10 surprising facts about polymer clay

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Since its creation, many artists and crafters have developed a fondness for polymer clay's versatility and durability. This easy-to-use clay allows crafters to shape and create the objects of their imaginations. Because polymer clay is soft and bendable, it is also a great medium for children and beginner crafters. No matter your experience level, we have polymer clay that will be a good fit for you!

Polymer clay is a popular medium for making jewelry, beads, charms, figurines, picture frames and so much more. You can make just about anything you can dream up with polymer clay. It's also great for covering and decorating other objects that are made of glass, wood, metal or some plastics. You can easily turn any object into a one-of-a-kind gift with polymer clay!

What is polymer clay made of? Polymer clay is a synthetic type of modeling clay and comes from a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) base. Additional ingredients such as bendable plasticizers, fillers and coloring agents give polymer clay its unique qualities. All of these components work together to give polymer clay its flexibility, texture, softness and vibrant color.

If you are new to the world of polymer clay or if you are curious about polymer clay facts, we are excited to share our knowledge with you. As passionate lifelong crafters, we hope to inspire you to explore, craft and experience the joy of claying. Keep reading to learn the facts about oven-bake polymer clay — you might learn something new or something that challenges what you had previously assumed about this wonderful medium.

1. It's Non-Toxic

People often wonder is polymer clay toxic? The answer is that polymer clay is perfectly safe around children and pets because it is non-toxic. This means you do not have to worry about toxic fumes when you bake polymer clay in the oven, nor do you need to panic if a child licks a polymer clay ice cream cone, for example.

However, even though polymer clay is non-toxic, you still do not want to sit down to a clay spaghetti dinner. We also do not recommend polymer clay for children under age eight because young children might be tempted to eat the clay.

polymer clay does not give off toxic fumes

Worried about baking clay in the oven? You can set your fears aside — it is safe to use the same oven or toaster oven you use to cook food in because polymer clay does not give off toxic fumes. However, avoid baking clay on surfaces you plan to use for food. Keep the following tips in mind, and you should have no health issues with polymer clay:

  • Do not bake polymer clay at high temperatures. Although polymer clay fumes are not dangerously toxic, fumes at high temperatures may cause eye, nose or mouth irritation if projects get too hot in the oven. Always follow recommended baking times and do not bake creations in the microwave. If clay burns, open windows for ventilation and treat the situation as if you had burned food.
  • Do not eat polymer clay.
  • Do not coat utensils or cooking tools in polymer clay.

All of our polymer clay products are tested to ensure safety and to meet the standards of the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI). Our products do not contain any allergens like wheat, gluten, dairy, sulfur or latex.

Have you dreamt of decorating a coffee mug with little polymer clay pugs? Do you wish to cover a spoon handle in clay vines and butterflies? Have no fear — you can go ahead and make a dog-lovers mug or springtime-spoon without worries. Be sure to decorate the parts of the objects that do not come in contact with food. We recommend washing your hands after using clay and not making a habit of eating while crafting.

2. It Dries Faster Than Air-Dry Clay

Are you excited to create a polymer clay gift for someone's birthday? Do you tend to wait until the last minute to get things done? As long as you use polymer clay, you should be alright even if you only have a few hours to make the gift and get to the birthday party. However, if you used air-dry clay, you might have to stop at the store and pick up a last-minute gift.

Air-dry clay takes a lot longer than polymer clay to be ready because you have to let it sit for at least 24 to 48 hours to completely dry. With polymer clay, time is in your hands. Oven-bake polymer clay bakes in your home oven at a low temperature of 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 30 minutes. With proper planning, you can have a project complete from start to finish in no time.

3. It Doesn't Shrink or Expand

When you create something with polymer clay, you can expect it to stay the same size throughout the entire process. Polymer clay does not shrink or expand. So if you are worried your polymer clay frog figurine will shrink to the size of a pea in the oven, have no fear. Your froggy figure will stay whatever size you made it and will look adorable in your garden.

With polymer clay, it is easy to design specifically-sized pieces. It is the perfect medium for measuring and covering glass, wood and metal. As long as you follow the packaging's baking instructions, what you create is what you will get.

4. It Doesn't Fade

Baking polymer clay as directed will not cause colors to fade. So if you just completed a really cute ice cream cone pen, you can pop it in the oven with peace of mind. Your ice cream cone pen will look brilliantly scrumptious for years to come.

However, keep in mind that oven-bake clays can fade over time if they are stored in direct sunlight. For this reason, we recommend storing your creations and clay away from windows to keep their colors vibrant.

5. It Will Not Dry Out

If you are new to polymer clay crafting, you will soon discover the joy of using a medium that does not dry out. You can take time with polymer clay and enjoy relaxing self-expression. That means if you're in the middle of a project and get interrupted or need to take a break, it is perfectly fine to walk away and continue crafting at another time. This freedom opens a lot of doors when it comes to creativity. You can make as many changes to projects as you wish until you are satisfied. When your creation is complete, all you need to do is bake your project for the finishing touch.

polymer clay does not dry out

The fact that polymer clay doesn't dry out makes it ideal for children, too. Children might forget to put their crafts away, but that's no problem with polymer clay. Kids can craft for hours until an adult is ready to help them with the baking process.

Wondering if polymer clay can go bad? When oven-bake clays are stored in a cool, dry place under 90 degrees Fahrenheit and out of direct sunlight, they can last for a few years. Store clay in the refrigerator or freezer to extend its lifespan.

6. It Is Durable

You'd be surprised how tough this soft, bendable clay is once it has cured. How strong is polymer clay exactly? If baked correctly, it will not weaken or shatter over time, which makes it a perfect medium for keepsake handprints. Our most durable clays are Sculpey Souffle and Premo! Sculpey. Our toughest clays cannot be broken with your bare hands — imagine that!

Cracking might occur if creations are not baked adequately, which is why we emphasize the importance of proper baking. However, cracks are easy to repair if they do occur. Simply fill in cracks with plumber's putty, sand it down and paint the crack to match the clay. If a piece breaks off, all you need to do is glue it back on. We recommend super glue gel or flexible hot glue.

Did you know that polymer clay is waterproof? Just like any plastic, you can wash polymer clay creations with water. To clean pieces, gently hand-wash them with soap and water. Avoid the dishwasher, though, as the heat can damage your creations.

7. Storage Is Easy

You do not need anything fancy to store polymer clay properly, nor does it require special storage techniques. Storing polymer clay is really simple, and you only need to follow a few rules to ensure your clay stays as fresh as possible. Do the following and you'll enjoy your clay for a long time:

  • Store clay in containers or bags made out of polypropylene (PP) plastic. How can you tell if a container is made of polypropylene? Look for the number 5 on the bottom of the container. These types of plastic containers are also slightly cloudy.
  • Keep clay in a very dry, cool place in an environment that does not go beyond 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Store clay in the fridge or freezer to play it safe.
  • Do not store clay in direct sunlight.
  • Avoid storing clay in the car, especially during the summer months.

Do you have Ziploc sandwich bags in your kitchen cupboard? That'll work fine for storing leftover clay.

8. Do Not Overbake

Although polymer clay is kid-friendly and very durable, you want to avoid overbaking and make sure you follow baking instructions carefully. Just like how you wouldn't want to burn a batch of your favorite cookies, overbaking or underbaking will affect the finished product. Overbaking may lead to darker colors, and you definitely do not want to burn your masterpiece.

We want each of your clay creations to turn out great, so we highly recommend using an oven thermometer to make sure your oven's temperature is set right. Our home ovens are not always accurate, which may not matter much when reheating last night's casserole but does make a big difference when it comes to polymer clay.

use an oven thermometer when baking clay

Always preheat your oven and check the temperature with a thermometer before baking. Most polymer clay pieces can be baked at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 30 minutes, but times and temperatures can vary with each product. Check package instructions first.

9. Easy Cleanup

Unlike paint, paper-mache and other messier creative mediums, polymer clay makes cleanup easy and fast. Your fingers might get a little colorful with clay while crafting, but clay is easily removed with soap and water or baby wipes. We recommend keeping baby wipes handy while crafting to clean tools and prevent mixing colors.

You can also use hand sanitizer to remove polymer clay from your hands. Apply hand sanitizer to clay-covered hands, wipe with a paper towel and then wash your hands with soap and water. You'll never be able to tell you had been claying for hours!

It only takes a moment to clean up a polymer clay work area. Always make sure to protect your work area with parchment paper or aluminum foil or else work on glass, metal, marble or the Sculpey Work n' Bake Clay Mat. When you're done crafting for the day, simply toss the foil or parchment paper in the trash or store away your special work surface for future projects. Pack your clay in its designated storage container and savor the stress-relieving effect of crafting with clay.

10. Small Bars Go a Long Way

You do not need a lot of clay to explore your imagination and create something you'll love. Small blocks of clay go a long way despite their size. You can make figurines, jewelry, beads, ornaments, charms, keychains, embellishments, mixed media pieces and so much more with even small amounts of polymer clay.

Sampler packs are great for beginners because they can try out a bunch of different colors in their creations. You can also use white polymer clay and paint it any color you wish after baking. We recommend using water-based acrylic paints for painting your polymer clay crafts.

Shop Sculpey Products Today

Are you excited to start a clay-crafting adventure? Crafting with polymer clay is relaxing, inspiring and tons of fun. You get to create just about anything your imagination allows with polymer clay. Its softness and flexibility make it the perfect medium for the beginning crafter, while its versatility makes it challenging for experienced crafters. There are so many amazing things people are making with polymer clay every day, from lifelike dolls to jewelry that resembles real gems. Consider various techniques and applications — the possibilities are endless!

If you're looking for a go-to source for all of your polymer clay needs, you've come to the right place. For more than 50 years, we have been passionate about clay and delivering the highest-quality products to our customers. We have everything you need to get started, from various Sculpey clays to tons of creative inspiration. We are always adding new project ideas to our Create page to show our fellow crafters the possibilities. We also have a community space so crafters can socialize and share their fun projects with each other.

If you want to start crafting with polymer clay today, browse and shop our online store for everything you need. Do you have more questions about polymer clay? Contact us today and we'll be happy to assist you!