How to Make Homemade DIY Air-Dry Clay?

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It is hard not to get addicted to the use of air-dry clay for different projects. The ease of use and no need for firing is what makes this clay variant an ideal choice for most pottery artists. This crafting material is fun for both adults and kids. Moreover, it is available at a cheaper price as compared to other clay variants used for pottery art. However, if you are worried about ready-made air-dry clay containing toxic ingredients, you can make your very own clay at home.


Although air-dry clay doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients, it gives you peace of mind when you mix up all the ingredients by yourself. This is especially helpful if you plan a crafting session with your kid, and they could be allergic to ingredients added to the branded air-dry clay products.


Don’t worry, though! Creating air-dry clay at home from scratch isn’t rocket science. It is an easy and fun experiment that can be a part of some quality time that you spend with your kids. Although there are several recipes to make air-dry clay, not all would work in your favor. The process you opt to prepare your air-dry clay would also vary depending on the final output and characteristics you desire in the pottery piece.


But, before you start, let us know more about air-dry clay!


Air-Dry Clay: Understanding the Basics

Air-dry clay has been quite popular among artists that love versatility in their projects. Unlike other clay variants, it doesn’t require heating to achieve permanency. It doesn’t require kiln firing and dries up within 24 hours or more, depending on the thickness of the clay model. The total time for drying would vary depending on the room’s temperature as well.


The clay starts to harden & cure at room temperature. Once the clay has completely dried out, you can paint or decorate it as you like. There are several ways to add surface decoration to the clay. A popular way to introduce some designs and textures to the clay is by using rubber stamps, acrylics, and other color variants.


Uses of Air-Dry Clay

This clay can be ideal for slab crafting, coiling, pinching, scoring, welding, & clay modeling. Air-dry clay is also perfect for creating some creative embellishments for Christmas cards or any project. The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.


Crafting with air-dry clay also doesn’t require you to have any special equipment. The tools that you have for your normal clay crafting process would work with air-dry clay as well. Make sure you roll out your clay evenly to ensure the complete project dries out properly at the same rate. You can use acrylic paint or tempera color to decorate your clay project. However, keep in mind that air-dry clay tends to be porous in nature. So, if you wish to keep the project outside, make sure the clay is sealed with the help of varnish.


Air-Dry Clay Features:

More than 24 hours (Varies depending on thickness)
Firing Required
Highly Durable
Shrinks During Drying



Crafting Air-Dry Clay at Home: Recipes

If you don’t want to invest in purchasing air-dry clay, you can create some at home and check whether air-dry clay is the thing for you. Air-dry clay made at home can be ideal if you are simply looking for a weekend crafting experience or something as a hobby. Once you have mastered the use of hand-made air-dry clay, you can invest in the ones available online for bulk crafting needs.


So, let us discuss the recipes for crafting air-dry clay at home.


Recipe Number. 1

For our first air-dry clay recipe, you can make use of 3 basic ingredients available in the kitchen. The resulting clay can be perfect for different projects & it dries out in a few days. You can surely try out your own variations by modifying the amount of each ingredient. That said, here are the ingredients that can be used for creating your very own air-dry clay at home.


Ingredients for Air-Dry Clay

  • Corn flour or Cornstarch
  • Baking Soda/bicarbonate of soda (Do not confuse it with baking powder/soda bicarbonate as it won’t work)
  • Water


Process of Preparing Air-Dry Clay

In order to prepare this air-dry clay at home, the key is to first measure out all your ingredients in equal proportions. Now, take a cooking pot and add all these ingredients and start mixing. Make sure the heat is set at a low temperature to ensure that the formula cooks up properly.


Keep stirring regularly to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the base of the pot. As this mixture starts heating up, it gets thick as the water evaporates. Consistency is important in this case. You need to achieve a consistency that is similar to whipped or mashed potato. As the clay mixture heats up, keep stirring & turning this mixture onto itself. Once you are happy with the consistency, remove the clay from the heat immediately.


Certain things you need to keep in mind are that there must not be any additional water floating in the pot’s bottom once you are done. Even if you see some water, it is better to have a wet consistency instead of dry. The dry dough is prone to cracking after the crafting process.


Let the mixture cool down before you start working with it or store it in an air-tight container. This will ensure that you don’t burn your fingers while crafting or handling the clay. Once you feel the clay is cool enough to touch without burning your fingers, remove it from the pot and roll it out in a round shape. Next, wrap up a damp cloth or dishtowel to ensure it doesn’t dry out before you even begin the crafting process.


Once the clay is cooled down sufficiently, unwrap the dough and knead it properly. This makes the dough smooth and easy to mold. Moreover, it also takes away the residual stickiness.


Here are some tips you need to keep in mind before and during the crafting process:

  • When not being used, any excess dough must be wrapped up in a moist towel to help slow down the drying process.
  • Thick clay pieces crack easily as it dries out. So, make sure the creation is on a thinner end. An ideal thickness range is between 0.75cm and 1cm.
  • Parchment paper can be an ideal solution during the crafting process. Baking soda-based clay tends to be way softer as compared to store-bought air-dry clay. So, it is naturally more fragile in comparison. When you place your clay on the parchment paper for the rolling process, it helps a lot.
  • The drying process should be slow enough to avoid any cracking issues. In simple words, letting the clay dry out in natural air is best. Keep it away from a direct source of heat.


If you want to make colored clay, you can simply add some food coloring during the cooking process. Depending on how dark you want your clay color to be, you can increase or decrease the amount of color you add.


Recipe Number. 2

Another great recipe for creating air-dry clay is using glue instead of water for the process. Moreover, this process also doesn’t make use of baking soda, so the resulting clay isn’t as brittle. This recipe is quick and doesn’t require any type of cooking as with the previous recipe. For most artists, this particular recipe is the go-to option, given it doesn’t require a lot of time for execution.


Ingredients for Air-Dry Clay Recipe

Here are the supplies you would need to prepare this recipe with ease:

  • Cornstarch- 2 Cups
  • White Glue- 1 Cup
  • Food Coloring (Liquid or Gel)
  • Mixing Bowl


Process of Preparing Air-Dry Clay

Put 2 cups of cornstarch in your mixing bowl. This amount is ideal to start with. You can add more if you plan on making a bitter batch. However, if this is the first time you are making this recipe, start small to ensure if there is an error, you don’t have to throw the entire batch away. You can always prepare a bigger batch once you master the process.


However, if you are preparing a bigger batch, make sure you increase the ratio of glue as well. The cornstarch to glue ratio should always be 2:1. Do not pour the entire glue at once. Add a small amount of glue while you continuously stir the mixture. If you are wondering which glue fits the bill perfectly, you can try out Elmer’s Liquid White School Glue. This glue formula is safe for use, especially if you are crafting with kids, and doesn’t contain any type of toxins.


Doing this ensures that the glue and cornstarch mix well together and achieve a good consistency. This is similar to the way you would make dough for your cookie. If your dough feels too crumbly, you can always add some more glue to the mixture. On the other hand, if the dough feels very sticky, add some cornstarch to the mixture.


While you do this, you can also add some food color to the mixture and start kneading it all with the help of your hands. For a richer tint, you can keep adding more food color to the mixture. In case you plan on creating the clay in various colors, you can separate the dough at this very stage in as many parts as you desire. Add color to each of these parts separately and knead well to ensure the color spreads out evenly.


Recipe Number. 3

This final recipe is also termed cold porcelain air-dry clay. It is a better alternative to the polymer version of air-dry clay, making it ideal for projects such as jewelry, candle holders, or other sculpted items. However, it is a bit delicate and tends to shrink in size during the drying process.


Ingredients for Air-Dry Clay Recipe

  • Cornstarch- 1 Cup
  • White Vinegar- 2 Tablespoons
  • White Glue- 1 Cup
  • Canola Oil- 2 Tablespoons
  • Mixing Bowl (Microwave-Safe)
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Extra Oil (For application on hand to avoid stickiness)


Process of Preparing Air-Dry Clay

In order to create this clay, start by placing all the ingredients within the mixing bowl. Make sure you add your wet ingredients before the dry ones. This includes vinegar, glue, & canola oil. Mix all these wet ingredients properly until you see a homogenous mixture forming. Next, start by adding small amounts of corn starch and keep mixing slowly until the mixture doesn’t have any lumps. If you mix all cornstarch in one go, it might lead to the formation of lumps. You would see a gooey texture during the mixing process.


Set your microwave on a high-temperature setting for a minimum of 15 seconds and place your bowl inside the same. Next, remove your bowl from the microwave & stir this mixture. It would be hot and gooey. Repeat the process, and you will observe that the mixture becomes progressively firmer.


You can confirm whether the mixture is good for use by checking its texture. If it is pliable and sticky, the consistency is perfect. However, if the clay seems dry, it has been overcooked.


After your clay has cooled down to room temperature, rub some of the cooking oil on your palms and knead this clay for a minimum of 3 minutes. Kneading will make the clay stretchy and smooth in texture. Create and ball-like shape, and you can use it right away or store it in an air-tight jar.



Remember, you might not get these recipes perfect the first time. However, practice makes the clay recipe perfect. So, you can switch the ratio up or down to concoct a formula that works for you. Make sure you practice safety while making the clay at home by wearing high-quality kitchen mitts to avoid burning issues. Most of all, have fun as you craft some amazing clay sculptures!

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