I often said that air dry clay is a great medium for making sculptures but it is not a good clay if you want a permanent durable sculpture. So does that mean that dried air dry clay can be revived?
Dried air dry clay can be revived by breaking it up into small pieces and then soaking the pieces in water for at least 24 hours. After draining the excess water the clay only has to be kneaded for a while before it can be reused. This method only works for unsealed and unpainted air dry clay.
Reviving air dry clay step by step:
- Break the clay into small pieces
- Put the clay pieces in a bowl
- Cover the clay pieces with water
- Let the clay soak for 24 hours
- Remove the excess water with a piece of cloth
- Knead the air-dry clay for a few minutes
- Use the clay
One of the biggest reasons why air dry clay can´t be used to make functional vases or mugs is because it gets soft again when it gets in contact with water.
While this is one of the biggest disadvantages of air dry clay it is also the reason why air dry clay can be revived so easily by simply soaking it in water.
How to Revive Dried Air Dry Clay Step by Step
Here is a detailed guide on how to revive air dry clay in 7 easy-to-follow steps.
If you want to know more about working with air dry clay in general then consider reading my air dry clay guide that covers everything from the different types of clays to how to use them and how to seal the clay.
1. Break the Clay Into Small Pieces
The first thing you have to do is break the old dried-out air dry clay into small pieces.
Remember that this process of reviving air dry clay only works for unsealed and unpainted clay!
You can use a hammer or a box knife to break the clay into pieces.
If you are using a hammer then I highly recommend wrapping the clay in a piece of cloth before smashing it with the hammer. This way it will make less of a mess and you don´t have to collect the pieces afterward.
2. Put the Clay Pieces in a Bowl
Next up, get a bowl that is big enough to hold all of the clay pieces.
I usually use a plastic bowl but you can really use any bowl you like.
You can also use a bowl from your kitchen or a big pot. Air dry clay is non-toxic so you don´t have to worry about anything here.
3. Cover the Clay Pieces With Water
Then cover the clay pieces with water. You only need enough water until all the pieces are submerged.
You will find that some pieces float to the surface of the water. This is because there is still some air trapped inside the clay.
You can ignore these pieces as they will sink as soon as the clay gets soft and the air inside the piece is released.
4. Let the Clay Soak for 24 Hours
The clay will need quite a long time to get fully soft again. So let the clay sit inside the water for at least 24 hours.
If you have a lot of bigger clay pieces then it might even take 48 hours until the clay is soft again.
You can check if the clay is done by squishing the clay inside the water with your fingers. If there are some rigid parts still in there then leave it for another hour.
Only move to the next step when all of the clay has become soft again.
5. Remove the Excess Water With a Piece of Cloth
This step can be a little messy. I recommend doing this outside or in a bathtub.
Use an old towel or a piece of cloth and dump the clay and water mixture on the piece of cloth.
Then drain the excess water from the piece of cloth until only the clay remains.
Put the clay in an airtight container and clean the bowl and the towel with water.
6. Knead the Air Dry Clay for a Few Minutes
The air dry clay will be very thin after you drained it. I usually leave the clay out for 30 minutes or so to allow some moisture to evaporate.
Then knead the clay thoroughly and form it into a ball.
7. Use the Air Dry Clay
The clay can now be used again just like you would use regular air dry clay.
Air dry clay is almost infinitely reusable this way but you might have to deal with some dirt and dust contamination inside the clay if you do this too often.