Do you fancy sculpting with clay but get put off because you think you need lots of tools and equipment? Well, then polymer clay is the clay for you! There’s no need for a kiln, and all you need is some clay, your hands and some very basic (and cheap) tools, if you chose to use them. Polymer clay is the most exciting clay product and it has been around long enough to gain a great reputation.
Polymer clay is suitable for all kinds of creations and suits beginners to experts in this exciting creative hobby. It has been around for several decades and so has evolved into a really fabulous craft. From charms, jewellery & keychains, to larger pots or dishes. The sky is the limit with polymer clay!
Polymer is a very practical product that is of plastic origin. It is a synthetic, modelling clay product and can be moulded until it is cured in a regular home oven on a low temperature.One of the most well known and popular brand soft polymer clay is FIMO, it’s been around for over seventy years, and has grown in popularity over the decades.
The beauty of working with polymer clay is that it lasts and lasts; colours can be blended; things you make can be broken down and remodelled and only at the final stage of baking will it be finalised. It is water-resistant, hard-wearing and easy to use and suitable for children, as long as they are past the stage of putting everything in their mouths. It lends itself to simple beginner stuff and to the more advanced ideas too.
So, let’s get started!
The basic actions used in clay modelling are – rolling, moulding, pinching, scratching and poking, cutting, shaping, storing and baking.You can buy sets of inexpensive clay modelling tools, which have an assortment of handy edges to shapes your clay. You can also use anything you have around the house although try to avoid wooden surfaces and tools as the wood can absorb the clay’s plasticiser. Instead opt for metal, plastic or glass.
In addition, a pasta machine is a great asset to help with the rolling and blending colours together, this can create those cool marbled effects you often see in polymer clay creations. Using these methods, you simply shape your clay into your desired model or pattern. There’s no need for glue to bond your pieces together; just shape and press them together…it’s that simple!
Baking & Curing
Baking is the final stage of our polymer clay tutorial and the point of no return. Baking hardens the clay and finishes the article you have made. Polymer clay must bake in an oven at temperatures between 100C – 160C. You cannot bake the clay in a microwave.
Although polymer clay is rated as non-toxic it does give off some fumes so be aware of them during the baking process. The packaging should give the required oven temperature. Baking time also depends on the thickness of the project; the thicker the piece the longer time required.
Use a baking tray, glass or ceramic tile for your baking surface. A piece of baking paper to rest on will help avoid shiny spots.
Beads and other round items can be placed on a mound of cornflour to support their shape or if your beads have a hole through the centre, thread them onto a wooden skewer and rest it on supports while baking to stop flat spots.
Even after baking, It is important to keep rounded items off the flat surface while they are drying as the clay can flatten slightly and spoil the shape. It is also wise to make bead holes a bit wider as they tend to close slightly as the clay bakes.
The baked clay is rubbery when it comes out of the oven but will harden as it cools. Be careful when handling, and the clay will be hot! Although it isn’t necessary, you can seal finished items with varnish. FIMO make a dedicated sealer, but you can also use other varieties. Choose wisely though, as some will yellow over time.
So what are you waiting for?! Stock up on some FIMO and get sculpting! Even beginners can create some beautiful pieces, and the more practice the more impressive they’ll turn out! There are hundreds of easy to follow tutorials online, you’ll be amazed with what you can create. Happy Crafting!
DitzyB Craft Supplies & Workshops, +350 200 44665 www.DitzyB.com. Visit their new store on the first floor of the ICC, where Just Desserts used to be.
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