Air dry clay is a fantastic material that you can almost make anything you can imagine the only limitation is imagination.
When you first start using this type of clay you can overlook some things that you should avoid when using air dry clay.
So, in this article, we’re going to look at 10 things to avoid to help you be more creative, remain safe and enjoy creating your projects.
1. Working In Direct Sunlight
This was one of the mistakes I made, my work table is right beside our bay windows and it gets a lot of sunlight when the sun is out.
Even though the sun helps motivate you to be more creative it’s not good news for your air dry clay.
Air dry clay does not need to be baked in the oven or a kiln, it starts to dry when it has contact with the air.
If you were to leave your air dry clay in direct sunlight you will notice it will start to dry up very quickly.
This would be fine if your project is finished and it’s time to go through the drying process.
However, if you are working with your clay and it starts to dry up, then this will make your clay impossible to work with.
If your work table gets a lot of sunlight you have a few options you can go with such as:
- installing blinds
- closing the curtains
- changing locations
When you work with your clay, you want to enjoy the experience and not feel rushed because your clay is drying up while you work on it.
If you find yourself in this situation all you need to do is spray your clay with some water, just make sure you don’t spray it with too much water otherwise your clay will become too sticky and hard to work with making it unusable.
2. Cheap Storage
We all like to save money where we can. one of the most important steps when it comes to air dry clay is how you store it.
Storing your air dry clay is key otherwise when it comes to using it again you might find it dried up and unusable.
Using air dry clay is not an expensive hobby, you don’t need any expensive tools and you don’t need to invest too much money to start using it.
Personally, I think the first thing you need to invest in would be in some airtight storage containers or Ziploc bags.
Having good storage for your clay will keep your clay soft and pliable so it remains fun to work with.
You don’t need to purchase super expensive storage containers most containers will be fine to store your air dry clay.
TIP: Avoid buying cheap storage containers as they are known to crack easily and their lids don’t usually have good seals, which is bad news for your clay.
TIP: If you don’t use your air dry clay often, check it once a week when it’s in storage, to make sure it hasn’t dried out due to a lid not being properly sealed or if you are using Ziploc bags check them for any holes in the bag.
3. Painting Too Early
When you’re working on your clay projects it’s normal to feel excited to see the final product and how it will look once it has been painted.
Knowing how to paint your air dry clay projects can take them to the next level however if not done correctly it can ruin your finish result.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in the beginning is painting their clay projects too early. Before you can paint your project, you need to make sure that the clay is completely dry before you apply the paint.
If you paint your clay projects too early this can lead to many issues such as:
- Small cracks forming
- Paint peeling off
- Clay drying unevenly
- Clay warping etc.
Air dry clay needs anywhere from 24 hours to 48 hours to completely dry and sometimes even longer for bigger air dry clay projects.
Before you start painting your projects make sure all sides have had enough time to dry.
4. Using Too Much Water
Water plays a major role when it comes to air dry clay. Not only is it used to bring dry clay back to life but it is also used to join clay together.
On the flip side, if you used too much water you can actually make your clay unusable because it will become very sticky.
When using water with your air dry clay, either use a small paintbrush dipped in water or a lightly damp sponge to prevent introducing too much moisture to the clay that will damage it.
If you are working on a larger clay project you can even use a water spray bottle but just be aware of how much water is being sprayed.
5. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Even though using air dry clay is so much fun it takes a lot of practice to make your projects look like those projects you see on YouTube and Pinterest.
Like anything else, using air dry clay has a learning curve. In the beginning, start off by doing simple projects before moving on to more complex projects that require joints, finer details and curving.
Everyone starts at the beginning, the more you practice the better you get at it. Give yourself credit for your designs no matter how simple they are.
Most important don’t compare yourself to other crafters.
6. Storing Near A Heat Source
One major mistake a lot of crafters make when using air dry clay is trying to speed up the drying time of their clay projects by putting them near a heat source such as a heater.
Even though this can work as long as you rotate your project every so often however in most cases this will cause your clay to dry unevenly.
From personal experience, if you want to use heat to speed up your air dry clay, then it’s better to leave your project in direct sunlight, this way it’s getting a lot more heat coverage but you still would need to rotate your project for it to dry evenly.
If your clay is dried unevenly it can cause it to warp and cause cracks to form on your project as your clay dries.
TIP: A trick I’ve learned over the years to help the clay to dry more evenly is to cover your clay with a plastic bag.
7. Not Enough Ventilation
Safety to your health is most important no matter what you do. Even though air dry clay is non-toxic however some of the sealers you use to seal your projects such as Epoxy Resin and clear vanish have got strong fumes that can be very harmful.
Therefore it is very important whenever you use any kind of material that gives off strong fumes to have plenty of ventilation.
For more safety tips check out my article 16 Important Safety Tips For Crafting.
You can do this by working beside opened windows or better still, seal your projects outdoors.
Using Epoxy Resin gives your air dry clay projects a fantastic finish and at the same time making them waterproof, however the fumes from this material a very dangerous.
No matter what you’re using clear varnish, Epoxy Resin, paints, or any other material always read the safety instructions before using them.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
8. Not Using Safety Gear
There are many tools and accessories that are used with air dry clay that require you to wear some sort of safety gear such as:
- eye protection (sanding, spray varnish, etc.)
- face mask (working with material with strong fumes etc.)
- gloves (paints, varnish, etc.)
Wearing safety gear might not make you look cool but they will keep you safe.
You can purchase all your safety gear for under $10, which is a great value to keep you safe while you enjoy your crafting projects.
9. Not Sealing Outdoor Projects
I have to be honest, when I first started using air dry clay I didn’t know it wasn’t waterproof. The only time I realize that it wasn’t waterproof is after my first outdoor air dry clay project basically melted after being in the rain for a day.
I wish it was waterproof but this is why we have sealers we can use.
So, if you plan to make any outdoor projects you will need to seal your projects with a sealer that has waterproof properties, such as:
- Clear Varnish
- Acrylic Sealer
- Epoxy Resin.
Sealing your outdoor projects will not only make them waterproof but it will give them a nice glossy finish depending on which sealer you use.
For a more detailed article on how to seal your air dry clay projects click here.
10. Not Covering Your Clay
Like I mentioned earlier once air dry clay comes into contact with air it will start to dry up and if this happens it will become unusable.
So when you’re using clay only take out what you are going to use and leave the rest in storage.
TIP: Any clay that you plan to use, cover it with a lightly damp cloth, this will keep the clay moist and prevent it from drying up.
For more great tips on using air dry clay check out my article 11 Tips For Using Air Dry Clay For Beginners
These mistakes to avoid when it comes to using air dry clay will not only prevent your project from drying unevenly but will help you keep your clay moist and pliable to use.
No matter what you do, following safety precautions will not only prevent any harm from coming to you but it will help you to enjoy your craft even more.
Even though air dry clay is non-toxic, some of the materials you use with it can be hazardous.
So, it is important that you use the correct safety gear and have plenty of ventilation when it comes to sealing your projects.
I hope this list of mistakes to avoid when using air dry clay will help you to enjoy your craft and keep you safe.
If you can think of any other mistakes to avoid when working with air dry clay then please share them down in the comments below and I will add them to this list.
Let’s share and learn together.