I asked Eva for permission to use her
posts on my site and I shared that I have air dried clay unopened for
years and was afraid it might not be usable.... NJ
Yes, of course you can. I'm not an
expert in this stuff by any means but I'm happy to share whatever I've
learned about it.
Your old clay might still be viable, as long as it doesn't have any
holes in the packaging. Sometimes the packages get miniscule or unseen
holes along the seams or on the edges, which is frustrating if you buy
it in bulk and don't use it all right away. Air-dry clays can last quite
a long time, as long as they're stored properly but they do get stiffer
and harder to work with over time, as well. Water can help reconstitute
them some but, if the clay is really old and stiff, they'll still be
harder to work with than the fresh stuff, of course.
Karen at Clay Alley sells most brands of the various air-dry clays and
her prices are good and her shipping is fabulous, of course :D Creative
Paperclay can usually be found at Michael's or Hobby Lobby but if you
find that you really like the stuff and want to get it in bulk, go
directly to their website and check out their "wholesale club." (http://creativepaperclay.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc)
Basically, you buy over $50 worth of clay and you get half off the
retail price. So a pound of paperclay is $6 instead of being close to
$12. You do have to pay for shipping, naturally, but that adds less than
$2 to each pound, still making the price much cheaper than you can get
it other places.
Creative also makes their "premium" version of Paperclay which they call
Diamond. I don't see it on the wholesale page but I have ordered it that
way before. It's supposed to be whiter and harder than regular paperclay.
It actually reminds me of the LaDoll and Premix clays--kind of
marshmallowy and very smooth. Definitely not quite as fibrous as the
regular paperclay and whiter. Regular paperclay has a slight greyish
tinge to it. Anyway, don't hesitate to call the company if you have any
questions about their clays--they're very friendly and helpful. I
chatted with one of their reps on the phone for probably half an hour or
so before ever placing my first order. One thing I remember him telling
me was to make sure you use coated wire, stainless steel or aluminum or
some other wire that doesn't rust because rust will soak through the
paperclay over time and discolor your sculpture (if you're using a metal
armature underneath). The up side of air-dry clay is that you can use
armatures that you wouldn't normally use for polymer clay, like
styrofoam or newspaper wrapped in tape, etc.
Some more tips for working with air-dry clay:
a.. Keep a bowl of water nearby and some paper towels :D
b.. Knead the clay with just a bit of water before you start
c.. Don't pull out too much clay at one time. Take a small ball (I
usually work with a 2- or 3-inch ball) of clay, pinch off what you need
and wrap the rest of the ball in a wet paper towel. The clay will soften
some as it sits in the paper towel but this keeps it from drying out and
can help make it more pliable if it's a bit stiff. Make sure the package
itself is sealed in a plastic tub or ziploc bag.
d.. This stuff really does stick to just about anything but, obviously
does better if there's some tooth on whatever you're attaching it to.
So, if you want to sculpt onto something that's smooth, try putting a
coat of gesso or wrapping some masking or floral tape around it first.
e.. It is possible to keep your piece damp and workable in between
sculpting session by wrapping it in damp paper towels and covering it
lightly with plastic (or placing the whole, wrapped piece in a ziploc,
if it fits) but it's not necessary. Air-dry clays will stick to dried
clay pretty easily so you can let your piece dry between sculpting
sessions and simply pick back up, adding fresh clay to the dried clay
when you begin again. You can score the dried clay with a needle tool to
add tooth and then just wet the dried clay before applying your fresh
f.. Periodically clean the dried clay/clay residue off of your hands.
g.. I use all the same tools that I used for polymer clay but find
myself relying on the metal tools more than the clay shapers. Both can
be used, though, so you just have to find what works best for you. And
remember to clean your tools off with water more regularly (dried clay
bits stuck on a tool can make some serious gouges in wet clay).
It's really a fun medium to work with (all of the paperclays and the
Apoxie Sculpt) and it opens you up to trying out new methods, new media,
and techniques. Definitely worth at least playing around with for the
experience. Plus, you can also add embellishments to air-dry and
chemically-cured mediums that you wouldn't be able to use on polymer
clay. Plastic buttons or acrylic elements--pretty much anything that
might melt in the oven can be added in while you're sculpting. Attach
the clothing or hair to the still damp clay and let it dry in place.
I've tried some of this but still have lots of experiments to play
around with. It takes a rather different mind set to sculpt a piece with
the intention of adding the clothing or hair while the figure is still
And, yes, NJ you can add whatever info you'd like from this post to the
page you've made, if you like :D