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Getting Started With Polymer Clay

By: Jane Pullen - Updated: 14 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Getting Started With Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is often thought of as being a child's play thing and is over looked as a creative or artistic material. Over recent years, however, a growing number of polymer clay artists have continually pushed back the boundaries of polymer clay working techniques and many beautiful and intricate works of art are now produced in this medium.

One of the most exciting things about polymer clay is that very little in the way of specialist equipment is required to work with it and great results can be achieved at home using the most basic materials. Unlike ceramic clay that needs to be fired at a high temperature in a kiln, polymer clay can be baked in a household oven.

Buying Polymer Clay

There are different brands of polymer clay available. Each brand of polymer clay acts in the same way. It remains soft and malleable until it is baked in an oven and then it becomes hard. Different brands of polymer clay have differing features. They may bake at higher or lower temperatures, be available in different colours or be harder or softer to work with. Experienced polymer clay artists generally favour a particular brand because of one or more of these features. Beginners, however, will find any brand a good starting point, although over time experimenting with different brands is recommended.

How is Polymer Clay Sold?

Polymer clay is sold in small packs of an individual colour. It is also possible to buy sets that include a number of colours. However, as polymer clay can be mixed and blended, it is possible to create a unique colour palette at home using a few key colours. Some polymer clays may change colour when they are baked and therefore making and baking samples to test the finished colours can be a worthwhile task.

Storing Polymer Clay

Polymer clay will keep almost indefinitely if it is stored correctly. It should be stored in a cool area and away from heat sources such as radiator or direct sunlight. Polymer clay will not dry out, but it should be wrapped to keep it free from dust and dirt. The wrapping that it is supplied in is the best way to re wrap the clay for storage. Polymer clay can damage some surfaces so it is always best to wrap it well and not let it come into prolonged contact with other materials.

Baking Polymer Clay

Polymer clay can be baked in any household oven. Fumes are emitted from the baking clay, therefore it is best to ensure that polymer clay is not baked when food is being cooked and that the kitchen is well ventilated. Some polymer clay artists invest in small table top ovens that are dedicated for polymer clay use. Check each pack of polymer clay for baking instructions and be careful not to over bake the clay. Polymer clay can be worked and reworked an infinite number of times until it is baked. At that stage it can no longer be manipulated. It can, however, be re baked and this can be ideal for larger projects where multiple bakings allow the project to be built in stages.

Equipment

While it is possible to buy special polymer clay tools, a surprising number of kitchen cast-offs are perfect for using with polymer clay. This includes knives to cut the clay, biscuit cutters to cut and form shapes and baking tins to bake the clay. They should be dedicated to polymer clay use and not used in food preparation. Other items that are useful are a small acrylic rolling pin, pasta maker and very sharp razor style blade.

A wide variety of projects can be made from polymer clay. Polymer clay jewellery and beads are particularly popular and polymer clay is a great way to produce unique and stunning items at home with relative ease.

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