Working With Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is a man-made modeling material. For the sake of this book, we will call ii "clay/' as it is a malleable material that can be worked like clay. Its different from earth clays because the compound is pre-colored for you. You can use purchased colors and mix them into any color you can imagine. It's available in opaque colors, translucents and metallics that give a beautiful shimmer to your pieces. The material is so versatile thai it can replicate many other objects from nature, as well as man-made materials.

Straight from the package, polymer clay is firm and requires a little kneading to make it pliable enough to shape (called "conditioning"). The length of time it takes to condition your clay will depend on the brand you choose. The more widely available clays, from softest to firmest (before conditioning), are Sculpey III as the softest, then Premo! Sculpey, Kato Polyclay, Fimo Soft and then Fimo Classic. Although this is a consideration when choosing a clay brand, I believe that the tensile strength (flexibility after curing) is also very important, especially when creating jewelry that will be handled a lot. Personally I use Premo! Sculpey, as it is easy to knead and is quite strong and flexible after baking. It is also readily available in a large selection of colors. Other brands of clay that may be available in your area are Cernit, Formello and Modello. You may mix any of the different clay brand colors together.

All polymer clay brands share this feature: The warmer it gets, tFie softer it gets. These clays will not air-dry, so they can be left out while working and will not dry out. They only become permanently hard after they are cured (baked) in an oven at a specific temperature. It is a fabulous medium to use with various surface techniques, as you will see in this book. It may seem like my studio consists of white clay only as you begin to browse through the book projects, but be assured, I use all of the wonderful colors available. I just wanted this book to emphasize combining various mediums with the clay that are open to further exploration. I do, however, purchase and use at least four times the amount of white clay, compared to any other color.

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