Polymer clay is a great product that is fun to work with, but it can be frustrating if you don’t treat it right. The polymers that make the clay soft and pliable can leach out over time leaving you with a crumbly mess and your project can end up a wreak, breaking apart after curing.
This little how-to will go over the best ways to condition and store your clay so you never lose a minute in crafting or lose a project after hard work.
Polymer clay comes in several sizes, the small bricks are divided in to 4 sections that make it easy to break apart. When you get your new clay home, start with the lightest colors first and wash your hands in between, so as not to transfer colors.
Break off one of the bars and then break it in half. (Make sure to get all the crumbs!) Start rolling the half bar of clay between your palms, folding it in on itself so that you don’t lose any of it. Once you get a long worm shape, do the same with the other half, then roll the two halves together until they are well mixed. Roll them out into a final worm and then coil it up into a ball, continually rolling between your palms.
A ball is the best storage shape, since you can easily start rolling it again to recondition for your next project. Drop the ball into your glass jar (I save jars from jam, pickles, olives, or whatever else I find interestingly shaped) Repeat this process for each bar until you have lots of colorful clay balls. Cut your label off off the packaging and tape it on with clear tape so you remember the color and brand of each jar. Each package of small clay can make 4 balls, the larger packages, obviously, make more and would need a larger jar.
Move to your next color and do the same. Use a different jar for each color and type of clay, so you can keep your collection well organized.
Glass jars are one of the best ways to store your clay as air, wax papers, and plastic wraps can leach the polymers out of your clay. The glass is a neutral space, easy to stack, and easy to see which clay you need at a moments notice!
If you have older clay that you find to be crumbly and hard to work with, here is a good way to recondition it. Get your glass jar ready, crumble your clay into it, into tiny pieces. Squirt in a little bit of mineral oil (I use the unscented kind so as not to add anything unnecessary into my clay, like scent chemicals) into the jar, cover and shake. Don’t use too much, as you don’t want the clay to be liquidy, but use enough to saturate all your clay. Shake it around and then let sit a while, then see if you can start making your worm rolls. If you can, just process as you did your clay above. If not, use a bit more mineral oil and let it sit a bit longer. Keep adding a little bit until you can get your clay to roll together without crumbling too much.
Only do this if your clay is unsavable otherwise, as it does change the properties of the clay a little, which could have consequences for your piece on down the line. I’ve done it to several blocks that I would otherwise have had to throw out and never had a problem with my finished product, but your mileage may vary.
When you are done processing all your clay (I recommend starting a good movie that you love and have seen often, if you have a lot of clay to do) and gotten them into their storage jars, you can stack them on your desk or shelf. Where they will be handy and also be a pretty, colorful, and arty room decoration! You can even decorate the jar tops if you wish. (I’m much too lazy for that, at the moment 😛 )