Polymer clay is a modeling material prepared from polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Like earthen (natural) clay, it is soft and mold-able at room temperature and on heating it becomes hard and permanent. The clay is used in making beads for jewelry, decorative items for home, sculptures, frames, lamps and applications are endless…

Polymer clay was found around late 1930s. The idea of using the clay for art & craft projects was developed by a German doll maker. The clay mainly was used as a sculpting medium to create dolls and miniatures till then.

Polymer clay gained popularity amongst artists by 1990, when the clay was available in vibrant colors. In western world, artist uses polymer clay to make jewelry, decorative artwork, tableware, picture frame…

As this art form gained popularity in western world, they saw many brands selling polymer clay. Each brand has difference mainly in the workability, texture and appearance features. Following link will explain which brand would be ideal for a particular project.

http://www.polymertutorials.com/polymer-clay-types-tutorial.html

All these brands are not available in India. However, one can use any brand to create a beautiful work of art.

Most tools listed below will require additional expense. One can look for similar household items to perform any project.

Work Surface: Work surface depends on the clay brand & the weather. Use a marble surface if you are using softer clay & weather is warm. Use formica, acrylic surface, or glass cutting surface for harder clay as well as cooler country. Do not use wooden surface. Don't use the surface for any other work.
tissue blades: Tissue blades are used for slicing canes in millefiori work using polymer clay. These blades are thin & available in stiff or flexible materials. Stiff blades cut straight where as flexible blades cut in curve shapes. These blades are extremely sharp & used by pathologists. Now a days they are sold in craft stores in polymer clay tools area. You can also use a household knife. Make sure not to use the same knife for food /cooking.
Ripple Blade: This blade comes with a wavy edge. When cut across a cane it gives a different effect to your work from the one achieved from straight cut blades. Try & look for any tools in the house to get same effect
Poly ruler: It is a six-sided tool that ensures perfect and uniform polymer clay beads and strips every time. It measures in one of six increments from 3 mm to 20 mm. Simply press the poly ruler gently into clay and thin cut with a sharp blade at the desired marks. See measuring tool section for the image.
pasta machine (dedicated) & rolling pin: Pasta machines are used to condition as well as roll the clay. If you are planning to do polymer clay projects occasionally then a rolling pin (as far as possible use acrylic & not wood) is enough. Otherwise, I suggest a pasta machine since it does the job very quickly & each roll out is uniform. Also, make sure not to use these tools back in kitchen once they are used for polymer clay.
small dedicated food processor: A food processor will be required in case you are using FIMO Polyclay. FIMO is a hard clay to condition by hand. In fact, a softener is added while conditioning to soften the clay. I would suggest to first try to condition FIMO in your hands or pasta machine before dedicating a food processor.
Oven & oven thermometer: Polymer needs to be baked at around 265 F ( please follow manufacturer's instruction) to harden & make it durable. For occasional clay baking you can use the kitchen oven. Please clean thoroughly before using for food again. For regular clay baking please dedicate an oven. Also, make sure to ventilate the room properly.
Clay gun: A clay gun is used to force clay through various shaped openings in an assortment of interchangeable discs.
Clay finish: To give a finishing touch to the cured clay, use wet-sand paper, buffing technique ( rub clay against a cloth) or apply gloss or matte glaze. Make sure not to use water based glazes, since they don't last long. Also, note that varnish turns yellow over period of time.
Glue: Nonflammable glue that adheres to virtually any surface. It forms a permanent, waterproof, washable, and clear bond.

Conditioning the clay: Conditioning is the first and important step in making any polymer clay artwork. It makes the artwork stronger and less brittle. Depending on the brand of the clay, it can be conditioned using hand, food processor or pasta machine.

  1. http://www.jaedworks.com/clayspot/polyclay-faq/conditioning.html
  2. http://www.jaedworks.com/clayspot/polyclay-faq/pasta-machine.html

Sheet Rolling:  There are two basic ways of making sheets from conditioned clay, one using an acrylic roller and other using pasta machine.

  1. Using roller – Roll the conditioned clay into a ball, same way as you would to make roti from wheat dough. Flatten the ball using your palms. Place it on the work surface and roll from center towards the edge. With even pressure rotate the clay a quarter turn and repeat the rolling process. Repeat it till you get desired thickness.
  2. Using pasta machine – Set the pasta machine on thickest setting and feed the ball of conditioned clay through the machine. Reduce thickness setting (one level at a time) after every roll to achieve desired thickness.

Troubleshooting the clay:

  1. If the clay is too hard, add a few drops of oil to the clay.
  2. If the clay is soft, place the clay between absorbent paper or leave it open for a day or put it in a fridge for some time.
  3. Do not expose the clay to heat and ultraviolet rays, it will just crumble. Avoid exposing the clay to sunlight, oven etc…
  4. Mix primary color polymer clay to create desired color

Joining the clay:  Polymer clay will stick to each other in the unbaked state or raw state. Apply gentle pressure to join the pieces. Use liquid polymer clay to join raw clay to baked clay. One can also use a pin or wire to join the raw clay.

Baking/curing the clay: This is the final stage of the artwork. Please refer to the temperature recommendation given on the clay brand. Generally the clay hardens and becomes strong between 260 degree F to 300 F. Make sure not under or over bake the clay.

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