Hi everyone! For the month of June, I decided to publish beginner-friendly quick tips for polymer clay crafting each week! These are often asked questions by the beginner, and things that might take them time figuring out on their own. I know it took me quite some time figuring it these things out by myself!
This week’s often asked question is:
“How long should I bake my clay for??”
Hi, I’m Xarin from Three Smitten Kittens, and for some of you who don’t know, I’ve been making a livelihood for about four years now, making cosplay accessories out of polymer clay. It’s such a versatile medium that you can use to make anything from your imagination, as long as you’re equipped with the proper tools and knowledge. Here’s a basic guide for making your own cosplay jewelry from clay. This guide is for flat jewelry, but you can apply the knowledge here to your other projects.
The example we’re using today are the hair accessories for Corrin of Fire Emblem: Fates.
Before that, here are some resource materials you may need to learn about clay!
Where to Buy Clay in the Philippines
Which Polymer Clay Should I buy?
Polymer Clay Starter Kit Shopping List
STEP 1: MAKE A TEMPLATE OR PATTERN OF WHAT YOU WANT TO MAKE
I have templates and patterns of almost everything I’ve ever made. I either extract the pattern from the actual reference on a software like Photoshop, or hand-draw my own pattern on paper or board, making sure to have accurate measurements. It helps make the item visibly proportioned and accurate. Having templates also gives you ease of reproduction–you can make an even, almost exact same duplicate copy, especially if you need to make something in pairs or more.
STEP 2: ROLL OUT EVEN SHEETS OF POLYMER CLAY
Making sure the sheets are perfectly even in thickness gives your accessory a professional finish. After conditioning the clay, I use a pasta machine to roll out even sheets of clay for me to use. It was an old pasta machine no one at home was using anyway, so I got permission to use it for clay. Note that once you use a pasta machine for clay, you MUST NOT use it for food again. Polymer clay, when ingested, can be toxic.Not everyone has a pasta machine or clay conditioning machine at home though, and buying some costs a lot. You can use slats instead to help guide you to getting an even thickness.
STEP 3: Cut out your clay using aid of the template.
Depending on the thickness of your project, you may stack your clay on top of one another, and use a craft knife to cut your clay based on your template. I like to put the template on the clay and go over it with my acrylic roller lightly, so it “engraves” the design on the surface, and then cut based on it.
STEP 4: Assemble your accessory, bake and then add the finishing touches.
All that’s left is assembly of your item and then baking! Then you can add the finishing touches, which may be paint or varnish, and adding metal findings.
Goodluck and hope that helps!
AT THE BEGINNING of the month, when I was browsing around National Bookstore, I was surprised to find that they finally carried a line of polymer clay in their store! This line is the Mont Marte Polymer Clay line, which currently comes in very limited colors, but however is enough to get you started.
I picked up two colors from National Bookstore Fairview Terraces, and they sell for P95 each for 60g of clay.
The clay itself is very soft, almost like marshmallow, but isn’t sticky to the touch unlike other soft clays. Being soft makes it easy to condition, but it isn’t as densely packed and has holes and such inside, meaning air could get trapped inside, so I’d still recommend conditioning it as much as you can.
Most soft clay brands tend to have supreme flexibility, so I tried baking a thin sheet to test the flexibility of this clay. It’s REALLY flexible, and I was even able to roll the sheet I baked like so. I imagine the clay will be great for making thin flower petals and the like.
To check for the finish when it bakes, I made some macaron shells. The finish isn’t a flat matte (like Sculpey III or Bakeshop) but it isn’t shiny either, just a bit in between.
All in all, I think this is a great clay to work with, and I’ll pick up some more when the need arises! (I have too many clay haha) The only con right now is that these really come in very limited colors, but hopefully they release a full line someday!
One thing I’ve been asked a lot in my craft by beginners is which clay brand they should buy when they’re starting out, or which clay brand is the “best” to use. So finally, I’ve decided to write a blog post about it!
Actually this all has been written down a year or so ago in an e-book I was planning to finish but never continued—
There are different clay brands in the market from different brands, each with their own different properties. Not one is superior to the other—I personally think it’s a matter of what project they are suited to. If you make a wide variety of things like I do, it’d be best to keep stock of various brands that will fit your different projects.
Polymer clay is generally priced from 65-130PHP and is usually sold in 50g and 100g bars.
One of the cheapest clay in the market. It is marketed as a kid’s polymer clay, thus it is very soft and easy to knead. Color selections are limited. It bakes brittle and heavy, with sort of a rough surface.
Sculpey III is easily bought in specialty art stores in the country and comes in a wide array of colors. The clay is soft and easy to condition, which is why it is recommended for beginners. The clay bakes with a matte, bisque finish.
Premo! By Sculpey
Premo is more pigmented compared to Sculpey III, and is a tiny bit more expensive. The clay bakes with a slight sheen, and has slight flexibility when baked in thin sections. Color selections are limited, and the complete colors are rarely carried in stores. This is a good choice for metallic-colored clays, and those with “special” colors (eg., marble, granite, glittered) The clay is a little firmer, making it suitable for detailed work. The clay cures to a slight sheen.
FIMO Classic, manufactured by German company, Staedtler, is a very firm clay that requires a bit of conditioning, and in most cases, a clay softener. Despite that, this clay is still a favourite of many artists due to the great color selection, and the fact that the clay’s vibrant colors are retained very well even after being baked. FIMO Classic also cures with a glossy finish, almost like hard candy.
FIMO Soft mostly has the Classic’s properties, except it’s (obviously) much softer and easier to knead. I find the colors from Soft have less shine when baked compared to Classic.
Nendo Polymer Clay
Nendo is a locally-available clay that is noted for its supreme flexibility. The clay is easy to condition and is elastic. Once baked, the clay has a slight sheen, and is very flexible. As with flexible clays, the clay may be a bit sticky to work with for those with warm hands.
Flexiclay 3 Polymer Clay
Another local brand, Flexiclay comes in a wide assortment of colors and, as the name suggests, has good flexibility. Flexi3 is firmer than Nendo, and is not as flexible, but it is easier to handle as they clay is not overly sticky or soft. To try out this clay and order some, you can check their facebook page here.
Sculpey Ultralight Clay
Most, if not all polymer clay has significant weight once they are cured, especially if you intend to make big pieces. Except Ultralight clay, which is almost like marshmallow to the touch. It only comes in one color (white) and is mostly used as the core or filler for bigger clay projects.
Different brands carry their own lines of Liquid Polymer clay that come in different colors. They become firm when baked, and are mostly used for adhering two pieces of clay together in the baking process, or as decorative “sauces” or paints.
Which Clay should I Use?
As I’ve said before, no clay is truly superior, each clay has its properties that makes it suitable for different types of projects.
Matte polymer clays that bake with a dry, “rough-to-the-touch” finish are ideal for paintwork. The rougher surfaces of these clays once baked make them ideal for being painted. Clays with a shiny finish will resist inks and paints unless they are roughened beforehand.
Firmer clays are ideal for detailwork such as engraving or carving out shapes or tiny details. Soft clays are easily distorted with a simple nudge, making them unideal. Firmer clays are recommended for making canes for the same reason.
Soft, flexible clays are ideal for making thin pieces pieces that have to resist breakage (ex. Flower petals). While soft, matte clays could also do the same thing, they bake hard and brittle, making thin pieces prone to snapping and breaking.
Hope this post helps you out if you’ve been trying to decide which brand to buy! Soon I might make a youtube guide so you can better see the qualities of the clay and their differences!