What are the types of clay for crafts?
Generally speaking, there are four main types of clay: Water-based clay (soft and malleable, but it dries quickly), oil-based clay (stays malleable, but difficult to create a permanent sculpture), polymer clay (technically not clay, as it is a synthetic material, but it’s user-friendly, malleable, and can be baked to set permanently), and air-dry clay. If you’re interested in fun and easy crafts with clay, than polymer clay and air-dry clay are for you.
What is the difference between air-dry clay and polymer clay?
Polymer clay comes in many colors, is made with polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and comes in a dense package. The clay needs to be worked a bit to make it malleable. It is baked at a low temperature until firm to set your piece permanently. You can then paint your craft. Crafts made with polymer clay tend to be more durable and waterproof, and the craft won’t shrink when drying. Polymer clay crafts do not need to be sealed. There are some precautions to working with polymer clay, so it’s not usually recommended for children (rest assured, though, it’s non-toxic). Popular brands include: Kato, Sculpey, and Fimo. You can find polymer clay in the craft store.
Air-dry clay is also malleable and comes in lots of colors. It dries with air contact, so no baking is needed. It tends to be a bit more spongy and less dense, so it’s easier for kids to work with than polymer clay, and it’s safe for kids. Air-dry clay can also be painted when dried. It tends to shrink a bit when drying, and it’s not waterproof. Popular brands include: DAS(what I buy), Sculpey, and Crayola. You can find air-dry clay in the craft store.
Air-dry clay is a great product to start with, especially if you’re working with kids. However, for long term crafting and greater durability, polymer clay is the better choice. Each of the 25 links below takes you to a fantastic tutorial. Many have tips, tricks, and links to products you will need to work with air-dry clay.