Conditioning polymer clay is an important part of the preparation process. Well conditioned polymer clay is soft and malleable making it easy to work with in all types of polymer clay projects. The conditioning process can also help to strengthen the finished piece.
The conditioning process is very simple. In order to condition polymer clay a piece of clay needs to be manipulated. This can be done by hand or by using a craft-dedicated pasta machine.
How to Condition Polymer Clay by Hand
To condition polymer clay by hand simply take the clay and roll it into a snake or sausage shape. If the clay is too stiff to roll out at this point, cut it into small pieces with a sharp knife and knead these until the clay starts to soften and then form it into a long sausage shape. Fold the polymer clay back on itself and re-roll it. Repeat this 5 or 6 times or until the clay feels noticeably softer.
How to Condition Polymer Clay Using a Pasta Machine
A pasta machine is a useful time saver when conditioning polymer clay. Simply feed the polymer clay into the pasta machine on the widest setting, fold it in two and repeat the process. This will need to be done around fifteen to twenty times. When the polymer clay is conditioned the edges will crack less as the polymer clay is passed through the pasta machine.
Tips for Conditioning Polymer Clay
- Some brands of polymer clay are softer than others, for instance Fimo Soft is softer than traditional Fimo. However even soft from the pack polymer clays should be conditioned. This will help to even out any unevenness in the clay.
- Warm polymer clay is easier to work with than cold polymer clay. If a block of polymer clay is particularly tough, try placing it in a warm place for one or two hours before working on it (some polymer clay artists have even been known to sit on blocks of polymer clay to warm them).
- Conditioned polymer clay stays malleable for many days and even weeks. Conditioning does not do any harm to a block of polymer clay, therefore don’t worry about conditioning too much clay. Many polymer clay artists condition a batch of polymer clay in advance before working on a big project.
- It is not necessary to condition polymer clay when color mixing as the color mixing process also acts as conditioning.
Conditioning polymer clay is an important part of the preparation process. While many people who are new to working with polymer clay are eager to start work on a new project, they should not overlook this important step.