Among hobby crafters, air-dry clay is a popular sculpting material. It is simple to use, inexpensive and requires no kiln to harden because it air dries. However, there are a few disadvantages to utilizing air-dry clay. One of the most significant disadvantages is that air-dry clay softens when touching water or other liquids. This is also why one of the most often requested questions I receive is if and how to air-dry clay may be waterproofed. In this post, I’ll explain how to waterproof air-dry clay and which methods and sealants are appropriate for your project.
Air-Dry Clay And Its Use
Air-dry clay is a modeling clay that does not need to be baked in an oven to the firm. It is produced with natural, earthy ingredients like wheat, water, and salt. Because it is simple to handle and can be molded into various shapes, air-dry clay is popular for artists, amateurs, and crafters. It also dries fast, allowing for a short turnaround between the invention and the final result. It is used to make ceramics, jewelry, and a wide range of other ornamental products.
One of its drawbacks is that air-dry clay is not waterproof. This implies that putting your work in water (for example, in a fountain) will melt, dissolve, and disintegrate. However, various methods for making air-dried clay waterproof allow your crafts to survive longer.
Why Is It Necessary To Seal Air Dry Clay?
To Keep Your Work Safe From Water Damage
Most individuals, if not all, use their air dry clay sculptures for a number of applications. You might build a few pieces for decorating around the house, or you could make a bunch and give them as presents.
When exposed to water, however, your pieces will melt and disintegrate if they are not waterproofed. This implies that any water-based items you produce (fountains, dishes, etc.) will not endure long and will be damaged quickly. The extra coating layer can also help decrease chipping to some extent.
To Improve The Appearance Of The Surface
Another fantastic reason to waterproof your air-dry clay items is that it might improve their appearance. A sealant may assist give your piece’s surface a smooth, lustrous sheen that truly makes it stand out. This is an excellent option if you intend to exhibit your items somewhere where people will view them.
Is It Possible To Waterproof Using Air-dry Clay?
Air-dry clay can only be made waterproof by sealing it with liquid epoxy resin. It is possible to make air-dry clay water-resistant by sealing it with varnish, acrylic paints, or white glue. Waterproof clay can sustain continual contact with water, but water-resistant clay can only withstand brief touch.
It is crucial to understand that waterproof and water resistant are not the same thing. Waterproof refers to an object’s ability to withstand persistent contact with water, such as being submerged in water or holding water. In contrast, water-resistant refers to the object’s ability to become wet without being destroyed.
However, air-dry clay may be made waterproof and water-resistant to a limited extent.
How Can Air Dry Clay Be Made Waterproof?
When the water inside the clay evaporates over time, the air-dry clay hardens; yet, when the clay is reintroduced with water, the air-dry clay softens again. So, if you want to waterproof air-dry clay, you must keep water away from the clay itself at all costs.
Overall, only liquid epoxy resin can be used to waterproof air-dry clay since it is the only substance that can form a protective film strong enough to keep water away permanently. Acrylic paint, acrylic sealer, or varnish can generate water-resistant white glue for air-dry clay.
Epoxy Resin Liquid
Using liquid epoxy glue is the only sure technique to properly waterproof air-dry clay. It is a resin composed of two components that must be combined before application.
Once combined, the resin will begin to solidify, but don’t panic. You have many hours before it is completely solidified.
Simply pour the resin over your sculpture and spread it out as evenly as possible. The air-dry clay will be waterproof after the epoxy glue has solidified.
I would not advocate utilizing epoxy resin-sealed sculptures as cups, platters, or anything else that comes into touch with food.
If you wish to seal your own dishes, I recommend using food-safe epoxy glue.
Even if you use epoxy resin to seal air-dry clay, you won’t be able to use it for pottery since the clay isn’t tough enough, and the epoxy seal will ultimately collapse.
Other Water-Based Paints and Acrylic Paint
Use acrylic paint, latex paint, or comparable paint to seal air-dry clay. However, sealing air-dry clay with water-based paints will not make it waterproof.
It will only make the air-dry clay water-resistant, which means that the sculpture will survive direct contact with water drips and water splashes but will never be able to contain water like a vase and cannot be washed with water.
So, while sealing air-dry clay with water-based paint, such as acrylic paint, is easy, it will only protect your sculpture from small quantities of water.
Acrylic paint is used to seal air-dry clay. Simply apply the paint in numerous thin coats straight to the surface of the clay. Allow the paint to dry between coats.
After around 2-3 applications of paint, the clay should be suitably covered. Simply allow the paint to dry, and you’re finished!
White Craft Glue
You may alternatively seal air-dry clay using white crafts adhesives, such as mod podge or wood glue.
However, similar to sealing air dry clay with acrylic paint, this will just make the clay water-resistant rather than waterproof.
Using white glue to seal air-dry clay provides a translucent seal. Instead of painting your air-dry clay and so changing its color, you may use white glue or similar types of glues that dry clear.
To seal air-dry clay with crafts glue, apply the glue in thin layers to the surface of the clay and let the glue dry in between applications.
It should only take two coats to cover the clay completely. To apply the adhesive, use a gentle brush.
Make certain that you cover every sculpture component to ensure it is well sealed.
Spray Varnish or Acrylic Sealer
An acrylic sealer or spray-on varnish can also be used to seal and waterproof air-dried clay.
It works somewhat better and provides greater water protection than white glue or acrylic paint, but it will only make the clay water-resistant, not waterproof.
I like this approach over white glue or acrylic paints since it provides superior protection, both sealers dry transparent, and they are easy to apply with a spray can.
However, acrylic sealer tends to be yellow when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time, so keep this in mind when applying it to seal your sculpture.
Acrylic sealer and spray-on varnish are simple to apply. Simply gently dust the sealant over the sculpture and let the first coat cure for a few minutes.
Then, in the same manner, add a second and third layer. Your sculpture will be sealed after the sealer has dried.
Simply ensure that the sealer was applied equally to all regions of the sculpture.
Best Air Dry Clay Sealant
Now that you know what materials and sealants may be used to seal air-dry clay, the most pressing question you undoubtedly have is which of these sealants is best for air-dry clay.
As a general rule, acrylic paint or white crafts glue is the ideal sealer for air-dry clay sculptures that are merely ornamental. An acrylic sealer or varnish should be utilized if the sculpture requires water protection. Only epoxy resin is required for clay waterproofing.
Is It Safe To Use Waterproof Air Dry Clay?
This is a crucial question to address before beginning your project. Air-dry clay is a naturally occurring substance made up of clays, sands, and minerals. It is suitable for the majority of projects. However, if you are working with food or will come into touch with the completed product, you should choose a food-safe sealant.
Many sealants are available on the market that can be used for this purpose. A fast internet search will reveal several results. When selecting a sealant, read the label and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
We can be certain that epoxy resin is not food safe and should not be utilized as a sealer on food-related tasks.
However, if you want to maintain your handcrafted bowls and cups in good shape, avoid placing moist or dry meals in them. Air-dry clay is extremely porous and will absorb any moisture that comes into contact with it.
Is It Possible For Air Dry Clay To Become Completely Waterproof?
This is a challenging issue to answer because there are several things that might influence a project’s result. Air-dry clay is not always totally waterproof, and how well it resists water depends on several factors, including the type of clay used, the paint or sealer used, and your unique approach.
White arts glue, for example, is merely water-resistant and not entirely waterproof. Epoxy resins, for example, are well-known for their high level of water resistance and are likely the finest sealants available. The waterproof sealer will surely reduce the damage caused by regular washing with a moist cloth. Even if you apply the best sealer, you cannot leave your work in water for an extended length of time.
Air-dried clay is not as waterproof as other materials, such as ceramic or porcelain. It may, however, be made to last for a long time with a decent sealer and careful drying and handling.
So, while there is no conclusive answer, we can say that you can make your air dry clay sculptures reasonably water resistant with a little work and the correct ingredients. Just bear in mind that they will never be entirely waterproof.
Making air-dry clay watertight is difficult, but it will be worthwhile once completed. Every sculpture or ornament you create ought to be properly cared for. It would be a waste if you did not adequately protect your project. As a result of the processes and methods we discussed, you may safeguard and waterproof your favorite projects.
Yes, you can waterproof air-dry clay. There are several approaches to this, and the project at hand will determine the one you select.
Coating air-dried clay with a sealer or varnish is one approach to make it waterproof. This will keep it dry and prevent it from absorbing any liquid that comes into touch with it.
Another option to make air dry clay waterproof is to use a water-based paint; however, this will only make your artwork marginally water resistant and will not provide them with a 100% waterproof covering.
Yes, acrylic paint may be used to seal air-dry clay. However, it is crucial to remember that it will not entirely protect the clay from water. You may apply a varnish or liquid epoxy resin to create a more watertight seal.
If you want to use acrylic paint as a sealant, get one particularly designed for ceramic or pottery crafts. This ensures that your air dry clay is adequately sealed with acrylic paint.
A sealer or lacquer is not required. However, it is advised if you want to ensure your creation is watertight. Water may soften air-dry clay and cause it to collapse over time. Keeping your project sealed will assist in keeping this from happening.
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