You might think that polymer clay is really more for kids. You’re wrong.
You might even think that there’s not much you can do with polymer clay. You’re wrong again!
While it’s true that I chose to explore polymer clay as a hobby this month because I was looking for an activity to enjoy with my nieces and nephews, I realized that these colorful pieces of clay can actually lead to so much more.
You can create a variety of items out of polymer clay – jewelry, miniature figurines, picture frames. Wherever your creativity takes you.
Here’s a list of what’s covered in this guide so you can easily jump to each section.
- What is polymer clay?
- Is polymer clay dangerous?
- What are the different types of polymer clay?
- What tools are needed?
- What is conditioning?
- How do I cure polymer clay?
- What can I make with polymer clay?
So what exactly IS polymer clay made out of?
Besides the PVC resin, polymer clay also has a liquid plasticizer, coloring agents and other filler components. This combination allows the polymer clay to be categorized as a plastigel. A plastigel has a considerable amount of plasticity which allows it to be molded freely but also allows it to harden when heat is applied.
Can polymer clay be dangerous?
There’s really two main rules you have to remember when working with polymer clay:
Don’t eat it.
Don’t burn it.
There has been some safety concerns in regards to the effects of exposure to certain plasticizers as they have been known to be endocrine disruptors. The clay that is readily available will not have any more than 0.1% of the restricted plasticizer so you don’t really have to worry. Polymer clay is technically certified as non-toxic but you should still make sure that it’s not accidentally ingested by small children.
If you are careful not to burn the clay (by following the product instructions for temperatures and baking time), you should be fine. Just make sure to keep the space you are working in well-ventilated. If you find yourself accidentally burning the clay, a small amount of hydrogen chloride released could lead to some harmful odors that may cause some eye or nose irritation. If this happens, make sure to open windows and doors to allow any hydrogen chloride gas to escape the enclosed space. If you are really concerned about fumes, you can bake it in a sealed bag (like a Reynolds baking bag).
Even when you have cured the polymer clay, the plasticizers could still leach out. Just make sure not to use any of your products for handling or storing food as this substance is definitely not food-safe. If using cookie sheets to bake it, make sure you line it with foil or wax paper and toss it out after you are done curing the polymer clay. A good rule of thumb is to dedicate your polymer clay tools for crafting use only. As always, make sure you wash your hands before and after each time you work with polymer clay.
What are the different types of polymer clay?
What tools do I need for polymer clay?
Tools – To get started, you don’t really need anything but your own hands! However, it really helps to have a rolling pin, cutting blade and other shaping tools. Many brands offer small starter sets that have a variety of these tools.
Oven – You’ll need an oven to bake the polymer clay. You can use your normal baking oven or even a small toaster oven if you have it. Do not use a microwave oven for polymer clay!
Wax or parchment paper – Not only can you use it to cover your working space, you can use it to cover the baking sheets you are using to cure the polymer clay.
What is conditioning?
How do I cure polymer clay?
As mentioned previously, you’ll need an oven to harden and bake the polymer clay (also known as curing). You can cure polymer clay in conventional, convection or toaster ovens but do not use microwave oven. Since you’ll need to avoid getting polymer clay onto items that might be used for food, you can actually bake in a sealed chamber (like a Reynolds baking bag). If you are using any type of cookie sheet, you should definitely cover it with wax or parchment paper that you can toss out when you’re done.
You should always follow the package instructions when it comes to the baking time and temperature as each product will vary. You’ll need to be careful not to burn the polymer clay. Generally, you will be determining your baking time on the thickest area of your polymer clay object. Usually baking times vary around 15-20 minutes for every 1/4 inch of polymer clay thickness.
What can I make with polymer clay?
The pliability of the polymer clay can allow you to create a multitude of things. Creative crafters have utilized polymer clay in jewelry, pottery, decoration, and sculptures. You can use this type of clay to decorate anything that won’t burn during the curing process (like wood). After polymer clay is cured, you can finish it by sanding, buffing, glazing or even painting it.
There’s tons of things you can do with polymer clay. Don’t think of it as some sort of kid’s play dough. Think of it as another art medium! Check out this post on what you can do with polymer clay!