Air dry clay seems like the perfect solution to make memorial hand and footprints. It’s cheap, quick to use, and no baking is required, but there is a problem with air dry clay.
The other day, we received an email from a very kind woman who was reaching out to us on behalf of her friend. Her friend had lost a baby many years ago. At the time, she had been given a handprint mold from her hospital care team. The handprint had been stored in the box it came in for many years. When she recently took it out, this bereaved mother was grief-stricken to find that there were signs of deterioration of the keepsake. The pictures she sent us showed brown spots on the print as well as curling and cracking along the edges of the mold itself.
The kind woman reaching out to us thought the print was made of ClayLinks Clay and was asking if we had any advice on how to preserve it. After looking at the photos she included in her email, we determined that the print was not one of ours but instead made of an alternative air dry clay product. We offered her the best resources we could, but wish these heartbreaking situations didn’t happen in the first place.
Air Dry Clay
We understand the appeal of a soft, and pliable material that doesn’t need to be baked. But, there are serious, long-term disadvantages to using air dry clay that only the bereaved family members will see.
Air dry clay is categorized as a craft clay. It is not intended to last forever. Over time, it often deteriorates, cracks, and curls. This can happen in a matter of months or after a few years but most air dry clays will breakdown over time. There is little chance of repair when this happens.
More immediately, air dry clays shrink 5-15% during the drying process alone. This could affect the detail and appearance of the print within just the first couple of days, after the family has left your hospital.
For these reasons (and others), we do not carry an air dry clay. And, we’ve looked into it! Like I said, we get the appeal. But we cannot, in good conscience, offer this material as a medium for making memorial prints of a loved one who has passed. We have done our research and have yet to find an air dry clay that is appropriate for this use.
ClayLinks Proprietary Formula
ClayLinks Clay, on the other hand is an archival-quality clay. It is a bake clay, and that is where it’s strength comes from! Baking ClayLinks clay for just 20 minutes solidifies the bonds and makes the impression permanent. Once properly baked, our clay:
- preserves great hand or footprint details
- is permanent and shatterproof
- is made to be touched and held
- will not shrink, crack, or curl over time
Our same proprietary-formula clay has been used in the veterinary industry to make impressions of pet’s paws for over 26 years. So, we can attest to the long-term quality of our prints. No other clay results in such a lasting, personalized keepsake.
The Baking Question
When it comes to baking, we know there are two perceived road-blocks. One is time and the other is hospital approval for an oven. We have easy solutions for both!
First, a lot of people think that baking means firing. That you must have a kiln onsite to properly cure our clay. Happily, this isn’t the case! Our clay is a low-bake clay and is fully cured after baking in a conventional or craft oven for just 20 minutes at 275°F. So, the time is very minimal! Time to make the prints themselves is also very minimal, 5 minutes or less! You can realistically create a forever keepsake for a family that is decorated, cured, and ready to hold in under one hour.
Craft Oven Approval
Many of our customers have been able to get hospital approval to use a craft oven onsite to bake ClayLinks prints. But, we also know some have encountered challenges here. So, rather than fighting the powers that be, we’ve created a tool that allows you to use our high-quality clay even if you can’t bake onsite. Our Take & Bake Containers offer a sensitive way for you to send an unbaked print with families to bake at home. The easy-to-follow baking instructions are conveniently located on the lid. The tray is then used as the baking dish (after removing the lid). If you’d like to learn more about Take & Bake Containers, watch our informational video found on this page!
We know that air dry and plaster have been the go-to mediums for creating keepsakes for families experiencing a loss. And these mementos are beautiful, treasured and so meaningful to families. Going forward though, our goal should be that these precious mementos are made of a material that will last. So these mementos continue to provide comfort to loved ones years and even decades down the road. These forever keepsakes are sometimes the only personal item families get of a child that has died. Creating these molds is an act of service deserving of high-quality materials that reflect your high-quality care.
If you have any questions about ClayLinks Clay, please contact us! Our excellent customer service team is happy to help.
Until next time,
Chief Growth Officer
World by the Tail, Inc.