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How to Harden Playdough (To Save Your Creations)

How to Harden Playdough (To Save Your Creations)
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Children and adults alike love molding forms out of playdough, whether it be in the shape of familiar animals, unfamiliar alien life forms, or anything in between. There are countless fond memories in the world that involve this malleable material that comes in a variety of colors.

Most people are under the impression that they must squeeze their playdough creations back into their containers when they have finished sculpting. However, this is actually not the case.

If you follow some simple steps, you can harden your playdough sculptures, seal them to make them last, and put them on display (or gift them to a niece or nephew).

This article will take you through these very steps so you can admire your playdough creations for as long as you wish.

Bake Your Creations

Many people who try to harden their playdough sculptures end up with cracked creations either right away or in the near future. This can be avoided if you follow the steps provided below. They will ensure your finished product turns out just how you envisioned it.

There are a couple pieces of information to keep in mind before hardening your playdough sculptures in the oven. Take heed of these tips as they could make or (literally) break your creations.

Vital Points

Firstly, if you use a lower temperature to bake your colorful creations for a longer duration, the inner parts of your sculptures are more likely to harden before the outer portions do. This will lower the risk of your playdough pieces cracking or breaking altogether.

In reality, however, it is much easier to bake a smaller, thinner playdough sculpture with no flaws than a larger and thicker one. If you truly want to avoid cracks and other issues with your sculpture, both in the short- and long-term, it is a good idea for you to keep those creations of yours small and relatively flat.

It should be mentioned that it is also possible to harden your playdough in the freezer, rather than the oven, but this will only temporarily keep your sculpture hard. Eventually, the warmth outside of the freezer will cause it to return to its soft, malleable state.

Thus, if you only want your playdough sculpture to harden for a short period, this might be a better option for you.

Time to Bake Your Sculptures

Before you do the actual baking of your sculptures, you should set your oven to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit and let it preheat completely.

It is vital that you use a non-stick baking sheet for baking your creations. When baking one piece, put it in the middle of the baking sheet so the sculpture is baked evenly on all sides. If you are hardening more than one sculpture at a time, huddle them in the center of the sheet.

Depending on the size of your sculpture, as well as the number of pieces you are baking, the time it takes for them to harden all the way can vary a bit. For a smaller and thinner single piece, it should take about 5 to 10 minutes to do so.

Baking your playdough art pieces for too long can result in the appearance of cracks, breaking, and other damage. This is why it is necessary for you to check on your sculptures frequently after the five-minute mark to see if they are sufficiently hardened.

You can utilize a toothpick, or other similar tool, to poke the sculpture by checking to see if it still gives at all. It is not ready yet if it still feels soft and can be easily pressed by the tool. The finished product should be solid.

Once your sculptures appear to be totally hardened, you can remove them from the oven using an oven mitt. After letting the creations cool down, move them to an area with good airflow, and let them sit there to dry for an additional one to three days.

This step will prepare your creations for the sealing process. Due to the high moisture content, this step is necessary for the sealant to properly adhere to the sculpture.

If you happen to notice a dry-looking, ashy film showing up on your sculptures, do not let this concern you. This white film is actually salt from the playdough, and the sealing process should make it less noticeable.

Sealing Your Playdough Sculptures

There are several methods for sealing your playdough creations after you bake them. Doing this step with the pieces will help protect them, keeping them from easily cracking and breaking.

Also, using a sealant will make your sculptures more durable. If they are dropped or put into a similar potentially-damaging situation, a few layers of sealant will give them a better chance of surviving with minimal harm done.

The sealant options this article will address include Mod Podge, polyester resin, Elmer’s glue mixed with water, and clear nail polish.

Mod Podge

Using Mod Podge to seal your playdough sculpture will ultimately make it end up looking shiny. Thus, if that is not the look you are going for, you should avoid using this as a sealant for your sculptures.

If you do want your creations to have a shiny appearance, Mod Podge could be a good option for you. However, keep in mind that this method for sealing your sculptures can be the most time-consuming.

You can use a small paintbrush to apply the Mod Podge. After you have covered your creations in their first coats, let them dry completely before adding at least two more layers of the material.

You should wait a full three days for each coat of the Mod Podge on the sculptures to dry before adding the next layer. This will ensure that the coats are evenly applied.

Polyester Resin

First of all, it should be noted that polyester resin can be harmful if you are working with it in an area that is not properly ventilated. Thus, make sure you have plenty of windows open or you are outside while using this as a sealant for your playdough sculptures.

You can use a small paintbrush to apply as many of the coats as you feel fit, letting each coat dry completely before adding the next layer.

Elmer’s Glue

A nontoxic sealant option is Elmer’s glue. This household item that is commonly found in homes that include schoolchildren can effectively be used to fill any small cracks that might be present in your playdough creations.

All you need to do is combine a couple drops of the glue with about two tablespoons of water. Similarly to the other two methods mentioned above, this sealant can also be applied with a small paintbrush. Ideally, two coats of the solution should do the trick, but add as many layers as you see fit.

As with the other methods, it is best to let the first coat dry in totality prior to applying any subsequent coats.

Clear Nail Polish

Another common household item you can use to seal your playdough creations is clear nail polish. You will most likely need two coats of the polish to properly seal your sculptures.

Let each coat dry before you add another layer.