Polymer clay projects are a fun and easy craft and also extremely versatile: You can create colorful polymer clay jewelry, decorative kitchenware, home accents, bowls and vases, beads, dolls or figurines. Once you've mastered some beginner polymer clay projects, you can move on to sculpting more complex pieces.
What is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is a bendable polymer material used by crafters and artists to create many unique designs and products. The compound is actually not a clay at all. Most artist clays are made of particles of silicate immersed in water, but polymer clay is made of fine particles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) suspended in plasticizer.
Polymer clay can be used for a variety of projects because of the material's versatility. Crafters can combine two or more colors to create new tones to work with. You can also incorporate two colors together without blending the materials to create complex effects like caneworking and marbling. It won't dry out, so you can sculpt and mold the material to your heart's content without worrying about hardening.
Beginner Polymer Clay Supplies
To get started, the only tools you need are clay and an oven. You can find polymer clay at your local art supply, craft and specialty bead stores. All brands contain a base of PVC. You might also find the following tools useful for your beginner projects:
Work surface. Raw clay can damage your wood or plastic table surface. Glass or marble surfaces will not be damaged by the clay. If you don't have access to these surface materials, simply tape a large piece of wax paper over your table.
Needles or skewers. If you plan to make jewelry for necklaces or bracelets, you will need a tool to pierce a hole through the clay bead. A sharp sewing needle or wooden skewer should do the trick.
Knife. You will need a tool to separate your clay. A basic serrated kitchen knife works well. Since polymer clay can be toxic, make sure you use the knife for this purpose only and keep it separate from your everyday kitchen tools.
Advanced Polymer Clay Supplies
As you progress in your polymer clay crafts, you might want to incorporate more specialized tools into your supply.
Sharp blades. When you are creating clay canes, you will need an extremely sharp blade. The sharpest of these blades-the tissue blade-is actually used by scientists to thinly slice objects to observe under the microscope. You can find these blades at scientific supply stores and some craft stores.
Sandpaper. This material enables you to give your clay a smooth and crisp finish. Polymer clay should be sanded underneath water with 400 grit or higher wet/dry sandpaper.
Steel wool or buffer. These tools help to give your finished project a glossy or shiny appearance. When buffing, use a muslin or cloth wheel. If you are using steel wool, make sure it is the fine steel or synthetic wool used by woodworkers. Grades 0 (coarse) through 0000 (finest) will give you the best results.
One of the most basic types of polymer clay products for a beginner crafter is jewelry. You can create beads, pins, broaches, necklaces and bracelets.
You can also make everyday houseware items. Many decorative bowls and vases are crafted from clay, as well as wreaths, picture frames and doorknobs. You should not use polymer clay to create any dishes, cookware or serving pieces--its toxicity makes it a poor choice for food preparation and serving.
Use your clay (and your imagination) to mold dolls, figurines or holiday figures. Create garden pot people as a festive addition to your home or garden. Polymer clay also makes a great base for ornaments, garland and Hanukkah votives and dreidels.
Using a Pasta Machine
You don't necessarily need to use pasta machine to prep your clay but it does make mixing colors and creating designs easier. The machine also produces smooth and even sheets of clay to craft jewelry and home accents.
You will also want to keep cookie cutters handy once the clay has been processed through the machine. You can purchase a pasta machine or cookie cutters at craft stores, but you might find the best options online.
Remember to only use the pasta machine and cutters for your polymer clay crafts, as the clay can be toxic. Keep the machine and cookie cutters away from your everyday kitchen tools.
One would think crafters would need essential polymer clay supplies that may be both costly and unique to obtain the intricate designs found in polymer clay objects. In fact, polymer clay supplies and tools consist of everything from commercial and homemade tools to everyday items such as kitchen utensils.
There are many tools and polymer clay techniques to use in sculpting and it's best to understand how to work the machinery before delving into the craft.
To craft polymer clay jewelry, you'll want to start out by learning how to make polymer clay beads to string onto necklaces, pins or bracelets.