Types Of Air Dry Clay | Discover The Varieties of Air Dry Clay




Main Points

  • There are various types of air dry clay available in the market.
  • Different types of air dry clay are suitable for different projects and crafts. 
  • Selecting the right type of air dry clay is absolutely essential to your project’s success. 

Are you ready to start your crafting projects with air dry clay, but not quite sure where to start? With so many different types available, it can be a bit overwhelming.

However, understanding the types of air dry clay can make your crafting experience more enjoyable and successful.

Types Of Air Dry Clay

In this article, we’ll guide you through the different types of air dry clay, helping you discover the perfect clay for your next creative project. Whether you’re a seasoned crafter or a beginner, this guide will provide you with valuable insights that will ease your crafting journey. So, let’s get started!

What Is Air Dry Clay?

Here are some air dry clay characteristics. Which gives you a clear confusion about air dry clay.

What Is Air Dry Clay
  • Air dry clay is a type of clay that does not require a kiln or oven to harden.
  • The primary components typically include clay minerals and fibers.
  • It dries naturally when exposed to air. 
  • This type of clay is often used for crafting and sculpting projects, especially by children and beginners because it’s easy to.
  • Doesn’t require any special equipment. 
  • Once dried, it can be painted or varnished for a finished look.
  • Some air dry clay ideas are Sculptures and Figurines, Jewelry Making, Plant Pots and Plant Markers, Coasters and Trivets, Decorative Bowls and Dishes

Air Dry Clay: Drying Process

Air dry clay is a versatile material that can be used for various craft projects. Air dry clay becomes hard as it dries in the open air. Here’s how the drying process works:

Air Dry Clay Drying Process

1. Shaping:

The first step in working with air dry clay is shaping it into your desired form. This could be anything from a small figurine to a large sculpture. You don’t want to reuse air dry clay over and over. So, be careful. 

2. Drying: 

Once you’ve shaped your piece, leave it out in the open to dry naturally. For the first drying process, you can use heat or fans, as this can cause the clay to crack or warp. This is how to make something with air dry clay. 

3. Time Frame: 

What’s the time air dry clay takes to dry? Depending on the size and thickness of your piece, drying can take 24 hours to several days. Small, thin pieces will generally dry within 24-48 hours while larger or thicker pieces may take up to 72 hours or more.

4. Turning Over:

If you’re working on a larger piece or one with multiple sides, you’ll need to turn it over periodically during the drying process. As a result, all sides get exposed evenly.

5. Checking Dryness: 

How to know if your air dry clay is dry? when it no longer feels cold or damp when touched and has hardened completely.

6. Curing Process: 

After drying period, allow additional time for curing which strengthens and hardens the clay further before painting or sealing.

7. Painting & Sealing: 

Once completely dried and cured, you can paint your creation. Some type of paint for air dry clay: Acrylic Paint, Watercolor Paint, Tempera Paint, Oil-Based Paints, Pray Paint, Enamel Paint, Chalk Paint. After painting, seal with clear sealer or acrylic sealer spray which will protect against moisture damage.

Types Of Air Dry Clay

Here are some best type of air dry clay or best kind of air dry clay:

Air Dry Clay

1. Polymer Clay: 

Air dry polymer clay is made from PVC, plasticizer, and pigments. It doesn’t dry out in the air and needs to be baked in an oven to harden.

2. Paper Clay: 

Made from a combination of paper pulp, volcanic ash, and other natural fibers. It’s lightweight and extremely durable once dried.

3. Cold Porcelain Clay: 

This is a homemade clay made with cornstarch, white glue, oil, and lemon juice or vinegar. It dries to a porcelain-like finish. Such variety in the types of air dry clay.

4. Hearty Super Lightweight Air Dry Clay: 

This type of clay is very lightweight and flexible when dried. You can glaze this air dry clay as well.

5. Das Air Dry Clay Hardening Modeling Clay: 

A fine-grained modeling clay that hardens in 24 hours without needing to be fired in a kiln.

6. La Doll Premier Air-Dry Clay: 

Known for its strength and flexibility after drying; it’s often used by doll makers. The cracking possibility is less than the others. In my opinion, the best air dry clay that doesn’t crack.

7. Creative Paperclay: 

A non-toxic modeling material. It can be sculpted or molded when wet but hardens when exposed to air. However, make sure you know what to use for painting air dry clay before using paint on creative paperclay. 

8. Delight Air Dry Modeling Compound:

Another air drying clay. It is a super lightweight option that becomes extremely flexible when dry.

9. Activa Plus Natural Self-Hardening Clay: 

A premium quality self-hardening clay with exceptional plasticity; ideal for hand building, slab work, coiling, or sculpture.

10. Crayola Air Dry Clay:

 An easy-to-use alternative that dries soft rather than rigid like traditional clays.

11. Sculpey Model Air Dry Modeling Compound: 

Known for its durability after drying. Most people call it Sculpey air dry clay.It’s often used by professional artists. It is the best air dry clay for sculpting.

12. Amaco Cloud Clay: 

Extremely pliable all-purpose art clay that is light and dries overnight. You can say this is the best professional air-dry clay.

13. Makin’s Clay: 

A no-bake polymer clay that air dries in 24 hours. It can be painted, drilled, sanded, or carved once dry.

Comparison Of Properties

Air dry clay is a popular choices for many crafters and artists due to its versatility and ease of use. Here are some properties of air dry clay:

1. No Baking Required: 

Unlike other types of clays, air dry clay does not require baking or firing in a kiln. It hardens as it dries when exposed to the air.

2. Easy to Use: 

Air dry clay is soft, pliable, and easy to mold, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced crafters.

3. Versatility: 

It can be used for a wide range of projects including sculpture, pottery, jewelry making, home decor items, etc.

4. Paintable Surface: 

Once dried, the surface can be painted with acrylic paints or decorated with markers or pastels.

5. Lightweight: 

Air-dry clays are generally lightweight which makes them ideal for creating larger pieces that won’t be too heavy once dried.

6. Non-Toxic: 

Most brands of air-dry clays are non-toxic which makes them safe for children’s crafts as well as adult projects.

7. Fragile When Dry: 

This type of clay is easy to work with and versatile in its uses. It tends to be more fragile than other types once dried which may not make it suitable for certain projects that require durability.

8. Short Working Time: 

Air-dry clays start drying out as soon as they’re exposed to air so you have less working time compared to oil-based or polymer clays.

9. Shrinkage & Cracking: 

As the water evaporates from the clay during the drying process, there might be slight shrinkage & cracking. 

10. Cost-Effective: 

Compared with other types like polymer, ceramic clays, etc. Air-dry clays tend  cheaper. 

11. Environment-Friendly: 

No firing required, it saves energy thus making it an eco-friendly option.

12. Easy Clean-Up: 

Tools and surfaces can be easily cleaned with water before the clay dries. 

Drying Time

The drying time of air-dry clay can vary depending on factors such as the type and brand of clay, the thickness of the project, and environmental conditions. However, as a general guideline:

Drying Time

1. Thin Projects: 

Thin and small projects may dry in a few hours to a day.

2. Medium-Sized Projects: 

Projects of medium thickness usually take one to three days to dry.

3. Large Or Thick Projects:

Larger or thicker projects may require several days to a week or more to fully dry.

4. Humidity And Temperature:

Higher humidity and lower temperatures can extend drying time, while lower humidity and higher temperatures can expedite the process.

Texture And Finish

Here are some air dry clay textures and finishes:

Type of ClayTextureFinish
Paper-Based Air-Dry ClayGenerally smooth and lightweightCan be painted, sanded, or varnished. 
Earthenware Air-Dry ClayCan have a coarser texture    Variety of finishing techniques, including glazing for certain types.
Polymer Air-Dry ClaySmooth and pliableVariety of finishing techniques, including glazing for certain types.
Self-Hardening Modeling ClayTexture varies by brand, often smoothSuitable for various finishes, including painting, varnishing, or sealing.
Homemade Salt DoughGenerally smoothAccepts paint, varnish, or other sealants for a finished look.

Note: The texture and finish can be influenced by the brand, specific formulation, and any additional additives or treatments applied to the clay. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for optimal results.

Tips For Working With Air Dry Clay

Here are some tips for working with air dry clay:

1. Keep It Moist: 

Air dry clay tends to dry out quickly, so it’s important to keep it moist while you’re working with it. After uses wrapping unused clay in a plastic bag or damp cloth.

2. Use Water Sparingly:

Be careful not to add too much water as this can make the clay too soft and difficult to work with.

3. Smooth Out Imperfections: 

Use a little bit of water and your fingers or a tool to smooth out any imperfections on the surface of your creation before it dries.

4. Dry Slowly: 

Allow your project to dry slowly at room temperature for best results. If the clay dries too quickly, it may crack.

5. Support Your Structure: 

If you’re creating something that needs support while drying.Use rolled up newspaper or aluminum foil inside your structure.

6. Sanding After Drying: 

Once your piece is completely dry, you can sand any rough edges with fine-grit sandpaper for a smoother finish.

7. Seal Your Work: 

To protect your finished piece from moisture and give it a polished look. Consider sealing it with an acrylic sealant or varnish once completely dried and sanded.

8. Store Properly: 

Store unused air-dry clay in an air-tight container away from heat sources and direct sunlight. It could cause premature drying.

9. Use Quality Tools: 

Using quality tools will help shape the clay more effectively without leaving unwanted marks on its surface.

10. Practice Patience: 

Working with air-dry clay requires patience.

11. Test Before Painting: 

Always test the paint on a small piece of dried air-dry clay before applying into the main project as some paints might not adhere well to their surface.

12. Clean Up Immediately: 

Clean up all tools immediately after use because once the air-dry clay dries up, it’s hard to remove.

Frequently Asked Questions

What To Coat Air Dry Clay With?

To finish and protect air-dry clay projects, consider coatings like:
Clear Varnish or Sealant, Acrylic Paint, Mod Podge or Decoupage, Polyurethane, Epoxy Resin.

What Type Of Air Dry Clay Is Best?

The best type of air-dry clay depends on your specific project and preferences. Popular options include paper-based clay for lightweight crafts, polymer clay for detailed work, and self-hardening clay for versatility. Choose based on your intended use, texture, and finishing requirements.

Is All Air Dry Clay The Same?

No, all air-dry clay is not the same. Different types and brands of air-dry clay vary in composition, texture, drying time, and suitability for specific projects. It’s essential to choose the right kind of air-dry clay based on your intended use and desired characteristics.

What Is The Best Air Dry Clay That Won’t Crack?

The best air-dry clay known for minimal cracking is often subjective. However, some reputable options include DAS Professional Air-Hardening Modeling Clay, Laguna – EM-210, and Jovi Air-Dry Modeling Clay. Always follow proper drying techniques and thickness guidelines to reduce the risk of cracking further.

What Is The Difference Between Self Hardening Clay And Air Dry Clay?

The main difference between self-hardening clay and air-dry clay lies in their curing process. While both types dry without firing.


Now you can start your clay projects perfectly. After reading types of air dry clay you can buy the perfect type of clay for your specific project. It will also save you money.

About the author

Written By

William Prince

William Prince

Meet William Prince!

With over 20 years of ceramic artistry experience, William Prince is not just a skilled potter; he’s a passionate guide to your pottery journey. William holds a Fine Arts degree specialized in pottery and he was also nurtured under the guidance of renowned potters. With over two decades of experience, he seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary aesthetics.

William’s inspiration stems from nature’s imperfections, translating them into unique, organic pottery pieces. As a patient and warm-hearted teacher, he’s known for conducting pottery workshops and classes, nurturing talents with his expertise. Join William on “fishingflora.com” and let his mastery inspire your own pottery adventure. Uncover the magic of crafting pottery with a trusted mentor who’s dedicated to both the art and the artist.

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