Introduction to Polymer Clay

It's been a long time since you may have seen my polymer clay miniature creations however I would love to share some videos and tips with you all, so you too can enjoy all the therapeutic benefits of clay.  

Here are some basic tips to get started with Polymer Clay and over the next few weeks I will cover each topic more in depth:

TYPES OF POLYMER CLAY:

There are many different manufacturers of polymer clay.  My favourite is Premo by Sculpey.  It's not too soft and not too hard therefore making it a perfect clay for moulding miniatures.  However when starting out I suggest that you try out any clay that you can buy from your local craft store so you can practice and enjoy the process.   

Other brands that are easy to find in Australia are:

Sculpey III - a lovely soft clay to play with however not very durable once baked. Generally well suited for children and home craft projects.

Souffle - a bit soft for miniatures however much loved clay for statement and slab earrings.

Fimo - Difficult to condition compared to Premo however a durable and strong clay once baked.  

Mont Marte - a low cost clay that's good for beginners and home craft projects however not very durable.

Pardo, Cernit and Kato - These are quality clays however more difficult to find in Australia unless you go specialty online stores like amazon or www.overtherainbow.com

The Overtherainbow Page on polymer clay outlines which clays may be suitable for you based on your desired projects. 

I have worked with all clays however find that the cost of Premo still makes it my preferred clay for miniatures.  

Store your clay in a container so that you can limit the amount of lint and dust that it comes into contact with as you will see this when making your creations.  Clay will not go hard unless you bake it, it is exposed to high temperatures or it has not been used for a few years.

CONDITIONING CLAY:

Before you use your clay it must be conditioned.  This will remove any bubbles and make it suitable for baking and prevent cracking.  

To condition clay you can use your hands to blend it until the clay is warm, soft and easy to mould.  It is ready to use once all the cracks disappear when bending it.

Alternatively if you are conditioning a lot of clay you can use a pasta machine to make the process easier.  For professionals a wonderful tool for conditioning is the Lucy Clay machine which make conditioning clay effortless.

TOOLS FOR CLAY CRAFTING:

1.  Sculpting Tools

I find that some of my favourite tools are found around the home.  I love to use Toothpicks, Sewing Pins, Aluminium Foil, and Toothbrushes. 

Many of my tools also have come from my local Bake store Bake Boss.  Polymer clay is texture is basically like a non edible fondant, so if the tool is suitable for fondant then it will most likely be suitable for polymer clay.  You can also source many of 'fondant tools' from ebay.

I also recommend that you buy a set of dotting tools and silicone tools.  I purchased most of the Sculpey professional polymer clay tools which are very similar to fondant tools.  

Before you purchase any tools there are so many amazing videos and tutorials on youtube, so I highly recommend watching these before you decide if they are right for you.

2.  Acrylic Roller

For rolling out your clay you can buy a fondant roller or a clear acrylic Sculpey Roller which I prefer.

3.  Baby wipes

These will help clean up your surfaces before you start, clean your hands and also wipe off any lint off your clay.

4.  Baking Paper

I like to do most of my work on baking paper, it will keep each project clean and your work will not stick to it, as it would on a table or plastic surface.

5.  Blade

One of the most important tools will be your blade, I have always have worked with the Amaco blade as it has a cover to keep it safe when you are not using it.

6.  A dedicated baking tray or ceramic tile to bake your clay on. 

If you use a ceramic tile you will not be required to use baking paper however please note that tile will create a shiny surface on the bottom of you work.

7. An Oven

I purchased a small dedicated baking oven after a few months of making clay, as I found my household oven was starting to smell of clay after each bake.

An oven thermometer is recommended if you want to ensure your clay is baked at the exact temperature for optimum results.

8.  Jewellery making supplies

If you are making your miniatures into earrings or pendants you will need a set of pliers and also the relevant findings such as earring studs, hooks and jump rings.  I highly recommend to only use stainless steel findings as they will not tarnish like the other cheaper alternatives.

BAKING YOUR CLAY:

It is very important to always save the packaging from your clay to check what baking time it recommends.  For my miniatures I always bake my Premo clay on 130 degrees celsius for 30 minutes.  

There will be more tips to come over the next weeks!

Let me know if you have any questions and what miniatures you would like see made into videos?  I can't wait to share this journey with you!  

Need help? Ask here :)


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