Are you interested in crafting with polymer clay? How exciting! More and more artists are experimenting with polymer clay, and they all have the same question — where do I start? 

Polymer clay is an extremely versatile medium. You can do and create so much with it, including jewelry, bookmarks, science fair projects and much more. It makes sense why almost all beginners find themselves asking where to start with polymer clay.

In this post, we'll walk you through the basics, including which tools you need for success and how to set up your polymer clay workstation for amazing projects. Without further ado, let's get crafting.

What Is Polymer Clay?

Before we start adding things to your to-do list, let's discuss a little more about polymer clay. Polymer clay is modeling clay made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-toxic plastic. Companies add other properties to polymer clay to make it easier to work with. Some companies, like Sculpey®, even have liquid polymer clay!

Because polymer clay is so versatile, you will surely find one that works well for you.

Where to Start With Polymer Clay

To start crafting with polymer clay, you'll need to:

1. Buy the Right Polymer Clay and Tools

Now is the time to break out your shopping list. One of the best things about polymer clay is you don't need to buy an elaborate crafting setup. All you need to purchase is:

  • Polymer clay: Of course, to craft with polymer clay, you'll need to get some. As we mentioned before, you can choose from many types. For beginners, we recommend starting with Sculpey Bake Shop®, Sculpey III®, Original Sculpey® or Liquid Sculpey®. Feel free to experiment!
  • Tools: In addition to your clay, look for polymer clay-specific tools that can enhance your crafting experience. You'll likely want stamps, an oven-safe work mat, toothpicks, a rolling pin, bakeable molds and a clay conditioning machine. Some crafters prefer using gloves, too, to prevent their fingerprints from transferring onto the clay.
  • Household objects: Next, some tools you will need and likely already have around your house are a smooth work surface, a household oven, wax paper, a baking sheet, cornstarch and a tightly sealable plastic bag.

Polymer clay companies embrace new crafters. That's why our crafters at Sculpey® created two beginner-friendly sets, as you'll see below.

Polymer Clay Starter Set

Sculpey® teamed up with world-renowned sculptor Ace of Clay to create the Ultimate Sculpting Starter Set, a beginner-friendly sculpting kit. In this kit, you'll find:

  • Super Sculpey Firm™ polymer clay
  • Super Sculpey® polymer clay
  • Super Sculpey Medium™ polymer clay
  • Super Sculpey Ultralight™ polymer clay

Each polymer clay formula has different properties to benefit your craft. As you experiment, you'll find some formulas are great at smoothing, and others are phenomenal at capturing little details. This beginner-friendly kit will help you explore and find a polymer clay that works with your crafting style.

Along with this kit, you'll receive a handful of carving and sculpting tools. It's okay if you aren't sure how to use them because this kit also includes a video with step-by-step sculpting instructions. 

Starter Polymer Clay Tool Set

Another beginner-friendly option is our Sculpey Tools™ Clay Tool Starter Set. In this kit, you'll find three must-have tools:

  1. A polymer clay knife tool: This dull knife allows you to create lines and patterns on your polymer clay craft. On the other end, the knife has a blending tip to help you smooth any harsh lines.
  2. A blunt-point tool: This tool has many uses, including smoothing and shaping clay. It's ideal when working with smaller works of art because it can achieve intricate details.
  3. A needle-end pointer tool: Sometimes, you'll need to punch a hole into your craft, especially when making jewelry. This needle-end pointer tool is great at smoothing and shaping clay, as well as punching holes when the need arises.

You don't need to buy too many tools at first. It's best to gain experience with the must-have ones and then experiment from there. This Sculpey Tools™ Clay Tool Starter Set has just the right amount of tools to set you up for success.

2. Set up Your Polymer Craft Work Area

Next, you'll want to set up your crafting area. It's best to work on a smooth surface, like on your kitchen counter or a marble slab. That way, you can easily roll out your clay into smooth sheets. Also, make sure you have enough room in your crafting area so you can move around comfortably.

Ensure your work area is clean before crafting. Polymer clay picks up any tiny particles it makes contact with, like bits of crumbs or sparkles. Most crafters prefer putting a clean sheet of wax paper over their work surface. Tape your wax paper down so it doesn't fold over or move around as you craft.

Before you start crafting, make sure you preheat your oven and wash your hands. You'll want to wash your hands intermediately when working, too, especially when handling different colored clays.

3. Learn How to Bake Polymer Clay

Polymer clay hardens when baked. You want to cure your work of art so it doesn't reshape or collect dust. If you have any leftover clay, put it in a ziplock baggy for future use. One of the best things about polymer clay is that it's oil-based, so it won't dry out when left out for long periods.

You'll want to heat your polymer clay in the oven and never in the microwave. The microwave unevenly heats your polymer clay, resulting in some sections that bubble and burn and other portions that aren't heated at all.

Baking times vary depending on the type of clay you use. Always check the instructions before baking.

To bake your polymer clay crafts, carefully place them on a cooking sheet or use our Oven-Safe Work Mat. You may want to put your creations on a bed of cornstarch or use our Oven-Safe Work Mat to ensure your creations retain their original shape. Also, consider placing a tester piece of polymer clay of the same thickness as your craft with your creation. That way, you can use the tester to accurately determine when your craft is done baking.

Ready to Start? Gain Inspiration by Visiting Sculpey®'s How-To Page

Are you ready to start crafting? The only thing you need now is inspiration! On our website, you'll find a how-to page with hundreds of polymer clay tutorials. Learn how to make bookmarks, earrings, necklaces, pins and so much more. For exclusive projects, consider signing up for our newsletter!