Basic Polymer Clay Techniques

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Before you start, you will need to prepare a work surface, it should be smooth and clean, something like a glass cutting board works well.

Kneading.

This will help to make the clay more workable, Roll and knead the clay with your hands, this will warm it slightly and make rolling and cutting easier.

It is also necessary as it helps to remove any air bubbles and imperfections.

Rolling into a ball.

Since round balls are used in so many designs nowadays, it pays to know how to make a nice, even, smooth ball.

Pull a piece of clay the size you want, make a rough ball between the palms of your hands. Apply firm, but even pressure whilst still rotating it. You will only need to apply light pressure as the ball takes a shape.

Rolling a cylinder.

Follow the above instructions for making the ball, place the ball on your work surface and roll it with your palm, making sure that you apply a light, even pressure.

Rolling a sheet.

Roll the clay into a cylinder shape with your palms, place on your work surface and roll with a rolling pin. If it is a small thin sheet, you may need to find something more suitable to roll it out with

Marbling.

Marbling polymer clays together can produce beautiful results with a swirling marbled effect.

Roll out the colours you are going to use into logs, press the logs together and roll them until you have formed a new log. Fold this up and roll it out again, repeat this until you have the desired effect.

Baking.

Carefully remove your finished shapes from your board, place on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. You will need to bake the clay in the oven for at least 20 minutes at 130 degrees C (250f) although you may need to leave it in for longer if you have larger pieces. Also if you are making buttons, they need to be left in for a little longer to ensure they are hard enough.

Check the manufacturers instructions on your oven, if you put the clay in a fan assisted oven, it will need less time than a normal one. This is very important as if you leave the clay in for too long it will burn, and when the clay burns it gives off toxic fumes. If you accidentally burn it, remove the clay from the oven, put it outside and ventilate the room.

Storage.

If you store it properly, polymer clay can be kept for years. Opened clay should be stored in a cool dark place; opened clay should be kept in an airtight tub or tin, or wrapped carefully in a plastic bag. Unbaked clay can  stain any surface it is left on so make sure you don’t leave it anywhere that you want kept clean.

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