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JOIN US IN PLAYING WITH CLAY

Amazingly, summer vacation already is just about half over.

And, for many kids — and, we suspect, adults, too — it’s getting a bit old.

So, we figured, what better way to inject a bit of retro-styled fun into this never-ending summer than to relive the arts and crafts sessions of our long-past, or current, childhoods?

First, mix up a batch of homemade, inexpensive, modeling clay (or spring for some at a store). Take that clay and craft the object d’art of your imagination. Then, take a photo of your artsy, craftsy creation and send it to us. But don’t trash your artwork; we’ll examine your photos and arrange for a professional portrait to be taken of the creations that we find the most interesting, cute, bizarre, classic, useful or artistic.

And the best part? We’ll pick our favorite from the among the entries and award its creator $100.

We hereby invite artists of all ages, and all skill levels, to participate. You can submit your pieces in the following categories:

* Abstract, which means pretty much anything that isn’t an ashtray, animal or anything that represents a real-life thing or person.

* Realism, or a realistic representation of a scene, thing or person (a dog, the Statue of Liberty, a cityscape of the Las Vegas skyline, whatever).

* Arts and crafts, a catchall category that includes ashtrays, hand prints and other summer camp classics as well as anything else that doesn’t fit into the other two categories.

Send your photos — along with your name, age, address and daytime phone number — to: Arts and Crafts, Living Section, Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070. Or, e-mail your images and all of the above information to jprzybys@reviewjournal.com. (If e-mailing, be sure to put Arts and Crafts in the subject line.)

Just make sure we have it all by 5 p.m. July 31. And don’t forget: Hang on to your entry, because we may want to take our own photograph.

Other than your imagination and a bit of effort, this little endeavor will require some modeling clay. Here, from TeachNet.com (www.teachnet.com/lesson/art/playdough061699.html) is a basic recipe you can whip up right at home.

MODELING CLAY

1 cup flour

1 cup warm water

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon oil

1/4 cup salt

Food coloring

Mix the first five ingredients together, then add the food coloring. Stir it all over medium heat until it’s smooth, then remove the dough from the pan and knead it until it’s smooth. When it cools, place the dough in a plastic bag or airtight container where it should keep for some time.

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