How to Stiffen Polymer Clay

When the weather gets warmer, your polymer clay may soften and even become sticky. Warm hands and hot work areas can also cause clay to become too soft. As a crafter, you know how important it is to work with firm polymer clay. When clay is stiff enough, you’re better able to get crisp, fine details in your designs and molds. Luckily, there are many efficient ways to firm up your polymer clay.

Why Stiffen Polymer Clay?

Whether you’re making jewelry, life-like dolls, figurines, buttons or crafts, it’s essential to stiffen your clay if it has become too soft. Polymer clay that’s too supple is challenging to work with and may stick to everything — or everything sticks to it! It may even clog your pasta machine when you’re trying to condition it. 

Seven Ways to Firm Up Polymer Clay

Whether you’re a seasoned clayer, beginner or have a passion for crafting with kids, it’s great to have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve for when your polymer clay gets too soft.

Here are seven ways to make your polymer clay more firm and workable:

1. Cool the Clay

Place the polymer clay in the freezer for approximately 10 minutes before you start working with it. The clay will stay cold if you keep it in a bag of ice. Then, whenever the clay begins to soften again, set it on the ice bag for a few minutes before continuing to work with it. You can also return it to the freezer at intervals if it starts to get sticky.

2. Cool Your Hands

Dip your hands in a bowl of ice water periodically to keep them at a low temperature. This can reduce the heat that’s transferred from your hands to the clay.

3. Decrease the Temperature in Your Workroom

Turn on air conditioning or a fan and close the curtains or blinds on your windows. You can also work at cooler times of the day.

4. Mix It with Older Clay

If your clay is fresh and has become too sticky, try mixing it with a section of older clay. This will spread out the excess plasticizers and make your polymer clay more workable.

5. Air out the Clay

Try leaving your polymer clay to air for a few days to release some of the plasticizers.

6. Leach the Clay

Leaching polymer clay should be your last resort, as too much leaching can cause the clay to become brittle. Cover the clay with a piece of paper to guard against dust. Then, place a section of clay between two pieces of plain printing paper and put something dense over the top. Your clay should be firm by the next day.  

7. Use the Pasta Machine

If you’re in a hurry, place the clay between two pieces of plain paper and run it through a pasta machine. Don’t force the paper and clay through, and make sure to start with the thickest setting. Rolling the clay between two paper sheets using an acrylic roller will also help firm up your clay.

Purchase Sculpey® Polymer Clay Today

Are you ready to start creating with polymer clay? We offer the best clay on the market — it’s soft, durable and comes in the best color palettes and features. We also design tools and accessories specifically for working with clay and keeping it in the best shape possible. Order Sculpey® premium polymer clay today!

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