Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Polymer Clay 101

All the information below is protected by the Creative Commons license.
Creative Commons License
Polymer Clay 101 by Angeli Sobrepena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Part I of a series, a Handmade Pilipinas post

Polymer clay is an oven-baked material that you can mold or sculpt into anything under the sun. It comes in a rainbow of colors which you can mix into limitless color possibilities. Polymer clay is sold under different brands, all of which have different characteristics. Which brand to use will depend on what your project is.

Unlike other clay materials (earth, air-dry, toy modeling clay), polymer clay cures in the oven. Much like baking cakes and cookies, baking polymer clay is an exact science. It needs a specific baking temperature and baking time. Set the temperature just a bit too low and you’ll end up with a brittle piece. Set the temperature a notch too high and the clay will boil or burn. Proper baking will be discussed in a later entry.

What tools/materials do I need to work with clay?

Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of different clay tools and equipment. But for a beginner, you only need simple items you can find around the home. No need to shell out big bucks.

1. A proper work surface
Polymer clay contains chemicals that can damage certain surfaces, so always make sure your table is covered with glass or acrylic. I used to protect my work surface with a simple glass jalousy (piece of window). A ceramic tile will also work. Never work with clay on a wooden surface – the clay will not only stick to the wood, it will also damage the finish. Also never work on plastic table tops – certain types of plastic melt when they come into contact with clay. Only use glass, ceramic, or acrylic (plexiglass) surfaces. If you don’t have any of these, you can tape a sheet of baking paper onto your table.

2. Roller
If you want to make flat sheets of clay, you will need something to roll the clay with. You cannot use the typical rolling pin used for baking, because the clay will stick to its surface. As discussed above, use glass, ceramic, or acrylic materials when working with clay. Any smooth cylindrical object will do, as long as they’re made of those materials. But when I was starting out, I used to roll clay with an old aluminum spray bottle that used to be my spray-on deo (Nivea, hehe), because I didn’t have the money to buy tools yet.

If you have the cash, there are acrylic rolling pins made especially for clay. These range from P350 – P650 locally, or around $6 when you buy it online.

3. Texturing tools
Any found object can be used to help you form your piece. You can use a toothpick, needle, or pin to make holes into the clay. For texture, I use a typical toothbrush (dedicated to clay work of course). Buttons with interesting details can be pushed into the clay to add patterns.

Again, if your budget allows it, you can buy ready-made texture sheets. I bought mine at a bookstore many years ago.

Additional tools and materials will be discussed in the future.

Read Part 2 of this series here.

All the information above is protected by the Creative Commons license.
Creative Commons License
Polymer Clay 101 by Angeli Sobrepena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.


mayheart04 said...

Hello Angeli,

Been searching Polymer Clay here in the Philippines for so long... and found yours in google search, do you know where i could purchase these materials (the clay itself... ooohhh! cant wait to create one myself)? hoping for your kind reply... my email is

Thank you in advance... ^,^

Best regards,

mayheart04 said...

Oooops! nabasa ko yung blog mo dito... will try to visit the MOA asap... pero if you have suppliers pang iba... would love to know where... Thank you and more power to your site!!!! ^,^

mayheart04 said...

I've tried your quiz, and my result is Extensive Polymer Clay Workshop... I think i would want to join your workshop... hope you'll give me ideas of how much, how often, and where... I', a cake designer(hobby) and would like to try your polymer clay workshop... hope for your kind reply...

Thank you!

Best regards,


Marsha said...

hey!do you sell polymer clay?if yes, do you have some sort of a small shop where you sell them?and how much per block?thanks:)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Helo Ms Angeli ! Im a fan of yourz.. ! Ur so cool and cute! Im so much interested with the polymer clay.. Im an artist who loves sketchin, drawing, caricature making and self portraits.. We are same zodiac signs.. I love japanese culture and i saw it on you.. Btw, pls send me up a message at gmail: .Tnx ! Godblez and more powerz to u ! :"3

craftlicious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
craftlicious said...

Wot a cute blog u have,really nice place to visit

Anonymous said...

hello angeli! my name is gea and i'm really interested in the polymer clay crafting. i came to know about this through my sister's friend and i am really amazed by the details in her crafts.
my friends always tease me that i have so many ka-OC-OCan because i'm very detail oriented. but as far as i'm concerned, i think i can use this fact in this hobby.
i am, by the way, a college instructor and since summer is fast approaching, i would like to do something that i'm really interested in and be productive as well.
i would like to learn your craft and so i am wondering if you offer workshops. i took your quiz and the result tells me that i must take Short Course: Introduction to Polymer Clay Art, a beginner's workshop (Summer Edition). hehehe.
another important thing about me also is that i am from ilocos. i only know one person doing this craft and she has already made a business out of this and i want to do the same thing, too. ilocos is 8 hours from manila but i really want to learn this hobby so i'm willing to travel. c:
i hope to hear from you soon so i'm leaving my e-mail address where you can reach me. i hope you find time to reply, angeli.

thehumancounterpart said...

hi there! came across your blog coz im dying to learn how to do these things with polymer clay. i read that you are doing workshops? i want to enroll. please send me details my email is hope to hear from you soon! btw i love ur blogs. =)

swanriverstone said...

great blog! i link your blog posts to mine after I had awake up call about polymer clay i didn't know about;-) Thank for being parts of my enlightenment;-)


Anonymous said...

hello angeli,
for years ive been making things with just ordinary clay ive been dying to know what clay could be baked and i like to buy. thanks to a magazine, they showedcase your workshop and was inspired more to be creative thanks to you


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