Air dry clay is quite different to work with than regular clay or polymer clay. It can be used together with quite some materials in order to create awesome sculptures.
But it is not always easy to find out what materials air dry clay sticks to because it will sometimes stick very well when it is still wet and then as soon as it is dry it will simply fall off. So I wrote this article where I go over different materials to explain exactly if and how well air dry clay will stick to them.
Will Air Dry Clay Stick to Glass
Using a drinking glass or a glass vase as a base for your air dry clay project is sometimes a really good idea.
For example, if you want to make a mug or a vase with air dry clay that is actually able to hold water then the easiest way is to simply use glass in the right size as a base and simply add the clay to that. This way you will end up with a useable vase or mug.
Air dry clay does stick very well to glass in general. If you make the glass wet before pressing the clay against it then it will stick even better to it. Air Dry Clay will continue to stick to glass even after it has dried, however not as well.
If you want a permanent connection between your air dry clay project and the glass base then I would recommend gluing it after it has dried.
Will Air Dry Clay Stick to Plastic
If you want an alternative to glass that doesn´t break easily and is a bit cheaper than plastic is probably your best bet.
You can use a plastic cup as a base for an air dry clay mug that is supposed to hold water or you can use another plastic item that has the right base shape, for example, as a core for your sculpture.
Air dry clay will stick to plastic. You can use some water in order to make the air dry clay stick better to the plastic surface. The air dry clay will continue to stick to the plastic surface even when it has dried. The rougher the surface of the plastic is the better it will stick.
If you are having difficulties getting your air dry clay to stick to the plastic surface then consider using some rough grit sandpaper to roughen up the surface of the plastic.
This will give the clay a better surface to cling to later on. This is especially useful if the plastic surface is very smooth.
Will Air Dry Clay Stick to Wood
Wood is an amazing base for air dry clay sculptures. I personally love to use scrap pieces of wood from my workshop as bases.
Air dry clay will stick very well to wood as long as the wooden surface wasn´t sealed or treated in any way. You can mix some water with the clay in order to make it stick better to the surface of the wood. Air dry clay will continue to stick to wood even when it has dried.
You should only use wood, however, that has not yet been sealed with oil or something similar. Because that might hinder the ability of the clay to stick to the surface properly.
You can also further roughen up the surface of the wood with some rough grit sandpaper in order to give the clay a little more to cling to. This will help the clay to stick better to the wooden surface.
Will Air Dry Clay Stick to Cardboard
I am not really a fan of using cardboard as a base for clay sculptures because it tends to be unstable and it can deform easily when it comes into contact with water.
Air dry clay will stick to cardboard as long as the cardboard hasn’t been laminated. Air dry clay will not stick well to cardboard, however, and it is not recommended to use much water when working with cardboard because it might cause the cardboard to deform or get mushy.
So in the end, you can use cardboard as a surface to create your air dry clay sculpture but I wouldn´t use any cardboard as a base for the clay.
There are a lot of other better alternatives to cardboard, like wood, styrofoam, and paper mache.
Will Air Dry Clay Stick to Metal
Metal is usually not the best crafting material for beginners because it is kind of hard to work with sometimes and it´s very easy to hurt yourself with it.
Air dry clay will not stick to flat metal surfaces but it will stick to rougher metal surfaces or metal wire. It will continue to stick to metal surfaces when it has dried but only if the surface is rough enough to give the clay enough to stick to. A little bit of water can help the clay to stick to Metal surfaces better.
So if you plan on sticking air dry clay to a clean sheet of metal then I am afraid that you won´t have a lot of success with it.
Air dry clay needs something to cling to and if the surface is too smooth then the clay will have a hard time properly sticking to it.
But if you plan on using metal wires as a base for your sculpture then you won´t have any problems. Air dry clay will stick to it, no problem. Just make sure to either wrap the wire around itself or to wrap a smaller wire around the base of your bigger wire if you are creating a more complex sculpture to give the clay enough to cling on to in order to properly stick to the wire.
Will Air Dry Clay Stick to Styrofoam
Styrofoam is a great crafting and sculpting material itself but in combination with air dry clay you can create truly amazing sculptures.
It is important to mention, however, that styrofoam is only good to use with air dry clay and not with regular clay that has to be fired because styrofoam will burn out when baked. So keep that in mind!
Air dry clay will stick to styrofoam and it will continue to stick to when it has dried. Styrofoam is a great core for air dry clay sculptures but it should not be used with clay that has to be baked or fired like polymer clay or regular clay. A little bit of water can encourage the air dry clay to stick even better to the styrofoam surface.
Will Air Dry Clay Stick to Paper Mache
Paper mache is one of the most underrated crafting materials out there. It is amazingly easy to use and very versatile. It can be used as a base for air dry clay sculptures without any problems.
Air dry clay will stick very well to paper mache but only if the surface hasn´t been sealed in any way. You can rough up the surface of the paper mache with some fine grit sanding paper in order to give the clay a little more to stick to. Mixing a little bit of water with the clay will also help it to stick better to the surface.
Again, paper mache is only good if you plan on using air dry clay almost any other type of clay should not be used with paper mache as a core.
Most other clays have to be baked or even fired in order to harden at which point paper mache would simply burn.
So only use paper mache together with air dry clay or other clay variants that dry on their own without the need of baking or heating them.
Air dry clay will continue to stick to the surface of paper mache even after it has fully dried.
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 interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.