How to Color Stamped Images on Air Dry Clay

A Great Way to Achieve a Textured Look

Boy painting on clay

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Designs can be impressed on the surface of air dry clay using rubber stamps and this is a great way to achieve a textured look. Your rubber stamps form impressions that make simple decorations for any objects made with air dry clay

If you want to take this one step further you can add color to your stamped image. An example would be stamping a flower and flower pot with paint and then painting the outside of the stamped image as well. The contrasts would make the flower really stand out. This could be further enhanced by using a contrasting color of ink to highlight the stamped image. Learn how to create lovely effects with these techniques.

Air Dry Clay

Air dry clay is a versatile product. It is similar to work with as ceramic clay, however, unlike traditional clays, it does not require firing in a kiln in order to harden it. Air dry clay, as the name suggests, drys to a very hard and robust state by air drying alone. Air dry clay can be used to make a variety of objects both decorative and practical (such as these air dry clay napkin rings and coasters).

How to Paint on Air Dry Clay

If you are making an inkless impression with your rubber stamp, you will do this before the clay dries. This adds texture, with the raised areas of your stamp becoming the indentations. This is the first step if desired.

Before you add any color, you will need to let the clay dry completely. First, make your object and set it aside to dry for the amount of time specified on the manufacturer's instructions. These will vary, so you need to check for the brand you are using.

To add color to your stamped image it is best to use a thick paint such as acrylic paint. This is because the surface of the air dry clay is porous and ink from marker pens can be absorbed into the surface of the clay leaving just a light suggestion of color. This can be fine if you are looking for subtle results, but if you want to add bold colors to your finished design then paint is the way to go.

If you want to use marker pens you might want to try sealing the surface first, perhaps with a clear acrylic varnish or white acrylic paint. This will provide a waterproof surface which will stop the ink from the marker pens sinking into the air dry clay.


  • To keep the color from being absorbed into the clay, seal the surface of the clay with plain white acrylic paint or a clear varnish before adding the color.
  • To prevent the paint flaking off, add several thin layers of paint rather than one thick layer.
  • Use a very thin paintbrush to paint onto the surface of the clay.
  • Seal the finished piece with a gloss or satin varnish to protect it from knocks.

Have fun with air dry clay, rubber stamps, and your favorite coloring methods, it is a great way to produce some attractive effects.