One of the questions crafters ask is how can you make air dry clay waterproof? Air Dry Clay itself is not water-resistant. That means it is soluble and withers away when exposed to water. However, you can coat your dried ADC crafts with a sealant layer to make it waterproof.
Be aware that no matter of waterproofing will make the ADC craft food safe. Do not use ADC creations for food or beverages.
In this article, we share tips on how to waterproof ADC crafts and protect them after they have completely air dried.
Air drying can take a day or two or more depending on how much water you used in your sculpting and what the humidity is in your area.
This tray of creations took us three days to dry:
Ingredients You Will Need For How You Can Make Air Dry Clay Waterproof
In order to make your ADC crafts waterproof, you will need to seal them with a proper glue or sealant.
The ADC object must be completely sealed on all surfaces, extensions and holes. If you leave even a single point uncovered, water will seep inside and it will dissolve over time.
Three Types of Sealants
There are three different types of sealants used for ADC. These include varnish, crafting glue or epoxy resin.
Use Varnish to Make Your ADC Waterproof.
Varnish is a sealant that creates a thin transparent layer over your craft. Generally, it is used for wood, but varnish is also applicable on tiles, clay art and even metals.
Varnish takes some time to dry out, which can be 8 to 12 hours. It leaves either a matt finish or a very shiny, glossy kind of finish that makes your crafts shine. The type of varnish finish is generally mentioned on the brand label.
Some varnishes can be applied in layers. You coat the craft with one layer, followed by another after some time. This gives a stronger waterproof resistance to your ADC project.
However, some types of varnishes can only be applied in a single layer. Adding a second layer over the first makes it thicker but it will begin to show and lose its transparent look.
If you are making a shelf decoration that will stay in one place then a single layer of varnish should be enough. If your craft will be handled a lot or exposed to water, then a second layer is useful.
It is quite easy to apply varnish to ADC crafts. Just open the can and apply it gently to the piece using a soft brush. Make sure, you cover the project in varnish from every surface.
Once the varnish has dried up, your ADC craft will be sealed properly and more waterproof. Varnish rubs away over time and you may need to reapply it after a couple of years, or sooner depending on usage.
Use Crafting Glue to Seal Your ADC Project
White crafting glue is another great choice for sealing clay projects. The glue is non-toxic which makes it easy to use with a brush.
The glue can be applied to all kinds of ADC projects, big or small. It is easy to apply and quite cheap. You can purchase the glue from your ADC supply store. It dries up in a matter of hours and you can color over the glue for a great finish.
Crafting glue is sold under various labels in tubes or jars, making it easy to store.
When using crafting glue, simply pour out a little bit on your sculpture. Spread it around with your fingers or a brush. Make sure to completely cover your craft with the glue.
Let the glue dry for 5 to 6 hours and then pour and apply a second layer onto your project. Let it dry for another 5 – 6 hours and then repeat the process a third time. In most cases, 3 to 4 layers of glue are enough to make your ADC sculpture quite resistant to water.
Once the layers of the glue have dried out, paint it with an acrylic or enamel paint to make it waterproof.
The finished craft will resist water damage, unless you put it directly under running water.
Keep in mind that craft glue yellows out over time when it is exposed to the sun. So if you do not color it, it will be a little yellow after six months to about a year’s time.
Use Epoxy Resin to Seal Your ADC Crafts
Types of Epoxy
Epoxy Resin creates the best protective layer for clay crafts. When applied correctly, it can make your projects as close to waterproof as you can get. Epoxy resin is used by many professional crafters in most commercial handicrafts.
There are two components in epoxy sealants, the epoxy resin and the hardener. Epoxy comes in a powder firm while the hardener is usually a plastic-based liquid. When you mix these two together, the epoxy is ready for application.
For most types of commercially sold epoxy, you will need to mix the resin and the hardener in a 1 to 1 ratio. There are some varieties where you have to mix them in a 1.5 to 1 ratio, with a bit more resin per ml of hardener.
How To Use
Make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow them to the letter!
After you have mixed the ingredients, the epoxy will look like liquid goo, or gel. Gently apply the epoxy to your sculpture with a fine brush. Make sure to thoroughly cover your project surface.
Don’t lay the epoxy on too thick. A layer of 1 to 1.5 mm is enough to create a nice sealant to protect your sculpture.
Leave the epoxy to dry which takes about 1 to 2 hours at most. You will find a transparent, hardened layer over your ADC sculpture. The layer will keep water, among other things, from messing it up.
Pros and Cons of Using Epoxy Resin
Of all the methods available to make your clay projects waterproof, epoxy is arguably the best. What’s more, it will not yellow when it is exposed to the sun. The epoxy surface will also allow you to use paint without worry.
Epoxy is not recommended for beginners. The liquid form of epoxy is very difficult to mix and use. It hardens very quickly, within seconds. The resin makes it easier to use for clay projects.
Epoxy is also slightly toxic and can stick to your fingers. If possible, use gloves and protective eyeglasses.
Why Do You Need to Make ADC Waterproof?
Air Dry Clay is manufactured by mixing water with natural earthen clay. The water molecules are held within the clay through a loose chemical bond.
The water molecules are preserved as long as ADC is kept sealed inside a container. When exposed to air, the water molecules begin to evaporate. This drying process causes the ADC to shrink and solidify.
However, the ADC molecules are still reactive to water. If you put a completely dried up ADC model into a bucket of water, the clay will dissolve. In addition, if you put it under running water or place it outside in the rain, the clay will wash away.
This is why you need to seal it to keep the craft intact.
Other Methods for Making ADC Waterproof
ADC crafts can also be sealed with a variety of paints. You can use acrylic or tempera paints to color your clay. These paints serve the dual purpose of sealing and coloring your work.
You can also use poster paint or even nail polish if you want. These are highly effective for small, delicate decorations pieces.
Lastly, you can also use spray paints to seal your crafts. However, you need some skill to apply them correctly. Make sure to use proper screens to protect other furniture at your crafting table.
Do You Have to Seal ADC Projects As Soon As They Dry?
Some crafters believe that you should apply a sealant to your ADC projects as soon as they have dried up. They believe that this prevents water contamination.
That is not necessarily the case. You don’t have to seal a piece on the same day that it is completed. Just finish and leave it to dry for a couple of days and then apply the sealant and paints later when you have time.
Air Dry Clay is generally used for beginner crafting and decorative pieces. It is used to learn how to work with clay before you can move on to more complex, handy projects.
However, that does not mean you can’t make beautiful artwork and handy projects with ADC. Air Dry Clay can be used for a wide variety of useful projects as long as you use a proper sealant to make it waterproof.
Sealing your ADC projects is fairly easy and necessary if you want your craft to last for a long time.