10 Polymer Clay Tips & Tricks

Posted on July 9, 2011 in Hints, Tips, & Tricks by Katie Oskin



As with all things in life, we pick some things up and get good at them…and yet with other things we need help.  I am a 100% self taught polymer clay artist.  I have never taken a class on sculpting, pottery, drawing or anything else.  I have purchased several polymer clay books and use several very religiously.  But over the past 3 years, I have learned many things about working with polymer clay.  Today I will share with you 10 hints, tips, & tricks for working with polymer clay that you may not already know.

  1. Before you do anything else, put on hand lotion.  I have found that when working with polymer clay may hands dry out.  When my hands dry out, the clay colors get absorbed into my skin and transfer from one clay to another.  Stop the problem in its tracks and use any handcream with silicone in it to help prevent this!
  2. You know that clay that’s just hard like a brick.  Soften it a little before you tear open the package.  Do this by sitting on your clay.  When you sit on your clay, it will automatically warm up and it will take far less time to condition.
  3. Is your clay still too hard?  Never underestimate the power of your acrylic roller.  Bang on your clay.  This will align the polymers quickly and allow you to condition your clay more easily.
  4. Don’t spend money on a special clay mat…Reuse your shipping labels.  You can use the glossy side to make your clay on, roll it, stamp it, etc.  And wah-la…it comes right off, each and every time!
  5. It might be intimidating, but don’t be afraid to mix clays.  Experiment and have a little fun!
  6. What happens when your clay is still too hard and you’ve tried #2 & #3…try Sculpey Mold Maker, it is true genius.  Very quickly your clay will begin to condition and it doesn’t get slimy like when you add clay softener or TLS.
  7. If you don’t know what to create or how to create it, sketch it first.  This easy step will save you time & a headache later!
  8. Are you tired of things NOT sticking and staying where you put them?  Use PolyBonder.  It’s made by Lisa Pavelka and you can get it at Hobby Lobby or Michaels.  It’s the best thing I’ve found so far.
  9. RESIST THE TEMPTATION – Don’t just buy cheap clay!  Many of you buy cheap clay because you can “afford it” better.  This is nonsense!  Why would you buy cheap clay (ie: Bake Shop or Sculpey III) just to spend hours on a piece and have it break within hours of being out of the oven.  Don’t do this, please!  Try each and every brand of clay and decide for yourself which clay you like the best.
  10. Try anything and everything!   Many polymer clay artists have made a name for themselves, just by trying something new (Skinner blend, Pavelka Peel, Sutton Slice, etc).  Don’t be scared – polymer clay is the most forgiving art medium in the world, allow it to speak to you in a new and exciting way!

Thanks for joining me today,

Happy Claying,

 

 
14 Comments for this entry
galaxyofclay
May 17, 2017
22:29

Hi it’s me again, what polymer clay store/era do you recommend? I think that Aaron Brothers should be fine…

Reply
Katie Oskin
May 22, 2017
16:01

Polymer Clay Store? I like Sunny Day Crafts. Also Sculpey Products is a good one. Poly Clay Play has a lot of products as well. Those are my online favorites.

Reply
galaxyofclay
May 16, 2017
22:42

Hi Katie,
I can’t find any good cupcake base molds at any stores! Plus, I don’t buy online. Also, getting the materials to make one are quite expensive, and I don’t know any near place to get any silicone. Can you recommend any great places to get a cupcake base mold?
Thanks,

Reply
Katie Oskin
May 17, 2017
08:49

There are lots of places online, even Amazon you can get a cupcake mold. There are also sellers on Etsy who sell them. Personally, I would make a cupcake base and mold it myself. It will save you money and they aren’t that hard to do.

Reply
galaxyofclay
May 17, 2017
10:19

Thanks Katie! Think this will work well for me 🙂

Reply
Joe
November 13, 2015
21:16

I’m looking for a strong polymer clay to make teeth in a small crocodile I’m working on. I’m finding that the small teeth easily break off. Do you have any suggestions.

Reply
Katie
November 14, 2015
19:41

I have had great success making small teeth with Premo & Souffle clays. Both are strong and durable post baking. You can also try kato clay for your teeth. I prebake ALL my teeth, then place them into my figurine before it is baked. This might help you too.

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Luna
February 12, 2014
00:07

Oh, are you saying that Sculpy is not good? It’s the only type of polymer clay that I can get in my country (actually, I don’t even get it in my country, I’m from Argentina and my best friend got me some Sculpey).
Now I’m kinda afraid of using it…

Reply
Katie
February 14, 2014
12:14

I’m not saying it’s bad at all … for what I do with clay it isn’t what I need. For figurines and things it is the most brittle clay and is not flexible after baking. But many artists use only sculpey, so the decision is truly yours. If it’s all you can get, then use what you have & enjoy your time in the studio!

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Bev Allbright
July 18, 2013
20:23

Teresa, You might try writing directly to the company ( Kato,Fimo or ?) Tell them what your situation is. At the very least you will probably end up with coupons that will help. After all the worst that can happen is they say no, but it would be worth a try. Put a request out on freecycle and see what happens

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Teresa Brewer
July 17, 2013
07:31

Hi Katie! I was wondering if you would know how I could go about finding something out. I have MS. I started working with clay about a year ago as my own little form of therapy, both physical and mental. Recently, I mentioned it to my doctor and he confirmed my thoughts saying that he thought it was a great approach to therapy for several of my problems that I have to deal with. Now, I am disabled, of course, and live on a very tight fixed income. Whenever I can get the chance to save up a little money, I will go on E bay and try to find a large lot to bid on so that I can get my supplies affordable. This in itself poses its own set of problems. Nine times out of ten the clay I get it hard and I have to work on reconditioning it. I too have learned the mold maker trick to help soften it. And that leads me to this, do you know yourself or how I would go about find out if any of the clay manufacturers offer discounts on clay purchases for the handicapped? For physical therapy? I really love doing this and I’m dying to learn more from all of these tutorials that I’ve been getting. Unfortunately, I have short term memory damage from the large scar on my brain that was left after my last attack and, playing hit and miss with the availability of enough clay being on hand to try out these techniques more than just once, I can’t seem to be able to get it sunk into my brain enough that I can progress on to some higher level stuff 🙁
I love you blog, by the way, and have linked with you on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. If you have any info that could help, I would really appreciate it.
Thanks for your time, Terri

Reply
Katie
July 18, 2013
20:39

Hi Terri,

I know that several times of year Michaels & Hobby Lobby put their clay on say for $1.00 or as low as $0.75 per block. If this is still not feasible, I would try to contact the company directly. I am not aware of any programs that are currently available to help with this kind of thing. Thank you for the compliments on the blog! Hopefully some of the easier projects are just up your alley since they don’t require a lot of time.

Let me know what you find out!
~Katie

Reply
Katie - ToyStoryNutty
July 10, 2011
23:23

>You're welcome Trina – thank you for stopping by!

Reply
Trina (Trina's Clay Creations)
July 9, 2011
21:50

>Thank you for sharing these great tips Katie! 🙂

Reply

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