Everyone in the craft world is talking about polymer clay. This soft material (made from PVC and liquid plasticizers) can be molded or sculpted into practically any shape. It can be made into jewelry, scrapbook embellishments, and small home décor. The possibilities are endless!
Here is a basic guide on polymer clay—perfect for beginners, or people who are interested in the hobby but still aren’t sure whether to pick it up, or how to start.
1. Basic tools
Unlike earth clay, air-dry clay, and the clay we usually give our kids, polymer clay needs to be baked. So, you’ll need an oven that lets you set very precise temperatures. Under-baking or over-baking clay can make it too brittle or burn it into a black, icky mess.
You also need a way to protect your work surface from the chemicals in the clay. You can use a glass, ceramic or acrylic sheet. In a pinch, you can use baking paper (just anchor it with masking tape). Never use the clay on a wooden table. It will destroy the finish—plus, you’ll grow frustrated as the clay sticks to the wood or picks up its texture.
To flatten the clay, you need a rolling tool that’s made of glass, ceramic or acrylic. You can buy these tools at craft stores or use a cylindrical glass bottle. As for adding texture—get creative! You can use toothbrushes, buttons, and toothbrushes.
2. Baking tips
As we said earlier, polymer clay is made of liquid plasticizers that keep the material really easy to shape. Once you’re done making your design, though, you want the clay to harden and retain its shape. The only way to do that is to burn away the liquid plasticizers.
If you don’t bake it at the right temperature and for the right time, some of the plasticizers remain. You get ‘raw’ clay, and the piece may start to crumble. To avoid this, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Theoretically you can use an oven toaster to bake polymer clay, but only if your unit allows precise temperature controls. Otherwise you should use your oven. Invest in a timer and an oven thermometer.
3. Texturizing tips
Anything that has an interesting surface can be used to create patterns and textures on your polymer clay creation.
For starters, raid your closet. Velcro leaves an interesting imprint, as well as belt buckles, the soles of your shoes, denim, zippers, organza, as well as any jewelry or
Then go look at your kids’ toy box! Try making marks with the wheels of toy cars, doll parts, coils, legos, balls, cords and rope.
Your kitchen, garage and even your husband’s tool kits are other goldmines of texture tools. Experiment with the peels ands shells of different nuts, fruits and vegetables (like orange peels, cantaloupes, squash, avocado, corn). Or try pressing with your basket containers, utensils, rubber kitchen gloves, plastic or metal mesh, paper towels, wires, corks, speaker covers, jump rings, bike tires, pipe cleaners.
4. Project ideas
If you’re just starting out, try making magnets, beads for jewely, gift tags, or simply-shaped pendants, bracelet charms and cell phone trinkets. Many websites offer pattern pieces to help you assemble particular designs. You can also buy push molds to create instant frames, patterns or three-dimensional objects.