When it comes to choosing the best material for home decoration, there is a myriad of options to choose from, but clay is the most versatile and affordable material you can use for home decoration. Even kids can mold their creativity into the clay. However, there is a wide range of clays available in the market. Out of which, clays like pottery clay or ceramic clay need to be heated in a kiln at a very high temperature. And, it is not possible to do so for kids and normal people.
So, what if an individual wants to decorate his/her home with clay crafts without using a kiln? Is there any clay that can be dried without a kiln or heat? If you are also looking for the answers to these questions, then you’re at the right place. There is a clay type that you can use to craft various patterns for your home without worrying about heating it, and this clay type is known as air-dry clay.
What is air-dry clay?
Air-dry clay is a handy product that one can use in many craft projects. As the name suggests, this clay dries and hardens in the air at room temperature; it does not need to be fired at high temperatures. Once it dries, you can decorate and paint it. In case you want to add some texture to your craft item, you can use rubber stamps.
The time it takes to get dried will depend on the thickness of the item. A craft item with less thickness will take less time than the thicker ones. However, it will be fragile and less durable. If you’re planning to use air-dry clay for your project, then it can turn out to be the best option because the air-dry clay dries and hardens faster. You can choose to buy a bucket of air dry clay from Crayola or a complete kit of 24 colored air dry clay with clay sculpting tools.
However, before you go ahead, check out this table that shows types of specific clay and their properties:
Types of air-dry clay
|Paper clay||Pulpy, lightweight, with more texture. Easily get cracked.||No|
|Commercial air-dry clay||Bouncy, fluffy, and satin-smooth. It dries slower than any other clay.||Yes|
|Cold porcelain clay||Fairly soft, and doesn’t hold sharp detail. It can be shaped in a very thin section.||No|
Like all things have their own advantages and disadvantages, the air-dry clays also have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here is a table for the advantages and disadvantages of air-dry clay.
Advantages of air-dry clay
Disadvantages of air-dry clay
|Durable||Needs more time for drying|
|No need for kiln exposure||Not waterproof; requires thick varnishing|
|Can be used by intermediates||Not safe for food items|
Though air-dry clay is not waterproof, it is widely used by sculptors for clay sculpting. But how? Well, keep reading this article if you want to know the answer.
Can air-dry clay get wet?
Since air-dry clays are water-based clay, it gets wet when it comes in contact with moisture. Hence, it is crucial to keep the unused clay in an air-tight container. Don’t allow finished pieces to come in contact with food and liquids as it will soften and distort the clay.
You can use acrylic paints, permanent white glues, or a thick layer of varnish paint like polyurethanes to protect your clay item from moisture in the air. However, this property of air-dry clay can be beneficial for you, especially when it comes to joining two pieces; you can add water to soften the clay as per your requirements. As excess water may result in cracking, don’t forget to check the consistency of clay before start working with it.
How fast does the clay dry out?
The clay begins to harden as soon as it’s exposed to air. Usually, the air-dry clay completely dries between 24-72 hours. However, it also depends upon the thickness of the clay. Also, never try to speed up the drying process by heating the clay as it may cause cracks on the surface.
Can air-dry clay gets wet?
Yes, it gets wet because it is not waterproof. This material doesn’t contain oil, and it is water-based clay. When it comes in contact with water, it absorbs moisture. However, you can make it waterproof by adding a plastic layer or keeping it in an air-tight container.
Can air-dry clay go outside?
Since air-dry clay is not waterproof, it can’t be used for outdoor clay items. However, using acrylic paint or applying a varnish may make the air-dry clay suitable for outdoor clay pieces. It will help in preventing your finished item from cracking.
Can you paint air-dry clay before it dries?
It is always recommended to wait for at least 24 hours or until your clay item is completely dried. Not only it enhances the durability of your finished item, but it also makes your painting task easier. Always choose the paint that can protect your clay item from environmental moisture.
What if my air-dry clay cracks?
Cracking in air-dry clay is normal. It is a result of shrinkage as clay losses its water content when exposed to the air. However, you can join the cracked pieces by applying a layer of slip on both the edges of cracked pieces. You can make the slip by mixing the clay and water until it’s the consistency of heavy cream. After this, leave the clay item in the air until it dries completely.
So, if you are looking for a permanent sculpting piece from the best and non-toxic material, it is pertinent that you stick with air-dry clay. Now, depending on the brand you choose, the quality and durability of the air-dry clay can vary. However, it is generally recommended that you go through the instructions written down in the packet and adhere to the same. Not all air-dry clay has the best manufacturing process in place. The best way to get your hands on a reliable product is to go through the customer reviews. Plus, you need to make sure the brand of your choice is safe for use and toxin-free for children. As long as you adhere to these instructions, you are good to go.