Oven baked clay and air dry clay tend to both have the same problems in keeping dust away. Especially in lightly coloured clay. Here are some tips you can try for your upcoming projects! Most of them works for both oven bake and air dry clay, but some only works best with one kind of clay.
1. Clean your space
Always wipe your table clear of dust before starting a project. Determine how big of an area you will be using and start cleaning! I personally find wiping the surface with a wet wipe and finishing with a dry tissue works best. Avoid using cotton for the little ‘fuzzies’ may start wandering about. You might also want to wipe the tools you plan to use before starting the project.
2. Wash your hands
Be sure to wash your hands with soap (don’t forget between the fingers, the nails and every little crease you can find) and wipe on a clean dry hand towel. I always start washing my hands by moving my hands back and forth against one another, cleaning in between fingers, back of the hand and taking each hand to scratch the other’s palm which helps get soap and water in between your nails to clean them. If need to, check your nails and dig any leftover dirt out. Dry immediately.
3. Cover your projects
Always cover your project when you place them aside to work on something else. I always put a dry tissue beneath my projects before covering. Make sure the cover itself is clear of dust! I love using anything clear so that I can have a look at my pieces while finishing other parts. One tip is to use old plastic bottles. Cut the middle section and turn the bottom part upside down to use! Available pretty much anywhere!
4. Clean your pasta machine
When using a pasta machine to roll out your clay, use a slightly damp cloth (do not soak the cloth in water) to clean the machine. You can also hold the cloth in between the rollers and turn the handle to make sure you get to clean the whole roller. Also take note to clean the bottom edge of the rollers where the clay comes out. Be sure to dry it if it seems too wet.
Another alternative to this is to use plastic sheets when rolling clay. Sometimes dust are not the big issue with pasta machines, but leftover coloured clay are. The best way to avoid this is to use plastic sheets. Your clay and machine won’t come in contact, and you won’t need to worry about your clay getting stuck! Do make sure your plastic is suitable though. Some clay sticks to the plastic sheets and won’t come off right – a little hand cream might help grease it up!
5. Avoid air circulation
Avoid working near open windows or near the fan. Air circulation causes dust to fly all around and may just land on your projects midway. Be sure to close the windows and turn off the fans while working. If it’s too hot for you, just leave the fan on low speed.
6. Picking up dust beforehand
Another great tip I use all the time is to pinch a small piece of clay (preferably white or beige) and roll it all around my hands. It’s stickiness will pick up all the dust and I will have dust-free hands to work on my projects! If clay is expensive in your area, try using blue-tack. You can get them in any stationary shops and it works just as well, perhaps even better!
7. When applying gloss
Applying gloss with a brush can sometimes get brush hairs on your new project. A way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to check your brush before using. Gently use your index fingers and thumb to pinch and tug the hair on the brushes you plan to use. If any hair comes loose, pull it out and remove it. Repeat till no more hair comes loose. If your brush seems to be loosing too much hair, you’ll need to change your brush! Once glossed, use tip no.3!
Depending on what project you are working on, this may or may not be suitable. If unable to remove dust from project, try texturing your clay pieces to blend in the dusts. An old toothbrush could help with this, so can the sharp end of a toothpick. There are many endless ways of texturing your clay pieces, just use your imagination.
9. Before baking (Oven Bake Clay)
Check your pieces under good lighting for dust. Use tweezers to gentle pick it off it the dust has a floating end. If not, get a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol or clear acetone (you can use nail polish remover) and gently rub the area and remove the dust. This also helps remove and fingerprints you do not want in your clay pieces.
10. Hardened pieces (Air dry clay)
Air dry clay can be soften with water. Use a Q-tip or your clean finger dipped in water (you only need a bit) and gently rub the area with the dust. It will stick to your Q-tip/hand and wipe it off on a dry tissue, continue doing so to other areas with dust. It if is in a small crease, use a sharp tool like a toothpick dipped in water to help.
Thanks for reading through the post and I hope it will add value in your clay making skills! These are tips I’ve personally used and found very useful.