Air-dry clay is cheaper than other clay options. It is the most commonly used clay and it is very popular with Families and Kids. You do not have to worry about purchasing or renting a kiln with air-dry clay. The options are unlimited when using clay if you have a huge imagination. After you read this article you will know everything there is about properly drying Air-dry clay.
So how to dry air-dry clay faster? The short answer is you can dry air-dry clay in the oven. Simply put your Sculpture on a baking sheet, that is covered with parchment paper, put your Sculpture in the oven (keep the oven door a crack wide open) and then heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the sculpture in the Oven for about 20 minutes and then turn the heat off and leave the Sculpture in the oven until it is cooled down.
Can You Bake Air-Dry Clay in the Oven?
Yes, you can, but you have to be careful when you are drying your air-dry clay in an oven. Put the clay in the oven and then turn the oven on to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the sculpture in the Oven for about 20 minutes until it is dry and then turn off the oven and let the sculpture in the oven until everything is cooled down.
You have to put the clay in the oven before turning the oven on. If you don´t do that, then you will find that it cracks very quickly.
If you read my article on how to properly dry air-dry clay then you might already know why air-dry clay tends to crack very quickly if it is being dried this way. So if you want to know more then consider reading my article on properly drying air-dry clay.
Going from cold and wet into a shockingly warm oven will cause all kinds of issues.
So start by placing your sculpture on a cookie sheet, that is covered with parchment paper.
Place the cookie sheet into the cold oven. Turn on the oven to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is a very low temperature, that will create a warm airflow around the Sculpture baking the water out of the clay.
It is very safe and you do not have to purchase anything extra to do it this way.
Let the Sculpture bake for about 20 minutes and then turn off the oven and let the clay cool down inside the oven.
If you take the clay out while it is still hot the sudden cool air from outside the oven can damage the sculpture because the sudden difference in temperature may result in cracks.
Once the clay is cooled down, however, you can simply take it out of the oven and it should be perfectly dry without any cracks.
Does Air-Dry Clay Break Easily?
Air-Dry clay shrinks when it is drying and depending on the amount of water you mixed into the clay while you were molding it will shrink even more.
Air-dry clay is quite durable even though it isn´t as durable as regular fired and glazed clay. You can find out more about how durable air-dry clay is by reading my in-depth article on the durability of air-dry clay if you want to.
Cracking is very common with this type of clay.
The cracks come from the loss of water from the clay when it is drying.
As the water evaporates from the clay, it can cause cracks in your piece.
But don´t worry, you can either fix the cracks after the clay has dried completely or you can avoid cracks by working with it correctly.
I wrote an article about avoiding cracks in clay and how to work with air-dry clay.
But basically, you can use a 1-to-1 mixture of water and clay to create something called slip. Slip can be applied directly to the cracks to fix them.
Can You Use a Hairdryer to Dry Air-Dry Clay?
The short answer is yes but it is not recommended. Drying air-dry clay with a hairdryer will cause your clay to crack. Drying clay this way can also cause joints to sever. So Drying Clay with a Hairdryer is not the best way, you can, however, dry Air Dry clay with an Oven quite safely.
The problem with drying air-dry clay with a hairdryer is, that you will always only heat one area of your sculpture at a time.
This will lead to stress within the clay because water will evaporate unevenly and this will lead to a lot of cracks on the surface and inside the clay structure.
So if you want to speed up the drying of your air dry clay then you have to apply heat very evenly, which is very easily done by using an oven.
How Do You Fix Cracks in Air-Dry Clay?
You can use slip to fix cracks in your Air-dry clay. Slip can easily be made with clay and Water.
Slip is clay mixed with water. It has to have the consistency of pudding so that it is thick enough to adhere to the clay while also filling the crack completely.
It is important to remember that you can not store the slip. You can only store pure clay that has not been mixed with water yet.
If you do try to reuse the slip you will notice it doesn’t work and will only cause a huge mess.
Here are the steps to fixing cracks in your clay sculpture.
• Prepare the slip with clay and water to the right consistency and set it to the side for later.
• You will need to roughen up the area, where the slip is supposed to hold. So use some sanding paper to make the area a little rougher so that the slip can adhere to the surface.
• Make the area a little wet with water before adding the slip to the crack.
• Now add the slip to the part, that you want to fix. If you want to glue two pieces together, then you can use the slip as well. If you want to fix a very big crack then you should maybe use some clay to fill in the crack and then add the slip to the surface to make it look smooth.
If you want to have an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to properly fix cracks in air-dry clay then consider reading my guide where I explain exactly that in great detail.
How Long Does it Take to Dry?
If you leave Air Dry clay out to dry without speeding the drying process up then it will take anywhere between 24 hours to 72 hours depending on the size of the project, how thick it is and how warm the location where you are drying it is.
You can read another article of mine where I explain exactly how to dry air dry clay without risking any cracking. I also explain how long it usually takes for air-dry clay to dry without using any tricks to exhilarate the drying time.
Is Air-Dry Clay Waterproof?
No, it is not. If you want your Air-Dry Clay to be waterproof, then you have to seal it first. Popular Sealers for making Clay waterproof are Acrylic Sealers, White Craft Glues (only works for very small amounts of water), and Epoxy Resin. Once Properly Sealed your Clay will be Waterproof.
There are several ways to make Air-Dry Clay waterproof.
The most effective one is properly Epoxy Resin. But it is also the hardest one to use. It has two components to it, these have to be mixed and then applied to your clay.
Epoxy is also slightly poisonous while it drys, so you should keep that in mind as well.
If you are interested in using Epoxy Resin to Seal your Clay, then you can follow this affiliate link to see my favorite Resin. If you buy using this link it will also support this blog, as I will get a small commission.
Acrylic Sealers are also a very viable option for sealing your clay. They will also make your Sculpture Water resistant but not as good as epoxy. It is, however, way easier to use and your project can still take a few splashes of water without any issues.
My favorite Acrylic Sealer is Acrylic Sealer from Mod Podge. It is easy to use and doesn´t drip, which is awesome. You can support this blog by using the link, that I provided for you, don´t worry, it will not cost you extra in any way.
Simply spray the acrylic sealer evenly on your Project and let it dry. It drys clear and it will waterproof your clay.
And finally, white Craft glue. This option is by far the weakest option for keeping water away. It will seal your project and it will keep small amounts and drops of water away from your clay but it will not stand a chance against a lot of water.
It is also the easiest Sealer to apply, though. Simply brush it on the surface of your project and let it dry for a few hours and you are done. Nontoxic and perfect for crafting with kids!
I highly recommend using Mod Podge for this, because it is a great sealer, perfect for Children, easy to find in craft stores, and quite cheap, compared to other Sealers. Here is a sealer from ModPodge that can be brushed on.
Just be careful to buy a Mod Podge, that suits your Project. Should it be drying matt or glossy?
If you have any more questions, then feel free to ask me in the commend section down below and I will answer them as soon as I can.
Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create these interactive props. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.