Night Garden Quilt In Progress
Art Journal Every Day: Fixing a Mistake in my Art Journal

Air-Dry Clay Vase

You may recall that Steve and I took pottery classes before we had a baby.  I love the pottery that we made and use it often in our daily life. 

When we took the classes we talked about getting a wheel and a kiln.  But it never happened. 

So, recently, I decided to give air-dry clay a try.  I did a lot of research and decided to go with Crayola-brand air-dry clay (there are others).  Here are some things to know about air-dry clay:

  • Air-dry clays harden within a few days and do not need to be fired in a kiln to create a permanent form.
  • Air-dry clays are soft and moldable but dry to a hard finish, comparable to kiln-fired ceramics.  That said...
  • Air-dry clay items are more fragile than traditional kiln-fired ceramics. You can actually use paint and shellac to "toughen" them up.
  • Because the Crayola-brand air-dry clay shrinks when it dries, it works best for smaller projects as larger, thicker forms may develop cracks.
  • Air-dry clay needs to be sealed tightly when not being used since it hardens with exposure to air.
  • You have a long working time (it hardens in about 24 hours), so if you need a slightly stiffer clay, you can leave your clay out for a few hours.  Trust me, rolling the clay out when it's just out of the container is a soft and wet mess. Wait a bit.
  • You can paint and color air-dry clay very easily.
  • I did notice that the Crayola-brand air-dry clay warns, "Do not mold into candleholders or other like items for use around flame. Do not put in oven, microwave or kiln. Do not allow finished pieces to come into contact with food or liquids."  So, that's rather disappointing since candleholders and things that hold food and liquids are some of the main clay items I'm interested in.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided to make a vase. But I forgot about the whole warning about the cracking and I did end up having to fix a lot of major cracks.  I built the vase around a jar, just to be sure that it would hold water, so I suspect that didn't help the cracking (the side against the jar probably dried more slowly than the side touching the air).  Nonetheless, I'm thrilled with how it turned out:

I put a shiny glaze on it...

...and if I didn't know it was air-dry clay, I'd think it was traditional kiln-fired clay.

My air-dry clay adventures are far from over.  One of the lessons I'm teaching in my upcoming August class, The Artful Holiday, is all about using air-dry clay to make artful earrings!  I'm so excited to share the process with you in August.

Thanks for stopping by!