Prepared by Arlene Thayer
How do I store Polymer Clay?
Many containers are not suitable for storing polymer clays. Because of the plasticizers in the clay, there can be a reaction between the materials. Clay can be sealed in glass or metal containers without any reaction for great lengths of time. The most practical and economical storage containers are made of plastic. Storing your clay in "Tupperware" type food storage containers is a good way to keep your clay at it's best workable condition for long periods.
First, place your opened conditioned clay or prepared canes into a sandwich baggie. Also, wrapping your leftover or prepared canes first with wax paper helps keep the outside surface of the clay smooth. Saran wrap is all right for short term storage, but the wrap tends to stick to the clay and may damage your canes over time. The clay is at its best when used within one year of purchase.
Store the containers away from heat and sunlight. The reaction will render the clay useless. Remember, the cooler the better. Polymer clay begins to bake at consistent warm temperatures.
What are some of the items that can be made with polyclay?
You will never run out of ideas for polymer clay objects. Think about covering switch plates, pens, picture frames, boxes, glass or just about anything that can be baked without melting. You can over glass balls, giant wooden bead and even ping-pong balls. Polymer clay is not suitable for items that may come into contact with small children.
Some of the jewelry items include, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pins and barrettes. For larger projects, you might cover drawer fronts and knobs. Polymer clay is wonderful for figurines and there are many fine "How-to-Do" books available at your craft store. This is only a sampling of what can be produced with polyclay. Let your imagination run wild!
What are canes?
Also see the question, "What are simple beads?", contained in this FAQ.
Making canes is one of the most rewarding forms of creating with polymer clay. Canes can be round, square, triangular and any shape you wish. They can be rolled or folded or layered. Basically, after your cane is designed, it is stretched to the length you desire. It is then sliced and applied to a surface, which can be flat or round and finally baked and finished.
Canes are made by combining colors to make designs. One description is: Imagine many colored straws, about 2 inches in length. The straws represent, rolled snakes of polymer clay. Looking down on your work, these "straws" are placed upright, in a pattern that you have designed to form a picture. The thinner the "straws" the more intricate the cane. When you have completed your picture, it has become very thick, containing many "straws" of colors. You then begin to carefully compress and stretch the cane, usually from the center to help release any air that may be trapped. When the desired length is achieved, your cane is completed. Canes can be used in combination with other canes to make even more intricate designs.
Can I use adhesives?
Polymer clay sticks best to polymer clay. Because of the plasticizers in the "clay" it is difficult to use glues. Polymer clay is polyvinyl chloride, the same product as the plumbing pipes in your home, yet the industry has yet to invent an adhesive to connect these pipes to metal. So, there is little chance that any glue will adhere for very long if you are gluing polymer clay to metal surfaces. Gravity and the plasticizers will soon release the grip. Attaching findings to your jewelry then becomes a problem.
The simplest way to attach metal findings to your items is by baking them in. But, first, prepare the metal finding by bending a small hook on the end and embedding it snugly into the item. Think of other ways to attach your findings, such as head pins that pierce through the entire item and are held in place by the head. You may experiment with some products, such as "Goop", "Zap-a-Gap" and
"E4000", but eventually, they all fail to adhere.
What findings are best to use?
The same findings that are used for other beading work. Your craft store will have many racks available for your selection. You can even shape your own, from silver or other metals. Some tools will be needed, such as, various pliers, with small heads designed specifically for this purpose. Round-nose pliers for shaping, needle-nose pliers for crimping and cutter-pliers, for trimming are handy items to have available. Some of the findings readily available at craft stores include: Tigertail wire, monofilament, clasps, ear wires and posts, ear clips and screwbacks, hoops, eye-rings, crimping beads, cones, bails, head-pins, barrette clips, button covers, pin backs and also leather strips for necklaces and
bracelets. Small seed beads can also be incorporated into your creations as separators. Catalogs are great sources for findings and are usually less expensive than craft stores.
What about molds?
Molds can be made from small items, like figurines, faces, even small picture frames. They can be made from an original polymer clay item that you have designed.
Begin by taking an amount of clay sufficient to hold the design and substantial enough to withstand the pressure of remolding the item. Using either talcum powder or cornstarch, brush the surface of the item to be molded and also the clay. Press the clay over the object being careful to press into all the crevices. Some molds can be baked along with the object, but use caution. You may also remove the unbaked mold carefully to avoid distortion and then bake. Cool completely before using.
To use your new mold, lightly brush it with talcum powder or cornstarch and press
conditioned polymer clay deeply into the mold, pressing firmly. Trim away any overhangs and gently remove the molded item. Touch up the item if needed and bake as usual.
How can I use powders?
Powders are just that... powders! You can find them anywhere and you can add them or rub them on your polymer clay - some before and some after baking.
Be aware of safety when using some powders, such as metallics. Be careful not to inhale any of these products, they can be extremely dangerous. Use precautions and wear the proper equipment.
Some types of powders, include: colored chalk, eye-shadow, blushes, spices and those with brand names, such as, "Friendly Clay Powders" and "Eberhard Faber Powders". To apply the powders, just sprinkle over your item or rolled the item through it. You can texture your item and rub the powder over with your finger or a brush. After baking, sanding the high spots will produce interesting results. Sprinkle the powder over a slab and run it through your pasta machine, cover powdered side with wax paper to avoid a messy machine.
"Rub and Buff" products, gold and silver, produce an antique appearance to your work. Though technically not a powder, they work about the same. Apply lightly to cured polymer clay, sand lightly and seal. Read cautions on the labels.
Whatever powder you apply to your creations, must be sealed or they will eventually rub off. A quick dip in "Future" floor wax or a thin coat of lacquer will do.
© 1995 by Arlene Thayer
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