DIY Mini Wall Shelf: No Nails Required!

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It’s tough when you want to decorate your walls but aren’t allowed to use nails. Or maybe you can’t because of the material. Or maybe you just don’t want to.

Not to worry, I have the perfect project for you!

In this post, I’m going to show you how to make a mini wall shelf out of air-dry clay that can be hung without nails.

This adorable mini shelf needs no nails or screws to hang. Perfect for dorm decor or locker decor! This unique air dry clay shelf can also be used on a tabletop to hold a battery operated votive candle. I also love this boho shelf for displaying air plants!

How to Decorate Your Walls Without Using Nails

People often wonder, “How can I decorate my walls without using nails?” It’s actually pretty easy! Any light- to medium-weight decor piece can be hung on a wall without using nails or screws. Command Picture Hanging strips are often the best choice as they come in many different strengths, and you can use more than one set to secure a larger piece.

Alternatively, you can lean items such as large mirrors and paintings against the wall. Shelves can be a little thicker, though, because you need to support the weight of the shelf and anything else you place on it. That’s how I came up with the idea for this mini-shelf!

This little cutie has a unique boho shape that acts as decor all on its own, and it’s small enough that the shelf and anything you place on it can be supported without using screws or nails. It’s the perfect piece to decorate a dorm room!

Bonus? You can even add magnets to use to decorate your locker!


Step 1: Prep your clay

Work the air dry clay between your palms to soften

Take a 3-inch piece of air-dry clay and work it in your hands until it becomes nice and pliable. What do I mean by working it? Kneading and squishing it until it’s easy to mold.

Do this for about a minute.

Step 2: Roll out your clay

Rolling out air dry clay

Roll out your air-dry clay to about 1/4″ thickness. You can stack popsicle sticks or chopsticks next to the clay to help you roll an even thickness, but I found they just got in the way!

Step 3: Cut a circle out

Cut circle out of the clay

Next, you want to cut a 5″ circle out of your rolled clay. For the best results, try to get this as perfect as possible.

I used the lid from a large oatmeal container as a guide, which worked like a charm!

Using a bit of water on your fingertip, smooth out any imperfections or oatmeal lid impressions to create a smooth surface.

Step 4: Shape your clay shelf

Cut a line in your clay

Cut a line from the center point of the clay circle out to the edge.

Score the clay

Score the clay with little hatch marks in the spot where you want to attach the curled edge. Be sure to score the shelf’s main body and the curl’s edge—wet both hatched areas with your fingertip and some water.

Attach the edge of the curl to the main body of the shelf

Curl the cut edge up into a wave shape and gently press the hatched areas together to attach. You may find that wiggling the clay around a bit gets the edges to stick together a little better.

If the vertical edge is starting to topple, support the base with something heavy and straight, like a bookend or a stack of coasters.

Allow the clay shelf to dry overnight.

Step 5: Sand the edges

The edges of your air-dry clay shelf are likely a bit rough, but that’s easy to fix! Using an emery board (nail file) or a sanding sponge, gently sand down all the edges until smooth.

Step 6: Attach the hanger

Command picture hanging strips
self adhesive magnets

You’ll use a different hanging method depending on whether you plan to hang this on the wall or in your locker. For a wall, use 1 or 2 Command Picture Hanging Strips. For your locker or a magnet board, use self-adhesive magnets.

Since this is going in my daughter’s locker, we used these magnets.

Attach magnets to the back of the shelf

I used six of these magnets to ensure that it was extra secure and could withstand her locker opening and closing. You simply peel off the backing and stick the magnets onto the shelf. So easy!

We decided to leave this unfinished, but you could absolutely seal the clay with a glossy varnish like this one to make the shelf look more like ceramic.

Mini shelf made out of terracotta air-dry clay attached to an olive green locker with magnets.

I don’t know about your kids, but my tween is so excited to finally have a locker to decorate! We’re thinking about making one of these paper flower lanterns to add a little light feature 🙂

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