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All clay is worked with your hands. Some hands are better than others!


From Lizelle Levegood

Tip: "Thanks for the great article on clay safety. Personally the only side effect that I have found is that with prolonged use it does tend to eat at the skin on my hands, especially around my right thumb and forefinger. Take breaks and wash the clay off properly, especially the more sticky kinds, or wear gloves and slather on lots of hand cream. Have fun creating beautiful things with one of the more difficult mediums around."

From David Morton
Tip: "Steven is right - if you're going to wear gloves, wear nitrile in the smallest size you can stand. Nitrile is just synthetic latex. If you can find them, the GripSafe by SemperGuard are the thinnest and stretchiest (no bunching). No more finger prints!"

From Steven Travis
Tip: "There is no tool like the hands for polymer, however, they are the most difficult to get clean. To avoid the traces of plasticizer that will remain even after the most vigorous washing, I opt to wear gloves. I disliked the feel at first, but have adapted quickly and without a difficult transition. Having heard about the disadvantages of latex, I avoided those. I experimented with vinyl, which sticks to the clay, and those beautiful blue gloves called SemperGuard by Nitrile. They are powder free. I have large hands, so I purchased several boxes of the medium size, which fit snugly on my hands. The blue Nitrile gloves allow the hands to feel sensation. You can still feel the clay nearly as well as going gloveless, and the tight fit eliminates most wrinkles. The clay doesn't stick to the Nitrile gloves, so even doing very small intricate work is no problem.
Some people say that the plasticizers in polymer clay can be a health problem if it gets into food indirectly. Others say there is little or no danger with the material. I don't know which camp is correct, so I personally side with caution and make a habit of always using gloves. Besides, it's fun slipping my hands into the color blue everyday. It psyches me up for a session with the clay."

From Elliott Baker
Tip: "I do not like working with gloves in the least. I find it marks my clay in weird ways. I work bare-handed exclusively and with only minimal tools, such as a needle, razor-knife, and hand roller. I do agree strongly on the need to keep hands clean!!! Anyone who has tried to go back and forth from fimo red to fimo white knows about the pinking-problem - hehe. Also, I often smoke as I work, and cigarette tar will very quickly stain light colored clay. I have 3 methods which have helped me very greatly and allowed me to employ the fine touch of working bare-handed in my projects.
  1. Cut your fingernails and file them closely. Sorry ladies but I really do mean it. Clay likes to hide under fingernails, and so does dirt and debris. Also, hand smoothing becomes much easier without the little nail marks as you go.
  2. Keep baby wipes. These are great for a quick wash between colors, and if you have children, as I do, they are readily on-hand.
  3. If you smoke, and especially if you smoke as you work, here is a big help. Keep a bowl of 1-parts clorox liquid and 8-parts clean water in a finger bowl where you work. If you touch that cigarette, dip those fingers and pat dry on a clean towel before continuing.

From Sheri Anne
Tip: "I have Psoriasis on the palms of both hands so I was leery of working with my bare hands. I tried latex gloves but I found that they didn't fit well enough (no matter what size I bought) to roll clay without them bunching and ruining my designs. I decided to try it bare handed and thankfuly, I have had no reaction to either Fimo or Sculpey III. I am, however, very careful to wash my hand thoroughly using a nail brush to remove all traces of the clay (which should be done anyway especially when you switch from working with dark colors to light)."

From Michelle Lambert
Tip: "It seems I spend as much time on the computer learning about clay, as I do actually claying. So, I always wear an ergonomic brace designed to keep my wrist flat while my hand is on the mouse. When I don't use it, I feel strain on the top of my wrist, so I know it's working for me. I have also found that wearing that same brace while I'm sanding clay, keeps my wrist from hurting and greatly reduces the strain my hand feels. I highly recommed one to anyone who surfs a lot and/or sands their clay by hand."

From suelee
Tip: "While I have to admit I'm not as concientious about the care of my hands as I should be I have found that using latex gloves greatly reduces the amount of fingerprints on the object I am making. Some people are allergic to latex however and there are vinyl gloves out there but they have a looser fit and tend to roll, wrinkle and stick to the clay. The latex is convenient especially when sculpting figures that are difficult to burnish. Also, I have been using non-alcohol baby wipes (huggies by brand name) for years to clean my hands, tools, work surfaces with great success. You can use vaseline (very small amount) but I like the baby wipes better!"

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