The 5 Best Clay for Sculpting to Get Crafty with Right Away

In the world of crafting, there are lots of activities to do and let your creativity speak. One of our personal favorites is clay sculpting, one of the oldest forms of fine, plastic art in history. This form of art is suitable for any age, both kids and adults, which makes it even more accessible and fun. Sculpting is a skill you will be able to master quickly when starting with the right tools, basic techniques, and of course, the needed amount of practice.

Speaking of tools: what is sculpting without material? That’s right. We’re talking about clay.

Clay has indefinite options and allows you to create the most divergent art projects, from pottery to jewelry and casting reproductions. As there are many types of clay to work with, for different types of art (and artists), it’s likely to get a little bit lost in the wonderful world of clay.

And that’s where we come in: we have listed you an easy overview of the best clay for sculpting to use – whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sculpting and modeling artist.


Best Sculpting Clay

1: Best Sculpting Clay for Beginners: Sargent Art Plastilina Clay

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00FR7TR1O&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=justcraftingaround 20&language=en USir?t=justcraftingaround 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B00FR7TR1O

As a beginner, you want your sculptures to be created easily and be able to see the result quickly. Sargent Art’s Plastilina Clay is a perfect option to start, based on the above terms. As it is a mineral-based clay, which makes it safe to use at any age. Both adults and kids will effortlessly find their way around this material to create true pieces of art. The clay never dries out, which allows you to adjust and modify your crafts from time to time.

Because of the non-greasy texture, the clay will not stain on unwanted places, like clothing for example. The clay is quite elastic and pliable, which makes it easy to use, even for the tiniest hands! A big plus: the Sargent Art’s Plastilina Clay is non-toxic and has a budget-friendly price.

Specs:

Base: Mineral

Bake or no-bake: No-bake

Suitable for kids: Yes

Reusable: Yes

Quantity: 2lb

Color: White

Pros:

  • Non-hardening
  • Non-toxic, gluten-free, free of sulfur 
  • Leaves no residue on hands
  • Very inexpensive
  • Easy to blend with other colors
  • Simple to clean up after

Cons:

  • Needs to be softened before use
  • Can get too soft on warmer days, which can affect your artworks once they are already done.

2: Best Air-Dry Clay: Aurora Pottery Air Dry Clay

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07D735S8K&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=justcraftingaround 20&language=en USir?t=justcraftingaround 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B07D735S8K

This no-bake, water-based clay by Aurora Pottery is the perfect solution to get creative in sculpting and modeling without the use of an oven or kiln. It is a great option when you are looking for a pliable clay. The substance has a soft feel to it, which makes it simple to use.

As there are various options in volume and weight, your desired artwork from any size, from small to enormous, is just a click away when using this clay. It dries quite slowly on the air, which allows you to adjust your piece into detail. The clay is safe to use for kids, as the material is non-toxic and oil-free, and doesn’t stain. If you want to add some color, your dried artwork is easy to paint with acrylic paint.

Specs:

Base: Water

Bake or no-bake: No-bake

Suitable for kids: Yes

Reusable: Yes – if stored in an air-tight container after use

Quantity: 15 pounds

Color: Gray

Pros:

  • Air-dries: can be finished without being treated with heat.
  • Non-toxic
  • Suitable for any age
  • Can be colored easily with acrylic paint
  • Easy to use and sculpt
  • Available in different volumes

Cons:

  • Can be a bit fragile, which can result in cracking
  • Is best to use with gloves, as the material may be hard to remove from your hands after using

3: Best Polymer Based Clay: Original Sculpey Sculpting Oven-Bake Clay

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00LH1TV56&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=justcraftingaround 20&language=en USir?t=justcraftingaround 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B00LH1TV56

Another great all-rounder on the list, but which requires a bit more effort to reach the desired result, is this oven-bake clay by Original Sculpey. As it does not air-dry and it stays soft until it’s baked, it adds just one more (simple) step to your sculpting and modeling process. But still: all this can be done by just your kitchen oven in a few minutes (which gives you a moment to clean up a little and prepare for the coloring, for example).

Polymer is a substance based on polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Original Sculpey’s clay has the traits of ceramic clay, but it is easy to use, flexible, and extremely pliable. The material can be buffed, painted, carved, and sanded after use. It doesn’t have a glossy look to it after baking, but you can simply apply a glossy glaze to it if desired – ideal for making jewelry, for example. The other way around, you could also choose to mattify the sculpture.

Specs:

Base: Polymer

Bake or no-bake: Bake

Suitable for kids: Yes

Reusable: Yes – if stored in an air-tight container after use

Quantity: 3lb

Color: White

Pros:

  • Can be finished and heated easily in a home oven
  • Polymer is non-toxic
  • Suitable for any age
  • Can be colored with water-based acrylic paint
  • Easy to clean up after
  • Holds the finest details

Cons:

  • The clay will only be completely hardened after baking and completely cooling down
  • If you want to keep the original white color of the product, it’s important to keep your hands clean at all times, and the artwork away from dust and filth, cause it may be hard to remove

4: Best Clay for Sculpting Figures: Monster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B008UZLGIW&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=justcraftingaround 20&language=en USir?t=justcraftingaround 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B008UZLGIW

Oil-based clay is a great find for artists that are interested in casting reproductions. This modeling clay has a low density and comes with an oven-safe container. The smoothness and the fact that it is wax and oil-based are the most important benefits – given this, adding details is done within the blink of an eye. Monster Clay is a premium and professional-grade, free from sulfur clay and is melted easily to a more pourable consistency.

When the material starts to cool off, it is still practicable, but when using the microwave to soften the substance, it still allows you to shape it into any shape you want – into the smallest details. The clay can be used with platinum silicone molding compounds and is easy to store. Monster Clay claims that, because of the lower density, you get roughly 25% more clay per pound without the added cost compared to other oil-based clays.

Specs:

Base: Oil/wax-based

Bake or no-bake: No-bake

Suitable for kids: This clay is probably more suitable for experienced artists or adults

Reusable: Yes – if stored in the provided air-tight container after each use

Quantity: 20lb

Color: Natural

Pros:

  • High Plasticity and very smooth
  • Non-toxic, free from sulfur
  • Suitable to be re-used and re-melted indefinitely
  • Great to create bigger sculptures and figures
  • Less likely to crack compared to water-based clay
  • Large quantity, value for money

Cons:

  • The product is not suitable to be applied with direct heat
  • Less suitable for kids to work with
  • The wax cools off quite fast, and the wax might be harder to knead and master

5: Best Complete Sculpting Clay Kit: Polymer Clay Shuttle Art

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07HQGP98D&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=justcraftingaround 20&language=en USir?t=justcraftingaround 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B07HQGP98D

When you are on the lookout to make fun, colorful pieces and start with a complete set at hands, then this Polymer Clay Shuttle Art kit is probably your best choice. This extensive kit contains 50 different colors of oven-bake modeling clay, with a non-sticky, pliable feel, and is safe to use for children. The container is super handy and perfect to store and organize the clay and accessories.

Also, the kit comes with several sculpting tools and accessories, such as a silicone mold and tools to create small accessories like keychains or jewelry. It’s a great choice for adults as well as kids. The clay is non-toxic, eco friendly and with the clay can easily be finished in a home-oven, or even while using a blow-dryer, as well as the boiling method. If you ask us, it’s a great clay to experiment with on both bigger as smaller projects.

Specs:

Base: Polymer

Bake or no-bake: Bake (or boil/blow-dry)

Suitable for kids: Yes

Reusable: Yes – if stored in the supplied organizer

Quantity: 4.1lb

Color: 50 different colors

Pros:

  • Does not need to be colored after baking
  • Can be finished and heated easily in a home oven
  • Non-sticky and doesn’t stain
  • Extremely extensive kit
  • Holds shape well, as well as the finest details
  • Comes with a booklet which provides several ideas to sculpt and a lot of inspiration

Cons:

  • The sculpting clay can feel somewhat sticky, and thus it may be harder to remove residue from the hands
  • The colors in the kit are not provided with numbers or recognizable names whatsoever. This makes it hard to remember what color you used, and in the darker color section the clay may turn out to be a different color than expected after molding and kneading.

Our verdict on the best clay for sculpting

With the indefinite options available and suitable for different art projects, this choice wasn’t an easy one. But, for our overall best pick would be the Complete Sculpting Clay Kit, by Polymer Clay. As it comes with different colors and many accessories, and the substance of the clay is pliable and easy to form, it is a great option to start and get crafty! Last but not least: given the fact that this kit allows you to store all your craft tools simply together after using them, it’s a big plus when using in a household with kids.


The Buyers Guide

What is the best type of clay for sculpting?

As different types of artworks have their matching type of clay, it completely depends on what your desired result is. For example, small, jewelry-like pieces are best to create with Polymer Clay, but bigger sculptures or casting reproductions go well with oil or wax-based clay: there’s something for everyone. Once you have decided with what kind of project you would like to let your creativity speak, choosing the best type of clay is an easy job. That being said, the use of clay and sculpting has therapeutic qualities, as well.

Is air-dry clay good for sculpting?

As air-dry clay is extremely user-friendly, our answer is yes. As told by the name, air-dry clay dries on the air and thus doesn’t require to be finished with either a kiln or home-oven. It is commonly used as modeling clay and works great both with or without the use of sculpting or modeling tools.

What do I need for clay sculpting?

To start, you will want a (quiet, if you prefer) space where you can work freely and possible staining will not form a problem. Make sure to use a firm platform as a base to work on. Of course, you will need clay that matches your desired artwork. Next to that, access to water, and if needed, a heat source like a home oven or a kiln. These will do for the basics! There are indefinite sculpting and pottery tools to step up your game if you wish.

How do I fix cracks and breaks in my sculptures?

To avoid the above, we suggest you use premium quality clay, preferably an oil or wax-based. These types are less likely to crack. However, a great solution to cracks and breaks is to brush some water over the breaks and fill up the gaps, using spare clay while using your fingers to even out the surface.

What is the best clay for kids?

To help start your kids’ creative sculpting process as easy as possible, we recommend starting with a polymer-based clay, as it is pliable and soft and is often available in wide ranges of colors. There are many complete sculpting kits available, provided with many colors and accessories. Also, this type of clay is easiest to use with the tiniest hands!

My clay dried out, what now?

No worries! Different clays have different remedies for this matter. Air-dry clay, for example, can regain its structure by working it in your hands a little bit, allowing your body temperature to soften the clay. If that doesn’t work, sprinkle with water and let it sit for a minute or two, come back to it and try kneading it again. Oil-based clay is often easy to melt again with the help of a microwave.

Can using clay be harmful or toxic?

Clay can be toxic, but most clays nowadays are not. You can easily find the ingredients on the packaging, and look out for sulfur in this case. Almost all manufacturers provide toxin-free substances, but of course, better safe than sorry!


Final tips for crafty success and fun

Take some time to think: what do you want to create?

To achieve your final piece, it is nice to think about how you want the final clay sculpture to turn out. Try sketching, for example. When you are new to this 3D form of art, it can be helpful to think about from what direction and/or angle your artwork will be seen from most.

Test and play with your clay

Getting to know your clay and how it works is key. Allow yourself some time to hold, form, and knead the clay to see how it shapes. Depending on the type of clay you use, find out if the use of water is needed. A simple test to find out: is to form and roll a piece of clay in your hands, and bend it over. Does it crack? Then you will probably need some. If not, you’re all set.

Have fun!

If you ask us, having fun is the main road to creating a good piece of art. Let your creativity speak and use and try different techniques to finish your clay art with the use of a tool like carving for example. Putting pressure on yourself is the last thing to do, and make sure to not set the bar too high – whether you are just a beginner or an experienced artist. Creating art should be fun and easy. It goes up for all forms of art and skills in general: practice makes perfect!

If you are looking for more guidance in clay sculpting, pottery, and modeling, there are several (online) courses to follow, but also your local art studio can be a great inspiration and assistance in your learning process. A great choice for you to expand and discover your (maybe hidden) talents!


As always, comment below with your sculpting projects. Our community would love to see what you’ve made! Plus #justcraftingaround to connect with use as well!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.