How to Paint Clay

Written by amanda goldfarb
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How to Paint Clay
Clay figurines can be painted to add character. (clay figurines image by fabersky from

Clay is an easily mouldable, naturally occurring compound. Clay can be used to create virtually anything. Most clay comes in earth tone colours such as red, brown and cream. Painting a clay object can add further dimension. Whether you want to spruce up a boring flower pot, finish a sculpture or just pass the time, painting clay can be a fun and relaxing activity.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Paint brushes
  • Acrylic paint

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  1. 1

    Cover your work surface with newspaper. Newspaper protects the work surface and creates an easy clean up process.

  2. 2

    Place the clay object you are going to be painting on your work surface. Wipe the object with a damp cloth, making sure to remove all dirt and dust from the surface.

  3. 3

    Check the object to make sure it is completely dry. Some types of clay need to be baked before paint can be applied. Check the instructions for the brand of clay you have used.

  4. 4

    Lay your selected paint colours out on your work surface. Acrylic paints work best with clay. Thin the paint by mixing one part of water in to two parts paint. Thinner paint will glide over the clay surface more smoothly.

  5. 5

    Dip the tip of your brush into the paint. The paint should only cover the bottom 1/3 of the brush. Apply the paint to the surface of the clay in the design you desire. Each layer will need to completely dry before the next layer can be applied.

  6. 6

    Allow the clay to dry for at least 24 hours. The paint will need longer to dry in extreme temperatures.

  7. 7

    Spray a paint sealant over the entire surface of the clay. The sealant will protect the paint from cracking or chipping.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a pencil to draw intricate designs on the clay before painting.
  • Use a sponge to create textured designs.
  • Do not rush suggested drying times.

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