Clay is a medium that has been used by artists for centuries. It is versatile and can be used to create all kinds of sculptures, jewelry, and other molded objects. However, not all clay is created equal.
There are two main types of clay that artists use: polymer clay and air-dry clay. The type of clay that an artist should use will depend on numerous factors.
In this article, we will compare polymer clay and air-dry clay so that you can make an informed decision about which type of clay is best for your needs.
Table of Contents
What Is Air-Dry Clay?
Air-dry clay is, as the name suggests, a type of modeling clay that dries in the air. Once it has been molded into the desired shape, it will harden within 24 hours through a reaction with oxygen.
Air-dry clay is usually made from a combination of water, clay powder, and other natural ingredients such as sand or sawdust. This makes it a great option for environmentally conscious crafters or those who want to reduce their exposure to synthetic materials when crafting.
One thing to note is that air-dry clay is a porous material. This means that it can absorb water and other liquids from the atmosphere, which can cause it to crack or warp over time. There are ways to reduce the odds of this happening, but beginners may have trouble implementing these techniques right away.
Also, because air-dry clay is porous, it is not waterproof. This means that it is not suitable for outdoor use or for projects that will be exposed to water, oil, or other liquids.
What Is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is a type of modeling clay that is made from polymers. These are synthetic materials that have been specifically designed to be used in clay.
One of the best things about polymer clay is the vast range of colors it comes in. You can find neon, pastel, pearly, and metallic polymer clays. Most craft stores will stock a large assortment. Depending on which clay you choose, it may look shiny, matte, or translucent after curing. You can buy these clays individually to get the specific color you need or in multi-packs to suit any creative drive.
Polymer clay is a non-porous material. It works by curing when it is heated to a certain temperature. This process is sometimes called “baking.” When polymer clay has been baked, it is strong and durable. It can stand up to wear and tear and is often used to make jewelry.
Additionally, polymer clay is generally quite easy to work with. It does not break or crumble easily, and it can be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes. And because it is non-porous, it is waterproof and can be used for outdoor projects.
Overall, polymer clay is a great medium for crafters who want to create pieces that will last for years. It is also an excellent choice for those who want to be able to create delicate details in their projects using a high-quality cutting mat.
Polymer Clay vs Air Dry Clay: What’s the Difference?
Now that you know the basics about air-dry clay and polymer clay, it’s time to compare them.
First, let’s look at safety. Air-dry clay is non-toxic. It is safe for children to use and is safe around pets. Polymer clay is also safe for children to use. However, any clay should not be ingested. It is important to supervise young children while they are around it or working with it.
Price is also a key factor. Air-dry clay is less expensive than polymer clay. However, both types of clay are relatively inexpensive.
Finally, let’s look at the most significant difference between the two: ease of use. Air-dry clay can be more difficult to work with than polymer clay. It will not hold the delicate details well, so it may be frustrating to use.
Also, since air-dry clay comes in a limited color palette, you may have to take the added step of painting your finished piece. Further, because it does dry in the air, you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to work with it. If you want to take a break, be sure to cover it.
Polymer clay is generally easier to work with. It is less likely to break or crumble when working with it. It is also more versatile, and even a beginner can mold it into a variety of shapes. For intricate details, you can roll it out and use knives and cutters to create interesting shapes to add to your main piece.
As mentioned earlier, polymer clay is non-porous, while air-dry clay is porous. This means that items made from polymer clay can be placed in a variety of situations and will survive being exposed to water, oils, and other liquids.
You should also keep in mind that air-dry clay dries in the air, while polymer clay must be baked. This means that you will need to have access to an oven to use polymer clay.
Polymer Clay vs Air Dry Clay: Which Type Is Right for You?
When comparing polymer clay and air-dry clay, which type is best for you? The answer will depend on your unique needs.
If you are looking for safe, inexpensive clay that is easy to find, air-dry clay is a good choice. It is a better choice for those who want to hand paint the pieces after they are dry. But keep in mind that the finished pieces are prone to breaking and do not stand up well to general wear and tear.
However, if you are looking for durable clay, polymer clay may be the better choice. It is also easy to work with. Polymer clay is a favorable choice if you want to be able to create minute details in your projects. Just keep in mind that it does need to be cured in the oven. Children will need supervision for this last step.
In the end, both types of clay can be used for a variety of projects. So, if you are just starting out with sculpting, you may want to try both types of clay before deciding which one you prefer.
In the end, it is really up to you to decide which type of clay is right for your needs and preferences as a crafter. Now that you have the information needed to make an informed decision, it’s time to get crafting!
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