Before using polymer clay for crafts, structures, figurines or jewelry, it's essential to learn how to condition it. Always condition your polymer clay straight from the package to ensure maximum softness and flexibility. You can either knead polymer clay in your hands or run it through a pasta machine for the desired effect.
What Is Conditioning?
Conditioning is the process by which you make polymer clay ready to work with. Conditioning your clay is essential because it removes air that may be trapped in the clay and helps mix your ingredients more evenly. It also ensures the particles within the polymer clay are adequately aligned.
Condition Polymer Clay by Hand
To condition polymer clay by hand, start by sectioning off one-fourth of a block of clay. Then, begin to roll it back and forth in your hands. This motion will cause the polymer clay to warm up and its edges to smooth out. When all the clay feels warm, begin to roll it into a ball and then a snake. Repeat this step until the clay is fully conditioned.
You'll know it's finished when you can make a snake and fully bend it in the middle without the clay cracking.
Condition Polymer Clay Using a Pasta Machine
First, cut off only the portion of clay you'll use from your block. Be sure to cut off a piece of clay that's narrow enough to fit through your pasta machine. Try checking the width settings on your machine and portion off a section of clay that's narrower than that. Gently insert polymer clay into the machine instead of jamming it.
Once you put your clay through the machine, fold it in half and position the fold side facing down in the pasta machine. Repeat this process until you fully condition your clay. It's finished when it's free of rough edges, has a slight sheen and can bend in the middle without breaking.
How to Condition Stiff vs. Soft Polymer Clay
To best condition stiff polymer clay, try mixing it with a soft clay to soften it. A small amount of mineral oil may also help. If you're trying to condition soft clay, try leaching some of the plasticizers from the block to stiffen it. To do this, roll the soft clay into a sheet and place it between two pieces of absorbent paper for 30 minutes. Always practice this method with caution as removal of the plasticizers can lead to brittleness.
Order Sculpey® Clay Today
We want to help you bring your creations to life with ease. Conditioning your polymer clay will improve its strength and longevity and allow you to create with confidence. If you have questions about how to condition your clay, feel free to reach out today. We love helping clayers and crafters get creative!
We offer the best polymer clay on the market in a variety of vibrant color palettes. Order your polymer clay online and check out our Sculpey® Clay Conditioning Machine today!