Polymer clay is a crafting clay that can be used to create all sorts of different projects. It is made by combining PVC pellets with various other chemicals to create a moldable substance. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at polymer clay and what makes it so popular among crafters!
How it’s Made
Polymer clay is made by combining a polymer with a colorant and a filler. The polymer is usually a synthetic polymer such as PVC or polyurethane.
The colorant can be any type of pigment, dye, or even glitter. The filler helps to give the clay its shape and can be made from a variety of materials such as cornstarch, talc, or kaolin clay.
Once the polymer, colorant, and filler are combined, the substance is heated until it becomes a liquid. This liquid is then poured into molds to create different shapes and sizes.
The filler is added to give the clay more strength and stability. The type of filler used will determine the final strength and durability of the polymer clay.
The polymer is mixed with the colorant to create the desired color of clay. The amount of colorant added will determine how light or dark the clay will be.
For example, if you want to create a white polymer clay, you would add more filler than colorant. However, if you want to create a black polymer clay, you would add more colorant than filler.
Some polymer clay users like to change the color of their clay aftermarket. This can be done with alcohol inks or mica powder.
Just be sure not to use anything water-based because this can leave your clay brittle or bubbly after baking. Also be sure to only add as much as needed – a few drops perhaps – to achieve the best final product.
The polymer clay can be molded into any shape you desire using your hands or special tools. It can also be rolled out like dough to create a thinner sheet that can be cut into different shapes.
Once the polymer clay is in the desired shape, it needs to be cured in an oven. This process causes the polymer to cross-link, which makes it stronger and more durable.
After curing, the polymer clay can be sanded, drilled, or shaped in any way you desire. It can also be painted or varnished for a more finished look.
How to Cure Polymer Clay
Directions can vary between clay brands, so read the packaging on yours to figure out how long to bake it. One major polymer crafting clay manufacturer recommends 275 degrees Fahrenheit for between 15-30 minutes per quarter inch of thickness.
Cook your clay on something like a ceramic tile for best results. You don’t want it becoming stuck to the surface it’s on. You can also use glass, cardstock, or parchment paper.
Use a conventional or convection oven, but definitely not the microwave. Although crafting clay is generally non-toxic, it’s not safe for use around food. it still contains plasticizers so you won’t want it to touch any surfaces you will later eat off of.
When choosing to work with polymer clay, there are some considerations. The main concern about real toxicity seems to be based on cases where the clay was left to burn at high temperatures or for extended periods.
When this happens, noxious fumes are released and they can irritate the respiratory system. If you follow the directions on your clay and set a timer, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern for you.
Another area of concern is over the plasticizers used in some formulations. Theoretically, these can be absorbed through the skin and could cause some damage to a couple of the body’s systems.
That said, crafting clays are usually certified non-toxic. This is not an FDA certification, though, so take that into account when drawing your conclusions.
Be sure to use proper ventilation in your working area so you don’t inhale too much fumes. Even non-toxic fumes can cause irritation.
Once it is opened, you want to keep your polymer clay in a cool, dark place away from moisture and air. The best multi-use container is a Tupperware. Just make sure it’s not one you plan on keeping food in later.
Anything airtight, or as close as you can get, should keep your clay good for a long time. Keep it out of hot cars and direct sunlight or you could notice it starting to bake on its own!
Some polymer clay is ready to use right out of the packaging with nothing but the heat from your hands and your molding abilities. Other clay requires you to make it workable before you can start really shaping.
Kneading and warming is sometimes required to get the clay properly conditioned for crafting. For the latter type of clay, a pasta machine is sometimes used as this mixes, blends, and kneads the dough automatically as it is fed through.
You can also use a rolling pin if you don’t have a pasta machine.
Polymer clay is the perfect crafting material because it’s versatile and relatively easy to work with. It comes in a variety of colors and textures, so there’s something for everyone. You can create anything from simple beads to complex sculptures using this medium. In order to get the most out of polymer clay, it’s important to understand a little bit about how it is made and how to use it.
Now that you know a little more about polymer clay, what are you going to make? Share your photos with us on social media so we can see! #polymerclay