Perfect for sculptures, jewelry and school projects, air-dry modeling clay is a durable, lightweight medium that is incredibly pliable and easy to shape. Air-dry clay from Sculpey® does not require a kiln or oven to cure and dries within 24 hours. Just wait for the clay to dry and decorate with markers or paint to bring your creative vision to life!
What Is the Difference Between Air-Dry Modeling Clay and Polymer Oven-Bake Clay?
People often wonder can you bake air dry clay? The answer is no which makes its drying process vastly different from polymer oven-bake clay. Air-dry modeling clay will harden at room temperature without baking. Polymer oven-bake clay, on the other hand, requires the proper application of heat to make it hard.
How Long Does Air-Dry Clay Take to Dry?
The time your air-dry clay creation will take to harden completely depends on the object's thickness, the room's temperature and its humidity. It generally takes 24 to 72 hours for air-dry clay to dry. Larger projects may take up to a week to dry out. You can expect air-dry clay to begin hardening as soon as it gets exposed to air, so any leftover clay should be stored in an air-tight container to keep in moisture.
The fastest way to cure an air-dry clay piece is to place it in the oven at 200°F until hardened.
You can cure air-dry clay faster by increasing the airflow around a finished project. A stand-up or ceiling fan is one method. Hairdryers aren't recommended since they unevenly heat the clay and may cause cracking. If you want to speed up the process, you'll have to rotate and flip the piece on occasion to ensure equal curing.
Air-dry clay may also weaken if the exposed surfaces dry faster than the interior, so for best results, let the clay harden on its own and avoid handling it.
What Is Air-Dry Clay Best Used For?
The versatility of air-dry clay makes it ideal for new and experienced clayers alike. You can pinch, score and stamp it. Air-dry clay can also be embellished and painted.
Some example projects with air-dry modeling clay include the following:
Experienced crafters can even use air-dry clay to create jewelry and accessories, like earrings, necklaces and bracelets. You can use porcelain air-dry clay to craft detailed objects like flowers, ornaments and figurines that dry with a smooth, slightly translucent finish.
While you don't have to seal air-dry clay, adding a finish to your project helps protect it against wear, smooth out unnoticeable imperfections and increase sheen. Since air-dry clay is a porous material, you can seal it to prevent the clay from softening and breaking down upon contact with water.
To improve the clay's resistance against water, apply coats of varnish, epoxy resin or acrylic sealers. You can also paint a fully dried air-clay project without a sealant base layer. Acrylic paints will both decorate and protect your creation. Keep in mind that air-dry clay is difficult to waterproof completely.
Is Air-Dry Clay Durable?
Air-dry clay is a very malleable material that stiffens over time. Compared to kiln-fired clay, air-dry clay isn't as sturdy when dried. However, you can still make robust projects that last a lifetime.
Avoid rolling out air-dry clay too thin and keep a consistent thickness throughout your clay piece for the best results. You can brush on a slip mixture to fill in small cracks that may occur as the clay shrinks while drying.
Air-Dry Clay: Pros
Sculpey Air-Dry™ modeling clay is ideal for sculpting and can be shaped into coil or slab forms. If air-dry clay becomes stiff, you can add a little bit of water and knead it to make it soft and fresh again. This type of clay will dry hard and:
- Is easy to handle and manipulate.
- Can be painted or colored with markers once dried.
- Retains a permanent shape after drying.
- Does not require exclusive products for finishing and glue.
- Is suitable for all ages due to the variety of clay types on the market.
Air-Dry Modeling Clay: Cons
Clayers may opt for polymer oven-bake clay over air clay because:
- Air-dry clay requires long drying times, especially for large projects.
- Unused air-dry clay must be stored in a zip-close bag or air-tight container.
- Even after air-dry clay is hardened, it is not waterproof.
Polymer Oven-Bake Clay: Pros
Polymer clay is a modeling clay with a polymer polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, base. When uncured, it will stay soft at room temperature and harden when baked in the oven at the recommended heat. Using polymer clay over other varieties offers numerous advantages, such as:
- A permanent shape and resistance to water after curing.
- A wide range of color choices, from bright colors to pastel.
- Special effects like metallic, opal, granite and more.
Polymer Oven-Bake Clay: Cons
As a teacher or parent, there may be times when you opt for air-dry modeling clay over polymer oven-bake clay. Why? Polymer oven-bake clay:
- Requires close supervision at all times during baking. Polymer clay is only suitable for children ages 8 and up.
- You don't have access to an oven and you cannot cure it.
Buy Air-Dry Modeling Clay Online From Sculpey®
Sculpey Air-Dry™ clay is revered by parents and teachers alike for its malleability. This medium is especially suitable for small hands due to its spongy composition and ease of use. Air-dry clay is also excellent for environments that make use of crafting without an oven, like day cares or elementary schools.
No matter your skill level or preferences, you can trust Sculpey® to deliver the clay you need. Browse our air-dry clay varieties, including Sculpey Air-Dry™ Porcelain Clay and Sculpey Air-Dry™, or our extensive inventory of oven-bake clays and order online today!
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