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Polymer clay: how to work with it

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In recent years, modeling from plastic has become quite a popular hobby, for some - and even a professional occupation. Author's jewelry, toys and souvenirs made of polymer clay are in great demand. What are the features of plastic, or polymer clay, how to work with it?

This material is used for sculpting various products: jewelry, dolls, souvenirs, flower arrangements, etc. Before you figure out how to mold a piece of decor from polymer clay, you need to choose the appropriate type of material.

Varieties of materials for modeling

Depending on the method of hardening, the plastic is self-hardening and baking.

Lung material self curing clay is softer. It is also divided into different types, depending on the purpose. For example, there are floristic polymer clays designed specifically for the manufacture of artificial flowers and compositions from them. The material is very plastic, easily stretching. But it is unlikely to be suitable for creating other products: it is not very durable, many floristic clays cannot be soaked, etc.

Other types of self-hardening masses are much stronger in their properties than floristic ones. They crumple well, it is much more convenient (and cleaner!) To work with them than with traditional clay, and finished products by weight are easier. Of the self-hardening masses, various decorative figurines and toys are most often made. In the air, stuck together items quickly gain strength.

Self-hardening masses lend themselves well to polishing after drying, the products can be artistically cut out with special knives, they can be painted with any paints, varnished for extra strength.

Unfortunately, self-hardening clays do not work well if you need to mold some small and thin details - they turn out to be brittle and easily break.

The most popular variety of modeling materials is baked clayor thermoplastics.

Products made from such polymer clay harden only after heat treatment. Depending on the manufacturer, the temperature and methods of baking polymer clay may vary slightly. But the average baking temperature is about the same: 110-130 ° C.

Required craft tools

Select the necessary tools for working with polymer material depending on the desired result and the techniques in which you plan to work.

The following devices are commonly used:

• ceramic or glass work surface,

• for rolling - rolling pin, roller or special paste machine,

• extruder with interchangeable nozzles for extruding simple or curly shapes,

• stamps, texture sheets, brushes to modify the basis,

• stacks with different profiles for sculpting small parts,

• stationery scissors and knives for cutting parts.

What is wonderful in working with polymer clay is what you can choose: work with budgetary or expensive tools (for example, a rolling pin or a paste machine), as well as the extensive possibilities of using a variety of improvised tools - for printing textures, creating forms. Novice masters may well use office knives instead of special cutters, or children's plastic stacks for plasticine instead of professional metal ones.

Secrets of making decor items from plastic

• Before starting work, knead the baked plastic to make it soft and warm. For kneading the plastics of some companies, you have to make significant efforts at the beginning :)

• In order not to leave fingerprints on the finished work, you can work with medical gloves or grind the product after heat treatment. Before starting work, wash your hands thoroughly.

• When working with self-hardening clay, take a small amount of material so that it does not dry quickly. Put the remaining plastic in the film, moisten the unfinished parts with water.

• When using thermoplastics, make sure that there are no air bubbles left in it: it will expand when heated, which means that the product is deformed.

Be sure to try working with polymer clay! There are a huge number of techniques that will allow even beginners to do something beautiful and original.

By the way, we have several step-by-step workshops on modeling clay polymer on our site!

What is polymer clay

Polymer clay is a soft, pleasant to work, elastic material that looks like plasticine. It can be of two types, one type freezes (hardens) in the air, and the second needs to be dried in the oven or in a special oven. There are many different manufacturers of polymer clay, such as FIMO, Decoclay, Cernit, Kato and others. Different types of polymer clay have their own properties and, depending on this, the purpose of each type can be determined.

Polymer clay contains polyvinyl chloride and a plasticizer. Often small briquettes of colored clay are produced, from here we can conclude that dyes are present in the composition. Depending on the amount of plasticizer in the clay, the ductility of the material itself is determined. Plastic quickly hardens, so for the convenience of working with it, stabilizers are added to the clay. In addition, the composition of the material includes talc or ordinary ground chalk.

The properties of polymer clay are such that during operation it resembles colored plasticine, but with a specific smell. In order for the molded figures to retain their shape, they must be dried. Polymer clay hardens at temperatures from 60 to 130 degrees, which should be indicated on the package. After drying, the product can no longer be redone, as it will lose its ductility.

Attention! You cannot use a microwave oven to dry polymer clay products!

If you are working with self-hardening clay, then you don’t need to specifically dry it, it dries on its own in air during the day, depending on the thickness of the product. The disadvantage of this material is that when dried off it shrinks and the product decreases in size. This must be taken into account in the manufacture of crafts and other products.

Finished products made of polymer clay, if they are made of plain material, can be painted with acrylic paints. So that they do not peel off, you can cover with acrylic varnish. If you work with colored clay, then after drying the products are simply varnished. Also, dried material lends itself well to mechanical processing: it can be drilled, sawed, etc.

Rules for working with polymer clay

To make polymer clay products neat, you must follow the rules for working with this material. For example, you need to work on a specially prepared surface, for example, on a piece of tile or glass, because you have to cut off excess plastic with a knife, and this can damage the table.

So, to work you will need such a tool:

  • substrate (surface for work),
  • sharp knife, you can use clerical,
  • rolling pin for rolling plastic,
  • toothpicks for making holes in parts.

For heat treatment, you will need an oven or roasting pan. Baking products on a metal surface is not very good, as it will overheat and plastic products may burn. If you want to use ceramic dishes for baking, then keep in mind that after such manipulations you cannot use it in your home for cooking or serving food.

Already baked products can be processed with fine sandpaper or a buff for nails with a roughness of 600, 800 or 1000 grit. If you work on a smooth surface and with gloves, then processing products after drying is not necessary.

How to work with clay

To make some product from a piece of polymer clay, you need to take a small piece and knead it thoroughly with your hands. The material should warm up a bit and become soft and ductile. It is important that there are no bubbles in the material, as during drying, the air in the bubbles will heat up, increase in volume and deform the product.

Attention! Failure to comply with the recommended temperature can be dangerous, because When overheated, polymer clay can release toxic substances. If you comply with the requirements for baking clay, then working with it is absolutely harmless.

To choose the optimum temperature for drying the clay, you need to carefully study the information on the package. In addition to temperature conditions, it will be indicated for what types of work this or that type of material is intended. After drying, the parts are covered with acrylic varnish and allowed to dry. If necessary, the whole product is assembled by elements.

How to make a polymer clay bracelet

To make an unusual bracelet for a girl, you need polymer clay of two colors, for example, white and orange, a substrate, a knife, scissors, a toothpick, glue, a brush and a little coarse salt.

First you need to cut a small strip from each piece.


Then cut each strip diagonally and align the white piece with the orange, as shown below. And then cut into identical pieces.

Now we roll the resulting pieces into beads. If you preliminarily knead both colors well, then the balls will be uniform, and will differ from each other only in shade, as shown in the photo. If you do not set out to mix colors strongly among themselves, then you can get a marble texture.

Now all the beads should be rolled out well in coarse salt, this will give the surface a peculiar structure.

We puncture the finished beads with a toothpick so that after baking they can be collected on a string. After drying, the beads should cool completely.

The dried and cooled beads must be washed in water to wash off the salt from them.

We cover everything with varnish, dry it, and now the time has come to assemble the bracelet.

How to make a polymer clay cane

Learning to make a cane out of polymer clay is already 80% success in making beads and jewelry, which is very popular among teenage girls. Here is one of the options for such a cane. Subsequently, it is cut into thin pancakes and wound on ordinary polymer clay beads, which are simply not so beautiful.

So, here is an example plan for making a cane "flower"

  1. We take 3 plates of polymer clay: pink, white and lilac.
  2. We cut it as shown in the picture, put all the strips together and crush the places of the joints of flowers with your fingers.
  3. Then we cut along the resulting plate and fold one strip into another.
  4. Knead again, cut and put in again. The more such manipulations we make, the more beautiful and with more subtle strokes a finished cane will turn out.
  5. Now give the cane a drop shape and cut the cane across.
  6. We connect the parts of the cane like the petals of a flower, in the middle we put a layer of yellow color and tightly compress it along the entire length, at the same time ramming the cane and stretching it.

Attention! It is not necessary to bake (dry) the cane, as it will still be used in the future. If you used self-hardening polymer clay for work, then pack the cane tightly in polyethylene.

And below you can see more types of canes that can be done mono yourself, focusing on step-by-step photo instructions.

How to make a teddy bear out of polymer clay

Such a cute little bear cub can then be used as a keychain. A step-by-step photo instruction will tell you how to complete such a craft, and if you turn on fantasy, then you can make other animals.

So how to make a teddy bear?

  1. Imagine that we are working with plasticine and alternately sculpt first the head, then the body, legs.
  2. Then we make injections with a toothpick for the eye.
  3. We connect all the parts together.
  4. In order to insert the “eye” for the pendant, we make a hole in the head of the teddy bear.
  5. Bake everything in the oven, let cool.
  6. We insert the pendant and paint the bear with acrylic paints.
  7. We cover with acrylic varnish.

Instead of a conclusion

Learning to make crafts from polymer clay is very simple, because we all sculpted from plasticine in childhood. Just when working, you need to be collected and accurate. Parents who entrusted their children with polymer clay should also be told that they can only use special dishes, as ordinary dishes can become harmful to the public. After drying the polymer material in it, the oven itself must be thoroughly washed.

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