When you are attracted to the appeal of Polymer Clay and are just
starting out you want to:
purchase a few basic items
learn about the different clays
gather references to learn more about polymer clay
Know, in advance, that you have to play with the clay to get the
knack of each and every technique.
Purchase or Borrow a
A blade to slice the clay. It can be an exacto knife, tissue
blade or single edge razor. The sharper the blade, the
'cleaner' the cut will be. Caution: make sure you use the
sharp edge of the blade. It's easy to forget which edge it is.
Some type of rolling tool, such as a brayer, rolling pin, or
A specific smooth surface to work with your clay. A cutting
board, piece of wood or counter top works well. Since unbaked
clay can harm the finish of unprotected wood, some people use
a piece of wax paper taped to the surface. Whatever surface
you use, you cannot use it ever again for food.
Something to pierce the clay, to make a hole for beads to be
threaded. A skewer (as in used for shish-kabob), knitting
needle or the like will work great.
A pasta maker. This is the ultimate item for flattening and
conditioning clay. Once you use pasta maker for polymer clay,
you can not use it to make pasta. As a novice, you can
condition you clay with your hands and roll it out several
Three Brands of
The three types of clay I have used
are: Fimo, Sculpey and Premo.
I must admit I have not had much luck conditioning the Fimo
clay, but others swear by it. They claim that Fimo colors stay
the truest when baked, and the detail in their canes is not
The Sculpey clay is the easiest to condition but will distort
when making canes. The colors, especially yellow and red,
sometimes darken when baked.
Premo clay seems to be the best of both worlds. It is easy to
condition and holds detail well. Because of these
characteristics, Premo is gaining in popularity.
There are other polymer clays you can purchase, but those
noted above are the only ones I have used.
Color Clay to Use
Choose your colors.
Start by conditioning the lightest color first and
progressing to the darker colors. (I have great difficulty
getting the red off my hands and then the subsequent colors
are contaminated by it.)
Sometimes the colors darken when baked. Practice and sample
different clays, temperature and time baking until you are
comfortable and confident with your result.
Some people wear tight rubber
cloves to prevent fingerprints in their work and to keep
clay residue from clinging to their skin. Others put on hand
lotion prior to working with the clay, so the clay will not
stay in the creases of their hands. Regardless, always wash
your hands with soap when you are done working with clay.
Protect the area where you will be using the clay
products with a specific plastic tablecloth or work
surface. Do not use the item for food preparation.
Have a specific pan or baking sheet for baking your clay.
You can not use the pan for food once you have
contaminated it by baking clay in it! You may use your
regular oven to bake the clay but make a tent with
aluminum foil to contain the fumes. Always open a window
to allow the fumes to escape.
Ready to Go?
Start by conditioning your clay.
This means roll it out (similar to kneading bread) several
times until it is soft and smooth. When you get on a roll
and are conditioning several different colors, you may
want to keep the conditioned clay warm. You can do this by
putting it in a plastic bag and putting it in your pocket
or another warm area.
CANE: A cane is a
combination of logs. The logs may be different colors,
which you merge to create a cane. To make a cane, select
the color you want to be the center.
(1) Roll the clay into a log of the desired length to
make the cane.
(2) Roll additional logs. These will be used to
surround the center log.
(3) Place the additional logs around each other and
start to roll away from you and back. This will make
JELLY ROLL: A jelly roll is two or more flat
pieces of clay laid on top of each other. Usually they
are contrasting colors. Begin to roll one end and see
how it looks like a bulls eye.
If you just like the swirl look, roll a few pieces
into a ball and make beads.
Play and experiment with the
clay. You may just invent a new technique.
Make holes for beads or earring hoops prior to
baking. My experience has been when I attempted
after the clay was baked the whole piece broke.
Make your items thick enough. I tend to make some
items too thin and they are fragile and break easily
when dropped. The thin items also burn easily.
The directions on the
packages generally advise to bake at 275 up to 325
degrees for 10 to 30 minutes. Use a thermometer and
check your oven. They all seem to vary a few
degrees. (NOTE- I have burned the coolest creations
and was totally bummed!)
I could go on and on but by now you are curious,
so just for starters, check the library for the
below list of books:
The New Clay by Nan Roche
Creative Clay Jewelry by Leslie Dierks
The Polymer Clay Techniques Book by Sue Heaser
The Art of Polymer Clay by Donna Kato
If you learn better by watching someone, check
Carol Duval on Home and Garden TV or look at their
web site, www.hgtv.com.
The wonderful web has a multitude of listing, so
go to your favorite search engine and type in
"polymer clay". Also, you should check out the
following website: The Glass Attic.