Polymer Clay Tips and Tricks
The following polymer clay tips and tricks are just a few lessons I have learned from working with this medium over the years. I find working with polymer clay to be very satisfying, especially when the end result is sturdy and beautiful. I hope that you find these polymer clay tips useful on your journey to a deeper understanding of the art of clay sculpting.
1. Store polymer clay in a Ziploc bag
While polymer clay can erode certain types of plastic, Ziploc bags are safe from this effect. These types of bags also let you seal your clay in an airtight environment, which is what is needed in order for your clay to not dry out.
2. Wear latex gloves to prevent the transferring of fingerprints
If your clay is particularly soft, it can be easy to leave unwanted textures in your smooth clay, even fingerprints. You can either wear gloves to prevent this or clean and smooth your clay out after shaping it, which can be difficult if you are working on a small scale.
3. Use a smooth ceramic floor tile or a glass pane to roll your clay on
A smooth, untextured surface is optimal for rolling and building your polymer clay projects. Glass and ceramic tile is also a non-stick material. Other surfaces, such as wood or other unlaminated surfaces, will be too rough for your clay.
4. Condition your clay with a pasta machine
This tip may sound strange, but it’s a tried and true method used by experts! While warming up/conditioning your clay can be done by pulling it with your hands, putting it through a pasta machine will ensure a uniform texture. Weird, but it works.
5. Use acrylic paint on polymer clay
While other types of paint will either fade, break down, or change the consistency of your clay, acrylic paint is the perfect color solution for polymer clay.
6. Use an oven thermometer
While polymer clay is sturdier and less fragile than other types of clay, the downside is that it is more susceptible to burning. When you bake your clay, make sure to use an oven thermometer to ensure that the temperature is perfect.
7. Use hand sanitizer to get clay completely off your hands
While you still need to wash your hands with soap and water initially after working with polymer clay, the alcohol in hand sanitizer will work to dissolve the remaining clay residue left on your hands that can’t be dissolved by water alone.
8. Get creative with your tool choices
You don’t have to travel far to find tools to craft your clay creations. You can use household objects to create interesting shapes and textures in your clay. For example, you can use a straw to create bead shapes, a comb to create textured lines, a cup to create perfect circles, and more.
9. Use cornstarch to protect your clay in the oven
Covering your clay in cornstarch will prevent your clay from scorching in the oven. That being said, if you follow directions and pay attention to the oven temperature in relation to the temperature your brand of clay bakes at, you should not have to worry about using cornstarch.
10. Use aluminum foil as a structure for your creations
Whether you are making beads or other weighty creations, using aluminum foil as a base is a good way to reduce weight and save clay. Especially if you are making a necklace with many beads on it, you do not want your jewelry to become too heavy and uncomfortable to wear.
11. Watch polymer clay tutorial videos
In addition to reading and research, it can help to watch how others work with clay. If you are a visual learner and do not know anybody who could teach you in person, watching tutorial videos can be just what you need to increase your understanding of this medium.
12. Don’t be afraid to mix different brands of clay together
While it isn’t advisable to mix two different types of clay, mixing two different brands of the same clay is perfectly fine! The composition of polymer clay is similar enough across most brands that there should be no problems. The only thing to watch out for is internal baking temperature. Make sure that whatever brands you mix will be compatible when it comes time to baking polymer clay. Otherwise, you can end up with scorched clay.