How to use Air Dry Clay
Author: Dana McGorlick-Appelman Date Posted:6 January 2022
Why use Air Dry Clay?
Air Dry Clay is a fantastic sculpting medium for beginners and seasoned sculptors alike. Almost any decorative piece can be made from Air Dry Clay. It differs from classic potters clay in that there’s no need for a kiln or oven when it comes to setting air dry clay- simply leave it to dry in a cool dry area and the piece will set on its own, making it great for at-home DIY’s and practising your moulding skills.
The creative options are endless when it comes to using air-dry clay. You could create:
- Trinket dish
- Ring Holder
- Body sculpture
- Incense holder
- Pen cup
- Decorative planter pot
- Decorative vase
Types of Air-Dry Clay
Mont Marte Air Hardening Clay is the perfect choice for professional modellers, artists and students alike. This heavy-bodied clay is pliable after kneading, and because it is slow drying you can take your time forming it into your desired design.
The clay is suited to free form sculpting and can be sanded, drilled, painted or vanished once dry. Traditional pottery techniques can be used together with non-traditional methods such as stamping or adding objects to your work. Almost any decorative object can be created with imagination.
Dries in around 24hrs to earthenware hardness (depending on thickness).
Available in a range of sizes in both white and terracotta.
DAS Air Hardening Clay is an excellent modelling clay for art projects.
This clay hardens in 24 hours and then is usable with any type of decorating medium.
It is super pliable yet allows you to produce a permanent work of art, and doesn't require oven baking, but provides ample open time to complete projects before hardening.
It’s available in a range of sizes in both white and terracotta colours.
FIMO air light is a ready-to-use, extremely lightweight water-based modelling clay which dries in the air and can then be easily drilled, glued, painted and varnished.
The hardened material is particularly light which makes it perfect for objects where weight is an issue, for example hanging mobiles, or for model-making.
How to Use Air Dry Clay
You will need:
- Air hardening clay
- A large plate, board or drop cloth to protect your workspace
- Clay tools
- Bowl of water to moisten your clay
- Optional: Acrylic Paint, PVA glue or an Acrylic Medium to seal your clay
- Set up your creative space. It's a good idea to place a drop cloth down to protect your space and wear clothes you don't mind getting a lil messy!
- Open your clay pack and get moulding! You can use your hands or tools to create any shape your heart desires. If the clay feels a bit dry, simply add some water until your reach your desired consistency.
- Once you’re happy with your sculpture, leave it to dry for 24 hours (or more if your piece is on the thicker side).
- Once your piece is fully dry, you can decorate it with acrylic paint or foil paint, or seal it using a homemade sealer (see below)
- Display your finished piece! You can also post it to social media and tag us @artshedonline for your chance to be featured!
TIP: When joining 2 pieces of clay, score the edges using a clay tool and add some water for a more stable join.
What to do if your Air-Dry Clay Sculpture is cracking
Air Dry Clay can crack while it hardens as moisture evaporates from the clay. To fix these cracks, simply moisten the area of clay that has cracked, and filled in the crack with fresh clay. You can then go over the area with a damp Taklon brush to smooth out any lumps, and then leave it to dry.
Can I put my Air Dry Clay Sculpture outside?
Yes! However, you will first need to apply a sealer to protect it from the elements.
How to seal air dry clay
OPTION 1: mix 80% PVA glue to 20% water to create a creamy consistency, then coat your dried clay piece.
OPTION 2: Apply an acrylic medium in gloss, or matte to seal your piece
You can then apply 3 layers of acrylic paint to your dried clay piece to seal your work.
TIP: Use a Flat Taklon bristle brush to evenly coat your clay piece with Paint or Sealer
Store your air dry clay off-cuts in an airtight container
If you’ve finished a project and have clay leftover, wrap it in cling film, put it in an airtight container, and store it in a cool dark place
My air dry clay has dried out, how do I fix it?
Sometimes stored clay dries out because you either forget about it or don’t go back to it in time. To save your clay, cut up your clay, place it in a zip lock bag and add some fresh water to it. Next, lock the bag and leave it for two days. Once 2 days have passed, knead your clay until it’s smooth again.
Is Air Dry Clay Food Safe?
While air dry clay is non-toxic, it’s not suitable for use with food or drinks because it gets damaged by water which means it can’t be washed.
Don't forget to show us your clay creation by tagging us on Instagram @artshedonline for your chance to be featured!
Got questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our friendly team of artists will do their best to assist you.