One of the cheapest options available, air-dry clay, can be used to create a wide variety of projects ranging from earrings to sculptures. It is non-toxic, making it safe for children to play with, and best of all, since it is air-dry, no kiln or oven is required.
Most objects created from air-dry clay will dry in 24 to 72 hours, but if you are the impatient type, we are here to help. In this article, we will describe seven ways you can speed up the drying process for air-dry clay and answer a few frequently asked questions related to the subject.
How to Make Air Dry Clay Dry Faster
Unless you have created a very large piece, you shouldn’t have to wait more than three days for your work to completely dry. If that is longer than you wait or listen to your kids, then there are ways dry, air-dry clay faster. Here are seven tried and true ways to dry air-dry clay faster.
1. Bake Your Air-Dry Clay in an Oven
Air-dry clay can be dried much faster by placing it in an oven set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Simply place your work on an oven-safe pan or rack, slide it into the oven and then turn the oven on. Allow the oven to reach temperature and bake your artwork for 20 minutes. Turn your oven off and let it cool naturally without opening the door.
To avoid thermal shock, it is important to let the piece heat up with the oven and then cool slowly with it. Thermal shock is one of the chief causes of cracking.
Caution: Do not bake air-dry clay above 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 Celsius). Some air-dry clay can be flammable if heated to too high a heat.
2. Use a Hairdryer to Dry Your Clay
Just about everyone has a hairdryer in their home. Even most guys. You can use your hairdryer to cure your clay faster by using a low heat setting and slowly working your way around the work. Be careful to heat the piece evenly to avoid cracking, and don’t hold the hairdryer too close to work.
3. Set Your Project in the Sun
To speed up the drying of air-dry clay, set it in the sun. You can take it outdoors or place your work in front of a window. Turn your work occasionally, so it heats evenly. It is also best to elevate it on a drying rack.
4. Run a Fan Over Your Artwork
One of the secrets of drying clay quickly is airflow. The more air moves across your artwork, the faster it will dry. You can place a fan in the room where your drying your clay or have one blowing directly on the piece.
If you face the fan directly on your work, be sure to rotate your clay occasionally to avoid uneven drying that can lead to cracking.
5. Open a Window in the Room
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in our heated, airconditioned world, many people don’t think of opening a window to increase air circulation. Of course, you don’t want to try this method in the dead of winter.
On warm days, you can take advantage of the energy that mother nature provides. Open a window. Let the breeze blow through. You will be surprised how quickly nature will dry your projects.
6. Place Your Work in a Dehydrator
If you are not familiar with them, dehydrators are machines intended to heat foods slightly and circulate air around them to speed drying. People normally use them to make dried fruits, jerkies, and similar items. But guess what. They work just as well for clay as they do banana chips. Plae your artwork in the dehydrator, turn it on, and what. That is how easy it is.
7. Use a Desiccant Chamber to Remove the Moister
To speed the drying of air-dry clay, you can borrow a page from science class. Use the same method they use to dry samples, a desiccant chamber. A desiccant chamber, or desiccator as they are often referred to, is nothing more than a sealed chamber for drying things.
Some use moister absorbing compounds like silica gel. Some use a vacuum, and some use both. They do tend to be a little pricey but work very well.
How long does it take air-dry clay to harden?
The average drying time for air-dry clay projects is 24- 72 hours. This can vary depending on the thickness of the object, humidity, temperature, and other environmental conditions.
Can dry, air-dry clay in the microwave?
No, while you can use a microwave for a few seconds to help dry your clay, if you over soften it with water, you can’t dry your air-dry clay projects in it. When air-dry clay is microwaved, it tends to become crumbly and fall apart.
What to do with air-dry clay on rainy days?
Clays, including air-dry, can be sensitive to wet days. Air-dry clay tends to be tackier and dry more slowly. There is little you can do to avoid the problems that nature can cause other than cope. If you are trying to sculpt on a rainy day, you can dust your air-dry with corn starch to make it more manageable.
As far as drying, you can use the methods described in this article to speed the drying process or be patient.
How to dry air dry clay without cracking?
Air-dry normally cracks or warps because it is not drying evenly. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your artwork has airflow on all sides, including the bottom. Drying racks and baker’s cooling racks work well for this application.
If you are using a hairdryer, fan, or other artificial means of increasing airflow or temperature, be sure that it is drying evenly. Move the air or heat source or the piece itself as constantly as possible. Failing to do so can lead to cracking.