One of the biggest downsides to using air-dry clay is that it tends to crack easily during the drying process. Especially cheaper air dry clay tends to crack very easily but what can you do when your clay cracked? Well fix it of course and I will tell you exactly how in this article!
As a whole, to fix cracked air dry clay simply use some fresh air dry clay, mix it with some water, and then apply it to the cracked area. Work the fresh clay into the crack and smooth the area with your fingers afterward. Let the clay dry in a cooler area to keep the clay from cracking again.
It is as easy as that to fix cracks in air-dry clay. There are a few more things to keep in mind, however, and if the area cracks again then there might be a problem with the air dry clay that you are using or the walls of your air dry clay were too thick.
If you want to know more then read the section below where I go more into detail on how to fix cracked air dry clay.
How to Fix Cracks in Air Dry Clay Properly
Fixing cracks in air-dry clay is pretty straightforward. There are a few minor things that you should pay attention to that I will elude in this section but there really isn´t anything that you can do wrong here.
1. Mix Fresh Air Dry Clay With Some Water
Firstly, determine the size of the crack and then get enough fresh air dry clay that you could cover the whole area with it.
But air-dry clay right out of the box is too stiff and won’t really fill in the crack so you have to dilute it with a little water.
Unfortunately, I can´t really give you an exact amount of water to use to dilute your air-dry clay because it highly depends on the brand of the air-dry clay as well as how dry the clay is when you take it out of the package.
So I recommend putting the fresh air dry clay in a bowl and then add small amounts of water to it. Gently knead the clay and keep adding small amounts of water until the clay has the consistency of slippery pudding.
2. Apply the Air Dry Clay Mixture to the Cracked Area
Now simply apply the clay and water mixture to the cracked area. Try to fill the crack with the mixture as much as you can.
Then use your finger to smooth the surface of the area. You can also use a brush or a rubber tool to smooth the fresh air dry clay.
It may take a few seconds until the clay mixture sticks to the surface of the dried clay. This is because the dry clay takes a few seconds until it absorbed enough water to get sticky again.
Unfortunately, there are some cheap air dry clay brands that can´t be fixed this way.
You will only be able to tell if that is the case with your air-dry clay at this stage when the clay won´t adhere to the cracked area at all.
3. Let the Sculpture Dry in a Colder Area
The final step is simply letting the air dry clay dry. It is best to dry the sculpture in a colder area like the basement.
Don´t put your air-dry clay in the cooler! The clay won´t be able to dry properly in there.
Letting the air dry clay dry in a cooler area will keep the clay from cracking.
This is because we are artificially slowing down the drying process this way. This will help with some of the stress that is being put on the clay when it dries ultimately keeping the clay from cracking while it dries.
Keep Air Dry Clay From Cracking in the First Place
You can keep air-dry clay from cracking in the first place by drying it properly.
When air dry clay dries water evaporates from it and the clay shrinks very slightly.
This process puts a lot of stress on the clay which can lead to cracks especially if the clay is drying too fast.
But there are a few things that you can do to slow down the drying process like drying it in colder areas or drying it in a plastic bowl that is covered with some foil. Don´t forget to poke some holes in the foil or the clay won’t dry at all.
This will ensure that the air dry clay dries without forming any cracks or at least only very small cracks will form. There are a few other things that you can do to keep air-dry clay from cracking. You can read all about that in my guide on keeping air-dry clay from cracking.