What's the finest (in texture) air-dry clay?

I don’t have access to a kiln, but I’ve an idea for an assemblage piece, it needs slender legs. I’m thinking of a wire armature, and I need some kind of clay for the top. The only one I’ve used is Das, and I didn’t live it, it has lots of fibres in it for strength, but of you pull bits off and try and stick then together, there are no fibres across the job and so it’s weak. This is it https://www.amazon.co.uk/DAS-1kg-Modelling-Clay-White/dp/B001GAP4YA it’s pretty cheap and not very satisfactory.

What other kinds of clay can I use? I’ve used polymer clay before, but I’d like something a little more ceramic-y

I’ve only used polymer clay. I’d be interested in knowing what other clays you can use without a kiln to get a ceramic-y look.

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What about paper mache? It’s hard to get a smooth surface so you have to work at it, but much stronger than clay for slender pieces. You can sand after drying or coat with a thin layer of paper clay.

I’ve worked a bit with that and it is an option, but it’s the smooth surface.

I’ve not used paper clay and I wonder if that’s similar?

paper clay is fun to work with. It is light and smooth and dries very light, but tends to crack. After you put several layers of paint on it, it gets more substantial. And you can use it fairly thin. But on slender parts, it would probably be a pain to work with, but I might be wrong. I’ve never tried it. It would depend on the size I guess.

That’s good to know, the last type of air dry clay I used did crack and I couldn’t get the cracks covered with paint.

I just added more paper clay to the cracks, smoothed them out and let dry again. Letting it dry slowly seems to help some. I haven’t done much with paper clay for a while, and it all dried out! It is hard to keep sealed enough. I’ll order more when I need it.

Okay, @edel, what did you end up using? I’m trying to make some gift tags (with design impressions added) and I want to make them look like ceramic or pottery.

On YouTube, I’ve seen many examples of this, but I’m having trouble and like you, not loving the result.

First attempt was with Porcelain clay that I already had in stash.

The impressions don’t look as sharp as I’d like, and it has a translucent quality that isn’t really suited to this project. Maybe I could paint them white, but still not loving it.

Someone on YouTube said to use Crayola Air Dry Clay (not Model Magic) to best mimic pottery/ceramic, so I went out and got some for my second attempt.

Better in terms of crisp impressions, as well as the look/feel, but the stuff is so darn sticky I can’t remove the impression objects from the clay without ripping my work to shreds. Argh! Anyone have advice or recommendations?


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I’ve not gotten much further tbh. I made some decorations like yours, on glass, rolled out and stamped. And I think they’re stuck firmly. I haven’t tried to get them off yet. I thought they might shrink a little on drying and lift themselves off. But I suspect I’ll shatter them when I try and remove them.

So I saw online that the clay doesn’t stick to duck cloth, so I covered my work surface with that and it seems to work. And I’m using the shiny side of freezer paper to dry them on, and no sticking problem with that, either.

I will try the cornstarch, @marionberries. Thanks!

I’ll try freezer paper next, but I don’t know how it stuck to glass! Well I do, on an engineering/microscopic level, but it’s aggravating

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I’m going to add DecoArt Triple Thick Glaze once they are dry; everyone on YouTube seems to recommend that. And you can color it (the glaze) with alcohol inks (although I don’t have any, so I’ll probably just leave mine colorless.)

I use parchment paper, nothing sticks to it.

For a larger piece, you might use a heavy, rough clay for the base, then cover with finer clay for a smooth surface. I like Model Magic. It can be smoothed with water even after it is dry.

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Thanks for the advice, everyone! The corn starch worked wonders. Thanks so much, @marionberries. Do you know if I’ll need to clean it off somehow before I apply the glaze?

You can make alcohol inks!

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I am so glad it worked. Yes, remove the cornstarch or it will mix with the glaze. A stiff brush or even using a hairdryer to blow off the dust. Stiffer paintbrushes work well to get into the tiny spaces.

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Will try brushing them off before glazing. I do have one batch that was done WITH great difficulty WITHOUT the cornstarch, and they are drier, so glazing them now.

@Magpie, thanks for the tip about the DIY alcohol ink. I had a green Sharpie on hand and gave it a go. We’ll see how it turns out.

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The tags were a success!

I also feel a lot more confident with air dry clay now. Thanks for the tips!

They look fabulous.

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