The other day I went to Flying Tiger, a shop that sells a lot of random stuff, and saw this pack of air-dry clay for only 3 or 4 euros and decided to buy it and try something new. It looked more or less like the one in this image.
Air-dry clay is a versatile product that can be used in many craft projects. It does not need to be heated, unlike traditional clays that need to be fired in a kiln at a high temperature, or polymer clays that need to be heated in an oven to cure.
How to work with air-dry clay
This kind of clay hardens and cures at normal room temperature and it has a permanent shape after drying. Usually, air-dry clay will be dry to touch after 24 hours. The thicker the clay is, the longer it will take to fully dry. It can take as long as 72 hours.
Once the clay is dry, it can be painted and decorated in a variety of ways. There are many ways of adding surface decoration to air dry clay. One of the best ways to add texture and design is to use rubber stamps. Air drying clay can also be used to fix damaged items and fill in cracks.
The not so good thing about this material is that your air-dry clay sculpture is most likely going to crack. Accept it. Cracking is normal in air-dry clays: it’s caused by shrinkage because of the loss of the water inside the clay body. It is also important to know that air-drying clay is not food safe or waterproof, but applying varnish will help prevent your finished item from cracking if it is going to be used outside.
You won’t need any special tools to work with air dry clay. A rolling pin that is dedicated to crafting use, plus a knife, will be all that you’ll need for most air dry clay projects. If you are rolling out the clay to work with, then a flat and clean work surface will be useful. A dedicated chopping board may be a useful surface to work on.
Coloring air-dry clay
In addition to using tempera and acrylic paints, air dry clay can be colored with marker pens and inks. Other embellishments including glitter glue can be added. Just remember that air dry clay is porous and the finished item should be sealed with a varnish.
Using Rubber Stamps with air-dry clay
If you are looking to try something different, you can use rubber stamps with air-dry clay and quickly make great-looking items ranging from ornaments to home decor. Deeply etched stamps leave a clear and precise image, while others are good for creating texture. You can also cut a potato in half and carve your design there to be used as a stamp!
When using rubber stamps to make impressions on air dry clay, it is important to remember that the stamped image works in reverse to how the image will look on paper. The raised part of the stamp sinks into the clay. This means that very different looks can be achieved from your favorite stamps. Remember to cleaning them well after using them.
My first experience with air-dry clay
With the pack I bought, I managed to create three different things: a plant vase, a candle holder and a cactus to put small jewelry, like my rings. This is how they looked once they dried:
Since I didn’t have any stamps and didn’t feel like creating some, I just used textures of other objects I had laying around the house. For the plant vase, I used these two objects for the texture: the little holes all over the vase were taken from the head of a buddha statue (you can still see some pieces of clay in the picture) and the maltese cross was taken another candle holder. You just have to look around your place and see which objects have a nice texture!
The next step was painting them. I used some watercolor paints I bought from Flying Tiger as well, and this is the end result. Even though I didn’t quite like how the candle holder turned out, I fell in love with the plant vase and the cactus.
So now you know. When you feel bored, just go out and buy something that will allow you to pass the time and let your creativity run wild! Feel free to share your experiences with air-dry clay here.