Polymer Clay Is Not My Friend

Emma Todd's Amazing  Polymer Penchant
I was so inspired when I saw Emma Todd's new polymer flower necklace. It is beautiful. While I was reading Bead Soup Cafe Facebook she posted this and I couldn’t help but check it out. I decided I had to give my clay a try and see what I could create. So I went down into my studio (which is really the basement, but saying calling it the studio make it sound like I am a real artist) and pulled out all the amazing polymer clay that has been sitting for months. I had totally forgotten all about the amazing colors I had purchased. I can't remember why I ever stopped using it. So I gathered some of the colors I wanted to work with and threw them in my bag. We were going to see some of my family out of town so I thought the long car ride would be a perfect place for me to create. So as our journey began I pulled out all the clay and opened the baggie it had been stored and OMG, it was hard as a ROCK! So for the next hour and a half I couldn’t do anything with it. I sat it up in the windshield and thought maybe the heat would help soften the clay. NOPE! Not at all. UGGHH! Now what? So I got on the internet and it said I could use baby oil on it to soften it, which I tired, it was a total mess. I gave up. Now I am so discouraged I have tons of clay that is hard as a rock and don’t have a clue what I am going to do with it now. Since Emma is an expert at working with this medium maybe she could suggest some way to make it soft again so it doesn’t end up in the trash can.


Lori Anderson said...

I have such a bad habit of wanting to try new techniques and then leaving the stuff until it's too old or hard or what-have-you to use! So don't feel bad!

A Polymer Penchant said...

Hi Tabatha! Thanks so much for featuring my work, and all your kinds words. What a double edge sword though, I'm so glad it inspired you to go get your clay, but a bummer to hear it's not your friend. Let's change that back around to inspired!

My instinct is the heat killed it. From your description it sounds like it got too hot on the dash and partly baked. There really is no coming back from that. Better to stick it in the oven, cook it properly (as per whichever brands recommendations) and then go at it with pointy things. You can carve it, you can grate it up to use as inclusions with liquid clay. If you start with a fresh blade you can likely make faceted beads, drill the hole.

But. Without knowing the brand, or feeling it myself I couldn't say for sure its done. If it's Kato or Fimo classic, those two brands are very hard. I can't imagine trying to condition them while sitting in the car. I stand at my work table and use my body weight with a roller to get those bricks expanding. Then once thinner than the thickest setting on my pasta machine I roll it on through, usually about 30 times to get to a working consistency. If it's very crumbly but you can still squish a small bit between your fingers than it should be able to be saved. The easiest way by far is to mix it with fresh clay, again about 30 passes through the pasta machine should get it going.

We may have reached the part where you say you don't have a pasta machine. You could do it with a glass to roll but... I think that's a bit like asking someone to oil paint without any brushes. Sure you could do it with your fingers but it's about a million times easier with a brush...

I've heard of the baby oil, but I think I'd stay away. Mostly I have the opposite problem with the clay being softer than I want rather than harder.

Hope I gave you some ideas to start with, let me know where it takes you next, I'm always happy to help

Monique U. said...

Is there any chance your clay could have cured? Since PC cures at a relatively low temp, it may have "cooked" if exposed to heat for even a short time. I have even bought brand new clay and realized when I got home it was "hard as a rock" (I always give packs a squeeze now). The other possibility is if it were not in its original wrapper some of the plasticizers can leech out to porous material it is in contact with. In that case you could use clay softener (sold near the clay), but it has to be added sparingly or you would end up with clay that is too soft. There are lots of "homemade" softening recipes; just google search for "soften polymer clay" and you'll get lots of hints. Hope that helps!

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