Play dough (play dough / plasticine) is not meant to be dried or hardened. Play dough contains ordinary clay and oil. The oil content is what makes it non-hardened. If you put it in the oven, as you can with regular clay, the play dough will melt into a puddle. But play doh is designed to be like that. Play dough is made to be easy to hand, molded into models for inspiration, then crushed to be molded into other shapes. But if you have play dough that's been shaped into something and want to harden it, read the steps below to find out how.
Step 1. Identify the type of play doh you are using
Common types of play doh include polymer clay (oven-hardened clay), self-hardening clay, and clay for supreme art. Since this type of clay greatly affects how the model is formed, you should know this before starting a project.
- Actually polymer clay doesn't technically contain clay, but contains a polymer similar to PVC, with the addition of liquid to make it malleable. Polymer clay will usually harden when baked in low heat.
- This self-hardening clay is exactly what its name suggests. You just shape it, then let stand, and let it harden in a few days. Unlike play dough (which is oil or wax based) and polymer clay (which contains resin), this self-hardening clay is water based.
- Clay for great art is usually just like self-hardening clay, but the clay is of high quality and only water is added.
Step 2. Apply a suitable pigment or glaze for painting, before the clay hardens
Some pigments are applied after the clay has hardened or in the middle of the hardening process.
You should understand this aspect of coloring before starting a project
Step 3. Bake polymer clay and hardenable clay in a regular kitchen oven
Place a piece of wax paper on the baking sheet. Cut it to fit the inside of the pan.
- Most polymer or oven-hardened clays will harden after baking at 129 °C to 135 °C for 15 minutes per 6.4 mm thickness.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and place it on a heatproof surface. Cool the clay to room temperature before transferring it.
Step 4. You have to be patient while waiting for the clay to harden
Keep it out of reach and let time process it.
- Place the finished clay model on a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet or on a similar, flat, stable surface.
- Place the baking sheet in a dry place, at room temperature, and out of the reach of sunlight. For better results, keep it out of reach of other activities, such as on top of the refrigerator. Wait 7 to 10 days for the clay to dry completely.
Step 5. Schedule time in a professional pottery kiln to harden the clay for the ultimate art
You can find kiln facilities at your nearest art store and in pottery communities. If you don't know how to harden clay, let the kiln operator do it for you.