Best Air Dry Clay (Complete Guide)

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Finding the best air dry clay is not as easy as picking a particular brand or product and calling it a day. Different air dry clay products serve different purposes and are better suited for specific projects and goals. Air dry clay is a product with many different uses, and it is perfect for those who like to work with clay but do not have access to a kiln. Because these clay products do not need to be set and sealed at the high temperatures from a kiln or over, they are much more convenient and accessible.

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Got no time to read? Here are our best picks and why we picked them.

Air dry clay hardens and cures at a typical room temperature. Once it has dried completely, it can be painted and decorated in many different ways. You can use this form of clay to slab, coil, score, pinch, weld, and even be used as modeling clay[1] The most important thing to remember about air dry clay is that it needs to be given enough time to dry completely, which can take up to a week depending on the thickness of the clay and conditions within the room.

There are many different kinds of air dry clay that you can use to create your art and projects. Each specific type is made with unique ingredients, has its own texture, distinctive dry time, and strength once it has hardened. Because of the various components and other factors, it is essential to choose a clay that will fit your needs and goals. In this article, you will find a comprehensive review of not only the best air dry clays, but you will also learn about which ones are best suited for your projects and purpose.


1. Das Modeling Clay — Best air dry modeling clay

DAS Air-Hardening Modeling Clay, 2.2 Lb. Block, White Color (387500)
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  • Quick Dry Time – About 24 Hours
  • Available in Multiple Colors
  • Can Be Painted with Tempera and Acrylic Paint
  • Does Not Crack
  • Strong Chemical Smell
  • Leaves Harsh Residue on Skin
  • Does Not Stick To Itself Well

Specs and Packaging

Manufactured in Italy, this paper-based clay is packaged as a 2.2lb block. It is available in two colors, white and terra cotta, and it is usually used in classrooms and home studios.

Performance and Technical Issues

One of the issues that most run into while using this air dry clay is that it is not very good at sticking to itself. The chemical smell can sometimes be powerful and irritate the sinuses, like your nose, throat, or eyes. This clay can be hard to work with straight out of the package as it is not very malleable. However, after some manipulation and use, it usually becomes less stiff.

Common Questions

Can I add paint to this clay before creating with it?

Adding paint to Das Modeling Clay before you begin sculpting with it will likely affect the drying time. Because of how unpredictable the outcome can be regarding adding paint to your clay, it is suggested that you sculpt and complete your project and then add any paint or color that you want to use.

Can I cut the block and save unused pieces for later?

If you can effectively seal the remaining clay that you are not planning on using in an airtight container, then you should be able to save it for use at a later date. Just be cautious; once it is exposed to air, it will dry within 24 hours.

Who This is For

Das Modeling Clay is easy to mold and creates, making it a good option for both large and smaller, detailed pieces. Its quick dry time and versatility make it suitable for young potters and beginners, which is why it is a standard option among schools.

Why I Like It

This clay is one of my picks because of its versatility. I appreciate how many projects I can use it for, and the multiple color options are helpful for those who like to have more than one option to choose from[2]

Also interesting: Best clay for sculpting.

2. AMACO Darice STONEX Clay — Best air dry clay for sculpting

AMACO Darice STONEX Clay 5 LB AIR Dry White

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  • Can Use Many Different Paints to Decorate
  • Absorbs Color Well
  • Opaque and Rich Coloring
  • Very Wet and Sticky
  • A lot of Cracking While Drying

Specs and Packaging

Made in the USA, this self-hardening clay comes in a 5-pound package. The clay is delivered in moist form, and it ready to use upon receipt. As the clay dries, it creates a hard and durable piece.

Performance and Technical Issues

While the clay is very wet out of the packaging, it can dry quickly and become frustrating to work with. If you add too much water when trying to rewet it, the clay becomes very squishy and slips out of your hands. Some people who use the clay mention that it displays a large amount of cracking while drying.

Common Questions

How is this clay’s consistency?

Usually, this clay is very smooth, pretty wet, and easy enough to work with. Its soft and malleable texture makes it a good clay for acrylic paint once it has dried.

Is this a good clay to use to make plant pots?

I would not recommend the STONEX clay to use for plant pots. It can become very porous once it dries, which can be problematic for pieces with a lot of water exposure – such as a pot holding plants that get watered regularly.

Who This is For

This is a heavy and sturdy kind of clay. It’s effortless to work with, which makes it great for use in schools and with children. Those looking to make larger and heavier pieces may find a good fit with this clay.

Why I Like It

My favorite thing about the STONEX clay is that it is easy and convenient to decorate. You can use it with Rub n Buff, tempera, acrylics, school paints, and liquid crayons. Its stability and sturdiness are really helpful for making things like big bowls and larger pieces.

Also interesting: Firing clay without a kiln.

3. AMACO No. 25 White Art Clay — Best air dry clay for large sculptures

AMACO AMA46318R Air Dry Clay, 25 lbs. , White (Color may vary)

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  • Dries Quickly
  • Large Quantity for Inexpensive Price
  • Resistant to Cracking
  • The Color May Be Off – More Grey Than White
  • Dries Better in a Low-Fire Environment, Rather than Air Dry

Specs and Packaging

AMACO’s No. 25 White Art Clay comes in a 50-pound carton that consists of two 25-pound bricks. Each brick is stored in a polybag, making it easy to take what you need and wrap and seal the amount you don’t.

Performance and Technical Issues

While this product claims it is air dry[3], it dries better through a low-fire method. When air drying, it is subject to more cracks and shrinkage. Additionally, it can become soft even when it comes into contact with water, even after it has almost dried completely.

Common Questions

Does this clay dry in a white color?

Although the stated color on the packaging is white, this clay is usually greyer in color and dries as a light to a dark grey color. It can be used with a kiln if you have one available and usually turn white if dried within a kiln.

How long does it take to dry?

This kind of clay dries reasonably quickly depending on the thickness of the finished piece, as well as the temperature in the room. If you make a larger piece, you can expect it to take at least a day to dry.

Who This is For

This clay is best used for non-permanent pieces like casts for reusable molds as it is very breakable once it is dried. Though it isn’t the most durable clay, it is effortless to use, which makes it the right choice for children’s projects and fun.

Why I Like It

Because you get so much clay for a relatively low price, this can be a great clay to use for practice. It isn’t the best of the best, but it does allow you to practice your skills and craft.

Also interesting: Stages of clay.

4. Creative Paperclay — Best air dry clay for jewelry making

Creative Paperclay for Modeling Compound, 16-Ounce, White

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  • Great Lightweight Clay
  • Little shrinkage As it Dries
  • Very Little Cracking
  • Odorless
  • Does Not Blend Well
  • Curls When Drying
  • Can Take Long to Dry

Specs and Packaging

Creative Paperclay comes in a 16-ounce pack and is white. This clay is constructed out of wood material and is an all-natural, non-toxic product.

Performance and Technical Issues

Some of the issues associated with the Creative Paperclay air dry clay is light cracking on smaller, more detailed projects. This clay can sometimes lead to crumbling and is hard to unmold without ruining the rest of your project.

Common Questions

How long does it take to dry?

Much of the dry time associated with this clay depends on the thickness of the finished project. Larger pieces require at least 24 hours to dry, and smaller pieces may take less.

Is there a way to prevent warping as it dries?

If using a mold, take the clay out of the mold before it is completely dry and finish drying outside the mold. Unfortunately, this clay is a bit more prone to curling, so it may be something that you can expect.

Who This is For

Creative Paperclay’s speedy drying time and ability to air dry make it a suitable option for schools to use in their art classes, especially if they do not have a kiln. Its capability to dry hard and work well with many different paints makes it the right choice for constructing jewelry, ornaments, dolls, wall hangings, and miniature sculptures.

Why I Like It

One of my favorite things about Creative Paperclay is that it is made with all-natural ingredients. It is non-toxic and an excellent option for people will all different levels of skill.

Also interesting: Types of clay.

5. Activa La Doll Satin Smooth Air-Dry Clay — Best air dry clay for doll making

ACTIVA La Doll Natural Air Dry Stone Clay 1.1 pound (500g) (1600)

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  • Incredibly Pliable
  • Adheres to Many Different Surfaces
  • Works Well With Many Different Paints
  • Minimal Shrinkage While Drying
  • Dries Too Quickly
  • Requires A Lot of Water To Soften
  • Prone To Cracking

Specs and Packaging

Activa La Doll is crafted from highly refined pumice, small amounts of paper pulp and binders, and talc.

Performance and Technical Issues

One of the biggest complaints with this clay is that it dries too quickly and requires a great deal of water to make it easier to work with. It has been described as very crumbly and hard to sculpt.

Common Questions

Is this a heavy or lightweight clay?

The Activa La Doll Sating Smooth clay is very lightweight, most likely why it is used to make dolls. It is a very high-quality clay that is incredibly light when it dries.

How does it compare to other clays on the list? 

While this clay may be a bit stiffer than your usual air dry clay, it is much softer and smoother as it dries in comparison to other kinds of clay on this list.

Who This is For

Activa La Doll is an excellent option for those who plan on making dolls with their clay. It is perfectly designed for small detail work. The very pliable clay makes it easier to work with at longer intervals.

Why I Like It

One of these clay’s standout features is that it adheres to many different surfaces, including paper, plastic, wood, glass, Styrofoam, and Rigid-Wrap. Its ability to work with many different kinds of paints makes it an easy clay to work with.

6. Craftsmart Natural Air-Dry Clay — Best air dry clay for pottery

Craftsmart Natural Air-Dry Clay, White, 10lbs – All-Purpose Modeling Clay for Sculpting, Hand Modeling and Throwing, Non-Toxic

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  • Wide Variety of Uses
  • Non-Toxic and All Natural
  • Very Malleable
  • True to Color
  • Slightly More Expensive Than Other Kinds
  • Fragile When Dry

Performance and Technical Issues

As this is an air dry clay, you will certainly not need a kiln anytime soon. A few complaints regarding the Craftsmart Natural Air Dry Clay include how wet the clay is upon arrival and is incredibly fragile during and after its drying phase.

Common Questions.

Can I still bake the clay?

It is not advisable to bake your air-dry clay at any point – you have no way of knowing how exactly it will affect the clay.

Who This is For

As this is a fragile clay when dried, it may be a more suitable option for an adult artist.

Why I Like It

The thing that stands out about this clay is that it has fantastic versatility and works well for many different projects.

7. Crayola Model Magic — Best air dry clay for kids

Crayola Model Magic, Primary Colors, Modeling Clay Alternative, 2 lb. Bucket, Gift
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  • Many Different Colors to Choose from
  • Easy For Crafting With Kids
  • Very Creative
  • Very Little Mess
  • Take A Long Time To Dry Completely
  • Hard to Make Smooth
  • Can’t Sand The Clay

Specs and Packaging

The two-pound Crayola Model Magic budget is great for those who have kids. It offers four different colors and an abundance of clay. If you are looking to create new colors, these are easily blendable. And the bucket comes with red, yellow, blue, and white clay – all of which are packed in their bag.

Performance and Technical Issues

Model Magic is a very lightweight and airy clay. Therefore, when it dries, it cracks horribly. Many capabilities are lost while using the Crayola Model Magic clay, such as carving and hardening completely.

Common Questions

Do the colors in the reusable bin come in their packets?

Yes, each color is separated into its packet to ensure that they maintain their moisture and not mix while not in use.

Can I use makers on it while it is still wet?

You can, but the markers will appear much lighter on the clay because it has not fully dried and will likely absorb more of the color than it reflects.

Who This is For

Crayola Model Magic is best suited for children during their downtime at home. It doesn’t leave much of a mess, offers many creative options, and is a trusted-brand well-known among parents and their children.

Why I Like It

Fun colors, plenty of clay, and a large bin to store all of your materials in, what’s not to like?

Also interesting: What is clay.

Air dry clay — Frequently Asked Questions


What is the best paint for air dry clay?

The best paint to get for an air-dry project is most likely acrylic. Tempera and others can provide an excellent skateboard hike.

How to work with air dry clay?

Working with air dry clay does require a fair amount of patience. Be sure to have some water around in case your clay needs a bit of hydration.

How to make air dry clay stronger?

One easy way to strengthen the bond between delicate or smaller parts is by mixing Elmer’s or white glue with water to create a mixture that acts as a binding substance.

How to make air dry clay?

Air dry clay at home is made with baking soda, corn starch, and water. Combine the ingredients in the right proportions, and you are all set.

How long does it take for air dry clay to dry? 

Depending on the thickness and the humidity and climate with the thin room, determining the exact amount of time that air dry clay takes to dry is not an exact science.

How to color air dry clay?

Adding color to air dry clay is simple. You can add it into the clay while working with it or even add it at some other point during the process.

The Bottom Line

Air dry clay is a fantastic tool for those who don’t have their kiln. There are many different options available to fit the needs and goals of each individual. Choosing the right air dry clay is crucial to the success of your projects. With so many different clay products on the market, picking the best one for your project one can be overwhelming. I hope my guide has been helpful in showing you the many different kinds of air dry clay

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