This month, I have been focusing on helping each of you understand how polymer clay might work and mix with other craft products. By definition, polymer clay that has anything done to it instantly becomes a "mixed media" project, piece, or design. So whether you add something on the surface of the clay or add it into the clay itself, you have created a mixed media piece.

Studio Storage Solutions by KatersAcres | Polymer Clay in Floss BoxThe term "mixed media" gets a bad reputation in the craft world. Most people think mixed media means bad paper art with too much paint and too many craft pom-poms. But the art of mixed media contains one of the most fun art forms available to us today. Mixed media art incorporates many different products from many different media and combines them into something new.

Basic Tips and Tricks for Understanding Mixed Media

Polymer artists have long been genius' in borrowing from other media. The new wonder of "polymer painting" has been borrowed from the likes of Monet and the wonder of "embroidery" borrowed from the fiber arts. It's no surprise then that polymer art naturally gravitates into every section of the craft store.

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Don't Be Afraid

Polymer Clay & Mixed MediaMany people are afraid of the term "mixed media" because it produces images of children's hands covered in paint while they fingerprint your freshly painted front door with artwork of their own. Or maybe they are afraid to "get messy" while creating their art worrying about ruining clothing, workspaces, or the project itself. Or perhaps just maybe the idea of experimentation finding "what works" with polymer clay is decidedly too hard or too expensive.

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Test Everything

Heavy Bodied Acrylic Paints for Polymer ClayFirst off, let's be clear. There's a lot of wrong information out there about what does and doesn't work with polymer clay. The best way to see if something is compatible is to test it yourself. Here's a quick way to test compatibility with any product.

  • Choose the brand of clay you want to use it on.
  • Place some of the product on a baked piece of that clay
  • Place some of the product on a raw piece of that same clay
  • Set it aside for 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 1 month and 3 months.
  • Test at each point in time (recommended above).
  • If a substance becomes "squishy," "melty," "runny," or changes the surface of the clay, it is not compatible.
  • After 3 months if the product has not changed the clay (in either raw or baked form) then it is likely compatible.
  • A few products will change after 6 months. This change is often a change in clarity or color, but does not alter the actual clay.

Mixed Media Possibilities

Combining polymer clay with different elements of the craft world is just plain fun. Last week I gave you a quick overview of a few easy craft store grabs you can play with for your polymer clay. [Read the article here]

  • Add metals of any shape or size.
    • Embed into the clay
    • Lay on top of the clay
  • Add paints (acrylics or oils)
  • Add inks (test different inks on different brands of clay)
    • Dropper based (i.e.: Piñata)
    • Pad based (dye, pigment, etc0
    • Marker based (Copic)
  • Add alcohol based products (alcohol inks, alcohol ink pens, etc)
  • Add mica powders
    • Pearl Ex
    • Perfect Pearls
    • Primary Elements
  • Add chalks, chalk powders, or pastels
    • Chalks
    • Soft Pastels
    • Pan Pastels
  • Add glass
    • Beads
    • Chatons
    • Crystals
  • Add wood
    • Beads
    • Use as a base

Products You Can Safely Use with Polymer ClayI invite you try begin your experimentation in growing your art and expanding the possibilities of what works with polymer clay. Polymer clay is literally the most versatile medium on the market today. Its possibilities are endless. New ideas, new techniques, and new projects are waiting to be discovered every single day. Be brave. Try something new with your polymer clay today.