One of the most versatile members of the art medium world, polymer clay can be used for anything from a fun arts and craft project to beautiful sculptures.
What is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is not true clay. Instead, it is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plasticizer. It comes in a variety of colors, including metallic sheens such as gold and silver. The colors can also be mixed to create custom tones.
Types of Polymer Clay
There are several different brands of polymer clay, including Sculpey and Fimo. Although they are essentially made from the same material, each brand has its unique characteristics. Sculpey, for example, is softer than Fimo (unless Fimo Soft is purchased.) Colors also differ from brand to brand.
Different brands can often be mixed to combine elements of each.
Where to Find Polymer Clay
Polymer clay can be found in arts and craft and art stores, as well as some specialty stores (such as those that sell beads) and via the Internet.
They usually come in small packets, with each color wrapped individually. There are also sets available, and larger sizes for certain colors.
How to Use Polymer Clay
No matter the brand, polymer clay needs to be worked before using. Take a small amount of clay and roll, squeeze and pinch it until it has achieved the desired consistency. The harder the clay, the more it will need to be worked. Softer clay can be handled in larger sizes.
Once it has achieved a workable consistency, polymer clay is easy to shape. It is a good idea to start with simple projects at first, in order to get a feel for this medium.
Polymer clay is hardened in the oven, where it will retain its shape and color. Be careful not to over bake, however. Follow the instructions on the package carefully.
Possible First Project
Making beads is a good initial project for those who are using polymer clay for the first time. Take a chunk of clay and work it. Two or more colors can be mixed to create a marble effect. Roll each color into a ‘string,’ put them together and roll them all into a ball. Be careful not to overwork, since the desire is for each color to make an appearance. If mixed too much, the colors will meld into a solid color.
Break off pieces from the whole, making sure that they are the wanted size for the bead. Roll it until it forms a ball, then take a pin, a sharp toothpick, or other pointed implement and pierce through the middle of the ball from end to end. Repeat until the desired number of beads have been created. When there are enough beads, bake them in the oven, and then let them cool for a few minutes before stringing them together.
A Versatile Medium
Polymer clay can be used to make a variety of things. It can be used to create lifelike sculptures of animals and flowers, or dollhouse effects. Beads and other pieces of jewellery are also possible, as are magnets, and two-dimensional sculpted paintings.