Lessons I Learned While Working With Polymer Clay #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to the letter L post in my #AtoZChallenge on creative self-discovery and self-expression. Today, I want to talk about things I learned along the way during my creative process. I am going to limit myself to polymer clay this time, as there’s so much I’ve learned.

My very first polymer clay creation was done after a blog post I’d found, but the blogger wasn’t specifically focused on polymer clay or even crafting in general. Maybe because of that, her skill level was quite basic. This was good for me, as I could easily follow the steps to creating my first project. It was a flower that I’d rolled out using a wooden rolling pin, cut out using a cookie cutter and then stuck a blob of clay onto as its center. I stuck a thick crochet needle through it to make a hole. When it was baked, I colored around the edges of the center with a sharpie.

There are so many things I did wrong with that one. First, I used a wooden rolling pin. I quite quickly found out that wood absorbs some components of polymer clay and, for this reason, wooden tools shouldn’t be used. I should have used an acrylic roller. Or, better yet, a pasta machine. Honestly, even though I do still have an acrylic roller, I hardly ever use it for rolling out sheets of clay now.

Then, the blob of clay. My flower center was raised and I had no way of preventing that at the time. Now, I can roll out my clay on a thin setting on my pasta machine, then cut out the desired shape for the center and put it onto the flower and, if I want to, give it a roll with my acrylic roller. To be honest, I haven’t tested that process recently.

Then, the hole. I eventually decided to buy bead piercing pins to be able to pierce thinner holes into polymer clay pieces that needed holes. Getting the holes in without distortion was quite the learning curve and I still honestly cannot do it myself. I can instruct my staff, but they have to do the actual twisting of the bead piercing pin.

Finally, the sharpie. Sharpie ink reacts with polymer clay or so I’ve heard. My piece is fine so far (I still have it because it was my first creation), but I did eventually decide not to use sharpies on polymer clay anymore.

After this one project came many more failed projects from which I learned one or more lessons. For example, I at one point used cheap glitter glue to cover my baked polymer clay piece. Well, that wouldn’t stick. Instead, I now add glitter to the raw clay just before baking my piece. Please note that you cannot run polymer clay that you’ve added glitter or mica or anything to through your pasta machine. At best, it will create a mess and at worst, it will ruin your pasta machine.

Finally, of course, I’m currently learning about colors and color mixing. Just yesterday, I downloaded a book off Bookshare about color mixing specifically for polymer clay artists. I think I’ll love it!

6 thoughts on “Lessons I Learned While Working With Polymer Clay #AtoZChallenge

      1. Hmmm, I thought the “poly-“ part was just part of “polymer”, which I thought was the plasticizer in polymer clay. Honestly, I haven’t investigated the chemistry of polymer clay really beyond the practicalities, such as knowing I need to wash my hands before and after working with it (before to prevent lint getting into my polymer clay and after because I don’t want to risk ingesting polymer clay).

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    1. I hope you’ll look it up. Polymer clay is a clay made up of PVC and some oil I believe. That being said, you don’t really need to know what exactl y it’s made up of (I don’t know either) to decide if it’s something you want to work with. The pros for me are that it comes in a lot of different colors that can be mixed, it can be hardened in a regular home oven (not a microwave!) and that it remains soft while working with it, unlike air-dry clay.

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  1. Astrid:

    Can relate to the glitter lesson because a few years ago I was making Christmas decorations with polymer clay.

    The glitter I was using was the lightest and fluffiest glitter in existence and I dipped the clay into it.

    No pasta machines involved!

    [and M for Mica?]

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    1. Thanks for sharing your lesson. As for my letter M post, I so far haven’t used mica in my polymer clay creations, although I fully intend to now that I’ve cleared out my soaping supplies and found a number of unopened containers of mica that I most likely won’t be using for soap anymore (as I don’t care for mica in soap). I still need to watch a couple of YouTube videos on that topic though.

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