This blog is the 2nd in a year-long series on clay modeling.
With our manual in hand, it was now time to choose clay. I had a few factors which greatly influenced my decision.
- Cost. We have over 20 children in our learning community, so cost was definitely a factor.
- Curing method. We did not have easy access to a kiln, so air dry or home oven dry were our only choices.
- Quantity. Over the course of the year, it was clear each child (depending on which models families chose to keep) could need as much as 5 lbs of clay.
- Appearance. We want our models to be beautiful.
I was also guided by this paragraph on p. 12 in the A Manual of Clay-Modelling:
21. Terra-cotta clay is the best material for the work. The red clay has the advantage of pleasant colour, and it is also, if properly prepared, smooth and free from grit.
I settled on the 10-pound box of terra cotta AMACO Air Dry Modeling Clay.
Where to Get the Clay
The clay is available through several locations. You can order it on Amazon, but I found our most economical decision was to buy it locally at Hobby Lobby. Our store stocks it for $10.95 a box, and I was able to purchase it with a 40% off coupon.
I first chose to store the clay in a simple Ziploc bag; my clay is still in this bag. For the children, I made the decision to upgrade to bags with sliders to hopefully minimize the possibility of a bag not being sealed properly and the clay drying out. If you do this, go with a name brand bag. I tried to save some money by buying a store brand, and several of the bags quickly failed. I like the bags as they simplify reconstituting the clay, because you can kneed it right in the bag. The bags seem to be working for the children, but I may experiment in the future with a recycled plastic container.
So far, the clay seems good. I have used it to make slabs and several oranges. It takes awhile to dry (several days), but the models do dry hard. I have also resoftened hardened clay, though this takes several days as well. The clay is messy but is also very easy to clean up. I will most likely experiment with other clays in the future, and I’ll share what I find.
Next time, I will share about the tools I have chosen for us to use.