How to Make Fast Drying Clay at Home

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Color each batch of clay with food coloring or pigments.
Color each batch of clay with food coloring or pigments. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Homemade air-dry clay is an economical option, if you don't want to spend money on crafts supplies. It's also useful if you don't have a firing kiln, which is a must for organic clay projects. Make air-drying clay using a few inexpensive ingredients from your kitchen. The clay you create is suitable for kids' projects, because it is nontoxic and dries quickly -- compared to commercial air-dry clays. So you can sculpt, paint and finish a project within one or two days.

Things You'll Need

  • Cooking pan
  • Cornstarch
  • White glue
  • Mineral or baby oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Food coloring, natural pigments or tempera powder
  • Wooden spatula or stick
  • Wooden board or table

Mix equal amounts of white glue and cornstarch in a cooking pan, until the paste has a uniform consistency.

Add baby or mineral oil and lemon juice. For each cup of glue you use, add 2 tbsp. of oil and 1 tbsp. of lemon juice. If you want to color the clay, add some food coloring, natural pigments or tempera powder. Mix thoroughly.

Cook the ingredients on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the paste has the consistency of mashed potatoes. Stir with a wooden stick or spatula.

Remove the pan from heat, and allow it to cool down.

Place the clay on a wooden board, and knead it with your hands. The kneading removes the air bubbles and makes the clay more pliable.

Store the clay in an airtight container for up to four weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • The drying time for this type of clay is two days on average, depending on the thickness of the items you make and the room's humidity and temperature. Small items typically dry within a few hours.
  • If you want to speed up the drying time and finish the project on the same day, place the items you create on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Turn off the oven and place the items inside until dry. Alternatively, use a hair dryer on low heat.
  • If using natural pigments instead of food coloring, make sure your children don't ingest the clay, because the pigments may be harmful to their health.
  • Use only powdered colors and avoid adding wet colors, which contain water and may alter the recipe and cause cracking in your clay.

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