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.
Polymer clay is different from other clays. Unlike pottery and earthenware projects, which are created by firing the clay in a kiln at very high temperatures, and paper clay, which dries at room temperature, polymer clay is set or dried in a regular oven at temperatures between 265 to 275 degrees.
While many expensive tools for polymer clay projects exist, most are simply not necessary. You can use items such as dental tools, toothpicks, pasta machines, rolling pins, forks and other utensils and everyday objects that can do the trick as easily and sometimes better.
Although everyday utensils and items can be used to sculpt this clay, one must remember that this is not ordinary clay. In fact, polymer clay contains very little clay. It is actually a material made from a base of polymer polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC, which has known health issues with certain levels of the material. Because residue may remain on utensils used to sculpt polymer clay, these utensils must be either disposed of afterward or retained for clay use only.
Polymer Clay Supplies
Polymer clay comes in a variety of different brands. Some of the most common brands include FimoClassic, FimoSoft, Kato Poly Clay, Sculpey, Premo, Cernit, Formello and Modello.
Polymer clay is very versatile and is an excellent choice for making beads, buttons, jewelry and other small items. Designs and photos can be pressed into the polymer clay easily with rubber stamps, tools and textured sheets. While many items can be made using polymer clay, it is essential that you do not create bowls or other utensils out of this material. Even after being baked, polymer clay items can leach toxic chemicals.
Crafting Supplies and Tools
You will need polymer clay tools that can cut, poke, pierce, peel and shave the clay as they sculpt. Many items can be found in and around the house such as knitting needles, dental tools, rolling pins, knives, dowels, chopsticks, needles, designed imprints, screwdrivers, carving tools, cookie cutters, razor blades, paint brushes and make-up brushes and sponges.
Dangers of Using Polymer Clay
Polymer clay should not be baked in an oven that will be used for making food, nor is it safe for use in a microwave. Though considered nontoxic, polymer clay is not safe to ingest and you should not work with it near food or on surfaces where food preparation takes place. For this reason, it is very important that you only use common household items on polymer clay when you do not expect to use the items elsewhere.
It's also very important to wash your hands and all items that have been used in the sculpting of polymer clay. Most of the ill effects of polymer clay are derived from ingesting or absorbing phthalates-a chemical found in polymer clay that is potentially dangerous at high levels-through the skin and/or by licking or eating bits of clay.
While curing clay at the correct temperatures between 265 and 275 degrees will create an offensive odor, this odor is not toxic. However, fumes created when curing or drying polymer clay at a temperature higher than 275 degrees can be potentially dangerous. For these reasons, it is unwise to allow children to work with polymer clay.
Polymer clays are reportedly being restructured and formulated to meet new safety standards. Clay that carries the ASTM D4236 designation is safe for handling by all age groups.
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.