Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tips for Storing ADC - Update

sitting at the computer


I often get asked "How can I store my unused air-dry clay so that it doesn't dry out?"  Over a year ago I posted a collection of storage tips.   Today's post is a repeat with some updates!

One of the pros of air-dry clay is that it air dries. No need to bake!

One of the cons of air-dry clay is that it air dries! Long-term storage is always a problem.

Any exposure to light and air will start drying the clay. Some brands start drying faster than others, especially some of the polymer-based clays such as Model Magic, Hearty and Cloud Clay.
  
Make use of food storage systems ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I've had pretty good luck with the vacuum bag storage systems. These storage bags are made for food storage but work great for clay!! 


Handi-Vac is a battery-operated vacuum device for less than $10 for starter kit.  It requires special storage bags made specifically for this vacuum tool.   I have one and like it a lot.   


Note: Reynolds took this product off the market but you can still get one at Amazon.    Reynolds Handi-Vac Starter Kit










Ziploc has come out with their own version of the hand-held vacuum pump.  It's a hand-operated pump to suck air out of the bags....no batteries.  I don't like it as well as the battery-operated Handi-Vac but it does the job.    The Ziploc pump cost less than $10 for starter kit and requires special Ziploc bags. 
 Ziploc Vacuum Pump/Food Storage Bags









Foodsaver also has one called the FreshSaver Handheld Vacuum-Sealing System. I haven't tried it and it's a little more expensive than the other 2.   
FoodSaver Handheld Vacuum-Sealing System










More Tips ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Another thing you can do is put the clay in a regular plastic bag and twist the top of bag to seal it with as little air as possible.  Just a plain plastic bag will do, like the kind you put vegetables in at grocery store.  Tuck that bag inside a regular ziplock-style food storage bag. This double bag method has kept some of my opened Model Magic fresh for 2 months so far. It would dry out very fast in just a regular zip lock bag.


Previously I had tried wrapping Model Magic in aluminum foil before putting it in ziplock bag (because the original packaging looks like aluminum foil).  That worked, sorta ...it kept out light and air.....but the aluminum foil isn't very reusable once it gets wrinkled up. Opening and closing the foil to take out a small piece of clay at a time would end up tearing the foil in no time. I would have to replace it every day. That's when I switched to the double plastic bag method.


I would remove clay from original wrapper before putting it in plastic bag because you might trap some air with the packaging.  If you're double-bagging, you can insert original wrapper along with bag of clay into 2nd baggie so that you have the label. 


Place a folded up damp paper towel or piece of sponge in bag with your wrapped up clay.  It'll help keep the air moist in the bag.


Saw this tip at the Creative Paperclay forum (from ANg):
To keep the clay soft and pliable I use a small terra cotta brown sugar disc.  It works!  Soak the disc in water for 15 minutes, take it out of the water and place it in a ziplock bag with your clay and seal it up. The disc keeps a small amount of moisture in the bag and prevents the clay from drying out!  Every time I take my clay out to work with it, I rehydrate my disc by soaking it in water for 10 minutes.  Awesome eh?


Store your clay in a drawer or box. Apparently it helps to keep clay fresh if stored in the dark.

If you have pre-tinted your clay or have a pre-colored brand of clay, store every color in a separate bag. Pink could go in with red without too much trouble, but you can bet red will transfer color to any other color that's next to it. Same with other colors, you could probably put some light blue with dark blue but I wouldn't put any yellow in same bag....you'll end up with green clay wherever they touch. This is especially important if you use the vacuum-sealed bags. If there's more than one ball of clay in a bag, they will get very close and personal with each other as the air gets sucked out! ;-)


There's some new small-sized latching lid plastic storage containers available now in craft stores.   These inexpensive Flip Boxes came in a variety of handy sizes, and might be good for keeping different clay colors in separate containers. 

Another idea is using the small (2 oz) disposable Jello cups with lids to store your clay colors in separate containers.

If you add paint or another pigment to pre-tint your clay, it will dry out faster than the untinted clay...so only pre-tint the amount you will be using soon.

While working with air-dry clay, always keep unused clay covered with a damp rag, an upturned glass or jar or something else...except for the clay that's actually in your hands! ;-)

You don't need to always keep the object you're working on moist.  It depends on the clay you're using and what you're creating.  Some projects are easier to make if certain parts are made separately, allowed to dry and then assembled and glued together.  Some clays can be re-moistened to allow additional bits of clay to be added on and blended in to build a sculpture slowly.  Some air-dry clays work well using traditional 'take-away' sculpting methods.   With those you might want to keep sculpture covered and moist.

Creative Paperclay, LaDoll and similar types of clay can be re-constituted if they happen to dry out slightly (unless it becomes extremely hard).  Simply knead in a few drops of water to restore its pliability.  Polymer-based clays do not re-constitute as well as the paper or pumice based clays.   Soft clays like Hearty, Makins, ClayCraft, Model Magic, Cloud Clay and similar brands are resin-based or polymer-based.

Got any storage tips to share? Please leave comment!

1 comment:

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