Foam Clay test

Recently I purchased some foam clay to try out. This is air drying modeling clay that when dry, has similar properties and feel to EVA foam.

My first impression of the clay was that it felt like, mmm, a more plastic-like wall tack, but after some kneading, it becomes more like a normal clay. While I haven’t yet tried sculpting anything from it, I have experimented with pressing it into some of my mask moulds. The aim of which was to see if it could be used to create lightweight foam versions of masks or other props.

Below I suggest a few do’s and don’ts based on what I learned with my first test

  • Do begin with a thin layer of clay and take time to press it into the mould as much as possible. Then build up to the required thickness. Not doing this resulted in gaps and missed details.
  • Do be aware that the clay shrinks a small amount in the mould. On a thin area, this caused a tear to appear.
  • Do check a small corner to see if has dried.
  • Don’t leave it to dry in a cold place. It is recommended giving the clay 48 hours to dry depending on the thickness. However due to it being left in my cold workshop over two nights, it didn’t quite set and was still soft. When I came back and tried to remove it the mask became warped. At this point it may be possible to put it carefully back. However, because it was still soft it further damaged it. I suggest leaving it somewhere warm to dry out. A second attempt left in a warm spot had more success.

Two final things of note were that the clay in direct contact with the mould was still a little moist/soft and had left some residue on the silicone. It maybe possible that it was inhibiting the drying process and some mould release may prevent this. At this stage all but a thin layer was firm, and I was able to remove the mask and let it fully dry out.

The final product is really lightweight and feels very much like EVA foam. It is firm, but flexible and is not too soft as to bend out of shape when handled. It also picks up and holds detail really well.

I will be doing some more experiments with this in the future, including painting up the test masks and trying to sculpt with it.