Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Experiment - Air Dry Clay & Texture Paste

SO! finally, another update on my experiments. as much as i dread getting to them, i enjoy experimenting. it's always a learning experience, however getting me to actually starting is another matter....

i have to state firstly, that any of you who bothered to get past the first paragraph, PLEASE READ CAREFULLY BEFORE ASKING ME QUESTIONS. a few disclaimers ahead.

1) i work mostly with polymer clay, so please don't ask me for advice on which clay you should use etc. my reply will always be, try it out and decide. it's a very personal choice. don't ask me where i got my clay. i've already mentioned it in the pics. if you can't find it there, well. means they're out of stock, and you're out of luck. this is a sore issue for me, the lack of availability of materials, so i won't be entertaining any of those sorts of questions. heck. the 4 packs i have are the only ones i have to work with currently, i don't even know where i should get more or if i would even want to.

2) the experiment results here are based solely on my one time experiment. results may vary from brand to brand, as i always mix media while experimenting. also, i bought the yellow clay half a year ago from Daiso, and the Hearty clay -at least- 3 mths back, so the quality of the clay may have deteriorated. as far as i know, air dry clay does have a shelf life, unlike polymer clay. keep that in mind when i'm bitching about working with it later on ;)


all that i know is included in my links, and they can be found

<<======thataway that's where all i learnt what i know, and from helpful hints and tips from lovely people who i'm lucky to have befriended via the powers of the internet. i truly appreciate any constructive criticism, tips and pointers. do your own reading and actually get to playing -with- the clay before inundating me with tonnes of vague questions. it's all there. you just have to work for it. TO REGULAR READERS thanks for putting up with my crabbiness. experiments tend to put me in a foul mood > < i used the lightweight type. i didn't buy any resin air dry clays as they are really expensive. these are only 1/10th of the price of resin clay.

the magenta reminded me of some macarons i made in 1/12th, i originally pinched off a tiny bit and tried to make a flower, but the clay was too 'puffy' and 'airy', so different from polymer clay. moreover, the more i mixed it, the weirder it got, white stuff started surfacing and it wouldn't stick together. i wonder if it's drying out too fast at such a small volume, so i decided to make larger items instead. above shows the whitish stuff, i wound up adding a little bit of white glue and mixing it in to the semi-crumbly mix of clay, waited around an hr for it to dry and prodded it with my needle tool to simulate a grainy bread texture.

ideas: good for crumbly cakes, tarts slices. chinese almond cookies, multi-grain breads. maybe even hard cheeses.
NOTE TO SELF: will have to take into consideration results -after- sealing, and which sealants work best for whichever desired results.

i stuck some of it into one of my miniature aluminum cake pans, waited a while for it to dry, textured the top to simulate (somewhat unsuccessfully) a baked cake, and sliced it in the middle once it dried. nice texture for a semi-heavy cake, i think.

ideas: mousse, cake prep board

the half on top is in its original texture, at bottom, i poked at it with my needle tool. definitely a texture i like and would like to use.

idea: biscuits, tarts, gingerbreads

NOTE TO SELF: check shrinkage after baking, and how well it interacts with polymer clay.

the macaron bit has been sealed with a matte sealant, i touched it before it dried thoroughly so you can see the bits where it's unevenly applied. i wanted to use my can of acrylic sealant but i decided against it as the one i got dries sticky, don't like it at all. will buy a better brand in future if i decide to work with air dry clay again.

what's good is, after sealing, it looked even more realistic, i was pleasantly surprised at how good the effect was. however, i doubt i can turn it into a charm or keychain, the clay is simply too soft and would not be able to withstand the abuse.

after drying, there is a -little- shrinkage. not very noticeable, but more obvious where there are cracks. i had deliberately made a macaron with a crack (like some real macarons have) and it widened enough to be obvious.

i mixed some of the yellow (Daiso) with magenta (Hearty) and got a nice pink raspberry cream type mixture. i was actually hoping to get an orange colour, but i guess the two didn't mix well. or i'm challenged that way. anyhow, drats, i just looked at the items, the picture colours aren't accurate at all! grr. anyway, i'm more interested in textures at this point, not the colours.

i added a few drops of water , mixed well, and got a semi-gritty paste, stuck it in a piping nozzle and swirled away~ as expected, it took a little longer to dry. once dry, it held its detail after i poked and prodded lightly at it. i suspect it might be easy to tear it apart though. for the lighter pink swirls, i added a touch of texture paste to some leftover 'raspberry cream' mix. i had hoped it would strengthen it somewhat.

ok this one, i loved. the cheese part (it's actually 'yellower' IRL) was made from Lemon Yellow clay (Daiso) straight from the packet, biscuit base was the same clay, with quite a bit of brown and ochre acrylic paint mixed in. i initially mixed it in while wrapped in clingfilm, but it tore and i used my fingers instead. the acrylic did not stain my fingers at all.

i assembled the cake using ruby red gallery glass to simulate strawberry jam between the two layers, and also for it to act as a glue. once it dried, i messed up the first slice as i used a blunt blade, but the next 2 slices were cleaner. the results are startlingly realistic! I LOVE IT! problem is, again, sealing it. air dry clays require sealants or once it comes into contact with water it'll 'melt away' into sludge. :-/ spray sealants would probably work best, but i'm also fearful that the strength of the canister spray might blow away my mini items heh.

the Daiso clay was finer, easier to mix, dries less quickly. maybe because the Hearty clay might have been on the shelf too long, i'd gotten it at a clearance sale for only $2 each. Hearty is 'puffier' and less inclined to hold on to details, required a bit more manipulation than i'd care for.

PHEW. ok. on to the texture paste experiment, part 2 (you can read part 1 here).

well, when i first experimented with texture paste (Marie brand) i hated it. LOATHED it. they turned out semi-glossy/plasticky and rubbery. annoying.

chucked the tub aside and recently, decided i should give it another try. this time, as suggested by Betsy Niederer and other CDHM pals, adding cornstarch to the mix.

Special thanks to Philippa for providing all the info on tips, syringes and texture paste recommendations. you can see her amazing work at http://www.toddtoysandminiatures.com/

from right to left:

Front row
1) 1:2 cornstarch:texture paste + pink acrylic paint
hardly any definition. colour not prominent, even though i added a rather considerable amount of pink. i had stupidly forgotten the texture paste is WHITE. white + pink = paler pink. duh. *smacks own forehead*
2) added a touch more cornstarch to remainder
3) 2:2:1 cornstarch:texture paste:ruby red gallery glass
armed with foreknowledge, mixed new batch, felt that mixture was a little too stiff
4) 1:1 mix, with touch of red/yellow acrylic paints to make orange
originally added tamiya acrylic orange, but results weren't desirable.

2nd Row
1) dripped ruby red gallery glass to simulate strawberry syrup.
2) disastrous 'chocolate' meringue. i give up. i don't know how to use texture paste to make chocolate meringues. they always turn out purplish when i tint it with acrylics :(

pale orange using self-made piping nozzle. pink blobs using brother's syringe + needle from his last visit to the dentist. don't worry, i washed it ;)

so there you are. results of 2 days' worth of experiments, lots of washing, and wasted materials.

hope this is helpful, i think i've covered everything i learnt, anything else i've missed, means i have more to learn....

TEACH ME! or comment, if you've found this useful ;)


  1. Interesting post. I haven't experimented with texture paste. I really should for the applications for frosting and icing. However there is a lighter weight version of Sculpey (can't remember the name and it's late here so I'll be lazy) that I love to use. I mix 3:1 lightweight to normal sculpey and that softens everything, eliminates the crumbliness (is that a word???), and when I texturize the surface to look like cake, it really looks great. One weird thing with the light sculpey unlike regular, when you bake it, it turns just a tad bit lighter in color not darker. Anywho, good luck!!!

  2. hearty is easier to break, that's why i still mix it with grace (as i've mentioned this on my blog). i begin to suspect that hearty or the one from daisho are actually paper mash?
    you can't knead it too much, or keep adding water once it breaks too much. and yes, the annoying thing that even though it's dry, it's still water soluble. but it's advantage is that you can use it again. put it in plastic bag with few drops of water or more, leave it for 1-2 days, and you can use it again ^^.

  3. Well grace (resin clay) is really soft too! It is so soft and squishy I don't know how those Japanese artisans make tons of things out of them!

    That aside, good tip about the corn starch! I never used Delta Texture Paste, which works good out of the container but their tips no longer fit with the regular bottles which is a complete waste of $10 USD.

    As for the paper clay thanks for the heads up! I never realize how crumbly it can look! There is a recipe there in Japanese floating out there for how to make the perfect breads that are still hard. I gotta keep looking.

    Nice to see ya post again! Long time no see.

  4. Hi Cindy! Don't worry I'm not going to ask any questions haha!

    anyway, I started out using airdry clay (jumping clay from Korea) for about a few months, so i've got a fair bit of experience there. I stopped using it cause firstly, i didn't like how it dried. It always dried fairly spongey to the touch, but could get kind of hard after maybe a few months? But you would still be able to scratch pieces off or pinched marks into it. So that was one big no-no for me.

    Secondly, I didn't like the fact that it's air-dry (okay huge DUH here haha), cause that meant that it reacted with water. I searched for AGES for a proper sealer to use on it, but almost all reacted, and when i used those that didn't, the sealer came off in white flecks when scratched.

    So i eventually dumped the entire lot, and switched to polymer clay instead. :)

    That's just my take on it, hope that helps somewhat! (and maybe korean airdry clay is different from japanese airdry?) I know there are many miniaturists who manage to work really well with airdry clay, and I can only say good for you guys! :)

    and i'm going to try putting corn starch in my texture paste, can't stand seeing that whole pot untouched! :) thanks Cindy for posting about the results!

  5. OMG i didn't realise i typed an entire blog entry there. haha. SORRY!

  6. WOW! Thanks everyone for leaving such in-depth comments! let's see what blogger's word limit is on comments ;)

    Thanks for the tip on Sculpey! I'm sure someone will find it useful, since I have already sworn off Sculpey LOL i think it's mainly due to the climate here, Singapore is just 1 degree north of the equator, so Sculpey literally melts in my warm hands :( I can't take credit for the texture paste idea, i'd read it off CDHM.org's forums, there's a member there who provided us the tip!

    she does wonderful work, i will have to update the entry to include her link....

    ooo you opened the pack! ahh! Grace seems to be the clay of choice for miniaturists in HK, Japan, eh? do you know if it dries waterproof? or do i have to seal it too? yeahh the paper clay does have a very good texture to it when sliced, just like real cake huh! problem is how do i seal it? :O >:E i have a can of MSC here, but i frankly don't think it's enough coverage to keep it waterproof...

    thanks for dropping by! i know i've somewhat 'disappeared' for a while, i've been battling a few real life issues....grrr darn that "REAL LIFE" always getting in the way of fun!

    haha sorry! i know i wrote yesterday's entry all crabby, i am very prone to mood swings :X

    yeah, i saw the jumping clay and wanted to test it but it's also rather costly isn't it? the application of sealants is so important, yet i can't find a good sealant nor effective way of sealing it. i hate painting cos it leaves streaks, and i am fearful of spray cans...for obvious reasons.

    i started out -with- polymer clay for the very reason, i knew that air dry clays don't dry waterproof.

    i think most japanese artists use resin clay instead, which is unexplored territory for me...haha

    you get capital letters cos i own items you've made and i have soo many questions for you! i didn't want to ask you too many things until i actually got to working with it...now that i have, brace yourself! :E

    in your blog post regarding materials, i know you use Grace, does it dry waterproof? what about sealants reacting with resin clay? does it scrape off easily as with the korean jumping clay?

    yes i suspect the hearty and daiso clay are paper clays, thanks for the tip on NOT kneeding! i thought i'd had to condition it like polymer clay LOL it's so different from what i'm used to! i'm actually pretty glad it doesn't really pick up details or you'd see all my fingerprints over it....

    Thanks everyone for chipping in, i have so many more unanswered questions, and wish to experiment a little more too...let's see how far i get....:P

  7. Hey Cindy!! Kick ass experiments!!! I think your macaroons and that cheesecake are super!! That cheesecake is VERY realistic. I also especially love the intense color of the macarrons....and the filling is GREAT!! I think it's worth the crabiness to continue your experiments ;-).

  8. Hey, stumbled on your blog off of DeviantArt.com

    I love your experiments with paperclay. They've inspired me to try working with it again.

    I did note that you were thinking about mixing polymer clay with paperclay and baking them together.

    From my own failures I can tell you that the paperclay doesn't shrink to a huge degree in the oven, no more noticeably than polymer clay does. But do not fully cover the paper clay with polymer clay, you'll get air bubbles no matter how well dried the paperclay was before hand. If you're just doing layers you should be fine, but a full covering will cause hideous air bubbles that will ruin whatever you were trying to make. The air in the paperclay caused the issue,not moisture, and since paperclay has air bubbles in it, there's nothing you can do to fix the issue before you bake it. I figured that out the hard way... :D

    Also you may want to try adding a few drops of yellow to your chocolate paint. If it's coming out purple, the yellow may help to bring it back towards the neutral side of things (brown color :D) Or you may want to try using watercolor (it comes in the pans, liquid, gel, and oil stick forms) The issue about the purpling may be fixable just by using a different pigment base. Acrylic a wet medium, while watercolor is a pigment that you add water to in order to change it's color... the watercolor may be rich enough to not turn purple.

  9. Grace IS waterproof and the acrylic on top of it. It gets hard enough to crack your skull LoL.
    see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asuka-sakumo/3628277786/in/set-72157610573613815/
    She's 15 months old and she is stuck to my handphone, but she is still fine except some scratches (you do know how klutz i am). Although I never try to dip it in the water.
    And as far as I'm working with it, my fingerprints never stick actually, so I rarely use tweezer except for tiny weeny bits.

    but for the ones that i mix with hearty needs to be varnished.

    well, i think i will write another post about air dry clay since i have some examples for now.

  10. Wow! What a treasure trove of information!!

    Kiva, Thanks ^ ^ yeah...you know i will...i'm obsessive that way :(

    WoundedEros69, thanks for dropping by and providing such wonderful insight! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, or i'd probably waste more clay trying heh heh. you learn from my failures, i learn from yours LOL

    also, your tip on the colours for my chocolate should come in useful when i next attempt it *GULP* do i dare tonight?....urr. it's too late. :X

    Asuka, THANK YOU THANK YOU! yes i've seen that cute charm before :D i guess resin clay is even harder than polymer clay when it dries :O i'll be looking forward to your air dry clay post :D

  11. Firstly, let me tell you, Cindy, that this is such a great post. Very informative although I don't know 1/2 of what you are writing and since you are so "fierce", I won't ask any questions (*giggles). When I start playing with clay, I will be back here so often, this post will have dog ears.

    You know I bought some air drying clay from Daiso (I am soooooo happy you are from here and can tell me exactly where to buy what) and they are still in the bags. Bought them last December and they must be old and malleable now.

    Your cakes are so amazing. I was just writing to Rosanna about the tiny childhood biscuits with candy topping like in your last pic because she just made some meringues. Do you know what the biscuits are called? Tell me in Hokkien or whatever dialect you know the name by.


Thank you for taking the time out to comment! :D