Friday, August 12, 2011

Petra Berendsen: Polymer Clay Basics

I am not a stranger to using polymer clay but when I signed up for this tutorial, little did I know about the addictive properties of polymer clay: polymer clays to be baked in the oven and to dry in the air - it can be used with moulds - it can be sculpted, cut, twisted, stamped, painted ...... the possibilities are endless. My main focus here will be the polymer clay you bake in the oven. There are various manufacturers around but having mostly worked with Fimo over the years, I will also use it in the tutorial.
My basic equipment consists of my craftmat, an old cutting board from the kitchen, polymer clay, rolling pin, knife, knitting needle, aluminium foil and cling film. Additionally you can think of all sorts like moulds, stamps, sculpting tools, ....

I only have the basic colours but if you would like to use let's say pink you can mix any colour you need yourself. During the mixing process you will get some interesting results:

After taking the amount of clay I need, I usually wrap up the remaining part in cling film to protect it from drying out. The more you knead the clay, the more pliable it will become and the easier it is to work with:

1 clay beads: take a little bit of clay (making beads is usually a great way for me to use up all the little clay leftovers), roll it in your hands or on your mat in any shape you like and make a whole through the bead with a needle - don't make the hole too small otherwise it might be quite difficult or even impossible to get a thread through the bead.

2 cutting the clay with cutters - just like making cookies: roll out the clay, not too thick otherwise the model might become too heavy for what you want to use it for and the drying time might be longer as well. I should also mention that once you cut the clay, you can also sculpt it and the model will stay this way.

3 stamping on clay while it is not baked: roll out the clay not too thick and then stamp on it. I achieved the best results stamping with deeply etched rubber stamps

4 using moulds for creating wonderful embellishments: the moulds worried me at first as I had never used them before but I got plenty of inspiration and advice from Lucy.

5 mix and match different colour components in one piece: you can mix and match various colour pieces for your clay model - either before baking (I always use a little tiny dab of craft glue to join the pieces before baking) or after the baking but preferably before glazing them.
In this example you can also see some sculpting of some little colourful mushrooms - so easy to make. If you want to use the clay pieces for charms, make some holes into the model before baking.

Once you finished with the modelling, lay all models on aluminium foil and put them into the oven. Bake them at 110 degrees for about 30 minutes. When the models come out, they might still feel a bit soft but they will harden completely during cooling. Now you can have more fun with painting them, stamping, glazing them, ..... but this is for another tutorial ... and for you to explore (lol). I decided to use some of my clay treasures for some cute little mushroom charms and one of those wonderful bead bracelets on a very thin elastic band which I loved so dearly as little girl - these beads are just perfect for such a project

Polymer Clay is also particularly suitable for children, it is so much fun. Get kneading and enjoy. And let me see what you come up with, Petra. x


  1. A brilliant tutorial Petra! I didn't realise you could do so much with polymer clay. I feel a shopping spree coming on! Love those funky mushrooms! Keep creating, Sam x

  2. What an excellent tutorial, Petra! I love the rose and the mushrooms, and the bracelet you created. Brilliant! (Sweet of you to mention me, too!)

    Lucy x

  3. Thank you so much for the great tutorial! I have the clay and needed the push! :)

  4. love those mushrooms! great article.

  5. thank you for the great tutorial! :-)

  6. Thank you great tutorial really encouraging XOXO Zoe


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