Tips on how to soften modelling clay

Written by ashley kurz
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Tips on how to soften modelling clay
Soften modelling clay so it's pliable and easy for children to use. (serezniy/iStock/Getty Images)

Modelling clay becomes hard and difficult to work with if it's been stored in cool temperatures in your home or at the shop. This can make it especially difficult for children to use for craft projects or activities. Use a few simple tips to warm and soften hard blocks of modelling clay.

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Room temperature

Leaving the modelling clay to acclimatise to room temperature before working with it can help to soften it. Increase the heat in the room to speed the process. If you are planning to work with the modelling clay, try to let it sit for three to four hours before starting your project.

Kneading technique

Kneading the modelling clay can help spread the clay and reduce the density. Work it in your hands as much as you can to soften it. It should become easier to knead the more you work it. If the clay starts out too hard for you to knead it comfortably, use a clean potato masher or meat tenderiser to smash it over and over. This will soften the clay.

Warm water

Ball up the modelling clay and stick it into a bowl of warm water. The modelling clay doesn't absorb the water, but the moisture and warmth of the water can help to soften it until it is comfortable to work with. Blot the ball of clay with a dry towel to remove the moisture before working with it.

Direct heat

Use a hairdryer on medium heat to apply direct heat to speed up the softening process. If you don't have a hairdryer, place the clay on a microwave-safe plate and microwave it for about three to five seconds on medium heat. If you use high heat or leave it in the microwave for too long, it can melt and become dangerously hot.

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