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How to Make Air Dry Clay Waterproof: A Complete Guide


If you enjoy crafting and creating unique pieces of art, you might be familiar with air dry clay. This versatile material has gained popularity due to its ease of use and ability to create various shapes and designs without the need for a kiln. However, one common challenge with air dry clay is its vulnerability to moisture. If left unprotected, it can easily become damaged or lose its shape. In this article, we will explore effective methods to make air dry clay waterproof, ensuring your creations stand the test of time.

A person skillfully molds air dry clay into a beautiful shape
A person skillfully molds air dry clay into a beautiful shape

Understanding Air Dry Clay

Before delving into the waterproofing techniques, let’s first understand what air dry clay is and its characteristics. Air dry clay is a type of modeling clay that dries naturally when exposed to air, eliminating the need for firing in a kiln. It is composed of various materials such as clay minerals, fibers, and fillers. This unique composition allows it to be malleable and easy to work with.

While air dry clay offers many advantages, including its affordability and accessibility, it also has some drawbacks. It tends to be more fragile and susceptible to moisture compared to other types of clay. This is why ensuring its waterproofing becomes crucial to preserve your creations.

Applying a sealant to protect air dry clay from moisture
Applying a sealant to protect air dry clay from moisture

Methods to Make Air Dry Clay Waterproof

Applying Sealants or Varnishes

One effective method to make air dry clay waterproof is by applying sealants or varnishes. These products create a protective barrier that prevents moisture from penetrating the clay. Before applying any sealant, ensure that your clay creation is fully dry. Choose a sealant suitable for your project, such as a clear acrylic spray or a brush-on varnish.

To apply the sealant, first, clean your clay piece to remove any dust or debris. Then, using even strokes, apply a thin layer of the sealant, ensuring complete coverage. Allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before adding additional coats, if necessary. Keep in mind that multiple thin coats are more effective than one thick coat. Once the sealant is completely dry, your air dry clay creation will have an added layer of waterproofing.

Using Waterproofing Agents or Solutions

Another method to make air dry clay waterproof is by utilizing waterproofing agents or solutions. These products are specifically designed to enhance the water resistance of various materials, including air dry clay. They penetrate the clay’s surface, creating a protective barrier that repels moisture.

To use a waterproofing agent, start by ensuring your clay creation is completely dry. Apply the solution using a brush or sponge, ensuring even coverage. Allow it to dry thoroughly before testing its waterproofing capabilities. Some waterproofing agents may require multiple applications for optimal results. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best outcomes.

Mixing Additives with the Clay

If you prefer to make your air dry clay waterproof from the start, you can mix additives directly into the clay. There are various additives available that can enhance the clay’s water resistance. One popular option is to mix in a waterproofing powder or liquid into the clay during the preparation stage.

To incorporate a waterproofing additive, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Typically, you will add a small amount of the additive to the clay and knead it thoroughly until fully blended. This method ensures that the entire clay structure benefits from the waterproofing properties.

Baking or Heating the Clay

Baking or heating the air dry clay is another effective method to increase its water resistance. This technique is particularly useful for smaller clay creations or jewelry pieces. By subjecting the clay to heat, it undergoes a chemical reaction that strengthens its structure and reduces its vulnerability to moisture.

To bake air dry clay, preheat your oven to the recommended temperature specified on the clay’s packaging. Place your clay creations on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them for the required duration. Once baked, allow the clay to cool completely before handling. This method not only waterproofs the clay but also increases its overall durability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you make air dry clay waterproof after it has dried?

Yes, it is possible to make air dry clay waterproof even after it has dried. By using sealants, varnishes, or waterproofing agents, you can apply a protective layer to the clay’s surface, preventing moisture from seeping in.

How long does it take for the waterproofing to set?

The time required for the waterproofing to set depends on the specific product or method used. Some sealants or varnishes may dry within a few hours, while others may require longer drying times. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for accurate drying times.

Can you use regular household items to make air dry clay waterproof?

While some household items might offer temporary water resistance, it is recommended to use specialized products designed for waterproofing air dry clay. These products are formulated to provide long-lasting protection against moisture.

Does making air dry clay waterproof affect its texture or color?

In most cases, making air dry clay waterproof should not significantly alter its texture or color. However, certain sealants or varnishes may have a slight impact. It is advisable to test a small, inconspicuous area before applying any waterproofing product to ensure it meets your desired aesthetic outcome.


Crafting with air dry clay allows for endless creativity, but it is essential to protect your creations from moisture to ensure their longevity. By employing methods such as applying sealants or varnishes, using waterproofing agents, mixing additives, or baking the clay, you can effectively make air dry clay waterproof. Experiment with different techniques and find the one that suits your specific project. With proper waterproofing, your air dry clay creations will withstand the test of time, bringing joy and admiration for years to come.

Remember, the key to successful waterproofing lies in choosing the right products and methods for your project. So, embrace your creativity, protect your art, and make your air dry clay waterproof today.

Check out our How-To section for more informative guides on various crafting techniques!


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