What is Polymer Clay?:
Polymer clay is a malleable and sculptural compound that can be used in many ways. Despite its name, polymer clay contains no mineral clay and is given the name 'clay' because of its texture. Polymer clay is formed from substances similar to those found in PVC with the addition of plasticizer that keep the clay malleable. Polymer clays contain pigments which give them their vibrant colors. Unlike mineral clays, polymer clays require curing at a relatively low temperature and this can be achieved in a domestic oven. Rubber stamps can be used to impress polymer clay and can also be used for many other techniques.
Using Polymer Clay:
Polymer clay can be used to create items of jewelry, small accessories, card toppers and many other items. Modelers use polymer clay extensively, as do doll makers and miniature artists (see About.com Miniatures for miniature polymer clay projects).
Polymer clay is available in many strong colors. The clay can also be blended together to give an almost infinite palette of colors. Brands of polymer clay are created using different formulas, meaning that when blending polymer clay it is best to use clays within a single brand. Polymer clays must be baked or cured in line with the manufacturers instructions.
Polymer Clay and Rubber Stamps:
Polymer clay and rubber stamps work well together. Rubber stamps can be used to make an impression in the surface of polymer clay sheets or to add a design to pieces that have already been cured. Many traditional rubber stamping products such as inks, embossing powders, pigment powders and paints can be used on polymer clay with great effect. In addition to this, rubber stamps can be used to create sophisticated techniques. This includes mokume gane, which is a traditional metal technique that has been adapted for use with polymer clay. Deeply etched stamps work best with clays.
Polymer Clay Brands:
There are many different manufacturers and brands of polymer clay. While the clays all have similar properties, they perform in different ways. Some polymer clays, for instance, are softer to use, but less durable after curing. Polymer clay artists often have their own preferred brand of clay which suits their needs best. Beginners will find that most brands will be fine for their purpose and by trying and experimenting with different types of clay, they will soon find a brand that meets their needs. Brands of Polymer clay include:
Important Health and Safety Information:
While polymer clays are regarded as being safe to use and are commonly used by children as well as adults, there are important health and safety issues to be aware of. There have been concerns over the inclusions of phthalates in polymer clays. Tighter regulations in Europe and California has meant that many brands have now reformulated to meet the new standards. Polymer clays can be cured in a domestic oven, however if they are overheated fumes may be emitted that are harmful. Therefore careful monitoring of the temperature of the oven is important. Tools used for polymer clay should be exclusively for craft use.
Buying Polymer Clay:
Polymer clay is readily available from arts and crafts stores. They are typically sold in small 2 ounce blocks as well as larger sized blocks. The smaller blocks are ideal for beginners. Because polymer clay can be blended to create a wide spectrum of shades, just a few key colors are all that is required for many projects. Shopping around
is the best way to find the best deal for polymer clay.
Polymer Clay Projects:
Here are some projects that use rubber stamps with polymer clay: