Introduction to Polymer Clay
Today I’m going to teach you all about polymer clay for kids! It’s such a fun and versatile crafting material that over the next few months I’ll be sharing several tutorials on the things kids can make with it. I wanted to answer some common questions and go over the basics here, so you have a good starting point and a reference.
What is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is a non-toxic, moldable, heat cured plastic clay. It’s durable and versatile for a variety of crafts, and is easy to use once you learn the basics.
Brands of Polymer Clay
There are many brands of polymer clay, such as Sculpey, Premo, and Fimo. They range in price and in consistency. Generally, for basic crafting and kid use, Sculpey is my favorite. It’s soft, easy to work with, and forgiving. However, you may want a more durable brand like Fimo if you find yourself making art pieces with your clay, or you like working with very fine details. It’s harder to work with though, and tends to be crumbly.
There are also products like this! This is translucent liquid clay, which is great for attaching pieces to each other or creating liquid looking effects, like frostings.
Let’s get into some of the tools you can use with polymer clay. Now, you don’t actually need any of these to get started unless you have a specific project. You can just play and mold the clay with your hands. However, these are the tools I use the most and find the best for creating the widest variety of projects.
The most useful polymer clay tool I own is a glazed ceramic tile. You can find these for a few cents at any hardware store, and they are the perfect work surface for polymer clay. It’s a perfectly smooth surface that will protect your table from the clay, and make it much easier to work with. Plus, you can use these to bake your polymer clay on too!
Here are my most used polymer clay tools. Two different brushes, one hard for texturing and one soft for adding chalks or paint. A dotting tool. A needle tool. Ball tools, hole making tools, and a rubber tipped spatula tool. Plus several tools for shaping the clay, blades for cutting the clay, and a roller. Here’s a starter set with most of the tools plus some fun embossing/stamping tools included!
Note: if you are having children younger than teenagers work with clay, don’t allow them to use razor or clay blades. They are very sharp and can cause injury even with supervision.
Here I’m sharing some products that make working with polymer clay easier, and items that can be used to enhance your creations.
One product I use a lot with polymer clay is chalk pastels. Also known as soft pastels, these are pressed pigments that are amazing for shading polymer clay. I like using these to make clay foods look more realistic, add cheeks to characters, or shade different areas. Just scrape a bit off the stick with a blade, and dust it on with a brush.
And here are the last few tools I like to use. Nail polish remover and cotton buds are great for cleaning dust and fingerprints off of clay before you bake it. Eye pins and jewelry pliers are needed if you’re making polymer clay charms. And the copy paper is for baking! I use copy paper on top of my ceramic tile when I bake my creations to keep shiny spots from appearing on the clay when baked. Also, you can accordion fold the paper when you’re baking beads. Paper is safe to use in the oven at the low temperatures that polymer clay is baked at.
Baking Polymer Clay
Polymer clay is safe to bake in your home oven or in a toaster oven. It’s baked at a low temperature for a length of time dependent on the thickness of your project. Always check the packaging of your specific brand of clay for baking directions.
Sealing/ Finishing Clay
When properly baked, polymer clay is durable, water proof, and non porous. It doesn’t need to be sealed at all! But if you do want to seal it for a shiny finish, I suggest using a polyurethane sealer. Sealers made for polymer clay peel off within days, and clear nail polish with ruin the polymer bonds and make your whole project sticky and soft. Test your sealer of choice on a practice piece, and if in doubt, don’t seal it.
Storing Polymer Clay
I keep my clay in small plastic craft bags, just to keep it clean and dust free.
I hope you found this Introduction to Polymer Clay helpful! Over the next few months I’ll be sharing posts on how to make things like buttons, beads, and charms all out of polymer clay. Each post will have a list of all the tools you need for that specific project and I’ll walk you through that whole process step by step!