10 Best Clay for Sculpting (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020

Whether it’s for art or fun, good clay is always appreciated. If you are a sculptor, then you already know about the wide varieties of clays.  For both amateurs and professionals, we have listed the best clay for sculpting.

However, if it is not of good quality, your whole project might go down the drain. Factors, like how dry or wet the form, can make a world of difference.

Besides, the workability of clay is another essential factor. How easily you can shape the material into your desired figure is something sculptors emphasize on.

Top 10 Best Clay for Sculpting In 2020

Our review will include products that are best for all sculptors, artists, and anyone who enjoys making clay products.

1

Air Dry Clay, 24 Colors Modeling Clay

Air Dry Clay, 24 Colors Modeling Clay
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This clay comes in 24 different colors. So let your kid’s imagination go wild with this colorful set.

We know you want the best for your kids, which is why we suggest this clay. Not only is it going to be fun and educational for your child, but this is also very safe.

The colors comply with all the required standards; hence, you don't have to worry about your kid's safety.

These are also used for modeling in classes and are great for pottery. You can shape them in any form as they are pliable and soft.

Being soft, it is elementary to work with them. Moreover, they come in sealed bags. Once you're done, leave it for 24hrs to dry, and once dried, you can keep them in the sealed bags to retain them.

These are very durable once dried, so you don’t have to worry about them deforming.

The material is non-messy; therefore, it doesn't create residues or mess when working with.

Another factor that takes our bid is, you can paint over them with acrylic paint for better color and consistency. Once painted over, your artwork will not only look much better, but it will be more durable as well.

Key Features:

  • Soft and pliable to shape
  • Can use acrylic paint over them for durability
  • Dries in about a day
  • Comes with 24 colors and sealed bags
2

Air Dry Clay, 36 Colors DIY Modeling Clay Kit

Air Dry Clay, 36 Colors DIY Modeling Clay Kit
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Use this to make the most diverse artwork of your choice. With 36 colors present, anybody can let give a shot at exploring their creativity. With this clay, you can almost bring any art to live because of the sheer color options you have.

Not only that, you can mix the colors to create different colors as well.

Be it for sculpting or artwork; there isn't a safer product in the market. This product is eco-friendly and non-toxic, meaning it is safe to work with. Moreover, if you're working on a project of your own, then this will also work for you.

The best feature of this is how soft and moldable this. You can pretty much use its flexibility to shape it into any form. Besides, it won’t stick to your hand or feel sticky like many other alternatives. Since it's soft, we recommend this for children.

Furthermore, this dries off just as neatly. You won't be seeing cracks on it, and you need not bake it to dry it. Once dried, you can use the sealed tubes to store it for a long time without damaging it or breaking it.

Lastly, when dried, you can use many different paints on it, like watercolor, oil paint, nail polish, etc.

Key Features:

  • 36 different colors available
  • Colors can be mixed to create new colors
  • Very soft and moldable
  • The eco-friendly and non-toxic clay
3

36 PCS Colorful Kids Modeling Soft Clay

36 PCS Colorful Kids Modeling Soft Clay
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If you want a clay that will let you test your creative and practical abilities, then look no further.

When using this modeling material, you don’t have to worry about it splitting, as this is exceptionally stretchable and strong. It can endure the force you exert to mold it into the position you want. 

But don’t mistake its strength for hardness. The material is very squishy and doughy. You can use it for modeling in most of your projects.

Moreover, it’s also eco-friendly and harmless. It won’t irritate your skin, but for your hygiene, we recommend washing your hands after use. As it is a certified safe product, you don't have to worry about it.

It will dry off on its own in 24hrs. You have to store both the used and unused clay in a sealed container to keep it unspoiled. However, during its drying process, it needs air. Otherwise, it might not retain its shape.

This is also a great gift for giving to sculptors. Further, this product is priced at a more reasonable rate than most of its substitutes. But you get no less in value. Therefore, when you take the price into account, it is the best sculpting clay.

Key Features:

  • Reasonable price comparatively
  • Air-Dry clay that dries in 24 hours
  • Stretchable and strong clay
  • Very squishy and can be shaped easily
4

24 Color DIY Creative Street Model Clay with Tutorial

24 Color DIY Creative Street Model Clay with Tutorial
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If you want bright and realistic finishes to your model, you will like this DIY colored clay.

This will give you the brightest color to bring your sculptures to life. You can also create DIY accessories with this. For instance, the colors are great for making earrings, vases, figurines, etc. There is no limit to the variety of items you can create using this.

In this package, you get 24 different colors. But all the colors are different and useful. Instead of focusing on the shades, CiaraQ has focused on a variety of colors, giving you all the ranges. Therefore, you can use your creativity to create the color you need by blending a few shades.

These are great for your projects not only because of their vibrant colors but also because they are stretchy and pliant. You can mold it into a form of your choice with ease. Also, you can stretch it long without splitting it.

To dry this, you can either boil it or bake it using the instruction given. Once dried, they will be resilient and durable. 

On top of that, you can paint over it with other colors to make it even more vibrant.

Key Features:

  • Can be shaped with ease
  • Needs baking or boiling to dry
  • 24 colors to choose from and more can be blended
  • Stretchy and pliant
5

Sculpting and Molding Premium Air Dry Clay

Sculpting and Molding Premium Air Dry Clay
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If you’re a professional looking for best sculpting clay, this is where your search ends.

This pro-graded clay is all you need to make the most exquisite sculptures. Carve your creativity into it in any shape imaginable.

As a sculptor, you won’t get more freedom than this to put your thoughts into carving.

This is great for molding faces or hands as you can make small adjustments with ease. As this clay is water-based, it is also very soft and has a smooth consistency.

Nowadays, this clay is seen in the creation of special FX in the movie sets. Moreover, you can use this for pottery and also throw it on the wheel. Its uses are limitless.

You can dry it using suggested methods, or you can wait for it to dry itself slowly. Once dries, use colors to paint over it to make it perfect. Acrylic paint or watercolors work on it. 

Since it comes as a considerable chunk and is of professional-grade, it is quite expensive.

Key Features:

  • Dries itself but slowly
  • Professional modeling clay
  • Used in movie sets, pottery, sculpture
  • Can be painted over after drying
6

42 Colors, Polymer Clay Starter Kit

42 Colors, Polymer Clay Starter Kit
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When you’re not a fan of blending colors, you want a set with many different clays. This is why Arteza has the perfect answer for you.

Their Polymer clay has 42 different colors to choose from. This includes solid, neon, and metallic colors. This will challenge your artistic flair to new heights. 

Moreover, these use premium material, so they’re very squishy and flexible. As a sculptor, you will enjoy the possibilities that this set has to offer. That's why we selected this clay in our Best Clay for Sculpting list

Be it your DIY projects of making ornaments and figures or your true passion for carving models; you can do it all with the Polymer Clay.

But if you’re unsure about how to proceed, then use the tools and accessory packs to get your sculpting started.

You have to bake it in the oven to dry it. When done, you will get a very good consistency and smooth structure — no cracks or creaks.

Further, this clay is also certified by ASTM as a non-toxic and safe product. You can let your kids play with it to make miniatures and small accessories. It is soft enough to be molded in any shape but sometimes a little sticky, so make sure you wash your hands after use.

Key Features:

  • 42 different colors to work with
  • Solid, neon and metallic variations
  • Useful for DIY projects and making ornaments, miniatures, etc.
  • ASTM certified product
7

Air Dry Clay, 24 Colors DIY Modeling Clay

Air Dry Clay, 24 Colors DIY Modeling Clay
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It is the second Szsrcywd product on this list. They are known for their reasonable prices and vibrant clays.

This one also comes with 24 different vibrant colors. Moreover, it is also very lightweight.

When the clay is too heavy, it becomes challenging to make small adjustments. On the other hand, if it's too soft, it loses some consistency. But this one has just the right weight and consistency. It's not too soft or too hard. It's soft when you touch it, but this won’t create a mess. That is, it won’t get stuck to your hands.

Also, even the ROHS has certified this product as safe and non-toxic. So, don’t be concerned about it, and start being creative with this modeling clay.

However, since this is an air-drying type, you don't need to bake it. But that also means if kept in the open, your mold will dry up. So, be sure to cover up the ones that haven't been used.

You can let your kids use this to let them learn to carve because the material is such that it’s perfectly safe for kids to play with.

Key Features:

  • Price well within budget
  • Lightweight and soft
  • Certified non-toxic product
  • Dries up in a day
8

Monster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay (5lb)

Monster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay (5lb)
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For making precise and subtle changes to your model, this is the clay. This premium quality clay is all over the world by specialists for making masks and sculptures.

This is great for making small details apparent and has a medium consistency. Therefore, this isn’t the softest clay, but it will undoubtedly hold its own among them. You can use this to make those subtle changes that you won't get from other clays. This clay is for perfectionists. 

Besides, this is a medium soft product so that it will hold itself together tightly. Unlike the other products on our list, this is a bit different. It is more for shaping intricate parts and other delicate models.

So this product is best for professional sculptors and artists. Anyone who pursues art as a career uses this molding to create amazing sculptures.

That is also why this product is more expensive than most products on our list.

However, you get this in 5 lbs. So, you need to buy it in a large amount that you might not always need. So a lot of it gets wasted if not stored properly. Therefore, the price is not unreasonable.

Key Features:

  • Premium grade clay for professionals
  • For detailed and precise modeling
  • Expensive but comes in a large amount
  • Not very soft but flexible
9

Sargent Art Plastilina Modeling Clay, 5-Pound, Cream

Sargent Art Plastilina Modeling Clay, 5-Pound, Cream
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Sargent Art is one of the most prestigious brands of clay. They have been in the business for more than 75 years and know very well about the historical importance of sculptures.

In their love for history and sculpture, their modeling clay is one of their best works because it is a non-hardening clay.

Therefore, no matter how long you keep it open, it won’t dry off and stay in the same soft form. So the work you can do with it is also different, and it will test your carving skills. 

This special mold is best for sculpting flowers, projects, etc. Another interesting feature of this is, unlike clays that dry off, you can reuse this non-hardening clay multiple times.

Moreover, this is also very affordable. So a product you can reuse in an affordable range, what more could you need? So, for beginners who are learning to carve, this could be just the practice clay they need.

Besides, this clay is easy to work with and also very reliable. You won't disfigure it just by touching. So you can keep your work before deciding to reuse it.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use and reliable
  • Doesn’t harden or dry out
  • Suitable for practice as it can be reused
  • Affordable price that students can pay for
10

24 Colors Air Dry Clay Super Light DIY Clay for Model

24 Colors Air Dry Clay Super Light DIY Clay for Model
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With 24 colors to choose from, Hawooky also comes with the instructions needed to blend these colors into other colors. Therefore, you’re getting a lot more than 24.

This set is extremely light. So, it will be effortless to work with. You can shape the squishy clay as you like and make whatever you want. All sculptors will enjoy working with this.

Moreover, it also dries off on its own in a day, and once dried, it will still retain its lightweight property.

However, being lightweight, it might break easily, so be careful with it.

The thing we like about this clay is its quality. This uses good quality clay that won’t stick to your hands and is not harmful either.

If you’re unhappy with what you have made, but it's already dried, then don't worry. Because you can shape it back to its molded form by using wet hands slowly turning it back to its muddy form. Don’t use too much water as you might ruin its consistency.

This is also one of the cheaper clays, so if you are planning to give this to kids to play with, then this can be a great gift.

Key Features:

  • Easy to work with and resilient
  • Colors can be blended to create different shades
  • Lightweight and soft
  • Won’t stick and harmless

Things to Consider Before Buying Clay for Sculpting

Sculpturing finesse all comes down to the quality of the clay. You can possess the best skills, but without good clay, that skill might fall short of good.

So to be a sculptor, you need to identify the good clays from the bad. It is best to buy them by feeling and inspecting them first-hand.

Here's a look at the essential features to keep in mind before you buy it:

Types of Clay

You can't expect to purchase good clay if you aren't accustomed to the types. But this is where it gets tricky. There's a wide variety of sculpting clays that will confuse even the eyes of a pro.

While terms like ceramic, oil-based, or water-based may confuse you, it is important to remember your objective is to make a sculpture. So, don't let it cloud your mind and look for the best ones that will help you with the type of work you wish to do.

Therefore, learn about the types of clay and their advantages and disadvantages before buying anything.

Softness

Beginners assume right away that the softer the clay, the easier it is to carve. But that perception is incorrect. A dough that's too soft might not retain the shape that you hone.

But being hard is not good either as then you won’t be able to shape it without hurting your hands. Therefore, the right consistency is indispensable for a good clay.

Stretchable and Pliable

A good dough should be able to stretch itself without splitting. Also, it should be pliable so that you can bend it or fold it as you like.

Drying Process

Quick-drying clay is suitable for small projects or kids playing. If you're working on DIY projects or making decorative ornaments and accessories, then you should buy clay that is quick to dry.

But for modeling or sculptures, you should buy wet clay that will be wet till you're finished with your work.

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Ease of Use

Sculpturing is the work of your hands. The delicate and subtle changes that your hand makes need to be backed by the clay. So, the clay needs to be easy to work with. If not, you will be straining your fingers unnecessarily.

How to Use Clay for Sculpting?

Sculpting with clay can become easy or hard, depending on the preceding decisions. But if you somehow end up on the wrong side of the door, you might not want to sculpt ever again.

So, follow these steps to be on the right side of the door:

Step 1: Select the Right Type of Clay

There are many types of clay that you can use for sculpting. All the varieties might confuse you. But the decision comes down to a very simple factor. That is, whether you own a kiln or not.

If you don't own one, then you are left with polymer, air-dry, or oven-bake clay options. In accordance with the product we have reviewed, we will be focusing on how to use the clays that don’t require the use of a kiln.

Step 2: Preceding Measures

Before you get all excited to start, there are a few necessary to-dos. First of all, cover the workspace with disposable paper or clothe. So that you can throw it away afterward. Sculpting can get messy, so you don’t want to create a mess.

Secondly, whether you are going to do it yourself or let your kids do it, wear older clothes that you don’t mind throwing away if they get dirty. That way, if you get clay on it, you don’t have to get worked up.

Step 3: Start Sculpting with Smaller Pieces

There is no shortcut to practice. You can take the help of books or videos to decide on what you want to work on.

But don’t take up big projects. Cut the clay into small pieces then start working on them.

Step 4: Practice the Common Techniques

Once you start, we recommend practicing the standard techniques to get the hang of it. Start by practicing with the thumb. Use the traditional pinch technique to create different shapes.

Next, you can create coils as a design to put around the shape you have created. Use a lump of clay and roll it on the hard surface and then coil it to get your desired shape.

Similarly, you can try other common techniques.

Step 5: Let it Dry Then Use Paint

Once you’re satisfied with the form. Let it dry or bake it according to instruction.

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Types of Sculpting Clay

There are many different types of clays that you can use for sculpting. Here, we will talk about the popular ones so that you easily find the best clay for sculpting:

Oil-Based Clay

They are made using oil, clay, and waxes. Since water isn’t a component here, they don’t dry off easily and can be kept soft for a long time. So it is easy to work with this type.

These are used for making sculptors by animators who need the reference of different poses.

Water-Based Clay

This is water and clay. If you don't keep this kind in sealed boxes, they will dry up and become hardened. However, you can use water to bring them back to their malleable state slowly.

Also, water-based clay is cheap and can be used for different projects.

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Polymer Clay

Also known as oven-bake clay. This type will harden when baked in the oven and not otherwise. These usually have a permanent shape after baking. But before baking, they are soft and squishy and can be shaped according to wish.

These are used for different art and crafts modeling. You can also make decorative ornaments and accessories with this.

Air-Dry Clay

You don’t need a kiln or an oven to dry off this clay as it hardens on its own if kept in the open for long enough. The advantage and disadvantage of this type is the same thing. They get hardened on their own.

Because of that, you don’t have to spend additional effort on it. But if you don’t keep them stored, you are likely to waste a lot of dough.

But they have other things going on for them. They come in a variety of colors, and kids love to play with these colorful clays.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an excellent clay for a beginner sculptor?

For beginners, we recommend air-dry or oven-baked clays as these are among the best sculpting clays. This type can be reused, so it's useful for practicing. Also, they're soft, and you have to exert less effort on them.

2. Can air-dry clay be reused?

It differs from product to product. Most air-dry clay can be reused by applying wet hands to mold them back to their dough form slowly.

3. How to avoid cracks in your sculpture?

Your best bet is buying premium clay. If that is not an option, then you can use water to dampen the cracked areas and use a coat of clay on it. But if you’re using good quality clay, you’re unlikely to end up with cracks.

4. What sort of glue should I use with my clay?

It is safest to use glues that can be baked. If so, then it can firmly hold the pieces together. If baking isn't needed, you can use flexible superglue too.

5. Is clay toxic?

Clay is non-toxic and harmless. But if you aren't convinced, then see if any institution certifies the clay. Most clays usually have a safety certificate.

Final Words

If you don’t have too much expertise on clays, then you will have trouble in finding the best clay for sculpting. But hopefully, after reading this review, the task won't be challenging since we have narrowed down the options for you.

Let me know in the comments which one you have decided to go with.

Additional Sources :

How to Sculpt Clay

Tips for Beginner Clay Sculptors