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The Difference Between Polymer Clay and Air Dry Clay

polymer clay and air dry clay

In the world of crafts and sculpting, a diverse range of materials exists, each with its unique properties and applications. Two popular choices among crafting enthusiasts are Polymer Clay and Air Dry Clay. Although often used interchangeably, these two types of clay possess distinct characteristics that warrant understanding for choosing the most suitable one for your artistic projects.

polymer clay and air dry clay


Definition of Polymer Clay and Air Dry Clay

Polymer clay, a synthetic material, is mainly composed of PVC particles, plastic softener, and binder. On the other hand, air dry clay is made from natural ingredients such as clay, minerals, and water-based additives. The most striking difference is in the hardening process; Polymer clay requires baking to dry, while air dry clay hardens itself when exposed to air.Main Differences

Main Differences Between Polymer Clay and Air Dry Clay

Composition and Ingredients
Polymer clay has synthetic components that provide greater flexibility and modeling capabilities. Meanwhile, air dry clay contains natural ingredients which provide a softer and brittle texture.

Hardening Process
The hardening process is a fundamental difference. Polymer clay requires controlled heat, usually from an oven, to harden. Meanwhile, air dry clay hardens naturally with exposure to air over time.

Required Tools and Materials
Modeling with polymer clay requires special equipment because it is hard after drying. In contrast, air dry clay requires few tools, mainly using moisture to facilitate modeling and smoothing the surface.

Color Variations and Mixing
Polymer clay offers a wider choice of colors and easier mixing due to its synthetic nature. In contrast, air dry clay has limited color options and may require additional painting after drying.

Differences in Use and Application
Polymer clay is more suitable for detailed projects because of its fine modeling capabilities. Meanwhile, air dry clay is more suitable for large-scale sculptures and more organic shapes because of its softer consistency.


Modeling Techniques
Polymer clay allows for fine details in modeling. While air dry clay is more suitable for more organic shapes.

Roasting and Hardening Methods
The baking process for polymer clay requires controlled heat to harden. In contrast, air dry clay hardens independently with exposure to air.

Surface Finishing
Both types of clay offer a variety of finishing techniques, including sanding, painting, coating, and adding texture.

Comparing Finished Products Between Polymer Clay and Air Dry Clay

Differences in Appearance and Texture
Polymer clay projects retain fine detail and bright colors after baking. Air dry clay displays a softer finish and may require additional painting.

Durability and Longevity
Polymer clay products tend to last longer due to baking. However, air dry clay may be more brittle and susceptible to breakage.

Potential Applications
Polymer clay is suitable for detailed crafts such as jewelry making, while air dry clay is suitable for large sculptures and other crafts.


In short, understanding the difference between polymer clay and air dry clay is important for choosing the right material for your craft business. Each clay offers different advantages and limitations, meeting various project needs and skill levels. Whether you prefer the diversity of polymer clay and air dry clay, both provide exciting opportunities for artistic expression.

In concluding the discussion about The Difference Between Polymer Clay and Air Dry Clay, it’s important to remember that understanding their differences can assist in choosing the right material to create unique and satisfying pieces of art. Clay Garden offers dolls made with air dry clay, have beautiful designs, and are available at affordable prices.

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