Air dry clay is one of those gems that some crafters overlook because they think it’s only for sculpting and they need a lot of tools.
This can’t be any further from the truth.
If you are new to air dry clay, then you don’t need many tools to get started, the great thing is you probably already have the basic tools you require at home already.
In this article, I will look at the bare basic tools you need to get started.
1. Spray Bottle
You need the clay to be soft enough while you mold it into the shape you want.
A spray bottle is a must, air dry clay starts to dry out once it has been taken out of storage. A little spray of water will keep the clay soft while you shape it.
It doesn’t need much water but using too much water will weaken the clay.
Alongside a sponge and a paintbrush, a spray bottle can also be used to soften edges and create smooth finishes.
2. Storage Tools
The great thing about this type of clay is, if stored correctly it will not dry out while in storage.
There are 3 basic items you will need when it comes to storing your air dry clay.
- Saran Wrap (Cling Film)
- Ziploc Bags
- Airtight Storage Container
These are the only items I use for storing my unused clay.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to store your clay.
Steps to store air dry clay
- Wrap unused clay with saran wrap or place.
- Place it in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag.
- Then store it at room temperature.
When it comes to storing your clay in an airtight container make sure that it has a good seal otherwise you risk your clay drying out.
When using a Ziploc bag, squeeze out any air in the bag before you zip it up.
I would recommend avoiding any cheap containers as they usually don’t have a good seal from my experience.
This said you don’t need to splash lots of money on them, you can find some decent sets online for as little as $15.
3. Small Sponge
No matter what type of projects you plan to create with air dry clay, a small sponge is another must. It is used to remove rough marks and to create smooth finishes for your projects.
To use a sponge you lightly damp it and use it on the area of the clay that needs to be smoothed down.
You can buy pottery sponges that are designed to be used with clay, but in the beginning, when you are just getting started, you can just use a kitchen sponge to get you going.
I know it might sound like common sense, but always wash your sponge after using it with some warm water to prevent it from getting damaged. You will be surprised how many crafters forget to do this.
4. Acrylic Paints
The best thing about creating projects with air dry clay is that you get to paint them. If you want to take your projects to the next level then you will need to invest in a set of paints.
Acrylic paint is what most crafters use with their air dry clay and this is what I also use.
They are easy to find and usually pretty cheap to buy, which is a bonus.
You can find a decent set of paints for around $15, this is great value and they will last a long time when you first start.
If you plan to paint your projects then you will need some paintbrushes.
The great thing about paintbrushes is that you can use them for many different tasks when it comes to air dry clay such as:
- Applying texture
- Making holes
- Rolling clay
You can pick up a set of paintbrushes for around $10 which is great value especially when they last a long time if cared for correctly.
There have been many times I found myself using a paintbrush to roll out small pieces of air dry clay instead of using my rolling pin, it’s definitely a multitasking tool. lol
Using a sealer will not only give your projects a nice shiny finish but it will give them a layer of protection.
The type of sealer you are going to need will depend on where your projects will be located, indoors or outdoors.
Indoor: PVA Glue, Nail Varnish, Craft Glue, Clear Varnish, Mod Podge
Outdoors: Clear Varnish, Acrylic Sealer, Epoxy Resin
If you are not aware but air dry clay is not waterproof, so if your projects will be located outdoors then it is important you use a sealer with waterproof properties. This gives your creations some extra protection from outdoor elements.
7. Craft Knife & Steel Ruler
Most projects require the clay to be cut straight. A steel ruler and a craft knife will be your best friend to achieve nice clean edges.
The cleaner the cut the less smoothing you need to do later.
You can pick up these tools for around $5 each, but if you are already into crafting then you probably already have this in your crafter’s toolkit.
Some projects need to be sanded down after they have hardened, even if you smoothed them down with a damp sponge while they were soft.
Using sandpaper on your creations will give them a beautiful finish especially if you plan to paint and seal your projects.
If you enjoy a bit of DIY around your home then it’s likely you will already have some sandpaper in your toolkit.
If not you can find some mixed grit sandpaper for under $10.
Apart from sanding down your projects, you can use sandpaper to apply texture to your projects by pressing the sandpaper down on your project while the clay is still soft.
9. Parchment Paper / Baking Paper
Sometimes you will find your projects get stuck to your work surface, especially if you use a rolling pin to roll out the clay, this is where parchment paper comes in handy.
To prevent this from happening just use a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface.
Not only does this prevent your projects from getting stuck but it will also protect the surface of your table.
If you enjoy baking then this is another item you will already have in your kitchen.
If you have some money to invest, get yourself a silicone mat. It is worth every penny. This mat will give you a non-stick surface to work on with your air dry clay.
If you are thinking of getting into air dry clay then I highly recommend it. You won’t regret it!
Not only is the clay cheap to purchase, plus you don’t need many tools to get started.
To get started you just need some basic tools that you would probably already own such as:
- Small sponge
- Spray bottle
- Airtight Storage container
- Parchment paper
Air dry clay is not only for sculpting, there are so many things you can create using it such as:
- Plant pot holders
- Garden ornaments
After a little practice, you will be surprised how easy it is to work with air dry clay. It’s the perfect clay to start making your own gifts for your friends and family, saving you money in the process while having fun creating your designs.
I hope this list of basic air dry clay tools needed to start has encouraged you to try using air dry clay.
If you think I have missed out on anything or if you have any tips please share them down in the comments.
Let’s share and learn together.