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I recently decided to make some clay christmas tree decorations and did a bit of research on the internet to find the best clay to use. Obviously I dont have a kiln so it needed to be air dry clay - thats when I came across this on amazon. The reviews on amazon were very mixed - some saying it was awful to work with, others praising it, so I was a bit hesitant on buying it at first. Then one day when I logged onto my amazon account I noticed that the 500g packet was half price at £1.98 rather than £3.98 - so I decided to go for it. The clay comes in an air tight plastic red and white packet that you need to cut with scissors to get into. There are no instructions on the best ways to use it on the packet that are in English so the best thing to do is to look it up online, but it is very simple to use. As it is air dry clay, any clay that you are not using need to be kept securely wrapped up - which is why you get a sticky tab attached to the packet to seal it closed again once you have your desired amount. The clay itself is quite moist and is an off white colour when wet, its quite soft too so its easy to pull off as much as you need from the block inside the packet. I have to say despite the negative reviews I read above it I found it quite easy to work with. At first I rolled it out with a rolling pin and used a cookie cutter to cut hearts and stars out to make some christmas tree decorations. This was easy to do, and the clay doesnt stick to everything which is great. Next I used it to sculp several ghost ornaments for halloween, which again I found it easy to shape the clay with my fingers, any bits that were proving to be a bit difficult or any cracks that appeared i just dipped my finger in a little water and worked it into the clay. To dry you simply leave it out in for around 24 hours for thinner objects and about a day and a half for thicker ones. Obviously the drying time depends on the size and thickness of you creations. Once dry the clay seemed quite strong and turns a lovely bright white. Painting them was easy enough, although I would suggest avoiding anything with too much water in it as this dampens the clay again, I found acrylics to be the best paints to paint it with. Overall this is a great clay to work with, weather your creating art and sculptures or just playing with it with the kids. The fact that it can be air dried is perfect - the hardest part is having the patience to wait for it to dry! As I said earlier I buy mine from amzon, which is normally around £4 for 500g, at the moment though they have 1kg on sale for £6 - which is a bargain!
I like to do messy and creative play with my toddler at least once a week and over the last month we've been using this clay to produce some wonderful home-made presents and ornaments. One of the projects I had planned was making some ornaments for everybody's trees. I toyed with the idea of using salt dough, but in the end decided that I would get better results using air drying clay. I actually purchased two brands of clay, Early Learning Centre's version that cost £1.60 for 500g and this Das air drying clay that cost me £7.50 for 1kg. As both types of clay should (in theory) be similar, there will be times when I compare the two as I feel this will be more helpful than simply focussing on the one type. ==The Packaging== The Das clay arrives wrapped in an airtight package that needs to be opened with a pair of scissors. Once opened the package can be resealed using a sticky tab, well that's the theory anyway. In reality the sticky tab is not really up to the job and comes unstuck within seconds. This poor design means that unless you use the clay in one go, you will need to find another way of keeping the air away from it. It's probably a bit excessive, but I've wrapped my block in cling film and then placed it in a Tupperware style container with the lid firmly closed. By doing this I've managed to store the clay for a couple of weeks without it showing any sign of drying out. I must say that this is definitely a minus point for the Das clay especially as the ELC clay comes supplied in a screw top tub. ==The Clay== On opening the packaging you are faced with a largish block of off-white clay, that has a fairly soft consistency making it easy to tear a piece off for modelling. After tearing a piece off it does need a little work to make it pliable enough to do fine work with, I generally knead and roll it with a rolling pin, much as would if I were making pasta. I find it takes less than five minutes before the clay is ready to turn into pieces of artwork. When working with the clay it does leave an off-white residue on both my hands and the surface that I'm working on, but this residue washes off easily with a little soapy water. Once I've worked the clay, I allow my toddler to have a piece to squidge between his fingers, which he absolutely loves and then I roll the rest out into a flat sheet ready to use cookie and ELC Soft Stuff cutters. We find the clay's consistency is good, not so dry that it cracks as we work with it, but not so wet that it sticks to everything. By rolling it out to about ½-1 centimetre thick, we have no trouble pushing the cutters through the clay and then removing the access. One slight problem that I had first time, was the cut-outs being hard to lift off the cutting surface without pulling them out of shape, but this was resolved by lifting the rolled out clay before starting to cut. After cutting out the shapes it's easy to make holes in them ready for threading string through by using a toothpick. Once we've cut all our shapes out, we lay them on a cling film covered baking tray to dry. The time the clay takes to dry obviously depends on the size of your final product, but our ornaments took about 48 hours to become totally dry, with me turning them over at regular intervals. Once dry the clay's "whiteness" brightens considerably, meaning that the finished article is just off of pure white. The dried article is also considerably lighter than it was while wet, meaning that we can make fairly large ornaments with worrying that they will bend the tree branches. My only real issue here is that the clay appears to be made of fibres (like paper) which means the edges are a little rough and need sanding once dry. Once your project is completely dry it can be painted and the white clay takes colour very well, I've only ever used poster paint and have had good results with only minimal bleeding into unpainted areas. One slight problem at this stage is that the paint does make the clay a little wet and therefore fragile for a short while, meaning it needs to be dried between coats. At the decoration stage other embellishments can be added, we've glued on sequins and glitter which really adds the personal touch. Although you can leave the finished objects as they are, to protect them for years to come we've varnished them with a specialist varnish. I would imagine that clear nail varnish would also do a fairly good job. Once we'd painted, embellished and varnished our ornaments they looked absolutely fantastic, and I must say that using only 75g (out of 1000g) of clay we made 10 ornaments, meaning that the clay is great value for money, as this type of home-made, one-of-a-kind ornament would cost at least a couple of quid from a craft stall. As well as making these simple ornaments with my son, I have to confess that I've had quite a play with it myself create slightly more intricate pieces. Although I've never been particularly talented where art is concerned, I've always the tactile experience of working with clay. There's something about the feel of the clay as I work it and it earthy aroma that takes me back to my teenage years, when I spent almost a year working on a sculpture for my art GCSE, taking out all my anger and frustrations of a lump of clay while it slowly transformed into something that represented my inner self. While this isn't exactly identical to working with "real" clay, it's pretty damned close. It has just the right texture for creating even fairly intricate detail, soft enough to roll into thin sausages for plaiting or little balls but firm enough to hold it's shape. I've used it to create several projects including a name plate for my son's door, fridge magnets (using some magnets I bought in a craft shop) and a tea light holder. I can smooth a little water over the surface to help stick different elements of a project together and it holds once dry (although the paint and varnish may help). I can also use various objects to create patterns on the surface, for example if I press a piece of netting onto the surface it with leave a good imprint. I love working with this clay and find it therapeutic, even if I don't always get fantastic results. I also love that rather than needing to be oven or even kiln baked, this dries just by being left in the open air, although I have found that it's best to turn it regularly so that it dries evenly. So far I've had no problems with the clay cracking as it dries, but none of my projects has been particularly large. When I compare this clay to the ELC version, it has many advantages and very few disadvantages. The main disadvantage would be the price, gramme for gramme it is far more expensive than the ELC clay, costing £7.50 per kilogram as opposed to £3.20 per kilogram for the ELC clay and the ELC clay comes in a tub rather than being wrapped in plastic. But really that's it as far as the disadvantages go, unless you are looking for clay that is clay coloured. The ELC clay is much harder to work, so dry that I need to add water and is the colour of normal clay meaning it's harder to decorate. ==Final Recommendation== Although this clay is somewhat more expensive than some of the alternatives, it is a far superior product that I will be purchasing again. I've not tried the ELC coloured clay, but this is far easy to work with than their standard air drying clay. Both my son and I have enjoyed working with it and we've both created some really nice ornaments. Although I wouldn't really suggest allowing a child under the age of say eight to play with this unsupervised, it's an ideal medium for working with them. I especially like the fact that we don't need to worry about heating the oven up, which takes away the risk of burning (and the cost of the gas). So I'm perfectly happy to give the Das Air Drying Clay four stars out of five, with it losing the one star due to the rather unfit for purpose packaging. And I would recommend it for those who wish to make models and ornaments from clay without worrying about the need to fire or bake the final results.
I bought about 5 packs of this clay for a project i had in mind (which didn't turn out very well). I was originally trying to make a headpiece/helmet type thing (don't ask why), but it was very difficult to do using this type of clay. I found it quite hard to work with as the clay itself is rather tough, it's also air drying clay so you have to work pretty fast or constantly add water to prevent it from drying too quickly. It was quite difficult trying to blend parts of the clay together because as it dried, it would break away or crumble, so i had to keep adding more clay to try and support areas that were falling apart. During the drying process i noticed it was constantly cracking and for someone who doesn't really know much about clay it was difficult trying to avoid it. I did however use it for smaller creations such as making beads etc which worked absolutely fine; it dried a lot quicker and cracked a lot less. Overall it's not a bad clay for those more smaller creations but i'd suggest working with other forms of clay or avoid air drying clay for more ambitious projects.