We're never too old to enjoy the best modeling clay.
Many people think that modeling clay is just for children. After all, parents and teachers use it to develop children's creativity and imagination.
Playing with clay also helps develop fine motor skills, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.
However, adults can join the fun, too.
Table of Comparison
Modeling Clay: What It Is and How It Is Used
Modeling clay covers a wide range of malleable products. It can be shaped and molded with your hands and with various tools for sculpting, thinning, rolling, texturing, scraping, cutting, poking, smoothing, and detailing.
You can build a form exclusively with modeling clay, or you can build clay onto a framework called armature.
Types of modeling clay
When it comes to material, there are five basic types of modeling clay.
- Oil-based clay
- Water-based clay
- Pottery or firing clay
This type of modeling clay is sometimes called plasticine and can stay soft and workable. It does not harden or dry out, and it doesn't stick to your hands.
Oil-based clay comes in many different colors, and you can blend them to create almost any shade.
Water-based clay is exceptionally versatile and has properties similar to oil-based clay. It is smooth, pliable, slow drying, and works great as a fast sculpting medium.
This clay needs to be kept moist, usually with a spray bottle or a damp towel. It is not made to be baked.
Dough modeling clay can either be edible or not. Often called playdough, this type of clay is easily made at home.
One of playdough's useful features is that it is reusable. However, you cannot use it to create lasting items unless you bake it to set and preserve its form.
This type of modeling clay displays various degrees of softness at room temperature. You can blend a softer variety of polymer clay with a firmer one to make it stiffer yet still easy to work on.
After creating your masterpiece, bake it in an oven at 265 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit to make it really hard. Polymer clay comes in different colors, and you can even paint on the finished product.
This clay is used as the primary material for stoneware and pottery. It is worked by hand and with the help of a potter's wheel, then air-dried and fired in a kiln.
Pottery clay can be glazed with glossy or any specialty finish and can be painted and decorated. It is usually available in terra cotta or white clay.
Why use modeling clay?
Artists and other professionals prefer to use modeling clay for some aspects of their work. It's because the material is versatile and can be molded into any shape.
Moreover, you can make a clay figure and preserve it for a long time. For certain types of clay, you can make something, then break it down and remake it into something else.
Modeling clay is also durable. If you create something, it can stay that way for a long time as long as it remains undisturbed.
Building something with clay also allows you to save time and money. This is because clay is a readily available, relatively inexpensive, easily manipulated, and low-maintenance material.
Tips on Working with Modeling Clay
Different types of modeling clay require different techniques when you work with them. Some clay mediums are easy to manage and work with because they're soft and pliable. Meanwhile, some are harder and firmer, thus requiring more strength and pressure.
Some clays harden a little when left out in the open, some need to be fired in a kiln or baked in an oven, and some don’t harden at all. You need to know the characteristics of each type of modeling clay and the characteristics you need for your project.
For instance, if you want to make little pots for your succulents, you can go for a hard pottery clay such as terra cotta. If you want to make colorful beads for handmade jewelry, there’s polymer clay. And if you want something for your children to play with, go with dough.
What to Look for in the Best Modeling Clay
The best modeling clay for your project should be flexible and easy to form into any shape. It should be malleable and soft enough for you to knead, roll, and form without causing too much strain on your hands, wrists, and fingers.
On the other hand, avoid products that too soft to support their own shape and form.
The best modeling clay should also be ready to use and mold out of the box. Additionally, it should be able to take a lot of handling and pressure, should react well to heat, and should not dry out and crack when left in the open.
The best modeling clay should also come in the colors you want. Otherwise, you need to be able to paint on its surface.
Best Modeling Clay: How We Chose
We then compiled a shortlist of candidates. Next, we checked each one on Amazon and narrowed the list further to the ones with high ratings and excellent customer reviews.
Best Modeling Clay: Our Recommendations
What is the best modeling clay that you should be buying right now?
Sculpey Super Sculpturing Compound is a soft and pliable polymer clay that lends a ceramic-like effect to your finished product. Once you oven-bake this semi-transparent clay, feel free to carve, sand, glue, and paint it with acrylics.
Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, this product comes in beige-pink.
Sculpey Super Sculpturing Compound gets a lot of praise on Amazon, with people saying that they love this product's medium density. They like how you can soften the product a little bit by working on it with your hands.
Some said that this product is excellent for making models where serious detail work is needed. Some also said they love the fact that the Sculpey Sculpturing Compound is not sticky on the hands and can hold its shape well.
However, some complained about this clay being hard, dry, and difficult to work with. Some buyers find the Sculpey Super Sculpturing Compound too expensive.
Daiso Soft Clay is lightweight and very soft. It is also easy to mold and form into any shape.
This product is suitable for small children as it's inexpensive and comes in many colors. With a little bit of water and moistening, you can make it more pliable.Reviewers on Amazon love how this clay does not stick to the hands. They also like that it hardens through natural drying and doesn't need to be baked anymore.
Several reviewers also used this clay to make butter slime, and they said it has a soft and fluffy feel.
However, some people were not happy about the way this product smells. Some also complained about the misinformation regarding the colors as they expected a set of different colors and were disappointed to get only one.
The PolyClay Air Dry Clay is a great clay set for children as it can help improve their creativity and cognitive ability.
The kit includes non-toxic air-dry clay in 36 various colors, as well as silicon molds, clay shaping tools, polyfoam face and body shapes, noses, googly eyes, keychains, fishbones, metal rings, and vacuum hangers.
The product is soft, non-sticky, ultra-light, and easy to shape. You can just leave your finished creation, and it will dry naturally without any cracking.
Paint the dried clay with acrylic, watercolor, oil paint, and even nail polish.
Users on Amazon love how the clay feels soft yet able to keep its shape well. They also like how the set already includes everything they need to get started.
There are users, however, who complained about the clay stubbornly sticking on their kids' clothes like glue. Some buyers also commented on the pieces being too tiny for children to work with.
Jovi Plastilina Reusable and Non-Drying Modeling Clay is a set of 30 premium non-drying vegetable-based clays in 15 colors. This clay is highly malleable and boasts a smooth texture.
Because this clay does not dry out and harden, you can keep on reusing it to create another shape.
This product gets a high rating on Amazon, with some buyers attesting to its high quality. And because the clay can be reused, it means endless hours of fun for their children.
However, some people complained the clay is too hard. They said it is challenging for kids to work with, as it requires a lot of strength. Some also commented on the unpleasant smell.
Crayola Air-Dry Clay is a fine, natural white earth clay in a resealable plastic bucket. This air-dry clay dries to a hard solid when left outside.
Aside from being easy to mold, this product also promises easy cleanup. Compared with traditional clay, this one claims to be smoother and less sticky, too.
Just add a little water to soften the clay and make it easy to shape.
Users on Amazon give this product high ratings, saying that their kids love playing with it. According to them, it's nice how you can easily soften the clay with a bit of water.
There are, however, those who warned that the clay cracks after drying. Some also said the drying process takes too long.
AMACO Air Dry Clay is an all-purpose air-dry clay. You can use it to sculpt or hand model, or you can throw it onto a potter's wheel.
Air-dry finished products evenly on all sides. You can then paint and decorate them once they are hard and dry.
The product gets favorable ratings on Amazon, with users saying the clay is smooth and fine. Users also love how they can get extremely detailed with the material.
However, a few users complained about the clay being cheap for a reason. Most negative comments also mention the product being prone to cracking and crumbling.
This one-pound of solid-color non-toxic modeling clay is non-hardening, long-lasting, and reusable. It is ideal for sculpting and modeling prototypes and different projects.
Sargent Art Modeling Clay is available in a wide array of colors that you can mix and blend together.
Users give this product a high rating on Amazon. People love how this reusable product because it doesn't dry out and crumble. There was also mention of the clay easily cleaning off of both hard surfaces and clothing.
Other users admit not liking the product's smell, though. There are also those who claimed the clay stains their hands and that the color is hard to wash off.
This DARICE Modeling Clay Set has 72 clay sticks in assorted colors. The vast array of colors provides plenty of opportunities for creativity.
The clay has a non-hardening formula, making it reusable and ideal for mixed-media applications.
Buyers on Amazon love how the clay sticks come in sizes and colors that are great for small projects. They also like the clay's smooth texture and how it doesn't dry out.
Users did mention it can be hard for small kids to manipulate. And it can be very sticky when left out in the sun.
The Best Modeling Clay: Which One to Pick?
Have you decided on the best modeling clay to use for your next craft project or for your kids?
All of these products promise hours of fun while encouraging creativity for children and grownups alike. The best modeling clay will prove that working with your hands is excellent therapy.
Did this help you in your search for the best modeling clay? Tell us about the one you want to get in the comment section below.
Featured Image Via Pixabay