baking. Remember that the clay will continue to advance and harden as your print cools.
If your print is left in the oven too long and discoloration happens, you may paint it with a 100% water-based acrylic paint or make a new print using a new ClayPaws® Kit (if your pet is still living) or our ClayPaws® Copy Kit (if your pet has passed away.)
View those products in our online store.
Questions About Finishing ClayPaws® Prints:
How do I get unwanted acrylic paint off of my print?
If you or someone else has painted your ClayPaws® Print with acrylic paint and you decide you want to remove it, follow the instructions below.
Use isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol to remove the acrylic paint from the paw print. Denatured alcohol is stronger than isopropyl because it is not watered down. Either one will not affect the clay. Alcohol will breakdown the acrylic in the acrylic paint. Use a cloth soaked with alcohol and wipe it onto the coating. You can be liberal with it because alcohol evaporates quickly. A bristle brush should be used to get into the crevices or details in the paw print. Wipe it down with water and repeat if needed.
How do I prepare a ClayPaws® print for outside use?
ClayPaws® Kits' formula is not mixed to withstand the elements if it is placed outdoors. We do not, in any way, recommend or encourage you to place your ClayPaws® print outside.
That being said, some that have done this have passed on the following techniques:
First, bake as directed above and cool.
Next, brush on one (1) coat of shellac and let dry. Then, brush on 3 thin coats of Sculpey® Finishing Glaze. Let it dry between each coating.
Once the last coat of glaze is dry, finish with one coat of either a 2-part Epoxy or "Verathane Diamond Wood Finish Interior Glaze". (Available in a craft or home store.)
Do not use your ClayPaws® print outside if it is your one and only print. The weather and elements can still have adverse effects on the clay even with this protection. If you would like to make a copy of your print to use outside, you can do so by following these instructions.
How do I drill a baked ClayPaws® print?
If a ClayPaws® print has already been baked, but you want to display the print by hanging it from a ribbon, you can make a small hole near the top of the print by drilling into the modeling compound. We suggest you position the location of the hole so that the upper edge of the finished hole will be at least 1/2 inch from the top edge of your ClayPaws® print.
First, place the ClayPaws® print on a clean, flat surface. Be sure the surface is an item you won't mind drilling into (e.g., a piece of scrap wood, a work bench, etc.!) Next, measure down from the top of the print to determine the center of the hole (about 3/4 of an inch). Drill an initial, small hole using a 1/8 inch twist drill bit. Use a very slow speed and very light pressure on the drill. Once you've drilled all the way through, switch to a larger drill bit (up to 1/4 inch) to make a larger, final hole. Add a ribbon or cord and hang your ClayPaws® print!
How do I add a gemstone charm to a baked print?
Our Gemstone Charms do not have a flat back, it is pointed which helps the gemstone to sparkle the way it does. This works great when you want to press a Gemstone Charm into unbaked clay, but if your print is already baked, you will not be able to simply glue the print on and have it lay flat. Instead, follow the steps below:
Use a 1/2" twist drill bit to drill a shallow indentation into the previously baked ClayPaws® Print. The indentation should be deep enough so that the pointed gemstone back sits nicely in the print.
Put a drop of white glue, like Elmer’s White Glue, and then set the gemstone into the indentation.
If any glue presses out around the gemstone, wipe off immediately with a moist paper towel. Try not to smear the glue across the print as you are wiping it off.
Allow the glue to dry overnight.
How do I paint my ClayPaws® print?
Please use 100% water-based acrylic paints on your ClayPaws® print. DO NOT use spray paints or nail polish! The aerosol in spray paints reacts with this type of clay and the paint will not dry on your print. Instead, it will remain sticky.
You can paint the whole print or add touches of color. Allow each coat of paint to dry fully before adding another coat.
How do I add protective coating/glaze to my print?
The clay in your ClayPaws® print is a polymer modeling compound. Not all materials are compatible with this clay, such as spray paints or clear nail polish.
Your best choice for this type of clay is to use a glaze or protectant that is specifically made for polymer clay. We sell Sculpey® gloss glaze in our online store or you can find a different brand in your local craft store.
Whichever product you choose, you want a product that will dry clear, doesn't turn yellow after time, and doesn't stay tacky. Also be careful that the protectant you choose won't start to break down the clay after time (spray paint does break down the clay, as well as not drying properly.)
Even with a protective finish, we do not recommend that you place your ClayPaws® print outdoors. Our special formula is not made to endure harsh temperatures and changing weather!
Do NOT spray paint!
Spray painting your ClayPaws® print will cause you some headaches. Aerosol paint is not compatible with this type of polymer clay.
Spray paint will start to break down the clay over time. You will also notice that spray paint never seems to dry and stays sticky.
If you have already used spray paint and have a sticky print, you can try wiping the print with dryer sheets. The fine powder will stick to the tacky parts and make the print feel less sticky.
How do I fix a cracked or broken ClayPaws® print?