The Positives And Negatives Of Using Air Dry Clay

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Air-dry clay has been developed for those artists who want to discover their art with clay and do not have proper access to a kiln. These clays are generally mineral-based and have similar properties to traditional clays. They tend to harden within some days and do not require firing to develop a permanent structure.

 

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of using air dry clay. So, without much ado, let’s get straight into the topic.

 

Positives Of Air Dry Clay

The following are some pros of using air-dry clay for pottery.

 

1. Easy To Hand-Build

Several hand-building techniques, like coiling, construction of slabs, and sculpting, work well with air dry clay. Since air-dry clay does not need any kiln, you do not have to worry about the burning or melting possibilities when designing the shapes.

 

Attaching separate pieces with some clay in the middle is crucial when sculpting. Also, to avoid cracking, try to limit the water content, so it does not slip.

 

2. Prevents Kiln Explosion

Some of you may have yet to use a kiln. You may even have heard about the possibility of explosions from kiln users. The prospect of injuries might be too frightening.

 

In such cases, you can use air clay as you do not need to fire them. It allows you to skip the firing process, reducing the project’s time and giving you peace of mind. Also, you can avoid cracking when using air clay because it dries slowly.

 

3. Experimental With Colors

Just like regular clay, air clay allows experimenting with various colors. Also, you can experiment with tempera paint, marker, acrylic, watercolor ink, and colored pencil, which looks reasonable.

 

Additionally, you can also create color slips to detail with pieces. The following is the step-wise procedure of using colored slips.

 

  1. Try to start with dry clay.
  2. Then place it in a Ziplock bag and add some water to it. Then again, add some water as required.
  3. Once the clay is softened, try to mix the clay and water and then squeeze it. You can also add more water to get the slip’s best consistency.
  4. Then add some amount of paint into the bag so that the mix gets squeezed
  5. Once you get the desired color in the slip, put it and then use it on the piping bag.

4. Impressionable On The Surface

Pattens make your clay crafts look attractive and intricate. With the help of air clay, you can experiment with its texture and create a surface pattern.

 

You can use various methods to apply surface impressions and create incredible pieces. You can also use air clay with stencils to make impressions for objects like leaves, bark, and blocks.

 

5. Customizable

You can easily color air-dry clay. You can also transfer images onto it with a stamp. It is because of its inherent texture, which makes it exceptionally smooth and easy to customize.

 

6. Suitable For Novices

When working with an air dry clay, you would not require any prior experience, as it is best for crafters who are learning to work. You can understand how to use it quickly and dry it with ease. It is why it can even be used by children just beginning to design.

 

7. Affordable

Air-dry clay is relatively cheap but looks entirely professional when used. You can find many good quality air clay products at a low price.

 

Negative Aspects Of Air Dry Clay

The following are some cons of using air-dry clay.

 

1. Not Food Safe

Regular clay can be used with a food-safe glaze and can be used for creating mugs, bowls, and plates that can be used for drinking as well as eating purposes. However, for decorative purposes, you can use air clay.

 

2. Not Suitable For Outdoor Purposes

Air-dry clay is less durable because it is not fired. However, you can make it suitable by using a sealant like that yacht varnish which makes it durable and protects it from all types of moisture and sunlight. You can use the following sealants to protect your air dry clay.

 

Types Of Sealants

Uses

Triple Thick Glaze
It is a brush on acrylic gloss glaze that tries to protect the air-dry clay and create a nice glossy layer, thereby giving it a good look and protecting it.
Varnish or Acrylic Sealers
These are nonporous transparent layers that you can use on your project to seal it. They can be brushed or sealed to create a gloss finish.
Resins
These are clear-coated resins which would then be poured on the surface of the clay, thereby creating a hard coating. They are generally quite hard, protecting your air-dry clay and making it suitable for outdoor pieces. Though applying resins is a bit complicated, understand and use it properly, as it requires a little practice.
Wax
It is an all-purpose protective material that you can use. It is mainly used for enriching the air dry clay. Additionally, it does not use any chemicals, thereby not degrading the pottery pieces. Just ensure that you apply a thin layer of coating on it, so it dries properly and protects the clay.
Kato Sauce
It has good consistency and appearance. You can use it as a varnish and apply a thin coat. It is a sealant you can use with your air dry clay to protect it and make it look nice.
Liquid Sculpey
These are liquid clays, and you can add them with glue. You can also use it as a varnish as a sponge, dabbing it and baking it accordingly. It is an excellent sealant that gives it a perfect satin finish.
Spray Varnish
Spray varnish is a suitable sealant and varnish. It can be softened and is quite sticky. Additionally, it has a matte finish, thereby looking nice, and you can have multiple coats to make the air-dry clay durable.

3. Not Waterproof

Air-dry clay is not waterproof. Generally, the air dry clay is essentially water-based, so the water does not dry out, which hardens it. However, in some cases, air dry clay can be waterproof to seal it well. You can seal air-dry clay through the coats of a yacht varnish without any hassle.

 

4. Prone To Cracking

Air-dry clay is quite prone to cracking. It is because shrinking leads to making the air-dry clay crack. Since it dries from outside, it shrinks quickly. However, you can prevent this by enhancing the thickness. Try to improve the consistency of ¼ of an inch of the clay. It helps the clay stay strong and prevents cracking.

 

5. Fragile

Air-dry clay is inherently fragile; hence, you must use it properly. To strengthen it, you can also use PVA glue. PVA clay holds the tiny pieces firmly holds together to dry them quickly. To enhance it, you can coat it with a primer. Covering it with the primer can make the mold smarter, transforming the air dry clay into something smooth.

 

Types Of Air Dry Clay

Now that you’ve understood the pros and cons let’s learn the essential types of air-dry clay you can use for your pottery work, depending on the purpose of its use.

 

 

Type Of Clay

Characteristics

Air Hardening Modeling Clay
These are clay which is fibrous and paper-based. Since they are coupled with fibers, they are sturdy and do not break. Moreover, compared to other types of air-dry clay, it does not shrink quickly and is much less prone to cracks.
Fast Drying Modeling Clay
These clays are pretty soft and can be easily kneaded into any shape. They are non-toxic and free of any allergens and gluten. They also try to dry within 24 hours, giving them a unique form. You can also seal them as well as paint them as per requirement.
Natural Air Dry Clay
These clays are soft and can be easily flattened and formed into various sculptures. These clays are safe for artists and dry within 24 hours. Moreover, to sculpt substances on it, you use glitter with glue.
Cold Porcelain
Though the name might confuse you, it is an air dry clay composed of corn starch and white glue. The texture is relatively smooth and can hold the details of your pottery as you shape it.
White Art Clay
These clays are stored in the form of a brick and are available in large quantities at an affordable price. These clays generally dry quickly and majorly depend upon the room’s temperature.

 

You can choose the suitable clay from the above types as per your requirement. However, Craftsmart Natural Air-Dry Clay would be an excellent choice for beginners. It is a natural, non-toxic all-purpose clay that can be used for various purposes.

 

 

How To Use Air Dry Clay?

Air Dry clay is one of the relatively easy-to-use clays you can utilize for making various jewelry, ornaments, and craft projects. The following is the step-wise procedure for using air-dry clay.

 

  • Choose The Right Type Of Clay

Various types of air-drying clay can be used for multiple purposes. However, while deciding the right clay type for your project, you need to consider factors like the type of final product you would make, how heavy your final piece would be, how much money you would spend on the clay, and whether you want your clay to have a luxurious feel.

 

A. Incorporate Paper-Based Air Drying Clay

When working on a larger project, you must incorporate paper clay. Since these projects require a lot of material, using paper-based clay can be economical. Generally, paper-based clay is fluffy, but it is stiff and light when it dries up.

 

B. Use Resin Based Air Drying Clay

When working on smaller projects like handicrafts or jewelry, you can use an equally strong clay based on resin. These are dense and, when dried, look like baked polymer clay. Moreover, using this clay would also experience the feeling of a polymer.

 

  • Buy The Clay

Once you have thought about which type of clay you will purchase, you need to look for it. Try to buy in the required quantity as is required. You can easily purchase your clay from a local store or online. If you still have additional questions about the type of clay, you can ask the storekeeper to know more about the variety.

 

  • Shape The Clay

Try to work with a smooth and clean nonporous surface. Open the sealed bag of clay and then take out some amount that you would be required to use. If you want to measure how much clay you use, you can use a wire.

 

Then, you have to knead and massage the clay to soften it and make it easier to work. The heat and warmth from your hand will quickly make the clay malleable. Also, try to condition the clay to use it properly. If you are working on a large project and use multiple bags, try knitting the clay together and then separating it into different bags per requirement. You can also add a small amount of water to soften the clay. Additionally, you can also use acrylic paint to soften resin-based clay.

 

Once your clay is well kneaded, you have to shape it then. You can easily make three-dimensional and two-dimensional figures with the help of air-drying clay. You can use your hands and tools like spoons and knives to create the desired shape. If you are working on a larger project like a vase or a complicated artifact, you can use crafting tools per your requirement.

 

  • Decorate The Clay

After that, you can dry the clay. Once you have given the desired shape to the clay, you can use the press beads, yard, and other clay pieces in your project. Try to ensure that you do not use enough pressure so that it does not mess with the decoration. You can decorate with beads or with the help of glitter. After trimming, if you have excess clay and air clay generally gets spoiled quickly, try to wrap it well with wax paper in a plastic bag.

 

Summing Up

Air-dry clay is a relatively easy-to-use clay used by experienced and beginning potters. Despite the disadvantages, they are worth trying due to their inherent positives. So, follow the above step-wise procedure when using air-dry clay.