Air Dry Clay – Versatile & FUN!

Images & Artwork Copyright @Dee Costa 2022

I’ve always loved clay – in all forms. It’s started when I was 4.

It was my first day of nursery – I was nervous as I didn’t know anyone there. The first thing I spotted when I walked in was a table filled with play dough, cutters and brightly coloured plastic rolling pins.

Long story short – it’s been a love affair ever since. I used that play dough to get through my first uncomfortable and awkward day at nursery, and for many days afterwards.

Sometimes other kids would ask me to make them something, like I was a play dough expert. I liked that!

From play dough I moved to salt dough. My mother made some for me one day, and I had great fun making wall hanging apple trees. Green spirals for the leaves and red balls for the apples.

I gave them away as gifts but remember being really heart-broken when I realised they wouldn’t last forever. After a few months, they began to go soft and mouldy and just fell apart. Uggh.. all that work for nothing. I was not impressed!

Images & Artwork Copyright @Dee Costa 2022

After that I played around with plasticine, I remember getting a set of 6 colours from a local store. I LOVED that stuff. It was sticky and smelled funny. I made a ton of weird creatures and a lot of brown clay – I learned that it’s fun to mix colours but going overboard will get you to “brown town” every time! 😂

I also learned that dropping even a tiny bit on the carpet resulted in unimpressed parents, so to spare my mother the pain of ruining her carpets, I moved on to the next medium…

Images & Artwork Copyright @Dee Costa 2022

During my teenage years and early twenties, I became obsessed with polymer clay. I loved the sheer variety of colours and finishes, and could have bought shares in Fimo if I had spent my money on that instead of their clay! But….I had such fun with the stuff, it was worth every penny. I made standing doll sculptures, miniature food and more.

Images & Artwork Copyright @Dee Costa 2022

Next up came lightweight air dry clay or foam clay as some call it. It was so easy to use, mix and especially clean up. No more hairs getting stuck in my white clay all the time like with polymer.

Kids loved this stuff too, and when I had my daughter, we would make foam clay creatures for hours.

The cons of this stuff however is right there in the name: “lightweight” clay. It just doesn’t have the same sense of presence as other forms of clay do, and it feels like polystyrene at times, so not great for too much detail or for pieces like necklaces that need a bit of weight to them.

Images & Artwork Copyright @Dee Costa 2022

Fast forward to 2020 and I began my fascination with ceramics! Oh the joy that working with ceramic clay brings me, it’s something I can’t even describe accurately. Something PRIMAL.

Playing with mud is the cheapest, most accessible fun I had as a kid, and now I get to do it all over again, only this time with a whole lot more fine motor skills in place, as well as the option to fire pieces and keep for (semi) eternity!

I’ve made loads of ceramic pieces since, if you’d like to see some you can have a browse here or checkout my instagram account.

Images & Artwork Copyright @Dee Costa 2022

And now we get to a clay that I think is most accessible of all. It still has some cons, but I think the pros totally outweigh those.

What clay am I speaking of? You may have guessed by now after seeing all these images – regular Air Dry Clay!

The DAS / Scola varieties for example, are so affordable, and the fact that you don’t need an oven or kiln to harden them is the real winner. Once they’ve dried, it’s painting time. No need for fancy glazes or oxides that you can’t even be sure of how they’ll look until after firing – just mix regular acrylic paint up, plop it on, let it dry and you’re good to go!

All the images in this post have been created with DAS air dry clay, and painted with regular acrylics. I added some clear varnish over the top to give it a glossy look and seal it so its more water-resistant. The draw back to this is that air dry clay is not food safe, and neither will the varnishes be. If you want to make plates and cups or vases that hold water for example, then this is not the clay for you. I’d always recommend ceramic clay for those uses.

But for home decor and jewellery – air dry clay is fab!

Images & Artwork Copyright @Dee Costa 2022

I love Air Dry Clay so much that I’ve decided to use it as the main material for the classes I’ll be holding at The Galleria in Burton Latimer from March onwards.

Check out the Classes & Workshops page for more info – I’ll be updating it soon when I have confirmation of dates & times.

To give you a sneak peek, here are some of the upcoming classes I have planned:

“Adorn Me”

Faux stone ring cones, dishes & earring &
necklace set

“Blooming Buddies”

Bud vases for dried flowers. Make as many as you have time for.

“Say No To BoringWalls!”

Air plant wall hanging mini shelves & hanging wall pockets

“Bring The Outdoors In”

Nature Inspired Coaster set (6)

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