Air Dry Clay offers a fun and easy way to get your hands into crafting. Most commercial grade ADC is soft and pliable, allowing you to easily make crafts as you please.
One of the problems that most crafters face with ADC is its long drying time. For example, kiln-baked clay dries up in about 6 – 8 hours after it has been removed from the oven. However, ADC takes much longer to completely dry up. Most commercially sold ADCs take about 24 – 30 hours to dry. Other clays take even longer and could take 48 hours to set.
There are some tricks you can use to make them dry quicker. In this article, we explain ways to make your ADC crafts dry much faster.
Air Dry Clay Drying Process
Air-dry clay can be used to create all kinds of crafts. The clay is soft, allowing you to coil, slab, pinch, imprint and weld it in different ways. It can be used as modeling clay or to craft various objects.
Once the project is finished it needs time, generally one or two days, to dry out. In some cases, it can take longer, even up to a week for air dry clay to dry completely. The exact time it takes to cure will depend on the thickness of the item you are creating, room temperature and humidity.
Big, rounded objects have moisture trapped inside that takes longer to reach the surface and evaporate.
The reason why Air Dry Clay works in this manner is that it is manufactured by artificially mixing water with earthen or processed clay. The bond between the clay and water molecules is not very strong.
If left under normal temperature and exposed to air, the water molecules begin to evaporate slowly. The clay shrinks and solidifies the bonds, making it hard.
One of the issues you may encounter with trying to speed up the time it takes to air dry is that the surface of the clay will evaporate its moisture at a faster rate than the interior, causing surface crazing or cracking.
However, as air-dry clay can be rewet, just make a paste out of the clay and a bit more water and smooth any cracks out again. You may have to do this repeatedly on surfaces with a large amount of clay exposed.
Methods for Drying ADC Quicker
Many crafters find the process of water evaporation and curing too slow for ADC. It is also not advised to paint them until the craft has fully dried out.
Painting your sculptures and crafts before they have dried will also leave the water molecules trapped inside and make them easier to break.
If you are working on commercial projects or need to dry the crafts faster for painting, you can try out the following tips to dry them faster.
Use a Fan
This method is great if you are looking to dry out many items. Ceiling fans are ideal for this purpose but you can also use a pedestal fan.
Place your projects on a wax paper, inside a tray. Put them about 6 feet away from the fan and turn it on. You can leave the clay sculptures there to dry out for quite a bit of time.
You will need to check the crafts every couple of hours to see how they are drying out. You will need to rotate the tray to make sure that air is blown onto the craft from all sides.
If you do not have a ceiling fan, you can also use a pedestal fan for this purpose.
Don’t put the craft too close to the fan, if it has delicate pieces because the strong air current make break them. Remember to keep the fan on a low power setting.
Use a Source of Hot Air
What is better than blowing regular air onto your craft for drying it up? A source of hot air!
Experience shows that if you can increase the temperature of your clay projects, the drying process becomes faster. A lot of ADC artists use a portable heat source, such as hair dryers, to help their projects dry faster.
You can also use the heat from a lamp to do the job.
Start by placing your sculpture on a baking sheet covered with wax or parchment paper.
Set the heating to medium and place the tray next to the heat source. It is advised to keep the heat at least 4 to 6 inches away from the sculpture.
If you’re using a hair dryer, hold it steady throughout the drying process and move it over the object in a uniform motion.
Check your sculpture for dryness every 2 to 3 minutes, turning it to ensure even drying on all sides.
Utilize the Sun
When it comes to source of heat, nothing beats the sun. The best part is that it is completely free.
Start by placing your sculpture on a baking sheet covered with wax or parchment paper. This will give your sculpture a clean, level surface to dry on.
Place the baking sheet with your crafts in a window sill or another dry place that is well-lit by sunlight and shielded from the wind. Strong wind can mess your sculpture and break small, delicate components so keep it blocked.
Check your sculpture every 10 to 15 minutes, and turn it around to ensure that it gets sunlight from all sides. The level of heat from the sun, and the size of your sculpture, will determine how long it will take to dry. It will dry quicker on sunny days compared to cloudy weather.
This method is not suitable if you are expecting a rainy day.
Use the Oven
You can also use the oven to dry your ADC projects. Some crafters are opposed to this, saying that it damages ADC sculptures. But those who use it regularly say that it is the most effective way for drying Air Dry Clay quickly.
We believe you can use this method for drying your ADC crafts quicker, but you will need to make sure that you do it right to prevent warping.
Start by placing your sculpture on a baking tray, covered with wax or parchment paper. You can also put a ceramic tile on the tray and then place the craft on it. The ceramic tile acts as a heat sink and lowers the risk of burning your craft.
Place the tray in the middle rack of the oven and turn it on. Make sure to keep the setting at 200 degrees and have the oven ventilation fan on to maintain a uniform temperature inside the oven. You can also keep the oven door slightly ajar to prevent too much heat from building up inside.
Keep the oven on for 10 to 15 minutes and then turn it off. Leave the sculptures inside and let them cool down along with the oven’s temperature.
If you take them out while the pieces are hot, the difference in room temperature can cause them to crack slightly.
The idea here is to heat them up slowly while they are inside the oven and then cool them down in tandem with the oven’s temperature.
Use a Dehumidifier
As we noted above, ADC clay has water molecules that evaporate over time as it cures. The rate of drying depends on the humidity level in the room.
If the humidity is higher, then it takes longer to dry. If the room has low humidity, the drying process speeds up considerably.
If you are planning to take up sculpting seriously, then you may consider installing a dehumidifier to dry up your projects quicker.
Identify a corner of a room or a closet that can be used for drying and install a dehumidifier. Ensure the space is adequate for both the dehumidifier and your sculptures.
Make a wall or barrier to place around your sculpture and dehumidifier. You can string a clothesline between two nails to hand a sheet or curtain if you want. You can also make an effective barrier with cardboard.
Place your crafts on a tray and put them close to the dehumidifier. Turn the device on and leave them for a few hours. You don’t need to check on them too often. Depending on the area of the ‘drying room’, the device can dry up your crafts in about 10 to 16 hours.
Inspirations and tutorials
For information on keeping your air-dry clay projects as strong as possible, I’ve got an in-depth article here.
If you are wondering if you can use your projects for food presentations, the answer is no, because they are not intended or created for food safety. However, if you want to waterproof a plant pot or make your creations a bit more resistant to water after you are sure they are dry, please read my article here.
One of my additional articles with the most information on air-dry clay is 11 Best Air Dry Clay Reviews. Here I go over some of the best air-dry clays on the market and what sets them apart from each other. If you want to sculpt art dolls, for example, you will love one of the porcelain air dry clays. If you are looking to emboss clay and shape succulent planters, you may find that another brand suits the purposes well. Check it out!
And finally, if you are looking for ideas for what to create, check out some of these funthings in my article here.
Air Dry Clay is nice for a variety of artwork and crafting projects. One of its shortcomings is that it takes a long time to dry. You can overcome that by using a variety of quick-drying methods for ADC.
Some of the methods we shared in this blog are expensive, while some cost almost nothing. Use the ones that fit your budget and quick-drying needs.
If you have more questions or want to add something let us know!