Welcome to the basics in polymer clay
This is a page dedicated to tips & tools you may find useful when starting out with polymer clay.
What is polymer clay?
An oven hardening clay that is available in a vast colour scheme not to mention special effects such as metallic, stone, pearl & even glow in the dark. It is a very easy, workable material with endless uses & as you can probably tell I adore the stuff!
Tools of the trade
- Work Surface – Use an easy to clean smooth surface for clay work such as a glass sheet, acrylic sheet or plain ceramic tiles. The advantage of using tiles is that you can then bake your items on the tile without the fear of squishing bits when moving them to a baking tray.
- Rollers/Rolling Pins – Again smooth surfaces are preferable my favourite being a sugarcraft or acrylic roller though a glass tumbler or bottle will work just as well.
- Cutting – Craft knives are essential to make clean cuts in clay & you can also invest in a tissue blade to cut long straight lines. As for shapes there are many different types available in traditional or plunger style cutters. Please mind your fingers!!!
- Plasters – For those times when you did forget to watch those fingers!
- Impressions – Ah! the world is your oyster here, You can splash out on moulds, stamps & such like though I love finding all manner of surfaces to press into clay from other places. For example sand paper & stones for a subtle dimple effect, pieces of jewellery for a floral pattern or plastic packing for a bubble effect. Just play & experiment with everything 🙂
- Baking – oven 🙂 yes it is fine & perfectly safe to bake in your home oven though not the best idea to do it the same time as your chicken. Please bake according to packet instructions & it is advisable to ventilate the area too.
- Varnishing/Finishing – I would strongly advise using purpose made polymer clay varnish! Clear nail varnish looks pretty at first but turns horribly sticky after a while. Another alternative is buffing, If you do not wish to budget for a professional buffer you can easily find buffing attachments for hand held multi tools like the Dremel.
- Baby Baby – baby wipes are a must have, they clean clay off just about any surface & help remove dust from your hands before you start work.
- Dust Nightmare! – Dust seems to magically migrate towards clay so make sure your surfaces are clean & I find it useful to keep a scrap of light clay to roll over my hands before working to remove any last trace. Also if you love your cute furry pets a pair of tweezers comes in handy too.
- Hard Clay – warm up your clay between your hands until it becomes workable or alternatively I read somewhere that one lady pops the packet under her cat while its sleeping to soften hers! For clay that has been open for a long time & is ‘unusable’ some manufacturers make special softening liquids & clays to mix in.
- Fingerprints – If you find your clay is very soft & almost sticky A) turn your heating down :p B) pop it into the fridge for a while
- Fingerprints II – If a perfectly polished project is your desire then sandpaper is your man! A light sanding on baked clay will remove any slight bumps or imperfections, though it has to be said there is something about leaving little marks behind just to show it is truly handmade…
- Plastics Warning – Do not put your unbaked clay on varnished or brittle plastic surfaces (i.e. those little compartment boxes loved by crafters everywhere) it ‘eats’ into the stuff something terrible!
Useful investments – but not essential
- Pasta Machine – for conditioning (kneading) clay, also for skinner blends
- Dremel – or other hand held multi tool. Good for drilling , sanding, engraving, etc.
Some examples of clay I prefer to use along with links to the websites which have handy project pages to keep you entertained…
Go play & have fun x x x…