Ultimate Guide to Working with Polymer Clay

Polymer clay can be an oven hardening plastic-based clay. It really is highly workable and simply perfect for a variety of ages and skill levels, from younger students completely up to professional artists.

The clay can be manipulated yourself or with inexpensive tools, it will not dry out in the air, and is baked to firmness at a minimal temperature of around 250 degrees.

Polymer is readily available in a variety of brands for the most part arts and crafts stores. Because of its availability, a huge contingency of “YouTubers” have created vast libraries of technique tutorials that will inspire your students and make excellent classroom resources.

various polymer clay

Isn’t that an Expensive Material?
Polymer clay can in the beginning seem to be too expensive for some art budgets. But, don’t automatically assume it’ll be cost-prohibitive for your students.

Here are 3 things to bear in mind, when wanting to afford polymer as a supply.
clay at the store

1. Most polymer projects are smaller and, therefore, cheaper.
In many cases, we default to encouraging our students to make large-scale work. But, there is something treasured and thrilling about tiny artworks, too. Polymer clay is the perfect material to utilize on a tiny scale, and students sometimes find this change in proportions to be refreshing.

2. You can save your scraps to increase your money.
When students work with polymer, create a scrap box just as you’d for construction paper. Students can retain even the littlest components of the clay. Other students can use these scraps to include details to their projects, and you will manage to stretch your finances!

3. If you are strapped for cash, run a fundraiser or apply for a grant.
Ask, and you shall receive! If you’re hoping to try a new material, like polymer, in your classroom, spend a few momemts searching for local grant opportunities. Whether it is your district’s educational foundation, your school’s PTO, or a corporate sponsor like Walmart or Target, the amount of money IS out there for folks willing to do the paperwork.

How to Work with Custom Polymer Clay Cookie Cutters
Polymer clay can be an intuitive material, much like Play-Doh. Students can explore and experiment sculpturally with relatively few guidelines to have them started.

First, soften your polymer.
The more you knead the clay, a lot more pliable it’ll become, and the easier it will be to work with.

This can be achieved in a few ways. Here are 3 ideas.

If your clay is relatively new, students can merely move the clay to and for their the hands to soften it.
If the clay is firmer, you can run it via a pasta machine many times to soften it. Students seem to be to love this option!
clay in pasta machine
If your clay is drastically dry due to age, you may need to use a few drops of oil to condition it.

Cutting the Clay
Initially, you will want a tool for dividing the polymer into smaller pieces to distribute to students. Some craft stores will sell a blade because of this, but a square metal cookie cutter works, too!

Manipulating the Clay
Many of the smaller plastic or wood tools you currently have for ceramics will continue to work well with polymer. Other inexpensive tools like unfolded paper clips or toothpicks are ideal additions. Often, students will take advantage of the use of rolling pins to flatten the clay as well.

Attaching the Clay
Most of the time, the polymer will stick to itself and stay adhered* through the baking process. It can do seem to be to help if you have students score pieces lightly with a toothpick, before attaching them. To be a bonus, this practice reinforces traditional hand-building skills!

Finally, bake your polymer clay to harden it.
Polymer clay is typically baked at a minimal temperature, usually around 250 degrees. Be sure to read the directions on the package you’re using. While a typical kitchen oven works, few art rooms have access to a single. A perfect and inexpensive alternative is a toaster oven.

You can purchase a new toaster oven, or even better, find one at your local thrift look for a few dollars. Just place your clay creations on a piece of tinfoil, and put them in to the oven for the required amount of time.