Monday, August 6, 2012

Meet a New Clay: Craft Porcelain

Craft Porcelain by AMACO is a non-toxic, air-dry modeling material that some say is similar to cold porcelain.  According to the manufacturer's description,  Craft Porcelain is ideal for creating flowers, floral decorations, figurines, and other sculptures; dries in 24 hours and has a porcelain-like finish that can be further decorated with oil or acrylic based paints.   Craft Porcelain is currently available in white* plus 6 colors, however, I've heard the colors are being discontinued.

We've featured a few tutorials in the past using Craft Porcelain plus some tips from Linda Peterson for working with Craft Porcelain.  I was planning on writing a review of the product and obtained some last summer and then I had my surgery and some hospital time!    When I finally opened the package to give it a try, I had one large, round, very hard, hockey puck!     It had been untouched, in a drawer and in original packaging for a year before being opened, so, needless to say, it has a short shelf life!   

I will however, purchase it again because I do want to give it a try, in the meantime, please read the following review from Clay Workman.   Keep in mind that this was not only his first time using Craft Porcelain, but that his usual material of choice is oil-based clay, a non-hardening clay such as Plasticine, which is very different.  The finely detailed angel shown below was sculpted by him with oil-based clay.   This is a photo of the large clay original and not the final casting....that's why the odd coloring, 2 different brands of clay used.   A mold will be made of this original and then cast in a material suitable for use in a garden.

Amaco Craft Porcelain, a User Review by Clay Workman

I sculpt with oil based clay, and if you want an example of how well I sculpt check out my video (below) making an angel sculpture to compare to my ability with this type of  “clay.”   I’m no master, but I’m pretty good with oil based clay. Somehow in youtube land I came across cold porcelain and liked the idea of making one-of-a-kind figurines that air dried hard, or more like porcelain. In actuality I’ve discovered it dries to look more like plastic. I could live with that if I could sculpt it.

This brand of cold porcelain dries fast. You can feel it start to dry in the first few seconds you start to work it. You can add water, which I did with a brush or by wetting my fingers. You can cover it when not working on it. I used a plastic bag and went for days without it drying, though some air got in and hardened some areas. I don’t recommend leaving it for very long. When the clay is wet you have a mushy consistency to work with, which does not like to adhere to the previous layer, but you can blend it in. Or if you don’t add water, you have a drying, hard, consistency which doesn’t sculpt very well. I don’t like it. I still like the idea of it and may experiment further.

This cold porcelain comes in clear or white. You can add color by various methods, acrylic paint, food coloring, eye shadow, etc. You could just leave it white, or clear, and paint it. I used non-toxic markers. I flattened out a piece of clay, scribbled color on it and squished it around till it was mixed. Perhaps acrylic, or oil paint would work better by helping to keep it from drying so fast. On the plus side, the color stays in; it doesn’t come off on your fingers. When mixing the color in, it doesn’t need to be as bright as you want, it will be brighter when it dries. When adding water, places turned white, but when it dried it was a uniform color. This clay stayed clean, it didn’t pick up much dirt.

What I saw most on youtube videos was this clay being used for charms and making flowers. I think it works well for those things because parts are made and stuck together. Very thin pieces can be used and it works beautifully for flower petals. I don’t care to make flowers. I did one, just to see, it worked great. I tried to sculpt a cowgirl walking, with her rain coat blown by the wind behind her. That was one of the most frustrating things I’ve done. It’s such a bad sculpture I’m not even going to post a picture. I do like the versatility with thin pieces, but the overall experience was a bad one. The face really frustrated me, but as it dried it actually looked feminine and now I’m regretting that I gave up on it. While working on it I vowed; never again. Now after thinking about it, and learning from my mistakes, I may try again.

There are also recipes to make your own clay on youtube. I may try that too since one small tub (8 3/4 oz.) costs $10.00, I bought mine at Michael’s. It was more than enough to do a 9 inch tall figurine with a wire and aluminum foil armature. I sculpted the aluminum foil over the wire as close to a human figure as I could to save on clay. This clay is also very soft and an armature is necessary to keep it in shape as you sculpt. With the oil based clay I am used to, I can make a head of solid clay. That would not work so well with the cold porcelain, at least not for me, I would never be able to keep the shape of a head. Although I can push here and there with oil based clay, this would not work for me with the cold porcelain; the whole section would move. For instance; if I pushed on a cheek, it would not simply form a hollow on that cheek, it would also form a bulge on the other side. That’s why an almost fully formed armature was necessary for me.

This type of clay hardens rather than dries; an armature won’t crack the clay since the clay doesn’t dry out and shrink.This clay may work out well for you if you are more of a carver-type sculptor, or if you are the very gifted type, so that you can form and place the clay right the first time, without adding or subtracting material. Some people work it very well. Or it would work well for caricatures or still life such as flowers, fruit, or food. It does leave a very smooth surface with very little effort. In fact you would have to make a rough surface on purpose. I welcome a discussion in the comments as this is my first attempt and obviously limited information from a first attempt.

Note:  This review says Craft Porcelain is also available in "clear".  Personally I've never come across the clear version but I could think of some exciting applications for "clear", especially for dollhouse miniatures!...Mary


  1. Mary I guess is it dried very hard, in a way, it is good news, right? I will see if my local shops carry it to give it a try. Thanks for the info!

  2. I ordered the colored clay from Amaco from the discontinued page. It was really marked down so I bought all the colors. Well, it was hard but not dried up. I cut it into small pieces, added some water and put it in zip lock bag for couple days. After I smashed the by now mushy pieces of clay and incorporated the water. They turned out just like new clay. I did get too much water in the yellow so I added some corn starch and kneaded it and all is good. I like how well it works. I have barely used clay before and I was able to make a very nice flower and a couple snowman scenes that turned out very nice.


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