Chapter 3: Polymer Clay Tips

When you choose the right polymer clay for your project, it's extremely user-friendly. However, there are some key things you should know to make sure your project turns out exactly how you imagined. In this chapter, we'll go over some basic polymer clay tips to make crafting even more enjoyable. 

Helpful Tips for Using Polymer Clay

Here are some helpful tips for polymer clay enthusiasts: 

1. Choose High-Quality Clay

Do your research to find a high-quality polymer clay that is both easy to work with and durable after baking. Choosing a high-quality clay will ensure your project turns out the way you want and lasts for years to come.

2. Condition the Clay

Polymer clay is a lot easier to work with when you take the time to condition it before starting your project. You can condition small pieces of clay by massaging it with your hands. To quickly condition larger chunks of clay, place a heating pad or microwaveable rice bag over it for a few minutes. Heat softens polymer clay so it's easy to roll out and manipulate. You can also invest in a clay conditioning machine.

3. Use Unconventional Tools

Using materials from around the house can help you achieve unique textures and designs. You can use an old toothbrush, butter knife or plastic straw to add patterns and detail to the clay. Just keep in mind that you shouldn't eat with any silverware or kitchen utensils after you use them on polymer clay.

4. Protect Your Work Surface

The unbaked plasticizers in polymer clay can stain or damage work surfaces like a wooden table. Protect the surface under your clay by covering it with a silicone work mat or parchment paper. You can also work on top of a ceramic tile, metal baking sheet or oven-safe glass. This also protects the clay from rough textures on your work surface.

5. Store Clay in Plastic Wrap or Sandwich Bags

Though polymer clay will not dry out, it can get dusty if you leave it untouched for too long. We recommend storing your clay in a bag or container made of polypropylene (PP) plastic. You can easily identify PP plastic by looking for containers with the recycling symbol #5. 

6. Use Foil to Conserve Clay

Filling your projects with aluminum foil or wire whenever possible helps keep them lightweight, lowers the baking time and conserves clay.

7. Bond Clay With Wire and Liquid Clay

For a long-lasting bond, use small pieces of metal wire to stick clay together and seal it with a few drops of Liquid Sculpey®

8. Seal Paints and Finishes 

If you paint or add mica powder to your baked polymer clay creation, it's best to seal in those details so they don't wear off over time. Sculpey® Satin Glaze and Sculpey® Gloss Glaze are formulated specifically for sealing baked polymer clay. These can also add visually interesting effects to your project to achieve a certain appearance.

9. Do Not Use Nail Polish or Spray Paint on Polymer Clay

Though nail polish and spray paint would seem like a creative way to paint or seal your polymer clay creations, they'll end up ruining your project. The solvents in nail polish and spray paint soften and dissolve polymer clay over time. For the best results, use only acrylic paints or glazes formulated for polymer clay. 

10. Use Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a helpful tool when working with polymer clay. Experienced clayers dust their molds with cornstarch to prevent the polymer clay from sticking. You can also rub a little bit of cornstarch on your project to smooth it out and remove fingerprints. Covering your project with cornstarch before baking may also protect it from browning. 

Polymer Clay Baking Tips

You bake polymer clay in a home oven or toaster oven to harden it. You can find detailed baking instructions and tips on our website and product packaging. Here are some bonus tips for baking polymer clay:

  1. Follow the baking instructions on the label carefully.
  2. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is the correct temperature — consider performing a pre-baking test before getting started.
  3. Do not raise the temperature of your oven to bake clay projects faster, or you may burn the clay.
  4. Make sure your project is baked all the way through for a stronger and more durable result.
  5. Place a layer of parchment paper beneath your project to avoid transferring any texture from the pan.
  6. Bake your project according to its thickest part to ensure it hardens completely.
  7. Bake your creations on top of a ceramic tile for more uniform heating.
  8. Cover projects with a disposable aluminum pan while baking to contain any odor and prevent browning.

Shop Sculpey Polymer Clay for Your Next Project

It's amazing what you can create with different types of polymer clay and a few basic techniques. Check out our FAQ page for more details and instructions for how to craft with polymer clay. Sculpey products also come with detailed baking instructions for great results every time. Shop our selection of polymer clay, tools and other accessories today! 

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