This is where all you lovely people want to know a little bit more about the wonderful modelling material that is Polymer Clay. On this page I will be telling you about the following things:
1. Introduction... what is Polymer Clay? 2. What tools and equipment you need to get started 3. 'Baking' and Finishing Off
4. What to make... links to great website for ideas 5. More great websites to visit for much more help!!
New to Polymer Clay...
Polymer Clay is a highly coloured modelling material, that, once your desired shape is formed, it is then'baked' in an ordinary home oven. This process permanently hardens the clay. The clay doesn't shrink, stays the same colour, and is waterproof. Polymer clay is available in many colors, which can be mixed to create a wide range of colors or gradient blends. Special-effect colors and composites include translucent, fluorescent, phosphorescent, and faux "pearls," "metallics," and "stone." There is also a trype of clay called Eraser Clay (Sculpey) which once baked result in pencil rubbers... very cool!
For a more technical explanation follow this link:
There are several brands of clay, the most popular in the UK is Fimo, followed closely by Sculpey and Premo.
The other brands are Cernit, Formello, Pardo Art Clay, Modello,Du-Kit and Kato Polyclay.
1. What is Polymer Clay...
How to Start
Polymer Clay must be conditioned before you start. This is done simply by rolling and folding the clay several times, so that the clay starts to soften and becomes more malleable. This makes sure that all the plasticiser within the clay is evenly distributed and therefore will cure properly at the 'baking' stage. The colours can be mixed together just like you can do with paint. This is achieved my rolling and folding the colours together untill they are blended. This can also be done using the pasta machine, simply by placing the clay inbetween the rollers and flattening it and folding it...
The Blue Bottle Tree has some great tipe for beginners... why not click on the link?
As a complete beginner you really need to know what tools to buy and what is going to be a complete waste of money! The main things that you need are:
Baby wipes - These are essential for cleaning your hands inbetween colours. Some colours will stain your hands so to avoid comtaminating the paler colours, you'll need to keep your hands clean.
Scalpel/Craft Knife. This is a necessary piece of kit. You can pick them up relatively cheaply from craft suppliers and Ebay.
Blade - essential This is a flat 6" thin blade which is great for cutting very thin slices of clay but also great for lifting your item up off your working surface. They are extreemly sharp, so please be careful!! (Not suitable for children!)
Rolling pin - The best ones are made of acrylic. Wooden ones are not suitable as the clay will stick to the surface and also the wood will make marks on the clay. An old glass bottle can be a great substitute or even an old metallic pen barrel.
Cocktail Sticks - These are very useful for details, mark making and texturisingthe clay, as well as for making holes in beads.
Large ceramic tile - This is great for making your creations on as it then can be put straight in the oven, without moving your art work. It won't mark and also in the summer it is very cool.
Pasta Machine (optional, but will be really useful!) This is used for conditioning/softening the clay, and also for making flat sheets of varying thicknesses and also there are several blending techniques that you can only really do with this gadget! These have come down in price recently and in the Uk you can pick one up from Argos for under £20.00
Oven thermometer - this is often a piece of equipment that is missed out, but is essential. put it in your oven to check that the temperature guage is correct.
2. Tools and Equipment...
Well... this is kind of hard. Deciding on what to make can be a mind bogling as there are so many options, so many websites offering tutorials, so many YouTube videos to watch....Where do you begin?
It is entirely up to you really, but my advice would be to have a go, get the clay out of the packet, squash it, cut it, experiment with it. Make shapes, roll it out flat, use cutters, play with it, and most importantly HAVE FUN!! Don't be hard on yourself, try not to compare what you have done with others, it's not going to be perfect at the beginning. It's just like learning to do anything... it takes time and lots of practise. When I first started out, the things I used to make were... not brilliant at all, but other people liked them.
Jewellery... you will need jewellery findings such as head pins, ear wires, brooch backs etc.
Card Toppers - Small flat items that can be attached to the front of cards or even used for Scrap Booking.
3D models like animals or teddies
Pots, jars and vessels- jam jars and other glass items can be covered with a flat sheet of clay and other designs, then can be baked in the oven. As the temperature is very low it won't break the glass.
Beads - all sorts of shapes can be made.
When I first started using Fimo, I made things that I liked. I often showed my friends what I had made, then they said they'd like one, then a friend of a friend said can you make me a ??? Then it snowballs... and your business is off.
This is a wonderful treasure trove of advice for everyone involved with Polymer clay, either complete beginner or seasoned expert. There is always something to learn from Ginger!!
I have learned a lot from Cindy Leitz and her great Polymer Clay Tutor videos.
I am a member of the British Polymer Clay Guild in the UK. This is a great organisation that can help you with your PC questions, they even have lists of workshops or local groups that you can go to, to brush up on your skills and meet other enthusiasts in your area.
This is my go to website when I am in need of a tutorial. They always have what you're looking for and have some amazing inspiring projects to try for all levels of ability.
This Pinterest board that I follow has some great inspiring ideas on it... Why not have a look?
This is my Pinterest Board that I have collated over the years. There are some amazing artists work there which may inspire you to give it a go..
This is a UK based company for all your PC supplies, equipment and a whole host of other things you didn't realise that you need.
There are independent stores such as Clayaround as mentioned above or other more localised craft shops. Ebay is another great place to source Fimo, as well as Amazon. Some of them do special offers, such as buy 5 get 1 free or free postage.
4. What to make...
3. Baking and finishing off...
For a lot more detailed look into baking, why don't you try visiting one of these websites.
The website below is an amazing resource for any Polymer Clay beginner or enthusiast... the link will take you to some more information about baking, but there is so much more help for you there!!
All Polymer Clay is oven hardening, but the different brands of clay each have their own specific baking times and temperatures.
The general rule of thumb for Fimo modelling clay is 110 degrees C for 30 mins, that's what Staedtler suggest! I have found that Fimo can be baked in the oven for a lot longer so long as the oven stays at a constant temperature. Use a separate oven thermometer just to check!
If you are working on a ceramic tile, simply put the tile along with your piece in the oven and bake for the recommended time. The tile won't break and it saves you moving your design. The tile is also very good because it is smooth (Blades won't damage the surface)smooth, its cool (which is good in the summer!!) and very hard wearing, and also cheap to buy.
You can also bake on a baking tray lined with foil. Some people bake their jewellery items on a piece of copy paper... this may seem strange but it means that your jewellery won't have a flat, shiny spot where it has stuck onto the tin foil. Some colours such as the transluscent Fimo and Glow-in-the-dark can darken in colour if baked for too long. This can be helped by placing a 'tent' of foil over the piece during baking. It's not completely fool proof, but I have found that it works for me.
Once your item is baked, leave to cool completely, don't be tempted to move it as it will break. Iy isn't completely sured until it has got completely cold. To speed up the process a bit you can plunge the item into very cold water, so long as it is not covering a glass or ceramic vessel... this will cause the glass to break!
You can leave the item as it is or you can varnish it, paint it with acrylics or water colours, sand it with fine grade sand paper and even buff it to a highly polished finish.