Clay sculpting is one of my best creative activities and one of the oldest forms of plastic art known to mankind. Modeling is interesting and entertaining for both kids and adults; besides, it is very therapeutic to mold clay with bare hands. It requires no special education, and if you start with the right tools and materials, you can easily master the sculpting skills with a little practice.
It took me more than 20 hours to compile a list of the best clay for sculpting from leading brands based on my own experience and customers’ reviews. Read about the top options and put your knowledge into practice to make 3D action figures, jewelry, toys, and home décor or experiment on your own.
Rating of the Best Clays for Sculpting
DAS Best Air-Hardening Sculpting Clay
DAS is an iconic Italian brand of Dixon Ticonderoga, which has operated since 1963 and known throughout the world for its top-notch modeling clay. This clay is suitable for any age because it is easy to work with. It is white and comes in 2.2 lbs. blocks. The material is super pliable, so you can create both detailed items like jewelry and larger sculptures (BJD dolls, birds, flowers, fairies, animals, etc.). It sticks to any support and can be paired with other materials, for example, plastic.
This clay doesn’t require baking and dries in the air within 24 hours, which is a significant bonus. When dry, it can be painted with acrylic paint and tempera. The cleanup after work is easy.
- Available in white and terracotta
- Smooth and soft
- Easy to mold
- Not crumbly
- Ideal for carving
- A non-fire material
- Works well only for items intended for indoor use since they can dissolve in water after hardening if kept outdoors
- Out of the box, it has a strong smell
- A little expensive
Sculpey Original: Oven-Bake Polymer Clay
This non-toxic polymer clay from the U.S. brand Sculpey comes with an impressive weight of 8 lbs., which is a huge brick to be used for large school projects by a group of people. The clay is intended for experienced crafters and for kids under parental supervision since the material requires baking to keep the shape (at 275°F/135°C for 15 minutes).
The medium is very smooth and remains soft and flexible at room temperature. After baking, it is sturdy enough and can be drilled, carved, painted, and glazed.
- An awesome medium for making small items and projects
- Sold in white, granite, and terracotta
- Non-sticky and non-staining
- It is pliable and doesn’t dry in the air, which makes it ideal for young users to make endless mistakes and correct them
- Baked creations stand up to crumbling and cracking
- Requires oven-baking
- During the baking process, it emanates unpleasant fumes that can be an issue for people with allergies or sinus problems
Plastilina Non-Hardening Clay by Sargent Art
Plastilina is a mineral-based clay that doesn’t require baking. It doesn’t dry out and always remains soft, so you can use it over and over again. The material is perfect for making models of any kind and recommended for anatomy, science projects, and art sculpting practice. It can be molded with plaster, silicon, and rubber (for example, for sculpting faces).
The medium is great for children, entry-level crafters, and amateurs because it allows them to create sculptures easily, reshape and modify them, and get quick results.
The clay brick is divided into sections that are easy to break.
- Has an appetizing vanilla smell
- Comes in different size options (5 lbs. and 2 lbs.)
- Available in multiple vibrant colors (cream, white, brown, terracotta, etc.)
- Free from gluten, sulfur, and toxic compounds
- Suitable for all ages
- A budget-friendly price
- Too sticky and leaves some residue, so the working surface should be scrubbed after use
Arteza Polymer Clay Set of 42 Colors
This gorgeous colorful set from Arteza includes 42 polymer clay bars 1 oz./28 g each in assorted hues, including even metallic, and 5 sculpting tools to carve realistic figurines. The kit comes with some jewelry findings to create your own home décor items and fashion accessories (earrings and necklaces). You can mix and swirl the colors to make unique transitions of shade. The texture of the medium is a bit sticky but very flexible and allows the joining of pieces.
The ready-made items require baking, which can be done either in a regular oven or in a toaster oven at 266°F (130°C) for 15 minutes. However, most consumers state the items require a longer baking time.
- A plethora of vibrant colors that remain bright even after baking
- Arrives with additional modeling supplies
- Non-toxic and conforms to safety standards
- The box can be used for storage and travel
- Can stain the skin
- Leaves fingerprints on finished items
- The amount of clay in bricks is too small and suitable for kids’ use only
- After baking, bubbles may appear on finished items
Monster Clay: Reusable Pro Oil-Based Clay
This clay from The Monster Makers is a fantastic premium-grade material praised by professional sculptors, creature designers, and artists who are interested in casting reproductions. It is an oil-based material that’s water-resistant. The medium is often used by special effects departments for creating lots of the smallest details in movies, sci-fi and horror items for temporary display, cosplay projects, etc. It is great for modeling masks, mini busts, maquettes of buildings, cartoon characters, and dioramas.
The medium features a low-melting temperature formulation. It is a bit stiff when unpacked and should be softened in a microwave or under a heat lamp. Since it is oil/wax-based, high temperatures make it extremely pliable. The ready-made items dry without kiln. After they cool at room temperature, they become very firm.
In comparison to other oil-based clays, Monster Clay has a lower density, so customers get 25% more material at the same cost.
- Non-toxic and sulfur-free
- Exhibits unique high plasticity
- Packaged in an oven-safe container
- Can be reused and remelted
- The best medium for sculpting bigger figures
- Easily separates from silicone molds
- Not too soft and doesn’t adhere easily to itself
- Not cheap and intended for expert users
Crayola Air Dry Clay: Great for Kids Creativity
This bulky box of air-dry clay from Crayola features 25 pounds of modeling material packed in 4 bags, which is a suitable pack for group art projects. The medium comes in white color. It is very soft and pliable and can be reused by young sculptors. The finished creations dry out in the air to a hard solid in 24 hours and require 72 hours for thicker/bigger objects. The medium hardens on its own, no oven is required! While the clay is flexible, you can make stamped impressions and embed various objects.
The crafting process results in a manageable mess with a cleanup that requires only water.
- An extra-large pack
- Manufactured in assorted colors
- The dried pieces can be painted and decorated with glitter
- Easy to work for little hands
- Not messy and sticky
- Two separate pieces won’t dry stuck together and require some item to connect them (for example, a head and a body should be attached by means of a toothpick)
- Dried sculptures are prone to breaking and cracking (should be coated with a finish or glazed for longevity)
ACTIVA Plus Air Dry Clay with Exceptional Plasticity
This white modeling clay from the Spanish brand ACTIVA comes in a 2.2 lbs. block and features superior plasticity. It shows amazing durability and strength with minimal shrinkage (as stated by the manufacturer). The material is ideal for any art project and crafts and can be worked by any sculpting tool or by hand.
The medium requires no baking and self-hardens in the air. It takes 24 hours for a finished item, which is 0.25’’ thick, to completely dry out. After drying, the pieces can be drilled and carved. Up to the crafter’s preference, they can be kiln-dried.
- Accepts any finish
- Also available in terracotta and black
- Pliable at sculpting details
- Oven-baking is optional
- Doesn’t stain hands and supplies and washes off easily
- The product description is misleading: cracks can appear during the drying phase. Most users recommend drying items with a plastic bag on them
- The white clay has a slightly grayish shade
AMACO STONEX White Durable Clay
This AMACO STONEX clay comes in a pretty large brick of 5 pounds. The material is white and arrives in wet form, which makes it easy to work with. If the medium starts hardening while working, you can add some water to make it flexible again. It is suitable for making large-scale objects like statues, and it is hard to make detailed and miniature items due to its creamy texture.
The finished pieces dry in the air. When the items are completely dry, they can be painted or decorated.
- No baking is required
- The clay can be dampened to rework
- Has a sticky consistency
- The items crack after drying, they become fragile and brittle
- Dries slowly
If you have some questions left and you need more specific knowledge on the topic before heading for a crafts store, this FAQ section will fill your information gap. Share your questions in the comments.
What Is Clay for Sculpting?
What is sculpting clay? It is a malleable substance used for modeling. The composition and production process of this material vary. The medium is widely used for crafts ✂️ and sculpture projects.
What Types of Clay 🧱 for Sculpting Are There?
Here are some principle types of sculpting clay and their basic features.
|Type of Clay||Features|
Other types of modeling clays (epoxy, stoneware, ball clay, paper clay, etc.) are used by professional artists.
How to Make 🛠 Clay for Sculpting?
Artists on a budget can make modeling clay at home. There are multiple recipes circling on the Internet with useful tips on making medium on your own. The composition depends on the type of clay you want to get. You can create the following materials:
- salt dough clay (you need flour, salt, and water);
- air-drying clay (baking soda, cornflour/cornstarch, water);
- polymer clay (white PVA glue, cornstarch, baby oil, lemon juice);
- play dough (flour, salt, water, vegetable oil).
The proportion of the compositions is different and depends on the amount of homemade clay you want to get.
Where to Buy 🛒 Good Clay for Sculpting?
If you don’t want to waste your time making the medium at home, it can easily be found in any crafts store. Some of the most well-known crafts retailers in the country are Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Blick Art Materials. Amazon and eBay also offer an endless variety of crafts supplies and kits for customers of all ages.
Few Last Words
I can’t say there is right or wrong clay for sculpting since each of the reviewed materials has advantages and disadvantages. You can experiment with all types of clay and discover the one which works best for you. Comment on your sculpting projects, I’d love to see what you have made.