Hand building is a super convenient technique for crafting things used by our ancestors in the pottery business for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, not all of us have access to a kiln. For these people, hand building is just the perfect opportunity to try their hands in pottery. Below, I have compiled a list of the five best air dry clay you can use to handbuild.

Best Air-Dry Clay for Hand Building (Full Review)

Product Features:

  • Less prone to shrinkage and cracks;
  • Tempera and acrylic paint compatible;
  • Great choice for people with sensitive hands;




DAS has always been famous in the business for selling the highest quality air dry clay. Excellent combination of strength and pliability; that’s what this air-hardening clay is all about.
Thanks to the fibers used in this clay, they are less prone to shrinkage and cracks. Additionally, this clay also allows you to paint with tempera and acrylic paint, unlike some other options on the market. Finally, DAS modelling clay might be an ideal choice for you if you have sensitive hands as they don’t dry your hands after working.

Product Description: 

  • Perfect combination of softness, liability, and strength for hand building;
  • Quick dry feature;
  • Non-toxic, gluten free mineral ingredients;




This modelling clay is a lot similar to DAS’s clay. However, what’s more, impressive is that you get twice the amount of clay with this Jovi air dry clay. As for other features go, it’s a near-perfect modelling clay that has just enough softness, liability, and strength to build anything out of your imagination.
The clay itself dries pretty quickly too, which is another advantage if you are looking to achieve a faster result. Finally, the ingredients used for Jovi modelling clay are natural, so it’s non-toxic and gluten-free. So, you don’t have to worry about any allergic reaction from gluten either.

Product Description: 

Value for money with 5 lbs clay;

  • Great pliability makes it great product for any project;
  • Comes with a bucket;



Your budget should never limit your inner craftsmanship. And that’s why I have brought you Crayola’s air-dry modelling clay. For the same amount of money from previous options, this Crayola pack offers 5 lbs. of clay.
Pliability is definitely the number one selling point of this product. All you have to do is add a few drops of water, and you are good to create anything. Even after days of starting your projects, this clay will allow you to fine-tune your works. But with all this flexibility, this clay doesn’t seem to crack at all. Also, the bucket is an excellent addition as it makes carrying and storage more convenient.

Product Description:

  • Can be used for both air dry and kiln dry projects;
  • One of the fastest drying time;
  • Comes with a massive clay pack of 25 lbs;




I have a modelling clay that you can air dry or just throw into a kiln this time. If you are planning out any big project with your hands, you should check out this massive clay pack of 25 lbs. from AMACO. This modelling clay has one of the fastest drying times.
So, despite the decent pliability, you always have to be careful to keep the clay moist. Additionally, some users complained about this clay for cracking. However, carefully considering the shrinkage and giving enough drying time should easily solve that problem.

Product Description:

  • Great option for kids;
  • Different color options;
  • Highly pliable and made of mineral indigents;

Wrapping it up with a modelling clay option that’s manufactured for kids. If you want your kids to try their hands into pottery and enjoy different benefits from this crafting technique, this OJYUDD air dry clay can be a great starting point.
With a fraction of the cost of actual modelling clay, this clay pack offers 24 different colors to allow the kids the opportunity to create vibrant stuff. Furthermore, the clay is highly pliable and made of non-toxic materials. So, you don’t have to worry about health hazards or allergic reactions. Additionally, you get three basic sculpting tools to help with the projects.

Buying Guide

Now that you know about the best air-dry clay for hand-building, let’s give you a general idea about some factors to choose the best hand-building clay according to your need.


As the name suggests, we are looking for clay that can be shaped with bare hands without any advanced tools. So, according to your project, the clay has to be pliable enough to be shaped. Most hand-building clay comes to dry out of the box and starts to shape only after applying water to them. The more pliable clay would be, the better you’ll be able to play with the cay and turn your imagination into nice hand-built pieces. So, make sure your clay is pliable enough to make things easier for you.


Strength is another important factor for hand-building clay. No matter how pliable your hand-building clay is, if it doesn’t hold up the weight of the project and starts to break afterward, the clay is not good enough. So, without judging only by pliability, make sure your modelling clay can also stay crackless after it dries out.

Drying Period

Again, we discuss clays that don’t need a kiln or any other tool’s help to dry. So, as air-dry clay, you need to consider the drying period to figure out how long your projects will take. The drying period can be anywhere between a few hours to several days, depending on clays. The duration isn’t the problem here, but you should be well aware of this period to plan your projects.


Shrinkage is a feature you should consider for any kind of clay, whether it’s pottery or hand building. But it’s more important in hand building because it involves more delicate projects, and the shrinkage can seriously mess it up for you. Sometimes, the shrinkage also causes the sculpture to crack, so make sure you have an idea about the shrinkage rate of your articular hand-building clay.


Lastly, the clay price can be deciding factor in your purchase decision. As you have already seen, some brands offer way more clay than others for the same amount of money. In that case, you should go for the brand that’s offering more, but don’t get blindsided by the price as sometimes it can lead you to inferior products. 



There you have my list of best clay for hand building. As all these clays can be air-dried, you don’t need to worry about any expensive tool to pursue your passion in pottery. Just pick the clay that suits your need and get to work. 

Judy Eaton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *