Cold porcelain is an inexpensive, non-toxic, easy to work with type of air dry clay. It gets its name from the fact that, when dry, the texture and feel of it feels like porcelain or china. It does not require baking or firing but instead is dried by exposure to the air. Originally from Argentina, its main components are corn starch and white glue, also having low quantities of oil and/or glycerine which gives its porcelain-like texture. Lemon juice and/or sodium benzoate is also sometimes added to the mixture to prevent mould, bacteria and fungi, as most of the ingredients are biodegradable. It can be either bought from shops or made at home quite easily. It dissolves in heat and water if not properly sealed with varnish or gloss so it is not suitable for items such as jugs or crockery. A basic recipe for cold porcelain can be found here.
Cold porcelain is very inexpensive to make at home, but surprisingly expensive if bought in stores or online. It seems many places do not stock cold porcelain except for online, so this may cause high demand of mass produced cold porcelain. A 500g block of imported Argentinian cold porcelain will set you back approximately £10.
As stated above, not many places IRL or online stock cold porcelain. Most of the mass produced cold porcelain found online is imported directly from its place of origin, Argentina, and is therefore quite expensive. The basic components to make it yourself, however, are next to nothing price wise. You can find many of the components of cold porcelain, such as corn starch and white glue, at supermarkets, cake stores, DIY stores and pound shops.
Cold porcelain has many similar uses to other air dry and polymer clays, such as model making, sculpting, mould making, being used in moulds, jewellery, beads, charms, cabochons and other uses. Cold porcelain is a value material for deco artists looking for inexpensive, easy to work with and make clay in large quantities and is great for wholesale and retail deco artists (those who sell their work). Cold porcelain is very useful in moulds as it shrinks as drying, so is easy to pop out. You can also moisten the mould with either two of the clay’s main components – cold cream or cornstarch.
Texture & Workability
Cold porcelain, when wet and malleable, has a texture and workability similar or the same to normal air dry clay after slight conditioning. Soft, flexible, slightly sticky and elastic, it is easy to work and create shapes with. Cold porcelain’s original colour is a translucent, off-white colour. It can be coloured using acrylic, oil and watercolour paints, chalk, coloured pencil, embossing powder, foil, etc., but it is advised to colour the clay white before adding any other colour. Only colour the amount of clay needed, as coloured clay dries out faster than uncoloured clay.
Curing & Aftercare
Cold porcelain, when fully dry, is slightly flexible to the touch, similar to polymer clay. Cold porcelain is an inexpensive alternative to polymer clay that doesn’t need baking or firing, yet has the same qualities as polymer clay. If sealed with a waterproof varnish or gloss, items become quite durable. This makes it perfect for thin, delicate creations such as flower petals that would otherwise be fragile if made from other materials. Sculpting artists making finely detailed items prefer cold porcelain to other clay-based mediums. If not properly sealed, cold porcelain will be damaged or dissolved if exposed to heat and/or water. When cured, you can paint, sand, buff, file, work over the top of and varnish the clay items. You can also rubber stamp or use marker pens on this clay whilst dry, but make sure to seal your work with Mod Podge or any other water based varnish. You can also rework and mould cold porcelain by adding more water to it before varnishing, allowing it to return to a soft, wet state again. This is a quality that gives it advantage over polymer clay.
Sweet deco items made using cold porcelain