Air dry clay has a lot of potential when you think about it….you’re not burdened by the need for a kiln or the need to know about unusual glazes. It’s great to get older kids started on and once you master some techniques you can go really far.
Here are some tips and tricks for getting good with self hardening clay…..
1 – Use an emollient
The use of an emollient for your hands can make it easier to work with. That can be something like glycerin. I have seen some of these products in craft stores and I picked up a bottle one time and applied a little dab to my hands before working and it made a big difference.
One issue with air dry clay is its stickiness and that can get annoying sometimes. The use of a lubricating products on your hands can really help, a little dab will do you!
2 – Work on wax paper
Or parchment. They both will a good, semi-slick and coated surface is ideal and conducive to this type of clay. It also works well with polymer, and other types too. I also like to double the sheet if I think I’m going to be a lot of vigorous kneading and rolling.
3 – Rotate your objects while they dry
Self hardening clay out of the box may be a dark color, but as it dries it tends to lighten in color, due to this it is easy to tell when this is happening. Some objects may remain uncovered whilst they dry, such an example would be a flat bottom, which will remain unexposed and it may take longer or don’t get dry at all,
The trick is to turn it to the side or upside down so it can get exposed to air as necessary. Make a practice of doing this, it may take a few hours at best, but it will help prevent raw spots or areas that are under dries later on.
4 – Make use of molds and other 3D objects
Molds can be a good idea to make use of as you work, there are a lot of them out there that you can choose among, or you can get a few random objects that have neat shapes that if you push into the clay and remove it it will create a nice indented shape. So be sure you have plenty of these in your toolbox.
To make it easy to release the objects form the mold later, you can use a little hot water, dip it in for a few minutes then turn them upside down.
5 – Use cross hatching and slip as you combine objects.
Because air dry clay can have a propensity to get sticky, it can work in a our favor. But there is a trick to doing it the right way if you are trying to fuse together multiple pieces so later on there will be little chance of them falling off or breaking later. Take a small amount of clay and set it aside from your work slab you’re using currently, and add some water to is, it will be kind of soupy.
Use a sharp tool and make a series of cross or slash marks, and then apply some of the slip and then add the objects. Treat this as spackling paste, kind of like how bricks and mortar are put together. The bricks are your clay pieces, and the slip is your mortar. They work together in tandem. This is also a step I recommend for mending any cracks if they happen.
Well, that’s five tips to get you started, can you think of any others you’ve used in the past that have worked too? I’d be glad to add them to this list if you’ve got a few other helpful pointers when working with self hardening clay!