While most clays are designed to cure into a hardened, permanent state after they are shaped, some clays are made to stay workable forever — in other words, the clay never dries! Non-drying modeling clay, also called non-dry clay, is a unique material developed for reusability.
If you’re wondering why a crafter would be interested in clay that can’t dry, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started on your journey to learn about the benefits of non-drying clay and discover the differences between non-drying, polymer and air-dry clays.
6 Non-Drying Clay Benefits
Check out six advantages to using non-drying clay and discover the many reasons why makers love our Sculpey Non-DryTM clay.
1. Non-Drying Clay Won’t Harden or Dry
One of the best qualities about this clay is listed right in its name — non-drying clay will never dry out. You can confidently walk away from your project knowing that the clay will be just as pliable as before when you return.
Because non-drying clay won’t harden from air exposure, you can leave your creation out in your work area. You can adjust your non-dry clay creation as much as you want for days, weeks or longer.
2. Non-Drying Clay Is Great for Kids and Classrooms
If you’re looking for a product to engage kids in hands-on creative learning, look no further than modeling clay. Squishy non-dry clay responds easily to small hands, and young crafters adore the feel of this soft clay.Parents, teachers and camp instructors enjoy our tactile, kid-friendly modeling clay because it: Can be reused for countless students
Is classroom budget-friendlyCan never dry outStores easilyEducators love our Sculpey Non-DryTM Modeling Clay Classroom Pack, which includes five clay colors and 15 tools for students to use.
3. Non-Drying Clay Is Repositionable
Because non-drying clay is forever flexible, you can easily reposition clay objects. Sculptors, animators and special effects (FX) artists enjoy the adjustable quality of modeling clay for claymation videos. With this clay, you can easily rearrange characters without damaging the creations:
- Create figures with posable limbs and facial expressions.
- Make a plant model “grow” in clay-additive stages for a stop-motion video.
- Bring a whimsical diorama to life with repositionable animals.
4. Non-Drying Clay Is Reusable
Non-drying modeling clay was designed for reusability. Crafters of all skill levels love the reworkable nature of this clay. Sculpey Non-DryTM is an excellent investment for your creative supply closet because this resource can be reshaped for countless projects and comes in a wide variety of colors:
- Basics: Our Sculpey Non-DryTM Modeling Clay Primary Colors 5 pc set includes white, yellow, red, blue, and green clays.
- Brights: The neon hues in our Sculpey Non-DryTM Modeling Clay Bright Colors 5 pc set are sure to turn heads.
- Variety: Keep every color of the rainbow at your fingertips with our Sculpey Non-DryTM Modeling Clay Color Sampler 20 pc and Modeling Clay Variety Set 52 pc sets.
5. Non-Drying Clay Can Be Used to Make Molds
The reusability of non-dry clay makes it an ideal material for mold making. Use modeling clay to create a mold for casting duplicates of jewelry pieces, embellishments and more. After the mold is made, reuse the clay to shape any number of new creations.
You can also use modeling clay to build the mold itself:
- Build mold walls and boxes.
- Seal mold edges like a clay “caulk.”
- Add vital mold keys, which are small impressions used to align two-part mold pieces.
6. Non-Drying Clay Is Safe and Non-Toxic
Just like all of our clays, our Sculpey Non-DryTM clay is a non-toxic, safe medium for everyone age 8 and older. Every Sculpey® product undergoes extensive toxicological testing by the Art and Creative Materials Institue (ACMI) and features the ACMI certification seal.
Products bearing the ACMI seal are evaluated by medical experts to meet the highest material safety standards. You can rest assured that our non-dry clay contains no toxic materials and produces no harmful fumes, making it a product you can feel great about using in your classroom, art studio or home.
The Difference Between Non-Drying Modeling Clay and Polymer Clay
At Sculpey®, we’re known for our polymer clay. While similarly easy-to-use and workable, non-drying modeling clay is a different material used for a different purpose.
While modeling clay is an oil-based clay that can’t dry out or harden, polymer clay is a polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic-based clay that cures with heat. Modeling clay is made to be continuously repurposed for new projects. Its adjustable and reusable qualities make this a popular choice for projects that don’t require a hardened outcome.
If you’re interested in creating long-lasting, usable objects such as jewelry, vases and home decor, we recommend you use polymer clay. Unlike non-drying clay, polymer clay can bake in the oven to a cured, durable finished product.
Is Polymer Clay Non-Drying?
Can polymer clay dry? The answer is both yes and no. Non-drying polymer clay cannot dry out from air exposure and remains workable until it’s cured in the oven. Once baked, polymer clay will dry and permanently cure to a hardened, fixed state.
How Does Clay Dry?
Different clays dry — or don’t dry — based on the materials used to produce them and air and heat exposure:
- Pottery clay: Water-based ceramics and pottery clays will dry to a leather-hard finish as the water evaporates and harden fully after high-temperature kiln firing.
- Air-dry clay: Our water-based Sculpey Air-DryTM clay dries and hardens on its own, in time with air exposure. There is no baking required.
- Polymer clay: Plastic-based polymer clay cannot air-dry and must bake in an oven to cure. With proper storage, unbaked polymer clay remains workable for years.
- Non-drying modeling clay: Oil-based modeling clays cannot be air-dried or cured. By design, these clays will never dry out.
Who Uses Non-Drying Clay?
A wide range of makers use non-drying clay for freehand modeling, clay practice, animation and mold making:
- Mold makers
- Claymation artists
- FX artists
What Type of Clay Is Best for Kid’s Crafts?
The best type of clay for kid’s crafts depends on the desired learning experience and end result for the project.
- Bakeable clay: If kids want to keep a durable, permanently hardened project, use our Sculpey Bake Shop® oven-bake polymer clays.
- No oven, no problem: For a cured project that needs no oven, use Sculpey Air-DryTM Clay. This no-bake clay is ideal for young clayers and classroom settings.
- Tactile experience: If the goal is providing a hands-on learning experience for kids to squish and shape clay, our Sculpey Non-DryTM Modeling Clay is a reusable, cost-effective choice.
Non-Dry vs. Air-Dry Clay
While modeling clay never cures, polymer and air-dry clays can harden and are commonly used for craft projects. Non-dry polymer clay cures in an oven, while air-dry clay requires no baking to dry.
Depending on the strength and finish desired in your finished project, before you select your clay type consider these possible disadvantages of air-dry clay:
- Durability: Air-dry clay does fully cure, but not to the strength level of baked polymer clay. For wearable jewelry and usable pieces, polymer clay is more durable.
- Working time: Young children may get distracted and walk away from a craft before it’s finished, resulting in the clay drying before it’s fully shaped.
- Hardness: Cured air-dry clay has a slightly spongey feel, while baked polymer clay has a harder finish.
Pros and Cons of Non-Drying Clay
To help you determine whether non-drying clay is suitable for your next project, we’ve organized this list of non-drying modeling clay benefits and disadvantages.
Modeling clay pros:
- Soft and squishable for small hands to use
- Safe and non-toxic
- Cannot dry out
Modeling clay cons:
- Less durable than polymer clay
- Cannot cure or harden for permanent us
Choose Sculpey® for Your Non-Drying Clay Needs
Sculpey Non-DryTM is perfect for anyone who wants to practice claying skills, craft adjustable objects or engage kids in tactile learning. Shop our Sculpey Non-DryTM variety packs today to build posable models, claymation figures, molds and more.