Products You Can Use Safely with Polymer Clay

Products You Can Safely Use with Polymer Clay

This month, I am taking some time to talk about mixed media. To make mixed media work for polymer clay, you must know which media will make the best pairing. Today, I'm going to help narrow down your search in the craft store, so your next mixed-media project comes together beautifully. First, you can get started by checking out our different polymer clay options.

After you have finished browsing our polymer clay, we encourage you to use the tips below to make mixed media work for your polymer clay.

What Is Mixed Media?

genuine mixed media

Mixed media is a vast field that freely borrows products and inspiration from all kinds of art forms. Some examples of techniques that are already popular in the polymer clay community include the following.

  • Mokume gané: a metalsmithing technique
  • Millefiori: a glassmaking technique
  • Carving: a woodworking technique

Polymer artists are notorious for borrowing and adapting skills, traits and techniques from other fields. A genuine mixed-media piece combines many different kinds of media into one finished element. This post aims to help you quickly narrow down your search at the craft store or online shopping center you like to frequent.

Which Products Work Well With Polymer Clay?

The following products are safe to use with polymer clay to create a wide range of mixed-media projects.

Paints

Heavy Bodied Acrylic Paints for Polymer Clay

Painting on polymer clay is completely safe and can help bring your vision to life. You can use hundreds of color combinations and painting techniques to create unique designs. Try painting over light-colored clay to make your design pop or colorful polymer clay to create a vivid color scheme.

You can add facial features to your sculptures or create a bold pattern on clay jewelry. However you decide to paint your creations, it's best to apply the paint after baking the clay. The paint could change color or prevent your clay from setting in the oven. To avoid burning your fingers, allow your cured polymer clay to fully cool before you start painting. Paint adheres best after the clay has cooled down.

My favorite paints for polymer clay are water-based acrylic varieties. They're affordable, opaque and easy to work with. You can test your paint's quality by applying a small patch on the back of your creation. Gently sanding the surface of your sculpture can help the paint stick better. If the paint dries to your liking, you are safe to finish the rest of your design.

Gently sanding the surface can help paint stick to clay.

Example Piece:

Faces Beads by Katie Oskin of KatersAcresThis necklace is a huge chunky bead that I made from two of my favorite faces I sculpted. I wanted a way to let them travel with me, so I molded the faces and made these beads. I was inspired by Debbie Crothers' "Symbolic Beads" tutorial. Once baked, I antiqued them with acrylic paints, heat set the paint and added colorful oil paints to accent the bead.

Video Example:

Metals

Metal components to use in polymer clay workAh yes, metals are hugely popular in clay work. Why? They can withstand the low baking temperatures we use with clay and look stunning when combined correctly with polymer clay.

My favorites are brass components that I purchase from BSueBoutiques.com, but you can purchase brass components — think vintage — from any big-box store as well. Lisa Pavelka also has a line of metal findings that you can use with polymer. I suggest going to your local surplus store and see what metal bits, bobs and doodads they have. You're bound to find some unique items to use in your work.

Example Piece:

Here's one of my newer pieces that combines all kinds of metal bits: chain, gears, hardware store components, clock hands, steampunk stuff and so much more. This piece is titled "JunglePunk" and made by Katie Oskin of Kater's Acres.

Chalks, Chalk Pastels and Mica Powders

Using Chalks with Polymer Clay | Shown Inkadinkado Blending ChalksMy chalk palette is an item I use daily in my polymer clay studio. I can't clay without it. I use a "Bold Brights" set from Inkadinkado. These chalks are very hard and need a bit of breaking in, but they are some of the best I've used. In addition, they are fairly affordable and last an incredibly long time if you use them in conjunction with a nice soft brush.

You can also use Chalk Pastels from the art section of your local craft store. They work equally well, though they may not be quite as intense. Another popular selection from polymer artists is Pan Pastels. These are fabulous, but can be quite pricey. Mica powders are also a beloved choice among polymer clay artists. I prefer the Perfect Pearls, as they combine a resin element when heat set that does not necessarily need sealing.

Example Piece:

Chalk Bangled Bracelet by Katie Oskin of KatersAcres

I created the colored portions on this bangle by dusting chalks in the white space left behind by my stamped image. Using chalks is a great way to get an instant splash of subtle yet gorgeous colors.

Inks

Studio Storage Solutions by KatersAcresThere are so many different kinds of inks available to artists today. Knowing which one to use and when is the challenge and the trick of mixed media. The tried-and-true for all clay types are alcohol inks. Chalk inks are my favorite, but you can also use pigment and dye-based inks with polymer clay.

Not all inks will "dry" on all clay types. Some must be heat set after application, so you need to bake your item for the ink to dry completely. The environment, type of clay, humidity levels and the technique you use will impact the finish of your ink. Be sure to try a "test piece" before committing any unknown ink on any polymer surface for a large project.

Example Piece:

"ClockWorks" Tin by Katie Oskin of KatersAcres

I made this little tin using a wide range of techniques and layered inks on the surface of the clay. A few of the inks I chose were not initially set on the clay until post-baking as they needed heat set to reduce their "stickiness."

Stamps

Stamp Sheets from Barbara McGuireWhat artist doesn't have an arsenal of stamps at their disposal? You can use stamps to transform your clay with the following techniques:

  • Stamping inks
  • Adding powdered products like chalks and mica powders
  • Embossing the surface
  • Adding paint

There are literally hundreds of places to buy stamps, either locally at big-box craft stores or online. Christi FriesenLisa Pavelka and Barbara McGuire have some gorgeous stamps to choose from.

Video Example:

Stencils and Masks

Coffee Themed Stencils and Stamps for Polymer ClayStencils and masks are great ways to spruce up the surface design of your clay. I prefer stencil "masks" to regular stencils. You can use your stencils on polymer clay with:

  • Chalk powders
  • Paints
  • Masking fluids like Repel Gel

Stencils are readily available from many retailers, and if you have a Silhouette machine, you can even make your own in whatever design and pattern you choose!

Example Piece: See the "ClockWorks" Tin Above

Glass

Glass Hot Fix Crystals for Use in Polymer ClayYou can mix many shapes and forms of glass with polymer clay. Glass has long been a favorite of crafters because of its versatility and the vibrance and elegance it adds.

One of my favorites is Hotfix crystals because they bond to clay permanently when you bake your piece. There's no need to add glue post-baking. Please be careful not to buy the plastic Hotfix crystals as they will melt when baked.

Example Piece:

Polymer Clay Flower Pendants by Katie Oskin of KatersAcres

When making flower pendants, I love to add a tiny crystal to the center for a pop of sparkle and shine. It's unexpected and yet makes the piece look more finished.

Polymer Clay and Mixed Media

Playing with mixed media in polymer clay is a lot of fun. If you haven't tried it yet, I suggest experimenting with it and seeing what you can create. The project shown below is a special piece to me. It incorporates almost all the mixed-media components listed above. Read more about this piece "Plumb Outta Time" on my blog, Kater's Acres.

Get Creative With Sculpey® Products

Using high-quality materials will help bring your artistic creations to the next level. Sculpey® is the best polymer clay on the market for mixed-media projects. Choose from a wide range of colors and textures to bring your visions to life.

Browse our selection of premium polymer clay to inspire your next project.

Get creative with sculpey products.