11 Tips For Using Air Dry Clay For Beginners

Air dry clay is one of those things, once you start using it, you won’t stop.  It’s getting more and more popular nowadays.

It’s fun to use, it’s easy to shape and best of all it’s non-toxic so it’s safe for kids to use as well. 

Oh, did I mention it’s super cheap!

In this article, I will share 10 tips for using air dry clay, following these tips will help you enjoy working with air dry clay and save time & money.

1. Don’t Roll Your Air Dry Clay Too Thin

Everyone makes this mistake in the beginning.  Rolling your air dry clay too thin can cause your clay project to form small cracks as it dries.

A rule of thumb to follow is to roll your clay to ¼ inch thickness. 

This will not only prevent it from forming cracks but it will make your clay easier to handle, the thinner it is the more floppy it will be.

To help with this, I use a rolling pin that has adjustable rings which makes it easy to roll the clay to the intended thickness.

2. Use A Non-Stick Surface

When using air dry clay it is important you work on a non-stick surface because it’s sticky.  Avoid using it directly to your table.

To get started with air dry clay you don’t need many tools, you only need basic tools to start using air dry clay.

If you are new to air dry clay, you can start by using a sheet of parchment paper which works fine.

I like to use a silicone craft mat which I highly recommend.

The last thing you want is your clay project stuck to your surface when you are trying to transfer it to the drying area.

When I first started, I used the clay directly on my dining room table, a bad mistake, don’t do this it will damage it. Lol

3. Use Lotion On Your Hands

We know air dry clay is sticky and it will stick to your fingers, using a little lotion on your hands will make it easier to work with.

Not all air dry clays are super sticky I find DAS Air Dry Clay and Crayola Air Dry Clay are easier to work with and less sticky.  Both of these clays are inexpensive.

4. Keep A Damp Cloth Nearby

A damp cloth will be your best friend when you are using air dry clay.  Keeping one nearby to wipe your hands is a good idea.

When clay gets on your hands it can quickly dry and become ‘dusty’ which can end up on your project.

5. Use Toothpicks For Support

Over time your projects will become more and more complex, which will involve multiple pieces being joined together.

I find using wooden toothpicks can help support adjoining pieces and keep them together until they dry.  The last thing you want is for your project to fall into itself while it is drying.

Other items you can use to support your clay include:

  • aluminum foil
  • popsicle sticks

6. Use Old Clothes

Using air dry clay is so much fun and the last thing you want is to worry about it getting onto your nice clothes.  So, it’s a good idea to wear old clothes when using it.

If you get clay on your clothes it will come off in the wash but on certain materials, it may leave behind stains.

If you have an apron even better, I normally just wear some old pair of jeans with a t-shirt.

7. Smooth Air Dry Clay While Soft

When air dry clay hardens it has a rough finish to it.

So, if you want a nice smooth finish to your clay projects then I highly recommend you smooth your clay while it is still soft either by using

  • Damp sponge
  • Damp paintbrush
  • You can also use your finger dipped in some water.

If you wait until your clay project hardens then you will need to use some sandpaper to smooth it, which will cause dust to fly in the air.  This way also takes more time.

8. Cover Your Air Clay With Wet Wipes When In Storage

I wish I knew this when I first started using air dry clay.

Covering your clay with some wet wipes or a damp cloth before you put it into storage will keep it soft and pliable no matter how long it’s in storage.

You might need to use new wipes after a few weeks if you don’t use your clay too often.  The moisture from the wet wipes will keep your clay nice and soft.

Once you cover your air dry clay with some wipes place it in an airtight storage container or a Ziploc bag and store it at room temperature.

9. Never Bake Your Air Dry Clay In The Oven

Air dry clay can take 24 hours to 48 hours and even longer to dry completely.

Unlike some other clays, this type of clay should never be put into the oven to harden as it can become flammable.

There are many ways to cut short the drying time of your clay projects such as:

  • Using a fan.
  • Placing it near an open window.
  • Leaving it in direct sunlight.

No matter which method you choose to speed up the drying time, don’t forget to rotate your clay project, so it dries evenly on all sides.

For more ways to cut drying time for your clay projects, click here.

10. Make Your Own Air Dry Clay

When I found out how easy it was to make your own air dry clay I was so surprised.

If you ever run out of store bought air dry clay not to worry because making your own clay at home is easier than you think.

I have written a detailed article on how to make your own air dry clay, this includes 3 recipes I have tried and tested.

You only need basic ingredients such as:

  • Cornstarch
  • White vinegar
  • White glue, etc.

11. Keep Pets Away

When I first started playing around with air dry clay, my beautiful wife and I bought a kitten (MoJo).  Let’s just say she thought she could play with the clay too. Lol

We spent half the time cleaning her wee paws. Lol

Even though air dry clay is non-toxic it is better to keep your pets away from it, just in case.

Final Thoughts

Learning a new craft is not always easy and it has taken me a few trials and errors to get it right with air dry clay.  I really hope I can save you time and pain with these tips.

For more mistakes to avoid when using air dry clay, click here.

Playing with air dry clay is so much fun, and what you can make with it is endless.

Knowing what you can do and not do with air dry clay is half the battle, the rest is to chill and have fun and be super creative.

Following the tips in this article will not only save you time, money and frustration but they will help you enjoy making your clay projects.

I hope these tips for using your air dry clay for beginners have been useful and have given you inspiration for your air dry clay projects.

If you have any other tips please share them down in the comments and I will add them to the list.

Let’s share and learn together.

Happy Crafting!

Zac & Terri Signature

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