Adventures in Polymer Clay Storage
by Lisa Pavelka
polybar

So, you’re not sure what the best ways are to store all that clay you’re addicted to. There are several different options, and I’ll explain as many as I know of to you.

First, it’s important to understand that polymer clay contains elements that can cause it to react to various materials. This is why it’s not safe to set uncured clay on painted, varnished, or lacquered surfaces. In addition, some plastics are pc friendly while others are not. Fortunately, the properties that cause raw clay to be reactive to certain surfaces become inert after curing.

There are two ways to explain which type of plastics are safe for clay storage and which are not. The first way is to determine to rigidity and opacity of the plastic, and the second way is to check the plastic’s recycling code.

Nylons, the safe plastics, tend to be soft, flexible, and opaque. They can easily be flexed without breaking or fatiguing. The most economical storage of polymer clay is in plastic bags such as Zip Lock®.

However, if you know that polymer clay is something you’ll be involved with for some time, you’ll need a more sturdy form of storage. The next move up would be containers like Rubbermaid®. Plastics that are semi-opaque to opaque are usually safe for polymer clay storage.

Acetate plastics are the containers to avoid when storing polymer clay. Acetates are plastics that easily break or crack when bent. They are most commonly clear, but can be opaque and colored. Clay stored in these types of plastics will actually eat into the container. Typical containers made from these types of plastics include the hardware storage systems with lots of little drawers. Take it from someone who's learned the hard way. While these drawers are great for storing things like baked beads, jewelry findings and small tools, they shouldn’t be used to store uncured clay.

Kathy Gregson, on the internet rec.crafts polymer clay news group, posted another way to determine whether a plastic is polymer clay safe or not. This method takes a more scientific approach to determining which plastics are safe for storage of uncured clays. Since the advent of recycling, most plastics have a code printed on them. See Kathy’s list of plastic codes to determine whether or not plastics you’re considering for storage are safe to store your unbaked clay in.

Now if you’re a serious polyholic, you’re ready to break out the big guns of polymer clay storage. Here are my favorite picks:

Any fishing tackle box made by Plano®. They’re reasonably priced and come in lots of colors and styles. They can be found at most sporting goods stores and discount department stores like Wal-Mart®, K-Mart®, and Target®. Most Plano® tackle boxes have oodles of great compartments and drawers. Several models have modular boxes that can be added to create more storage options.

Another terrific option is an embroidery floss box. These can be found at most craft and fabric stores. They are very transportable and have lots of compartments (typically 17). They usually cost between $1 - $2. I recommend these cases for budding polyholics. My Mom loves to give these boxes to kids as gifts. She fills the compartments with brightly colored blocks of clay, tools, shape cutters, buttons, and rubber stamps for creating textures. I can’t tell you what a hit these starter kits are with kids of all ages!

During my trip to the Hobby Industry Association convention in Anaheim, California, last January, I found some terrific new products that offer even more storage possibilities:

Inkerbell’s® has a line of terrific containers that are ideal for small to medium millefiori cane storage. The Snappy® container is great for holding 1-3 medium to large canes. It comes in a twin pack and sells for a suggested retail price of .88¢. The Snappy® also comes in an adjustable version with dividers that can be arranged into three or nine compartments. The Adjustable Snappy® container sells for a suggested retail price of $1.88.

Another great storage system also made by Inkerbell’s® is their Pony Craft Containers®. These containers can be fitted into the Inkerbell® Carousel Craft Organizer® (which holds 12-one ounce Pony Craft Containers®. A handy center compartment makes a great place to keep polymer clay tools. An optional Carousel Turntable® is available for stacking two or more Carousels®. This system is ideal for storing small amounts of custom blended clays (they are safe for uncured clay storage), beads, and findings.

Newbies may want to start by storing clay in economical Zip Lock® bags until they’re certain of their pc addiction, but more sophisticated polymer clay storage need not break the bank. Your best bet is a system that is easily portable and suits your work style.

polybar

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