MM Part Three – Project One – Molding from a surface – Air Drying Clay

Part Three Project One – Moulding from a Surface – Air drying clay.

While I was impatiently waiting for my plaster and paper mache samples to dry I thought I might try out some air drying clay to capture the surface texture of some objects.

This is something I have had in my art supplies for some time but have never used. The clay comes in a sealed foil packet but over the years I’ve had this packet it had started to dry out, this I found out once I had opened it.

A google search of how to revive the clay suggested that kneading the clay with damp hands would help. I tried this and might have over wet my hands as the surface of the clay became slimy and difficult to work. However after a couple of turns of the clay, kneading as if it were bread dough, the clay became more pliable and less sticky.

I rolled out the clay in to a sheet 2-3 mm in-depth. I then cut this in to several pieces. One was pressed in to the skin of a pineapple, another in to a piece of chopped fire wood and a third pressed on to the blind used with the plaster bag to capture the slats and the looped string. With the small amount of clay left I pressed it between the joints of my fingers and palm. This has left some interesting lines in the clay.

Below are photos of each of these samples and any drawings made.

These took longer to dry than I had anticipated, 2 to 3 days, but at least I could see the finished surface while they were doing so. I then felt no need to disturb the samples while they were drying.

I enjoyed using this clay as it gave some quick samples, even if they took a while to dry, and could be used to capture surface textures easily and then be used to print from or cast further samples.


I also used some plasticine to cast from. This seemed a natural progression from the samples made above. I found some of the oil based, old-style, plasticine at a pound shop. It was very hard to work with so I microwaved it for twenty seconds to soften it up slightly. I rolled out a small sheet and pressed it in to the blind slats to capture the surface texture.

I then built up a perimeter around this sample to allow the plaster to be contained once it was poured in. The plaster was allowed to set, removed from the container and the plasticine removed. This gave a good cast of the plasticine. This would be a useful method when the surface texture wishing to be captured was in such a position that plaster could not be directly applied to it, eg on a ceiling or wall.

I repeated this with play doh but this was much softer. The detail was cast well but the majority of the play doh is still in the cast produced. I had hoped that the remaining play doh would dry out and I could pick it off the cast, unfortunately this hasn’t been the case. I have begun scraping off the play doh but there is still a lot remaining.

Both types of plasticine captured lots of the detail of the blind. However the resulting plaster cast from the play doh sample is almost useless as the play doh can’t be removed from it. The oil-based plasticine has transferred some of the colour from the dough to the plaster so that could not be used as a finished sample as this extra colour would be visible.

These could be painted to cover over the extra transferred colour or could be used to cast other materials.



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