Clay Crafting, Final Project

How to Make Cold Porcelain

Ah yes, the last part of my clay science series: a homemade air-dry clay recipe! (I wouldn’t call this clay, exactly, but it’s easy to make, fun to use, and a very versatile sculpting medium.)

This air-dry clay is called cold porcelain. It’s used by a lot of artists to make fine works like flowers, and other highly-detailed sculptures.

Here is the recipe that I used. All of the ingredients can be easily found around the house (mostly your kitchen, except for glue. But who doesn’t have that at home?) and you can cook the ingredients together using a stove top or a microwave. Personally, I prefer using a microwave because bowls are much easier to clean than pots.

Now, I have had some practice with making this kind of clay. My first attempt went horribly, but my second and third attempts were much better. So, I decided to post a little review of sorts about it — pros and cons of using it, making it, etc.

Here we go!

Pros:

  • Super soft and requires no conditioning like traditional polymer clay.
  • Cheap, fun, and easy to make.
  • Can be colored with acrylic paints and markers (check out this tutorial video!)
  • Does not need to be baked (it’s air-dry).
  • Can be softened using water and lotion or dried out using cornstarch, depending on the consistency you want.
  • It’s super smooth when you flatten it out on a hard surface. (Feels like plastic, it’s amazing!)
  • Can be varnished with glaze

Cons:

  • Very messy to make! Be sure to use disposable items, i.e. a mixing bowl, spoon, etc.
  • Finished creations take time to cure (around 2-4 days, depending on the size of the piece).
  • Dries easily if left to sit out. Always keep it stored properly when you’re not using it!
  • Difficult to achieve the right consistency (easy to over or undercook).
  • Smells like glue (At least mine does, and it’s not a very nice smell. Add lotion to it to make it smell nicer!)
  • It shrinks as it dries. (Here’s an example of how much it shrinks.)

One of the most amazing things I learned about this medium is how easy it is to color it. You can even use markers! I recommend washable ones, so you can clean the ink off of your hands. I tried coloring some cold porcelain with a purple marker, and got this result:

You can see the difference between the purple cold porcelain on the left, and the “raw” uncolored cold porcelain on the right. The color of the “raw” cold porcelain, in case you can’t really tell by the photo, is an off-white sort of yellowish color. It’s not white at all. Cold porcelain made using the above recipe comes out translucent! If you want to make it white, you have to add white paint to it after it’s cooled. However, you cannot add a different color of paint to it afterwards because the cold porcelain will lose its consistency and it won’t be easy to fix. This is why I’d recommend keeping it translucent until you need to add color to it (if you’re using acrylic paint). This is also why I love the fact that you can color it with markers! It’s much less messy.

Concerning consistency, here’s what the cold porcelain shouldn’t look like:

As you can see here, there are cracks everywhere in the compound, and the ends where I pulled it apart are jagged and rough (not at all smooth, like they should be). This happens when you overcook the recipe! To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you must cook it properly. My best advice would be to use small time intervals and thorough stirring before and after each one.

Happy cooking and crafting!

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