Can You Put Air-Dry Clay In The Microwave? (Find Out Now!)

Can You Put Air-Dry Clay in the Microwave

Air-dry clay is easy to use and can make some interesting projects. The best part about it is you don’t have to invest in a kiln to craft with clay. The downside is that it can take a few days to completely dry and harden. To speed up the drying process, is it possible to put air-dry clay in the microwave?

Unfortunately, no, air-dry clay should not be put in the microwave. Microwaves heat up quickly and if the clay dries too quickly, it can weaken and crack. You may be able to dry your clay design in a regular oven, but you will have to take it slow. Since air-dry clay is not food-safe, don’t microwave food in an air-dry clay container, either.

Here are some ways you can use air-dry clay and a few ideas for helping your air-dry clay projects dry faster.

What Can You Do with Air-Dry Clay?

Air-dry clay is often used in grade schools and art classes for students to learn how to work with clay. This type of clay is perfect for learning how to slip and score, form coils, and mold into different shapes. Since the product won’t need to be fired, students can take their art home for it to air-dry. The final product may not be quite as durable as clay that is fired in a kiln, however, it still holds up well for most projects.

Air-hardening model clay doesn’t have to be just for beginners, though. Air-dry clay can be rewarding for anyone to use. Artists can use this friendly material for a variety of projects. Some ways you can use air-dry clay are:

  • Card embellishments
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Decorative plates
  • Ring dishes
  • Plant stands
  • Earring designs
  • Beads

Air-dry clay is not food safe, so if you use air-dry clay to make bowls or mugs they will need to be used for decorative purposes only.

The Best Ways to Dry Air-Dry Clay

Air-dry clay can take up to a week to finish the drying process and completely harden. While the microwave changes temperatures too rapidly for air-dry clay, there are a few other ways you can speed up the process. Here are some ways to cut down on the wait time for your clay projects.

Find a cool, dry place

Leave your finished clay product in a cool, dry place. Most sculptures will dry in 24 to 72 hours. Depending on how large your piece of art is, it may take up to a week to dry.  Don’t move your air-dry clay art while it dries. Make sure the area you choose is low in humidity.

Remove moisture using a dehumidifier

If you have a dehumidifier, this can be a great way to dry several pieces of air-dry clay art quickly. The dehumidifier takes out the moisture from the air. Also, your pieces will not burn or over-dry using this method. Place a dehumidifier in a small area such as a cabinet or empty closet for the best effect.

Try a low-heat oven

The oven is perhaps the quickest way to dry your air-dry clay. You will want to be careful with this method, though, as the faster your clay dries the higher the possibility of cracks or breaks. Set the oven temperature to about 200 degrees. Place your sculptures on wax paper on a cookie sheet and leave the oven door slightly cracked so the heat doesn’t become too intense. Check your sculptures often with this method to keep them from burning or cracking.

Go carefully with a hairdryer

A hairdryer can help your piece of clay art dry faster. However, it can be more difficult to maintain an even temperature with this method. Most artists will not recommend this method as the success rate of blow-drying air-dry clay varies widely.

The Dos and Don’ts for Using Air-Dry Clay

Air-dry clay can be fun and easy to use for both beginning and experienced artists. It is a more forgiving material than many other types of clay and it will harden nicely to make a durable product. Like any art material, there are some best practices for using air-dry clay.

Here are some dos and don’ts when working this clay type:

  • Do waterproof your pieces with a sealant if they will be exposed frequently to water.
  • Don’t expose your air-dry clay to drastic temperature changes. This can cause your crafts to break.
  • Do repair any cracks in your dried art piece by using wet air-dry clay.
  • Don’t use glaze on air-dry clay.
  • Do wait until your piece is dry before you apply paint.
  • Don’t eat or drink out of air-dry clay pieces.
  • Do store leftover air-dry clay in an airtight container.
  • Don’t dry your air-dry clay art in a kiln.
  • Don’t use high heat or quick-heat methods for drying your air-dry clay.

Related Questions

What happens when air-dry clay becomes wet?

Air-dry clay will become soft again once it becomes wet. So, if you are finished with your product, you will want to keep it away from water. However, if your sculpture cracks during the drying process, water can come to your rescue! You can use wet clay to repair air-dry clay even after it is dry. Once your product is done, you can seal it to protect it from moisture.

What paint should I use on air-dry clay?

After your clay has dried, you can then paint it. You won’t be using glaze with air-dry clay since glaze requires a kiln to dry. Acrylic paint is a good choice for air-dry clay. If you are using white air-dry clay, some have even used watercolors to paint it. Make sure not to use too much paint, though, or it could soften the details of your sculpture. You will want to paint a thin layer and wait for it to dry before applying the next. Seal after painting.

How is air-dry clay different from other types of clay?

Air-dry clay is cheaper than many other types of clay. You can work with it on a potter’s wheel if you like, however you will not be able to use a kiln to dry it. While most porcelain clay requires a glaze paint, you will need to use a different type of paint on air-dry clay.

Alex Praytor

Alex Praytor is a native Texan who got her degree in English Literature and decided to travel the globe. She finds the architecture and design of homes across cultures fascinating. In her spare time, she visits coffee shops with her family and creates projects for their own home. Alex enjoys sharing tips on how to keep repairs up to date while turning a house into a home.

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