14 Air Dry Clay Techniques

Author: Dana McGorlick-Appelman  Date Posted:7 March 2022 

The team at Mont Marte have created a fantastic tutorial showcasing 14 Air Dry Clay Techniques.

  1. Conditioning Air Dry Clay

Conditioning is an important technique that's used to prep the clay before you start creating your sculpture. To condition the clay, knead the clay in your hands. Keep kneading until the clay is pliable and ready to work. This smooths out the clay and keeps air pockets from forming

  1. Clay coiling

This is a great technique to shape clay. Start by rolling the clay into long snakes, and layer these to create a shape. Once the clay has been layered into your desired shape, you can smooth the sides.


  1. Slab building

Slab building is used to create more structured pieces. For slab building, roll the clay into an even thickness. Create shapes using a ruler and a knife to evenly cut the clay. Take these shapes and make a join with them.


  1. Pinch pottery

This is a great technique for moulding clay. Start by rolling the clay into a ball. Shape it using your hands and press your thumb into the centre. Use your hands to support the structure, keep pushing your thumb and spinning the clay. You can also use a clay tool to smooth the edges


  1. Slip

Slip acts as a glue to connect clay together. 

To create slip, take small pieces of clay and add a tablespoon of water into a bowl. Mix this until smooth. When it's ready, you can use this to connect clay pieces or fix your clay.


  1. Imprinting onto Air Dry Clay

Imprinting is a great technique to pattern clay. Take your chosen object and press it onto the clay, applying light pressure. Repeat until you achieve the pattern you're after.


  1. Image transfer onto Air Dry Clay

This technique is great for adding another level of detail to your clay project.

Roll out your clay and add water to dampen. Print an image or text in mirror reverse. Lay the design down and let it set for 2 minutes, then pull the paper off. You can also transfer any drawing with a water-based marker.


  1. Blending Air Dry Clay Colours

This is a simple technique to create and you can use any colour clay. Combine both colours and to create a marble effect, twist these together. Keep rolling and smooth to create the effect.


  1. Gluing

Gluing is great for adding details that might otherwise fall off. Once your clay piece is dry, use PVA glue to secure the extra pieces.. You might need more glue as the clay may soak up the glue.


  1. Drying Air Dry Clay

Drying clay can be a challenge in itself, the clay takes 24-48 hours to dry depending on the thickness. To make your piece dry faster, flip it over after 24 hours. This ensures it dries evenly. Avoid putting it in the sun, using a hairdryer or baking as this will cause cracks


  1. Waterproofing Air Dry Clay

As air dry clay is a water-based clay, it needs to be waterproofed to survive the elements. 

  • The first way to seal clay is with an acrylic gloss medium. Paint the gloss medium over the entire piece, allow it to dry
  • You can also seal it with PVA glue. You can add a few drops of water to make the glue flow better
  • You can also seal a piece with paint. Apply 4 coats and allow to dry between coats

This wont make the clay food safe but it will make it weatherproof


  1. Glazing Air Dry Clay

Glazing is a great way to seal or decorate your creation. Mix acrylic paint with a gloss or matte medium until it becomes translucent. Paint lightly over the entire piece. If the piece is also imprinted, it will really make it pop


  1. Sanding Air Dry Clay

Sanding is a great technique to get a smooth finish. Start with a small grit to remove any rough edges. Keep sanding and move to a finer grit for a smoother finish


  1. Bulking

Bulking is a great technique to keep sculptures light. Form a shape from foil, polystyrene or wire, then add clay around the foil. This will also help the piece dry more evenly and prevent cracking


What are your must-know tips and tricks for working with Air Dry Clay? Tell us in the comments below!

Show us your finished pieces by tagging us on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @artshedonline

Got questions? Send us an email at customerservice@artshedonline.com.au and our friendly team of artists will do their best to assist you. 

Happy creating!


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