Sunday, July 29, 2012

Air Dry Clay is Only for Kids - Not!

Kids project using Crayola Model Magic

On the topic of air-dry clay, I sometimes see comments that it's just a kids clay and quality of clay isn't good enough for 'real' artwork.  Sure, for many years about the only air-dry clay available was 'school grade' clay, intended for children in the classroom.  The only art quality clays had to be kiln-fired.   Then along came polymer clay, which, because it doesn't need a kiln, opened up the world of clay modeling to a lot more people.  With this increased interest in modeling and sculpting as a hobby, an assortment of new clays became available, including NEW air-dry clays.   Take a look of some of the ADC creations shown below...they range from simple kid crafts valued at pennies to complex ball-jointed dolls valued in the hundreds of dollars.

Kids project with Crayola Air Dry Clay
Many air-dry clay brands are still marketed as a children's clay but now there's also commercial air-dry clays that have an elegant quality with characteristics suitable for fine art.  

The hobbyist also has a choice of clays that are first-rate but not intended for detailed sculpting or dollmaking.  Most of these 'intermediate' clays are very soft clays.  Soft clays frequently will not hold fine detail.  They have a tendency to relax.  But these soft clays are easy to use and a lot of fun to work with.  Primarily they are used for modeling simple characters and creating realistic clay flowers, both life-size and miniature.


Above left: Snowmen by author with Cloud Clay and, right, Cold porcelain flowers by Kathryn Gray

Cloud Clay, Deco ClayCraft, Martha Stewart's Crafter's Clay and cold porcelain are some of these soft clays.  Cold porcelain is not readily available commercially in USA but can be made at home with simple ingredients.   Cold porcelain is popular for making everything from tiny charms to large-sized figurines. Many artists are doing well selling their charms and collectible lines of figures made with cold porcelain.

Shown at left is a kitchen mouse/toothpick holder made of cold porcelain by Jorge Rubicce.   
On right is a clown figure by Guilherme Pires, also made of cold porcelain.

Another popular use for air-dry clay is dollhouse miniatures.   Not only for miniature, scale-modeled people, foods and plants but embellishment of the dollhouse itself.   Air-dry clay is used for stones, bricks, fireplaces, walkways and stucco finishes.  The inexpensive 'school-grade' Crayola Air Dry Clay is well suited to stonework!  Creative Paperclay is also easy to work with and makes excellent brick, stone, and exposed and crumbling plaster.

Dollhouse exterior finish is a work in progress by KingWilliamMinis

Jewelry, mini charms, scrapbook embellishments, wall art, 2D book illustration, clay+gourd mixed media and one-of-a-kind (OOAK) dolls are some of the other forms of art being created with today's "new" air-dry clay!    It's definitely not just for kids any more!

Colorful necklace made with air-dry Lumina Clay by Camille Young

Puck figure by Forest Rogers (above). Sculpted in paperclay and mixed medias, this character is frocking playfully with masterful sculpting showing the fluid movement that truly brings the character to life.

This Vintage style Frog by Lisa Bivona is sculpted with paperclay over a wire armature. He's painted with color washes of acrylics and oil paints. A light antiquing rub gives an aged and vintage patina. This charming frog measures 8" tall.

Dolls and figurines are extremely popular projects for air-dry clay artists.  The stiffer brands of clay are usually chosen for these projects.   Polymer clay may be great for small palm-sized figures but air-dry clay shines when is comes to making the larger sized dolls. Shown above and below is everything from folk art dolls to the fully-jointed and complex BJD dolls.

One of a kind art doll, handcrafted in Japanese paperclay and mixed media by  OOAKningyo.   
Doll is 14 inches tall.

Guardian Angel by Hannie Sarris.  This little girl with her guardian angel is approximately 16" tall.
She is sculpted from Paperclay with painted eyes and viscose hair. The little guardian angel is made of Fimo.

The Trio (shown above) are BJD dolls created by Linda Macario with LaDoll air-dry clay.  Each doll measures 12 inches tall with 14 joints each.  Freckles, shown below, is also by Linda Macario.   Linda says: “My favorite air dry clays are LaDoll and DAS.  DAS is an Italian clay and Linda is a  BJD artist from Florence, Italy.


So, you can see, there is an extremely large variety of things that air-dry clay can do!   A lot, of course, depends on the skill of the artist....but part of that skill is selecting the correct air-dry clay for the project.  Beware of clays labeled 'school grade' if artist quality, durability and strength is what you're looking for!   Hopefully, product reviews and other information contained in this blog will be of some help to you in the selection process!   That's our goal anyway!  ;-)  

Here's an extreme idea....very realistic looking barbed wire made by Camille Young 
with Lumina Clay and used for creating unique jewelry!   This shows the flexibility of cured Lumina Clay.

All clayers are invited to join our Yahoo Group to share your knowledge or just to learn more about air-dry clay!


1 comment:

  1. Your work is wonderful is there any way you might make a tutorial


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