Polymer Clay 101: Conditioning your Clay
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Polymer clay from the pack is oftentimes firm so that they can be manufactured into their respective blocks. Before you can morph it into your desired shape, first you condition it.
[B]”Conditioning” is actually just a really fancy word for kneading your clay, either with your hands, a clay roller, or a pasta machine.
Certain brands of clay are harder to condition than others (FIMO Classic, Kato) while some clay brands are made softer and easier to condition (Bakeshop, Sculpey III).
The bigger the piece of clay, the more time you need to spend conditioning it!
[B]Clay not conditioned well or long enough often results in air bubbles trapped inside the clay, which mostly only show up after baking.
Properly conditioned clay will bake with a smooth surface.
I can’t tell you how long to condition a clay on specific, because it really all depends on the amount of clay you’re working with. Just make sure that there are no hard bumps and lumps that you still feel while kneading the clay!
[B]”HELP! MY CLAY IS VERY TOUGH AND IT’S SO TOUGH TO CONDITION IT!”
Some clays are much tougher than others and can be difficult to condition for those with more delicate hands.
[B]Or sometimes you’re just unlucky and end up with “expired” clay—these are clay packs that are brittle, and fall apart and just not want to stick with each other when you start to handle them.
[B]They get rock hard because the oil and moisture in them seems to have dried out. You can use a Clay Softener to help restore them and make conditioning easy, but a cheap alternative is to get a ziplock bag and put your clay in it, add a few drops of baby oil, and let it sit at least overnight. The clay will be much easier to work with in the morning!
Hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions, and don’t forget that every Wednesday (GMT+8) I’ll be posting Polymer Clay tips for newbies, so please follow if you’d like to stay tuned!