Sunday, October 13, 2013

Polymer Clay - First Experiments

The tools and equipment have been in my house for months. Sculpey in several different colours has been waiting to be opened and turned into beads or pendants. I even bought a small toaster oven at the thrift store to bake them in.

Something was holding me back from launching into the world of creating with polymer clay, however. In retrospect, my fear and hesitation seem it always does after the fact.

Today was the day that I took the plunge! Here are the results of my first few attempts at making pendants.

These first ones were made with one colour of clay. I used a letter punch set to add words to the pendants. After baking and cooling them, I applied acrylic paint on two of them to enhance the lettering, then wiped the excess off.

Next, I tried a couple of different techniques using two colours of clay with very different results, as you can see. 

Well, why not try it with FOUR different colours, I thought. And here are the results of that experiment.

So, what did I learn through this whole process?

1. The mini metal cookie cutters that I am using are too large. I need to find smaller ones.
2. The clay sticks in the cutters and gets distorted as I'm pushing them out. I have to find a better way to remove them. And I need to cut my finger nails so that I don't leave marks on my creations.
3. Acrylic paint stains polymer clay if you don't wipe it off fast enough. To hide that error, I just painted two of the first ones all over to even out the colour.
4. I put too much pressure on the letter tools and the outer rim of them shows, which it shouldn't. I have to use a lighter touch next time, not press so hard.
5. Mod Podge will seal and protect items that have paint applied to them. The glossy type that I used gives it a shiny finish.
6. I now know the optimum time and temperature setting for the best results. Although the instructions say leave them in for 15 minutes at 275F, I found that 20 minutes works better with the toaster oven I have.
7. Fine grit sand paper is great for smoothing any rough edges left by the cutters.

And last but not least...

8. This is FUN and I want to experiment some more!

If you have any helpful tips or techniques for working with polymer clay, please share them in the comment section below. Thanks.


  1. Great start! LOL, tips, are you really ready?
    1. Yes, regular cookie cutters tend to be too large, there are specific cutters made for PC, usually found along side the PC in stores. Best to invest in the sets of graduated square or round ones first and leave fancier ones (like stars, oval, teardrops, etc for later). But you can find all sorts of things around the house as well. (bottle caps, for instance, in all shapes and sizes).
    Also when ever cutting PC with cutters, put a layer of Saran wrap over the PC. Gives it a much smoother and rounded edge.
    2. With the saran wrap you won't have the problem of your creations sticking, unless you press too hard, and cut through both. Also a light dusting of corn starch on the cutter can prevent sticking (VERY LIGHT). For tiny cuts, which seem to get stuck more easily, a needle can be used at the edge to release it enough to get it out.
    Nails are my problem too, indentations can be smoothed out with finger tips and best to do anyway to decrease sanding time afterwards.
    3. Don't use Acrylics full strength. Dilute with a little water, work small and remove immediately to prevent it from "staining" where you don't want it.
    4. You got this one, practice with lighten that touch.
    5. Have never used Mod Podge, but whatever works!
    6. Biggest question asked the most often. Oven thermometer in a toaster oven is essential since they have a pension for spiking up and down. You want an even temp throughout the baking process.
    I do ALL my baking for a full hour at the right temp for the brand I am using. The longer time makes it harder and won't burn it, but I also "tent" everything with a foil cover, especially very thin or light colored pieces, so they don't go "off color".
    7. Use the Saran wrap and you won't have those rough edges.

    OK enough for PC 101. But dont hesitate to ask for anything else.

    OH and HAVE FUN, but BEWARE, Polymer Clay Addiction is VERY possible and contagious!

    1. The metal cookie-type cutters I'm using are from the polymer clay aisle, but the resulting pendants still seem too big to me. I'll have to go back and look again. I expected them to shrink a bit during the baking process but they didn't. Thanks for all the tips, I'm sure I will be in touch with you.

  2. So pleased you have been bitten by the polymer clay addiction, Bonnie! PC is my favorite expressive medium... easy to access and the upside creatively is almost limitless. The internet is full of "free" tutorials of dubious value, but for information with real import you can't beat fellow Canuck Cindy Lietz (she creates in Surrey, B.C.) Here's a link to her free Youtube videos and accompanying blog:

    These will go a long way in addressing the issues you brought up in this post. Cindy also has a paid tutorial site you might want to explore in future, if your addiction needs to be fed further, Bonnie. But you are on the right track with just playing and discovering for the moment. I look forward to catching your progress!

    1. Thanks, Monique. I'm going to check out the links you sent to me.

  3. Bonnie, your first experiment worked out better than mine - I burnt the beads because the minimum temperature in my oven was too high for them!! I also used some metal cutters and I found it difficult to remove the clay from the cutter without much distortion - I've no idea how to solve this. If you are on Pinterest, I have a board with tips and inspiration on how to use clay. Happy creating! Ana

    1. Thanks, Ana. I was quite impressed how well my first venture into polymer clay turned out too. I'm going to check out your board on Pinterest.

  4. I love the multicoloured ones - totally don't look like a first time effort to me - they look great!.

    1. It was entirely beginner's luck that they turned out so well. *smile*