How to Soften Air Dry Clay?

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We cannot deny the massive use of clay work in our daily lifestyle. And the clay works have come a long way ahead with the new age. Now, different types of clays are available in ready-to-use packets that give you less messiness and a smoother work experience while sculpting. Air-drying clay is one of those clays that come in handy and ready to use, and gives you a hassle-free sculpting experience, as it doesn’t require any kiln to get dried. You only need to put it at normal room temperature after you’re done with your sculpting work.

Here are the advantages of using air-dry clay in your pottery work

  • It is comparatively easier to work with air-dry clay than the other types of clay.
  • The spongy texture is easier and safer for kids to use.
  • Gets dried within a day and doesn’t require any kiln or oven to get dehydrated.

There are many reasons that have made air dry clay popular among users. Mainly it helps kids to get their projects done easily for its hassle-free characteristics. However, many sculptors find it difficult to store the air-dry clay.

So, what can you do to prevent the hardening of your remaining air-dry clay? What can you do to soften the clay if it gets hardened after some time? Well, in this article, we are going to tell the procedure to soften air-dry clays. Without wasting much time, let’s get started.

How to soften air-dry clay for making it reusable?

Like any other clays, air-dry clays are also reusable. To make the clay harden after sculpting is something, which is the most important step of pottery. But sometimes the air-dry clay that you have stocked for later use gets hardened after it is left unused for a long time. Working with hardened clay is not possible. You need to soften it before using it again. Don’t throw away dried-out or lumped clays, instead try to soften it by following some easy methods.

Here are the steps that you can follow to soften your air-drying clay:

Number of steps Processes you need to follow
Step 1Knead, twist, and bend the hardened clay
Step 2Place the clay into an air-tight and sealed plastic bag
Step 3Remove the clay from the plastic bag
Step 4Store the clay in a place full of moisture

Let’s discuss how you must follow the steps mentioned above so that they help in the proper softening of your clay:

  • Try to give some warmth to the clay with your hands:

Sometimes work with your hands and try to knead the clay, especially if you find some lumps. Kneading properly sometimes breaks and softens the texture. Continuous bending and twisting help in loosening up the tight bonds that might sometimes work to revive your hardened air-dry clay. Constant moving, kneading, bending, and twisting may work due to the natural warmth and moisture of your hands, which gives the air-dry clay a workable and usable texture again. Doing it for more than 5 minutes helps in softening your clay to some extent.

  • Leave the clay in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container for some time:

If kneading, pressurizing, and bending the clay with hands is not enough, then place your hardened clay into a plastic bag that can be appropriately sealed. One can opt for Hengu Poly Self Sealing Bag, Clear 10×12″ Reclosable Zip Lock Storage Bags. This type of air-tight plastic bag comes with a sturdy zipper lock that makes it easy to seal and more effective.

In case of an excessive amount of air-dry clay, make sizable pieces of it to ensure proper fitting of the clay into the plastic bag. After placing the clay inside the bag, sprinkle some water inside it. Make sure you’re not spraying too much water, as excessive usage of water makes the air-dry clay muddy and becomes unusable or unmanageable to work with. Just a little amount of water is enough to revive the texture. After sprinkling, seal the plastic bag properly, and make sure it is air-tight. Then, leave it aside for one night.

  • Remove the clay from the plastic bag:

After leaving the clay in the plastic bag overnight, it’s time to remove it from the bag or container and knead it properly. The moisture helps in softening the clay. By kneading, and bending it over and over, you need to check the degree of manipulation of the clay. If it becomes easier for you to manipulate and shape your clay by twisting and bending, it means you’re done softening the clay. If not, then you need to place it again inside the plastic bag with some more moisture and let it sit back for some time. Then, repeat the process by removing the plastic bag and kneading the clay again. You need to do it repeatedly until it gets back to its former usable texture.

  • Put it in a proper place:

Since it is air-drying clay, the hardening and softening properties of the clay depend on how you’re storing it. The more it comes in contact with the air, the more it gets dried. So, all you need to do is store it properly in a suitable place. While softening the clay by putting it into a plastic bag, make sure you’re not leaving it in a heated place or in direct sunlight. Avoid heat or sunlight to prevent the evaporation of the moisture. Once your clay is in a malleable texture, you need to store it in an air-tight plastic bag or container for future use.  It would be worth storing your clay in a place where moisture is present, like in the kitchen and bathroom. Try to keep it in moisture and prevent your clay from hardening.

How to avoid hardening or lumping your air-dry clay?

As already discussed, the hardening of your air-dry clay depends on how and where you are storing it. You need to be more conscious about the place and container where you’re keeping your clay. Always try to keep it in dry areas where the air is abundant. Always check if there is any hole in the packet or not before storing the clay. If there is any, then it is necessary to place it in an air-tight container. Always go for purchasing a quality product; however, before buying one, check if there is any hole in the packet. You can also use products like Crayola LLC Crayola Air Dry Clay; it comes in a sealed container and has a nice texture to avoid the hardening of the clay.

Wrapping up

Reusing and recycling is always a better idea. Why throw away when you can shape your air-dry clay by reviving it again? Follow the above-stated steps to soften your clay and store it with proper care to reuse it easily, and sculpt new things to give your artistic imagination a beautiful shape.

Happy sculpting!

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