I have a new OBSESSION with polymer clay. It’s something I’ve always been interested in learning how to use, but I’d been putting it off. I thought that you had to buy all of these special tools and glazes and paints. But it’s not like that AT ALL. While there are a lot of great tools and special methods that you can use and learn, there are so many gorgeous, fun, and quick projects you can make with polymer clay using just your hands.
Here are some answers to a lot of questions I had before I started working with polymer clay:
What kind of clay should I use?
I’ve tried two different brands: FIMO and SCULPEY. They’re close in price, but FIMO is slightly more expensive. The baking instructions are a little different, so I wouldn’t mix the two brands. The biggest difference is that FIMO is much harder to work with. It takes a lot longer to knead the clay, and it ends out hurting your hands even. However, it is also less soft and sticky, so it is easier to get it into the shape you want. SCULPEY is much softer and faster to work with. However, sometimes it’s too soft and it doesn’t do what you want it to do. I think that I prefer FIMO even though it takes longer, but many people prefer SCULPEY.
How do you bake it?
This is the part that was so surprisingly easy. All you have to do is make a shape, put it on a cookie sheet, and pop it in the oven. (Each brand has different times and temperatures so read the package carefully). Let it cool before doing anything else with it, because it is fragile while hot.
Does the color or size change when you bake it?
Not really. Sometimes the color changes very slightly, as does the size. For most projects it’s completely unnoticeable. For very precise projects, the slight change in size might make a difference.
Can you paint it? Do you need to use a glaze or sealant?
There is still so much about polymer clay for me to learn. You don’t have to paint it or use a glaze at all. If you want to, you can paint it with simple acrylic paint (after it cools) and then coat it with a sealant. If you choose to use a glaze, you just paint on a coat after the clay has cooled and let it dry.
Do I need to buy any special tools?
Not necessarily. You can make so many great projects with just clay and your hands. You can also use a lot of things you probably already have around the house instead of buying tools just for clay. For example, you could use a rolling pin, craft knife, box cutter, kitchen knife, pizza cutter, cookie cutters, paperclips, toothpicks, jewelry wire, rubber stamps, play-doh molds, and anything with an interesting texture.
(NOTE: Once you’ve used something with polymer clay, you shouldn’t use it with food ever again!)
I bought a few tools because I’m planning on making a lot of things with clay in the future. They are also useful tools for other craft projects.
1. An acryllic roller (Sculpey Acrylic Clay Roller-8″)
2. A clay cutter (Sculpey Super Slicer With Comfort Handles)
3. Some tiny cookie cutters (9 Pack Mini Geometric or 22 Pack Geometric Cutters)
4. A starter tool set (11-Piece Pottery Tool Set)
What’s a good project to start out with?
Here are a few awesome projects for someone just beginning to work with Polymer Clay. They can all be made with just your hands, your oven, and everyday kitchen or craft items. (Plus optional jewelry findings).
1. Clay Bangles (via Delighted Momma)
2. Clay Bead Necklace (via Delighted Momma)
3. Braided Clay Bracelet (via Delighted Momma)
(Delighted Momma is an amazing site with so many great tutorials. Lindsay is the one who inspired me to start making things with polymer clay.)
4. Glittery Faceted Beads (via Hazel and Agnes)
5. Painted Leaf Pendants (via Alisa Burke)
6. DIY Clay Earrings (via The Alison Show)
7. Stamped Clay Gift Tags (via Art Mind)
8. Fingerprint Pendant Necklace (via Sarah Ortega)
9. Clay Rock Magnets (via Happy Serendipity)
Bonnie and Trish @ Uncommon says
Can't wait to play with some clay! Thanks for gathering all of the tutorials!
Craftberry Bush says
Here I am again…did you know that polymer clay is my 'forte' ? yup my favourite art medium, even though I don't really showcase it much at the blog…but I just love playing with it…thank you so much for sharing xo
Rachel (Lines Across) says
I went back to check out your site for clay tutorials. So many cute projects! It is so much fun and sort of addicting. I'll have to read through all of your posts for more advice and ideas.
I work with polymer clay a lot in my collages and one thing I didn't see in your post (I may have missed it) is that once polymer clay touches something ie rolling pin, fork, etc… that object can never be used with food again. I even have a cheap designated toaster oven for baking the clay. Just a heads up for beginners using this amazing crafting source.
Rachel (Lines Across) says
Thanks so much for this useful and important tip! I added a note about it to the post.
Awesome! Thanks for sharing – those look like such fun projects.
Donatella M. says
i've got the clay, and an old oven. nuff procrastination! thanks for the tips!! xox, d.
Lea Burgess says
I'm a beginner and I'm making bulk for a volleyball team. How many lil circle projects can I get out of a 1 LB bar? I don't want my circles any bigger than a quarter! I'm so excited to do this, I love all the tutorials , just had to find the right words to use to get the one I was looking for.
Lea Burgess says
I can't tell you exactly how many little circles you can get, but I've found that it goes a LOT further than I expected. Which project are you going to make? Feel free to email me if you have more questions! linesacross at gmail dot com
Instead of using glaze use nail polish look really pretty on paper beads as well.
Nail polish end up eating away at polymer – might take six months or a year, but it will ruin it:(
Thanks for the tip! I have never used nail polish before, but I would have thought it would work well. I can definitely see how it would wear away. Glaze is pretty cheap and easy to find, so it is definitely the way to go.
Candace Herrero says
Oh, man!! And now I know how to make all those AWESOME Christmas ornaments you make!! Perhaps Santa will put some in my stocking!!! 🙂
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for your very interesting article.
I myself has long been wanting to try polymer clay crafts.
But still have a lot of doubts.
One thing I am really interested to know is will be safe to use the oven for baking the clays?
Like the same oven used for foods?
Thank you very much.
That’s a great question. Definitely don’t use any tools on the clay and then reuse them for food. However I’ve read that it’s safe to use your regular kitchen oven to bake the clay. I do it myself. Some people just to be extra careful will buy a cheap toaster oven (the kind with a door) to use just for clay.