7 ways to keep air dry clay from cracking

INSIDE : Learn 7 simple tips to help prevent your Air Dry Clay from cracking during your next craft.  Also find out reasons why your projects may be cracking.

Air Dry Clay cracking

This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure.

If you have used Air Dry Clay very often, you know that with time the clay will begin to dry and thus harden.  And as the clay dries, you will sometimes notice small cracks forming.  I have had so many emails asking, “Why is my Air Dry Clay cracking??”

At first you might want to break out into a panicked mess as you worry that your project is slowly turning into a disaster!  But, rest assured there are a few easy tips to repair and restore your project.  Keep reading for my air dry clay tips on keeping clay from cracking.

Air-dry clay is a natural clay that comes from the earth and hardens when it dries.  Baking air dry clay is not required to cure and it typically has minimal shrinkage.  Clean-up after crafting with air dry clay is fairly easy, too.  

Does Air Dry Clay crack very easily?

1. The number one key to prevent and then fix your cracked clay is to quickly notice cracks and repair them right away.  If you start to notice a few small cracks, it is best to not wait until the clay has completely dried to repair.  Be sure to follow the steps below to take quick clay action and get your project back on track!

Clay Supplies

A few reasons why your clays cracks when it dries:

2.  Air Dry Clay is primarily a water based product and the longer it is out of it’s packaging and in the open air, the more moisture will evaporate from it.  Most often times moisture evaporating from the clay is the reason for small cracks.  This is an obvious issue if you are using AIR DRY clay and the air is the thing that slowly will make cracks.

Be sure to store your air dry clay in an air tight container.  I use gallon sized zip lock bags to store all my clay and keep it staying as fresh as possible.  I have also seen many people using tupper-ware or other air tight type containers to store and hold their clay to help stop it from drying out too quickly.

Clay Supplies

3.  When creating something out of air dry clay, sometimes you can roll out or make something that is too thin.  When the clay begins to dry, out in the open air, the thinner pieces of clay can slightly begin to crack.  Do your very best to make every part of your work more than 1/4-inch thick. Keeping a consistent thickness throughout the clay piece helps to prevent cracking.

How to stop Air Dry Clay from cracking while you work:

4. Adding too much water to your DIY air dry clay can sometimes result in a crack.  Do you best to keep the clay moist as you work, but not overly saturated with water.  If you have too much water, I recommend setting your clay out to dry for an hour or two before continuing on.

clay steps
5. When you are joining two pieces of clay together, this can be a highly prone area to crack later on.  Make sure to connect each piece together by having both pieces be equally dry.  Also you can score the pieces (make a crosshatch type pattern with a toothpick or a sharp clay tool) on the connecting surfaces for better adhesion.

6. Use a “slip” type mixture to act like clay glue when bonding two pieces together.  “Slip” is a watered-down clay paste that is a combination of clay and water that you mix together.

Tips to avoid cracks in air dry clay

7. Once you have created your clay piece, keep an eye on it while it dries. Putting it in a cabinet to dry and turning it every few hours to expose a different side, helps the piece dry more evenly.  

Looking for the best TIPS, TECHNIQUES + TRICKS FOR USING AIR DRY CLAY?  Look no further.

You might also like this:

5 Tips to Storing Air Dry Clay

5 Clay Storage Tips

 

21 thoughts on “7 ways to keep air dry clay from cracking

    1. Will it be a mask you wear? Air Dry Clay dries fairly heavy, so I would recommend keeping it thick enough to not break, but thin enough to not be really heavy. Good luck!

    1. Great question. I think you should probably use a polymer clay that can be baked for a drink coaster. With time, air dry clay will absorb the moisture and start to get soft again.

  1. Do you think it works to have an entire model of a fort made of all air-dry clay done in a few days? I need to do a school project.

    1. As long as the clay isn’t built super thick… the thicker the walls of your fort, for example, the longer it will take to dry out and get hard.

  2. Does this happen to all flat ! I’m a first timer here and used crayola for the first time. I just made little balls for grapes. They came out fine ! I hope this clay will work as good.

  3. I’m thinking of making a clay ornament for Christmas and I’m thinking of doing it like a figurine. Is air-drying clay good to use?

    Also, does air-drying clay do well if you use sculpting tools to make it? I know there are certain things that I have to do to make the figurine.

  4. I have a clay paw print that was made when my dog was put down. I noticed that it is starting to crack around the edges. How do I preserve this. I dont want to lose this paw print.

    1. And the cracks just started after it being dry for a few years? Hm… I am not sure about this. I would think for the most part it shouldn’t do any more cracking. Do you handle it a lot? Are the cracks severe or just small around the edges? I wish I had a great answer for you. I would recommend taking a picture maybe because it’s so special you just want to make extra sure you always have something to remember of your sweet dog.

    2. Have you considered covering it in a resin? I don’t have experience with this, but I feel that may help preserve it. Or you could make a mold with the print you already have? I know this must be very precious to you.

  5. We had a class of high school aged students use air dry Crayola clay for an art project. They used a plastic cup and used coiling techniques to cover the outside of the cup. When I got home I placed the cups in my basement to dry. 2 days later I noticed that every cup had cracks and many of the pieces had fallen right off the cup. What should we have done differently ?? Sad to see this project fail.

    1. Kerrie: Thanks so much for asking this question. I am wondering if part of the issue was that the clay couldn’t dry properly since it was up against a plastic cup? It’s normal to have a few cracks as it dries… I always keep my eye on it and patch with some fresh “wet” clay to help fill in those cracks. I am wondering if you would maybe remove the plastic cup a few hours after it starts to dry, if that might help get better air circulation? Just ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shares