DAS air dry clay review
In this post, I’ll review and share my honest opinion about DAS modeling clay. I’ve used up several packages, tried both the white and the stone clay.
DAS air drying clay is a well-known and popular craft medium, loved by both professionals and beginners, available worldwide. It is affordable and easy to work with. The dried object is hard and durable, that is easy to sand, carve and paint. You can also apply it on wood, cardboard, and terracotta.
It’s an Italian modeling paste that is based on natural substances, it’s gluten-free and dermatologically tested. DAS air hardening clay is available in three colors: white, terracotta, and grey (DAS stone effect clay – read my review for the Stone Effect clay here).
I’ll break up this post into two major sections. In the first one, I’ll share my experiences with the clay, and in the second one, I’ll answer a couple of frequently asked questions (modeling, sculpting, drying, coloring, etc.).
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Das modeling clay review
Is DAS air drying clay a good brand?
In my opinion, yes, it’s a good air hardening clay brand, for three simple reasons:
- it’s easy to work with,
- it’s affordable,
- less prone to cracking, curling even when rolled out thin (compared to other brands).
Let’s dive into the details!
Where to buy DAS air hardening clay?
DAS clay is pretty cheap, 10-15$ a 1.1 lb pack. It’s available in many craft stores not only in the US but in other countries too.
Here are a few stores to buy DAS modeling clay:
What is DAS air dry clay made of?
According to the manufacturer, DAS modeling clay contains:
- inorganic fillers,
- vegetable bindings.
They also state that the clay is PVC-free, acid-free, contains no softeners. Also, it doesn’t list sulfur in the product but may contain silica. It is gluten-free and AP certified non-toxic.
DAS air hardening clay doesn’t contain sulfur, so it’s suitable for casting silicone molds (some silicones won’t cure on materials that contain high amounts of sulfur).
Appearance and consistency
DAS air drying clay has a light grey color when it comes out of the package, not white. This is due to the moisture in the clay. However, it dries to a nice off-white color, which makes it a perfect base for painting, but if you’re looking for a sparkling white finish you need to paint it.
Keep in mind, if you seal it with lacquer, or varnish with a glossy finish, it could reactivate the clay and make it darker, more greyish.
For example, I made this leaf dish using DAS clay, the lacquer enhanced the color of the leaves, but also the clay. I was a bit disappointed, I liked the whiter base more, but I couldn’t do anything about it. So, if you want to keep the background or any other part white, make sure you apply a coat of white acrylic paint first.
Some say that it has a strong chemical scent. I don’t agree. It does have an odor, but it hasn’t disturbed me at all while crafting. After your craft has dried, the smell disappears.
When you take DAS air hardening clay out of the package it may feel a bit dry and crumbly, at least compared to other brands, like Jovi which is a lot creamier.
It’s best practice to wet your hands and ‘condition’ the clay by kneading for a couple of minutes. Be careful, not to add too much water, it will make your clay prone to cracking.
This modeling clay has a fibrous, pulpy look caused by the fibers added to the clay. These fibers increase the strength of the clay when dry and make it less prone to breakage. It won’t influence the smoothness of the finished craft.
Wet your fingers and smooth out any roughness while the clay is still wet. Wait for it to dry and use sandpaper to make it super polished.
Here are a few instructions and directions on how to use das air dry clay for best results:
- When you take out a batch of air drying clay (any brand) you should knead it for a couple of minutes. This is called ‘conditioning’ the clay which makes it smooth and more malleable.
- If you feel that the modeling clay is too hard and crumbly wet your hands or mist the clay with clean water and incorporate it. IMPORTANT! Do not add too much water it will make your craft crack when drying.
- When your clay is uniform and easy to knead, you can start crafting, sculpting, rolling it out, etc. (check out my post on how to roll out clay evenly)
I like DAS modeling clay because holds detail very well. It can be tricky to stick together wet pieces of clay, slip and score both pieces before attaching.
However, layering clay after it has dried is super easy which makes this clay perfect for sculpting. You just add fresh clay to the dried craft, shape it and let it dry again.
It also sticks to wood, terracotta, stretched canvas, etc. The clay sticks to a porous, rough, or textured surface better. For a smooth surface, you can apply tissue paper with mod podge, wait for it to dry, and apply the clay afterward.
On the downside, it’ll also stick to your hands and skin too. It’s difficult to wash off. I usually use the rough side of the sponge or a brush.
If your skin is sensitive or dry, the clay will make it even drier, so always use a moisturizer after you’ve finished crafting and washed off the clay. You could also use gloves. I don’t like to use them because dried flakes may come off while crafting for a long time and stick to the wet clay.
How to soften DAS air dry clay?
The clay may seem hard when you first take it out from the package. To soften the clay, wet your hands and knead it for a couple of minutes. If the clay is still crumbly and hard to shape lightly mist it with clean water, leave it for half an hour (in a plastic box with a lid) and knead it again.
I can’t stress it enough, be cautious with water, too much moisture will weaken your project and make it crack while drying.
Can you use it on a pottery wheel?
Air hardening clays act differently on a pottery wheel. You can try and throw it on the wheel (I never tried it). However, it may be challenging to work with it. Make sure you don’t add too much water, because it will either make your pot collapse or crack while drying.
If you plan to use air dry clay on the pottery wheel, read this cool post by Pottery Crafters for recommendations. They’ve tested 3 air drying clay brands to find the one that’s best for molding on the wheel.
DAS clay image transfer
You just need an inkjet printer, a cool image, and a batch of DAS air dry clay (I’m not sure if it would transfer onto other brands, I will try it and let you know).
I tried several printers, but only my new Epson Inkjet Printer worked. I’m not sure if it was the printer or the ink. Image transfer wouldn’t work with a laser printer, nor with a printer that had non-genuine ink cartridges.
Drying and cracking
DAS modeling clay dries hard and has a matt finish. The dried clay craft can be sanded, carved, painted, and varnished. You can use it both for arts and crafts and around the home.
I love that shrinkage is minimal when working with the DAS clay. Which also reduces the likelihood of cracks. I would say that the shrinkage percent is 1-2%. See the image for reference, the difference between the freshly cut heart and the dried ornament.
However keep in mind, if you wrap something tightly with the clay, cracks may appear. You can fix those by pushing wet, soft clay into the gaps, and smoothing it out.
How long does it take for DAS modeling clay to dry?
Just like other air drying clays, DAS clay usually takes 24h per 1 cm thickness (~0.40″) to harden completely. Leaving in a warm and well-ventilated room or cupboard encourages drying.
How to tell when does air dry clay dry?
The first indicator of drying is color. As your clay craft starts to cure it becomes lighter, more white. Even though your craft turned white (uniformly) that doesn’t mean it’s 100% dry.
Wet clay is cold and heavy, when your craft has dried it should have room temperature, be lighter, and should have a hollow sound when you carefully knock it with your nail.
Another test is pushing your nail at the bottom or a not visible spot. If your craft is dry it should leave a very light trace.
How to make it dry faster?
Speeding up drying with a hairdryer is a big No-No because it makes the outer layers dry faster and your craft will crack.
Air dry clay doesn’t need a kiln or an oven to cure. Although you can put it into the oven and bake it to speed up the process.
To make it harden faster, put it into the cold oven, on a tray with aluminum foil. Set it to the lowest temperature, and leave it for 15-20 minutes, turn it off and leave it in until it cools off. Repeat it if your craft hasn’t dried fully.
Coloring and after-work
How to color das air dry clay?
You can easily make colored clay by incorporating paint into the wet paste. I’ve done a little experiment (you can check it out here) by mixing 10 types of paints with DAS modeling paste.
Acrylics. tempera and creamy fabric paints are easy to incorporate into the clay, and they have the strongest pigments too. But keep in mind that you won’t achieve strong, vivid colors, expect a pastel color scheme.
Is DAS clay safe for sanding?
Dried DAS clay creations are safe for sanding. You can achieve fantastic smooth and polished finishes.
I recommended using a dust protector whilst sanding.
Also, cover your work surface and surroundings, the superfine clay particles will cover everything.
How to paint DAS air modeling clay?
To paint your clay crafts you can use acrylic paint, tempera, watercolors, markers, etc. You may want to use a primer before applying paint, for example, gesso (no need if you use acrylic paint). Read this article by Susie Benes for more information on why and how to prime air dry clay crafts.
In my opinion, the best paint for air drying clays is acrylics. They cover the painted area well, without prepping the craft first.
Don’t seal your air dry clay craft before painting. This can prevent paint from sticking onto the surface, which may cause paint chipping or cracks. Use the varnish after you’ve applied color, which will make your color and craft last longer.
Also, apply paint once your clay craft has fully dried. Acrylic paint may act as a sealer and lock the moisture in the sculpture. Mold may grow on your craft or disintegrate.
How to seal DAS air hardening clay?
You can use an acrylic sealer, a wood, or yacht varnish to seal your clay creations. Applying varnish ( one or more coats) will not only protect your craft from moisture (dry air hardening clay crafts can soak up moisture and disintegrate) but also makes them stronger and easier to clean with a damp cloth.
Storing and safety
Is DAS air modeling clay durable?
DAS air hardening clay is pretty strong and durable. I’ve made a couple of drop tests with really thin (1 mm) dried clay hearts. I dropped them on the carpet, floor, and on the tiles (in this order). They eventually chipped, cracked, and broke on the tiles after the 9th fall.
Keep in mind, solid shapes and thick crafts (a quarter of an inch thickness) are stronger, and sculptures and other projects with thin or protruding parts will break easier after a drop or other physical impacts.
If you want to make your air dry clay creations stronger check out my other post for tips and hacks.
How to store DAS air dry clay without curing?
Always store your leftover wet clay in an air-tight container at room temperature. I like to put unused clay in a zip lock bag, squish out the excess air, and put them in an air-tight plastic container like this one.
Is DAS air drying clay food safe?
Even though DAS modeling clay is natural and non-toxic, it’s not safe for food and beverages. You can make mugs, plates, and bowls, but only for decorative purposes.
Sealing your dried project with a varnish won’t make it waterproof, it won’t hold water, so if you want to make a functional vase, or pot make sure you sculpt it around a plastic, metal, or glass container.
Read more about it in my other article ‘Can you make a mug out of air dry clay?’.
DAS Modeling Clay Ideas
You can make almost anything using DAS clay. I’ll share the ones I’ve made and shared on my blog using white, stone, or both clays.
(If you click on the images, they’ll take you to the tutorial.)
Is DAS frostproof and suitable for outdoor use?
DAS modeling clay is ideally only for indoor use and not suited for outdoor use. Even though the dried craft is pretty sturdy, it won’t withstand weather conditions, not even after you’ve dried, painted, and sealed it properly.
Is DAS air modeling clay flammable?
DAS air dry clay is not flammable, it won’t catch on fire. If you expose it to a source of an open fire (for example a lighter, or a candle) it will char followed by a burnt paper smell. When you touch the darkened, burnt part it will turn into ash.
To learn more about the topic, check out my other post, in which I’ve made an experiment with the DAS modeling paste I burnt a piece of dried clay with a lighter, the post also includes the video.
Can you increase the fluidity of the clay by heating or adding water?
DAS modeling clay is not suitable for filling molds. Heat won’t make it more fluid, putting it into the oven could make it cure faster, but won’t change its consistency.
You can add clay scraps into water (that’s how you make slip or ‘clay glue’ for attaching pieces together). The clay will soften and by stirring you can achieve a paste-like consistency. You could transfer it to a mold, although, it will likely fall into pieces when you try to take it out after it had dried.
Final thoughts about DAS modeling clay
In my experience, DAS air drying clay is a good modeling paste both for adults and children. If you condition the clay, use it and dry it properly you’ll achieve fantastic results.
I love this brand because it’s inexpensive, it’s durable, not prone to cracking and curling. It’s worth trying!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried it and liked it or not!