Tips and tricks for air dry clay

June 03, 2016

If you follow our Monthly DIY Challenge, you probably saw my cute air dry clay fish from the May challenge. Air dry clay proved to be a little challenging to work with (making the monthly challenge a true challenge!). I decided to compile some tips for working with air dry clay based on what I learned from the May challenge as well as what a few of my friends learned. 

8 things I learned about working with air dry clay! Great tips and tricks for DIY clay projects!

1. Use wax paper.

Air dry clay will stick to whatever surface you are working on. I did my project on wax paper to protect my table and to make it a little easier to remove the clay from my work surface.

2. Put lotion on your hands first.

Again, clay is sticky! My friend Erica from Dwell Beautiful shared that putting lotion on your hands helps keep the clay from sticking to your fingers while your working with it. I wish I would have known this tip ahead of time!

3. Do not make the clay too thin.

Rolling the clay out too thin can lead to cracking and breaking once dry. I have found that about a quarter inch thick works well. It is thick enough that it is less likely to break, but still thin enough that it won't increase drying time too much. 

4. Use toothpicks.

If you are creating something with multiple pieces, it can be difficult to get the parts to stay together. My friend Emily from Table and Hearth used tooth picks to help support adjoining pieces in her project!

5. Remove imperfections with water.

When you work with clay, your finger prints will make imprints on your project. You also might have some pieces you want to fit together. To smooth out imperfections or adjoining areas, use a small amount of water on your fingertip. I keep a cup of water nearby, dip my finger into it, and gently rub the areas that need smoothing. Just be careful not to over-saturate your project with water because it will increase drying time. 

6. Flip your project over during drying.

Air dry clay is slow drying. Depending on environmental conditions, it can take 24-48 hours to dry. If part of your project is against your work surface the entire time, moisture is trapped underneath and it will take even longer to dry. Be sure to flip your project over to ensure all parts get exposure to air and dry thoroughly.

7. Use the oven to speed up drying time.

Don't have time to wait? You can use the oven! I've experimented with this before, and my friend Amy from Canary Street successfully dried her project in the oven for our challenge. Turn the oven on to its lowest setting and bake for a couple of hours.

8. Store clay in an air tight container.

Your leftover air dry clay can be saved and used again! Keep it in an air tight container to help it retain moisture. I like using Crayola's air dry clay because it comes packaged in an air tight tub!

Check out 8 DIY air dry clay projects for inspiration and ideas!

Do you have any other tips for working with air dry clay? If you have worked with it before, how was your experience?

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