10 things to avoid when working with air-dry clay

Air dry clay is so much fun to work with, letting you sculpt practically anything your imagination conjures up. The only boundary? Your creativity!

When diving into the world of this awesome clay, there are a few things you should bear in mind to avoid. So, here's my guide on 10 things NOT TO DO to keep you creatively thriving, staying safe, but most of all having fun with your projects.

  1. Avoid direct sunlight! Tempting I know, especially if you don't see much of it. Placing your clay in direct sunlight might sound inspiring, but it's a no-go. Air dry clay does its thing without baking, and sunlight makes it dry out super quickly. Save your masterpiece from premature dryness—consider blinds, curtains, or relocating your workspace.

  2. Choose your storage carefully Sure, we all love a good bargain, but choosing incorrect storage will likely dry out your clay quicker than you desire. Invest in airtight containers or trusty Ziploc bags. Cheap containers? They crack easily, and their lids lack sealing prowess—bad news for your clay. Remember to check on your clay weekly to avoid any surprise dry spells.

  3. Make sure your clay is dry before you paint Hold your paintbrush! Impatience can crack your clay or make it crumble. Let your creations dry completely (24 to 48 hours or longer for hefty projects) before breaking out the paint. Early painting can lead to cracks, peeling, uneven drying, and wonky warping. None of which will make for a pleasing project.

  4. Water is your friend but too much turns it into a sticky mess. Brush on water sparingly or use a damp sponge. For larger projects, a spray bottle works wonders, but mind the moisture level. If you use too much, you'll need to let it dry before you can create anything. Your clay will become sticky and, quite frankly, a mess. 

  5. Take it steady Working with clay is a lot of fun, but cut yourself some slack! Like any skill, it takes practice. Begin with simple projects before tackling intricate ones. Embrace your designs, no matter how basic, and avoid the comparison game with other crafters. The tutorials in my shop will take you across skills levels to help you build your confidence with this gorgeous medium. 

  6. Don't speed up your drying time too much Resist the urge to play clay chef with a heater. Uneven drying and warping await if you speed up the process too much. If you must use heat, opt for sunlight but rotate your project every 8 hours or so. Or you can introduce a dehydrator but make sure you know your projects first. 

  7. Stay safe While air dry clay itself is harmless, some sealers like Epoxy Resin can be fume-heavy. Craft with caution—ventilate with open windows or take it outdoors. Safety gear, like masks and goggles will definitely help.

  8. Sanding can be harmful Your craft kit should include safety gear: eye protection, face masks, and maybe gloves. You can get these all relatively cheaply from Amazon or your local DIY shop. Make sure you protect your lungs, they'll thank you one day. 

  9. Make them outdoor safe  Air dry clay isn't waterproof. Test your sealers: Clear Varnish, Acrylic Sealer, or trusty Epoxy Resin. Seal your outdoor projects to make them water-resistant and add a glossy finish. Safety first, craft later! Always test first, don't just assume they will be protected with these varnishes. They are all so different. 

  10. Keep your clay covered Don't let your clay go au naturel! Once it meets the air, it starts drying. Only unleash what you need and cover the rest with a damp cloth to keep it moist and ready for your next crafting spree. Or cling film is an alternative option. 

In a nutshell: Dodge these common clay pitfalls, and you'll not only have a smoothly drying project but also keep your clay flexible and ready for action. Safety's the key to a worry-free crafting adventure, so gear up and get creative!

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