How to make air dry clay at home – 10 recipes you should try
Air hardening clay is a wonderful craft material. It’s easy to use for kids and adults, no special equipment is needed.
Even though most air drying clay brands are cheap, you should try and make your own clay.
I’ve tried several recipes, and they are just amazing! They’re so simple to make, the ingredients are inexpensive. I bet you already have the components in your kitchen.
Since I’ve been all into air drying clay lately, I’ve decided to research and share the best (in my opinion) recipes I could find online. I tested some of them, and others are on my to-do list for next year (or maybe this one).
Let’s see how you can make homemade air dry clay!
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HOW TO MAKE AIR-DRY CLAY
What is DIY air dry clay made of?
The short answer is one or two dry ingredients and some sort of “liquid” or wet component that holds it together. Here are the most common ingredients:
- Dry components:
- baking soda,
- Wet ingredients:
- white glue (for example, Elmer’s glue),
- some require mineral oil, lemon juice, or vinegar.
Types of DIY air drying clay
We can distinguish two categories of homemade air drying clay, cook and no-cook clays.
The no-cook clays are very easy to make. You can do it with your kids, they only require measuring and mixing. You can use them right away. Now let’s see a couple of the quick air-dry clay recipes.
No cook (quick) air dry clay recipes
- flour and salt dough,
- cornstarch and glue clay,
- flour and glue dough,
- sand clay,
- cinnamon dough,
- paper mache clay (this one is more laborious).
Most homemade clays, which include cornstarch, require cooking. Mix cornstarch with water or another liquid and stir it over medium heat until it gets thicker and forms a dough. Don’t overcook it, it will make it crumbly, weaker, and more likely to crack.
Let’s see a few examples:
Homemade air dry clay that requires heating
We’ve already categorized DIY air dry clay, now let’s see the recipes!
RECIPES FOR AIR DRY CLAY
1. Flour and Salt Dough
For the salt dough recipe, check out the article by Maria Louise Design. She shares the exact measurements and walks you through the process.
Ingredients you’ll need:
- white paint (optional).
We used to make flour and salt dough when I was a child. It’s wonderful for kids. However, I think there are better recipes for adults that you can use for detailed sculptures and have a more professional look. Although for simple, flat ornaments, this homemade dough will work nicely.
The flour will make the dough yellowish, so, as the recipe suggests, add paint for a whiter clay.
2. Cornstarch and Glue Clay
The second recipe has the same components as cold porcelain but doesn’t require cooking. You just mix, knead, and use.
I made cold porcelain once, I loved the consistency of the clay, after it’d dried, it looked like plastic. I wonder how this clay would look or feel without the heating. (I will keep you updated after I try it.)
What will you need:
Check out the recipe and the process in Kitchen Table Classroom.
3. Cold Porcelain
Cold porcelain is like polymer air dry clay. It doesn’t require curing in the oven (like air dry clay) and dries hard (like polymer clay). After drying, it gets transparent and looks like plastic. However, it’s not waterproof. You can paint it before modeling or after drying using acrylic paint.
Cold porcelain’s big advantage is that you can roll it out very thin, and it will stay strong and flexible after drying. It’s perfect for delicate crafts like flowers or jewelry.
However, just like the traditional air drying clays, it shrinks and may crack while drying. Learn more about how to avoid cracks while drying clay.
Cold porcelain ingredients:
- baby oil,
- white vinegar or lemon juice,
- lotion or moisturizer.
To create DIY cold porcelain, you need to heat it in a microwave or on the stove. I followed this video tutorial on Youtube it uses a microwave to create DIY clay.
If you want to use the stove, check out this tutorial. She also shares some practical info and a couple of cool crafts she made with cold porcelain.
4. Cornstarch and Baking Soda Clay
How do you make air dry clay with baking soda?
It’s so simple! Mix the three ingredients and cook it. For best results, follow the instructions shared in this article by Everyday Chaos and Calm.
To make this simple white air dry clay you’ll need the following:
- baking soda,
This is my favorite homemade air dry clay recipe. Baking soda clay has a fantastic sparkling white color after it has dried. You can also sand it if your project has imperfections, but it will lose the sparkling effect.
For example, I used this recipe to make this air dry clay bird (tutorial here).
5. Cornstarch and Salt Dough
Robin from Fluster Busters (visit her site for measurements and instructions) shared this DIY clay recipe. It’s very similar to cornstarch and baking soda clay (which I love). I’ll try it to see if it’s better or not.
Ingredients to make this clay:
If you tried it, let me know in the comments!
6. Sand Clay
Okay, this clay looks amazing! I already have a ton of craft ideas with it, I just have to find that jar of sand somewhere in the house…
This homemade clay is created by Anna, the owner of the site The Imagination Tree (check out her blog for the full recipe). It’s like flour and salt dough with a twist, looking like stone or granite.
To make this DIY clay, you’ll need the following:
This DIY clay would be perfect for making decorative stones or faux pebble tea light holders like this one. Cover a bottle or jar to make a fantastic vase or a pencil holder.
7. Flour and Glue Clay
This simple air dry clay recipe by Clay it Now looks promising similar to lightweight modeling clay. For the instructions and exact measurements, visit the blog (Hint: you can find a ton of fun clay craft tutorials, too!).
To create flour and glue clay, you’ll need:
I haven’t tried this clay recipe (YET!), but I like the consistency, it’s stretchy and smooth, easily moldable, and it doesn’t look sticky. I will give it a try soon!
8. Cinnamon Dough (two versions)
Version 1 – Cinnamon Salt Dough
This cinnamon clay is like salt and flour dough with a twist (just like the sand clay mentioned before). For the instructions and measurements, check out this article by Domestically Blissful.
I wonder if it has that lovely cinnamon scent like the second version below.
Version 2 – Cinnamon and applesauce dough
- glue (optional).
I’ve created this amazing dough several times, almost every year. I just call it the ‘Christmas clay.’
9. Paper Mache Clay
If you want to try paper mache clay, visit this tutorial on The Ultimate Paper Mache blog. Jonni, the owner, is amazing. She has wonderful animal sculptures, and her DIY clay is fantastic.
I love that she is experimenting with different clays and compositions to find the best for different purposes. She is working with clay for more than ten years, she knows her thing.
You can apply this homemade clay in a thin layer, and still dries rock hard. The perfect clay for sculptures and to cover armatures.
Ingredients to make paper mache clay:
- toilet paper,
- drywall joint compound,
- mineral oil,
10. Air Dry Mud (Coffee) Clay
I’ve been experimenting with making coffee clay based on the cinnamon and apple sauce recipe. However, no matter how finely I ground the coffee it wouldn’t hold together.
Then, I stumbled upon this air dry mud clay by Michelle. Check out the tutorial on her blog the Research Parent.
What you’ll need for the coffee clay:
- baking soda,
- coffee grounds or instant coffee,
So, it’s like baking soda clay with a twist. I will try this recipe too, cause I’m really curious how it looks after drying. I will keep you updated!
Tips and Hacks for making DIY Air Dry Clay
- If you pick a recipe that requires cooking, make sure you don’t over cook the dough.
- To make colored air dry clay, color while wet. You can use food coloring while working together the ingredients, or add a drop of tempera or acrylic paint to pieces of clay and mold it until the paint incorporates into the air dry clay.
- If your clay is too soft, mix in some extra cornstarch or flour. If the dough is too crumbly, add a little water or glue (it’s harder to soften up clay, so be cautios when measuring).
- “Condition” the clay. After your clay comes together in a nice round ball your job is not over. Make sure you knead the clay for at least a couple of minutes. Just like yeast dough, air dry clay also needs kneading to become nice and smooth. (Be careful with the cooked clay, you will need to handle it while still hot.)
- I wrap leftover clay in plastic wrap and store it in an air-tight container or a zip-lock bag, in your fridge, or in a cool spot in your home. Unused clay lasts for a couple of weeks or months.
- Add glitter in the mix to make sparkly clay that your kids will love! Also, it will make Holiday crafts more festive.
FAQ about Homemade Air Dry Clay
How to make air dry clay with flour
Using flour, as the main component for air dry clay, is pretty common. Several recipes use it as a base, or as a component for the DIY clay, for example:
- flour and salt dough,
- flour and glue clay,
- paper mache clay,
- cinnamon, and salt clay,
- sand clay.
It’s cheap and easy to work with flour, and it doesn’t require heating like clays that use cornstarch. However, clays based on flour have an ivory color, not pure white. So, it’s advisable to add white paint to the mix. Also, I prefer to use cornstarch because the clay has a smoother, silkier consistency.
How to make air dry clay without glue
If you want to make DIY air dry clay without glue, your best bet is to pick a recipe that doesn’t have it as an ingredient. I’ve seen recipes that substitute glue with lotion or moisturizer, but they looked more like slime than clay. They will air dry, but you can’t model and control the clay like you do with the other types of homemade clays.
Lots of DIY clay recipes use Elmer’s glue, even dough it’s non-toxic I wouldn’t let small children to craft with it (they may swallow it). You should use instead flour and salt clay, or cornstarch and salt/baking soda clay.
How to make air dry clay without cornstarch
You can still make DIY clay if you have corn allergy, starch intollerance, or if you don’t have any at home.
First, you may try and pick a recipe that has different ingredient (see recipes mentioned above). Another option is to replace cornstarch and use something else. For example, you can substitute cornstarch with flour, baby powder, or talcum powder.
Be aware that using a substitute may not work as well as cornstarch, especially in recipes that need cooking. You may also need to adjust the recipe for a good consistency.
If you want to make DIY clay by cooking use flour instead, for a no-cook clay opt for baby powder. You can check out this video tutorial that uses baby powder to make homemade clay.
How do you make air dry clay without glue or cornstarch?
If you want to make clay without glue and cornstarch try flour and salt dough, if you’re looking for white clay. You may try the other fun alternatives mentioned above, the sand-clay or the cinnamon and applesauce dough.
Another option is to replace cornstarch with flour or baby powder. But be aware that the results may not turn out as good.
What to make with homemade air dry clay
You can use your homemade clay as you would the store bought clay. It may not be suitable for very detailed work and also you can’t make lightweight clay like Hearty or Modena.
DIY clay is suitable for most clay crafts. You can sculpt it, roll it, cut it with cookie cutters, color it, stamp it, etc.
Here are a few ideas to use your clay:
- Christmas ornaments,
- candle holder,
- ring dish,
- pots, etc.
For more fun ideas out my list of favorite air dry clay projects.
Conclusion about homemade air dry clays
As you could see, there are a lot of recipes you can try to make DIY air drying clay. They are cheap, easy and fun to make. You’ll need a few household ingredients and a little time to make a fresh batch of your own clay.
I hope you found this article helpful, and you could pick a recipe that you like. If you have a recipe, that’s not included in this article, please let me know!