View Full Version : Newbie polmer questions :)

03-08-2010, 09:46 AM
I'm really new to polymer clay, and I'm got some really basic questions because I seem to be struggling already! I'd really appreciate any help/advice x

Whats best to use? I have Studio Sculpey and I'm finding it really soft to use. Is there a better brand?

I bought myself an oven thermometer but some of my thin pieces won't set hard, They flex then break. Might they need less time? I ask because a thick piece set harder.

Exactly how hard will it go if properly baked, are we talking stone-hard?

I saw on a couple of threads that people sand their pieces...should it always be sanded? Which sandpaper should be used?

Thanks x I'm going to buy a book but just wanted to ask in the meantime.

Stargazer x

03-08-2010, 12:25 PM
Hi stargazer,

Welcome to the addictive world of polymer clay!!! There are quite a few different brands of clay, all with different qualities, studio by sculpey is one of the softer clays, which makes it nice & easy to condition, but it tends to lack a bit of strength after baking, and also I find if I'm making canes the colours tend to 'bleed' a bit.

I mostly use Fimo classic, and occasionally fimo soft or sculpey III - I haven;'t tried Cernit (ejralph on here is the expert on it!) or Kato clay but I've heard good reports on both.

As for the baking, a thin sheet of clay will usually stay a little bit flexible, as part of the strength is in the smount of clay. You'll never get to stone hard with poylmer clay, the best I can describe the 'proper' hardness as is similar to a decent piece of hardwood - it's solid and won't easily mark, but you can still sand it and it shouldn't feel brittle.

As for sanding, some people do, some don't - it does depend on individual preference and what you're making. I sand my pendants and most of my beads, then some I varnish, some I polish and some I leave matt. Other designs I might not sand at all but just give them a coat of varnich. Personally I think sanding does give a better finish, but obviously it can't be used on textured/metallic/pearl powdered surfaces.

Hope that helps for a starter!! :-)


03-08-2010, 01:13 PM
Hello welcome to the forum and the world of clay
I use polymer premo sculpey and find it the best me:Ddium for what i craft ( cake toppers)

How do you condition your clay? a few things that i do is...
One roll it into a sausage then twist it it helps to condition the clay
Roll it out with acrylic roller then put it through my pasta machine it not only creates even sheets but conditions the clay.
The better the conditioning the less likely it will crack while baking as it removes air pockets and blends the clay together.
For thinner pieces they need less time to bake, over baking will create cracks this happend to me when i made a clay veil.
I have no experiance of sanding so cant answer this question sorry.

I am still a newbie myself and still learning the ropes !

Look forward to seeing some of your work :D

03-08-2010, 08:21 PM
I think Claire has answered all your questions - so I won't repeat her excellent advice.

I would just say that in general, there are brands of clay that are less strong when baked (such as sculpey, fimo soft / effect etc) and other brands that are far stronger - kato, Fimo Classic, Cernit etc

I have found Cernit (http://www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=17_143) to be the strongest by far - and I use this pretty much exclusively for my own art beads now for this very reason (that and the colours are just gorgeous). Cernit does take a little know-how to use though - colours darken in baking for example - so you need to counteract that by adding a little white or trans if it is going to be a problem. The clay can also get soft if you over handle. So it is quite a Diva in some respects.

However, the benefits make it worth it I think. It is fantastic for canework (I haven't yet experienced any bleeding). The translucent clay, whilst quite sticky, is great and just perfect for mokume gane etc. The baked strength is excellent.

The point with all clay brands though - apart from the general fact that some are just stronger than others, everything else really comes down to person choice. Try as many as you can and see what suits you best

04-08-2010, 11:19 AM
Wow some great advice there :) Looks like theres a whole lot more to polymer than I originally thought! Lots for me to think about, and good to know whats out there beyond my local (tiny) craft shop. I'm going to invest in a book, a pasta maker and some different clays and see what I can come up with. Watch this space!

Thanks again xx

04-08-2010, 12:04 PM
I use Premo Sculpey, and I haven't had many problems with that, and I like that I can buy it in bricks rather than little blocks. I would really like to try Cernit though, the colours are yummy, just have no monies left at the minute :( One day Emma, your clay will be mine - mmwwwaaahhhahahahahhhaaa!!!!

04-08-2010, 01:05 PM
When I saw your name Stargazer I burst into singing "I see the moon and the moon sees me" LOL ! maybe I am harking too far back in musical history for most on here though eh?
Can only agree with what the others have said regarding clay. I always revert back to Fimo so only buy that now. Classic and soft.
As to sanding I just use very fine sand paper. I have oiled the figures sometimes with baby oil or Humans glitter makeup haha!
Good luck with your projects.
Please show us what you make. xxx

07-08-2010, 10:29 PM
All very good advise. The only thing I would add is that it seems best to use wet 'n' dry paper to sand down. It's used wet with a bowl of water with a drop of detergent in it - grades 400 or 600 up to 1200 is about right.

I also like to use the cushioned sanding pads. The very fine one in particular is great for a very gentle rub down in between coats of varnish. These pads can often be found on metal clay suppliers inc. Emma's site (http://www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop/).