Air Dry Clay Experiments

by Erika Takacs
(Ontario, Canada)

Dryad Tree Nymph In Progress - Air Dry Clay - By Erika Takacs

Dryad Tree Nymph In Progress - Air Dry Clay - By Erika Takacs

I mainly work in paper maché, but also experiment with air dry clay. Peter asked me to share my experiences with air dry clay.


The biggest advantage of air dry clay is that you don't have to fire it or bake it. There are several brands of air dry clay, so far I have tried two:

Boneware clay from Sculpture Supply Canada, and

Sargent Art's clay from Curry's.

Boneware clay is black in colour, Sargent Art's comes in different colours. I use terracotta colour. Both are turning somewhat lighter in colour when bone dry.

Use them as you would use water based clay, keeping in mind that air dry clay dries faster then water based clay. You either need to work fast to finish your work in one sitting, or spray with water frequently. Store your piece in heavy plastic if you need to put it away for a day or two.

One important warning: do not use a wire armature inside your piece! It will crack when shrinks and those cracks are not easy to fix. For support I use cardboard and foil wrap. The one piece where I used a wire armature cracked all over the place.

The thickness of your air dry clay should not be more than 1 inch, or whatever is recommended on the box. If it's too thin, it will crack.

When finished, let it dry slowly in a partially opened plastic bag. The slower the better. It might take a week or ten days until leather hard. The last step is to make your piece waterproof. Brush on several layers of sealer, or spray with varnish.

Here is a blog entry of the making of one of my bone dry pieces:

http://erikatakacs.wordpress.com/2008/03/26/dryad-tree-nymph-in-progress/

and the final product:

http://erikatakacs.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/dryad/

And here is the terracotta one I had trouble with due to the wire armature:

http://erikatakacs.wordpress.com/2008/09/24/fresh-start-2/

Peter, you have a very nice site, and love your artwork. I'm happy to contribute to your site!

All the best,

Erika Takacs
http://www.erikatakacs.com/

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Reply by Peter (admin)

Erika

May I take the opportunity to thank you for your kind words and your very useful contribution - very much appreciated.

Your stage-by-stage evaluation of your methods is exactly what we like on this site. Some things work and others don't, so each of us learns as we go and can pass on that learning to others in a spirit of 'paying it forward'

Be sure to check out Erika's site and blog (copy and paste the URLs into your browser address window) for more information.

Lovely work, Erika.

Best regards

Peter

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