I've discussed techniques for sculpting with air dry clay, but in this post I would like to go into the short, but sweet specifics of drying air dry clay. If the slow drying time of artists grade clays like Creative Paperclay has dissuaded you from using it as a serious sculpting medium, don't despair: There is a solution!
The fastest and most effective way to dry Creative Paperclay (and it can be applied to similar clays, such as La Doll), is actually to bake it in a standard oven. Game changer.
Creative Paperclay is non-toxic, and unlike polymer clay, it does not generate fumes as it's baked. However, because of its paper base, you have to be careful not to scorch it. It is also only possible to bake a sculpture if you have NOT used things such as Styrofoam as your armature materials.
How to bake air dry clay:
Note: If you have exposed wires on your sculpture, beware! They can get VERY hot.
Drying in the oven cuts drying time to a fraction, and means that you can complete your art pieces much faster than before!
Make it a Dry One
Now that you have a drying technique - How do you know when your sculpture is actually dry?
If you touch your sculpture and
it’s not dry!!!
Make sure your sculpture is fully dry before painting. This way you won't be surprised by a crack midway through. The other bonus of baking the clay is that it has a tendency to crack less. And if it does crack - it can easily be fixed!The Horror, The Horror: Air Dry Clay Cracks
Your air dry clay sculpture is most likely going to crack. Accept it. Cracking is normal in air dry clays: it's caused by shrinkage because of the loss of the water inside the clay body.
Cracking is often caused by sculpting over an armature or using a lot of water, either to mix the clay or to help it adhere onto a previous layer.
Cracks in Creative Paperclay can easily be fixed! If the crack is not structurally related (holds weight), just take some fresh clay and pack it into the crack.
Note: If crucial parts of your sculpture, such as thin horse legs, are breaking, it may be necessary to reinforce the legs with epoxy clay. Air dry clays are not suitable for all types of sculpting, and you may need a different material to complete a specific task.
Air dry clays, like Creative Paperclay, are very versatile, comparatively strong and can easily be combined with other materials to create intricate and unusual artwork. My techniques are the result of trial and error, and hopefully you'll find them useful to help you push the limits and see what you can create with these awesome artist materials!
Build your own horse sculpture from air dry clay