From Plastics Wiki, free encyclopedia
Polymer clay is a type of clay based on the synthetic polymer polyvinyl chloride. It is different from earthen clay used for pottery, which must be fired in a kiln, and from air-dry clay such as paper clay, which dries at room temperature, and from modeling clay used by children and animators and does not dry.
Polymer clay hardens by curing at temperatures created in a typical home oven (generally at 265 to 275 °F (129 to 135 °C), for 15 minutes per 1/4" (6 mm) of thickness), and does not shrink or change texture during the process. When properly cured, most clays create items which won't break if dropped or normally stressed. It also comes in liquid form and in permanently flexible solid form.
Polymer clay is sold in craft, hobby, and art stores, and is used by artists, hobbyists, and children. Leading brands of polymer clay include Premo, FimoClassic and FimoSoft, Kato Polyclay, Sculpey (Sculpey, SuperSculpey, Sculpey III), Cernit, Formello, and Modello.
Few tools are essential for use with polymer clay, and these can often be found around the house. A pasta machine is often used to create evenly flat sheets, to mix colors, to condition the clay, and to create patterned sheets.
Polymer clay is available in many colors. Special-effect colors such as translucent, glow-in-the-dark, mica-containing "metallics," and "stone" colors are also available. Clays can be mixed together to create new colors, gradient blends, or other effects.
Polymer clay can be colored with other media. Paint, ink, colored pencil, chalk, metallic (mica-containing) powder, metallic leaf and foil, glitter, and embossing powder can be applied to the surface. The same materials also can be mixed in as inclusions; this is often done with translucent clay.
After it has cured, the clay surface can be left as it is, it can be sanded and buffed, or it can be finished with a varnish.
Uses and Techniques
Polymer clay can be used in many ways, a number of which have been generalized from other art or craft techniques. Some of the things which can be done with polymer clay include:
- Sculpting. Hand-shaped items can be any size from "miniatures" to quite large. Bas relief can also be created; clay clothing and accessories can be made for sculpted figures.
- Creating beads and jewelry of all kinds, such as pendants, earrings, barrettes, and buttons.
- Forming "canes," which are logs of clay with patterns running through their entire length, from which identical slices can be cut and used in various ways. The patterns created in canes can be simple, complex, or anything in between; they may be pictorial or simply geometric. Canes (and therefore their images) can be "reduced" so that they become quite small, and then combined to make multiple images.
- "Cover"ing items made from materials such as glass, metal, cardboard, terra cotta, and some plastics. Some popular items for covering are pens, eggshells, votive candle-holders, and switch-plates. Larger items, such as tables, can also be veneered.
- Creating vessels large and small. Jars, boxes, bowls, and container pendants can be created freestanding, over armatures, or over removable armatures.
- Impressing textures, lines or images into raw clay with rubber stamps, texture sheets, sandpaper, needle tools, or other items.
- Making molds with hardened clay, then pressing raw clay into the molds to create casts and to duplicate textures, shapes, whole faces. Molds made from metal, glass, and silicone can be used with clay as well.
- Using polyclay to accept "transfers" of black-and-white or color images from photographs, drawings, computer-created images or text. Images can be transferred onto freestanding liquid clay films or decals.
- Creating simulations or fauxs of many natural materials such as ivory, jade, turquoise, wood, granite, metal, leather, stained glass, or cloisonne.
- Carving or drilling polyclay after it has been cured (and backfilled, if desired).
- Inlaying tiles or chips to create mosaic.
- Onlaying clay or other materials to create collages. A "clay gun" can be used to extrude uniform rope shapes.
- Creating paintings with polymer pastes, and bas reliefs techs.
- Creating practical utility items, such as frames, games and game pieces, dioramas, toys, mini-books, notebook covers, greeting cards, and postcards.
- "Mokume-gane": shaving off thin slices from layered but distorted stacks of clays, powders, and inks.
- Using clay together with other media, such as wire, paper, beads, charms, stamps, and fabric.
There are many online polymer clay groups open to all and polymer clay guilds or clubs in the US and in other countries.
Information and Message Boards
Fimoland Forum Very good spanish forum with lots of technics, projects, galleries, etc.
Glass Attic. "Encyclopedia" of polymer clay info, with 1600 pages, 90 categories of polymer techniques, lessons, and variations.
Polymer Clay Central offers tips, information, contests, chat, and message boards.
PC Polyzine, an online polymer clay magazine with articles about artists, plus tutorials and instructions.
Polymer Clay Daily Posts photos featuring the top polymer clay art.
Australian Polymer Clay Artists Group Aussie polymer clay artists exchange ideas and inspire each other.
Sarajane's Polyclay Gallery over 100 pages featuring polymer clay projects, dolls, beads, mosaics, miniatures, jewelry, eggs and more!
More Online Groups
Polka Dot Creations (books, videos, and magazines)
Tonja's Treasures sells supplies to enhance your polymer clay projects.
GlassAttic Suppliers page of online suppliers of clay.
Pier and Penina (necklaces and jewelry)
Casa de Clay, artistic creations in polymer clay
Polymer Clay with Melanie Dilday Gallery of jewellery, Australian workshops and retreats, info.
Over the Rainbow Polymer clay and jewellery supplies, Australian online store.
Dinko's Clay Creations: Examples of clay sculpture
DyLinn's Designs: Eclectic Polymer Clay Creations
Pat's Art: Polymer Clay Mermaids, Miniatures, Wizards, etc
A Fantasy in Clay: Fairies, mermaids, votives, theme fairies, etc.
PolymerCafe: Exploring the art and craft of polymer clay
Belle Armoire Magazine Beautiful wearables--including polymer clay jewelry and acessories
Step by Step Beads Produced by Lapidary Journal, Step by Step publishes polymer clay articles in the magazine and also produces a clay themed special edition at least once a year.
Art Jewelry Magazine AJ often features polymer clay items, usually combined with metal work and precious metal clay.
- Celebrations With Polymer Clay, Sarajane Helm, Publisher Krause Pubns Inc, January 2003, ISBN 0873495217
- Create a polymer clay impression / Sarajane Helm. ISBN 087341988X (pbk.)
- Creating with polymer clay : designs, techniques, & projects / Steven Ford and Leslie Dierks. ISBN 093727495X (pbk.)
- The Polymer Clay Techniques Book / Sue Heaser, ISBN 1581800088
- Creating your own antique jewelry : taking inspiration from great museums around the world / Chris Dupouy ISBN 0810990512 (pbk.)
- Creative Stamping in Polymer Clay / Barbara A. McGuire, North Light Books, 2002, ISBN 1581801556
- Creative stamping in polymer clay / Barbara McGuire. ISBN 1581801556 (pbk.)
- Foundations in Polymer Clay Design by Barbara McGuire, ISBN 087341800X
- Liquid Polymer Clay: Fabulous New Techniques for Making Jewelry and Home Accents ISBN 0873495632
- Making animal characters in polymer clay / Sherian Frey. ISBN 158180041X (pbk.)
- Making gifts in polymer clay / Stacey Morgan. ISBN 1581801041
- Making miniature villages in polymer clay / Gail Ritchey. ISBN 0891349561 (pbk.)
- Making polymer clay jewellery / text and illustrations by Sue Heaser. ISBN 0304346055.
- Modellare con nuova pasta sintetica (Polymer clay basics) / Monica Resta. ISBN 0806971363
- Polymer clay : 20 weekend projects using new and exciting techniques / Irene Semanchuk Dean. ISBN 1579901689 (pbk.)
- Polymer clay : creating functional and decorative objects / Jacqueline Gikow. ISBN 0873419529 (pbk.)
- Polymer clay extravaganza / Lisa Pavelka, ISBN 1581801882 (pbk.)
- Polymer clay for the first time / Syndee Holt. ISBN 0806968273 : 19.95.
- Polymer Clay: Exploring New Techniques and New Materials (Includes Precious Metal Clay) / Georgia Sargeant, Celie Fago, Livia McRee, 2002, ISBN 1564968693
- Polymer: The Chameleon Clay / Victoria Hughes ISBN 0873493737
- The Art of Polymer Clay / Donna Kato, ISBN 0823002780, 1997, Watson-Guptill Publications
- The polymer clay techniques book / Sue Heaser. ISBN 1581800088 (pbk.)