I have been playing around with different clay bodies to see what ones work best with the air dry method and painting with acrylic paint. We use Plainsman Clay and in the class room we always use Buffstone. It is very good clay for schools. It has a low shrinkage rate, it’s economical and the light grey colour doesn't stain hands or clothes. Buffstone dries very hard and it is easy to work with. I made a sample project with M370 and the M390. Those clays shrink a lot more when they dry and are not as forgiving as the Buffstone in the drying process, but after all the samples were painted, you can't tell one from the other in look or feel.
I will continue to use other clay bodies, but I really don't think it matters what clay you use. Laguna has one that sounds like it would work like Buffstone. Next time we are at Plainsman we will pick up a box and I will let you know. I will get some pictures of the samples and put them up here.
Everyone thinks that clay has to be fired. Everything that you make out of clay has to be put into a kiln and kept forever. I hear all the time that someone made a little something in school out of clay and their mom still has it or they still have it. Clay is seen as this mystery substance that you get to work with once or twice in your childhood, the firing process, well that certainly is not for the faint of heart. Everything that is made is priceless and must be kept forever.
How many pictures does a child draw in their school years? How many cut and paste “somethings” are made and as soon as they are off the wall they go into the recycle? It is making the piece, learning to use the pencil, the glue, and the crayons, that is the fun. Like everything else, the more work they do, the better the work gets. If clay gets into the classroom and is used like cut and paste, or pencil crayons, just think what the kids could do after years of clay experience in school. If all the focus goes off the end project and goes to learning how to work with the medium, clay looses it mystic and awe and gets back into the hands of children where it should be. For about a dollar, a student can have enough clay to make just about any project they like. If they don’t like it, roll it up and start over. If the clay gets dry, add water and use it again.
No, a piece of clay that is not fired is not a sturdy as a fired piece. However, both are very hard. If you drop either one, they will break, and both will last for years as a decoration. The big difference between fired student work and air dried student work, is that with air dry, all you need is a ball of clay and a willing student. The fired piece is a bit more of a challenge.
So what is “Air Dry Clay”……….. clay that is not wet anymore.
Until the next time.