Saturday, October 13, 2012

5 Polymer Clay Beginner Tips

Here are 5 things I wish I new when I first started with polymer clay.

1. Not all clay is the same

Different brands have different properties. Some are easy to work with, but brittle when baked. Others are stronger, but super tough to condition. Personally, I am most comfortable working with Premo Sculpey. I can buy it locally and it is very versatile. I also like the waxy finish of Cernit. Some people love Kato, but I find it has a chemical smell that I don't like.

Here's a good resource on types of clay.

2. Conditioning matters
You have to work the clay by "conditioning" it in order for it to be strong and smooth. Don't try to short cut it.

This site offers some good conditioning tips.

3. Not all finishes can be used
I learned this one the hard way. After creating a few pieces using chalks as accents, I spayed them with a clear sealer. Things seemed great until about a month later when they got sticky. Lesson: not all finishes work on polymer. Now most of the time I use a brush on finish, Pledge with Future Shine floor finish.  Most people who work with clay refer to this as "Future floor wax."

Here is a good forum chat on finishing:

4. Sanding matters
If you are a good sander, and your project doesn't use lots of textures, paints or powders, you can great a great finish just by sanding and buffing. The key is patience and lots of fine grit sandpaper grades ranging from 400-2000.

You can find some finer grades in hardware or auto parts stores, but I find that I have to order online to all of the different grades.

Here is a good site outlining how to use the different grades for sanding success:

5. Banning fingerprints
Sanding can remove some fingerprinting, but it is better not to leave prints in the first place. You can remove prints before baking with cornstarch, baby powder, baby oil, or mineral oil.

Here are some tips on preventing finger printing:


  1. What a wonderful list of tips for new clayers. Thank you for writing it. It will be a helpful resource for new clayers and I have it bookmarked so that I can send them over to read it.

  2. My experience with polymer clay was very brief. A list like this would have helped! Thanks for sharing this.


Ooh,a comment! How delightful.


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