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Old 03-16-2019, 03:21 PM
KSSK50 KSSK50 is offline
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Question Air-dry clay or unfired ceramic clay

I will be teaching a clay class for kids at a local art center. The program director said we would be using air-dry clay but the other art teacher said that just meant the kids would use ceramic clay that was air dried rather than fired (there is no kiln at the art center). Is there a difference between air-dry clay and unfired ceramic clay? The other teacher likes ceramic clay better and says it's more durable and gives kids the experience in working with real clay even though it can't be fired. I have worked with both fired ceramic clay and air-dry clay. I have read of some very cool things you can do with air-dry clay such as adding beads, feathers, etc. as well as applying gesso to the air dried piece and then painting with watercolor or coloring with markers. Can you do these things with unfired ceramic clay as well?
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:18 AM
max nelson max nelson is offline
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Re: Air-dry clay or unfired ceramic clay

I haven't been on this site for ages, started in 2001 and the forum was also dead at that time. With the aid of several other artist we breathed a bit of life into it but has since died again it appears.
I cannot give you an unbiased answer to your question but know that using just the most ancient modeling material known, wet clay of any type, one can get almost any quality desired. As to young children I know they love the feel of the wet clay as I also do. It does have the disadvantage of needing to be fired if it is to be handled much but I have 15 year old pieces, unfired still intact. No experience with the paper clay or new polymers but sure they have their place. I would note that most pieces that young or inexperienced beginners make do not really demand longevity and if cost is an issue wet clay is cheap. I did several demos back in the day for the forum that may be of some help.
Hope that is some food for thought.
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:24 AM
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LeahPaintsPonies LeahPaintsPonies is offline
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 78
Re: Air-dry clay or unfired ceramic clay

In my experience, air dry clay is quite a bit more durable than unfired ceramic clay. Ceramic is more fun to work with but unfired pieces are generally pretty fragile. It can be rewet but I'm pretty sure once air dry clay is totally dry, it's dry. I think you probbly could paint unfired ceramic clay, but it absorbs moisture like crazy so I'm not sure how that would end up working out. I think this may be a case of deciding whether you want the kids to have the most genuine clay experience possible, or if you would prefer them to have something to take home that has a better chance of survival. Honestly I haven't used any clay in a couple years, but my opinion is that kids don't care how genuine their experience is. I'm biased toward natural clay but clay is always fun and as a kid I always wanted to have something to take home that would last, so without a kiln I feel like air dry clay is your best bet. It still comes in natural colors and you can add water to keep it soft as long as it hasn't completely dried.
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