December 6, 2012

The very beginning

As this is my first post on this blog I decided to write about how to begin a great fun with polymer clay crafting. I’m going to share with you the basic equipment that you’re gonna need for most tutorials which I want to share with you here on this site, as well as the bare info, tricks and tips.

1) First of all,  polymer clay
You can find different types of modelling clay (oven - hardening or air - drying) by various brands (FIMO, Sculpey, Cernit, Kato Polyclay, Pardo). Each brand usually produces distinct types of clay f.ex. turns out : FIMO classic, FIMO soft, FIMO effect. Sculpey produces: Sculpey III, Premo, Original Sculpey, Super Sculpey and many more...

I don’t have particular tip how to choose the best brand. It’s all about your preferences. You have to test different ones to find what works the best for you. I find FIMO Soft as the best and easiest to work with. It blends easily and it’s very, very soft. For me softness  is a big  advantage as I work quite a lot with polymer clay (almost every day) and my hands really hurts after working long hours with clay (yes, there are some bugs in polymer clay crafting;) What’s also important it’s available in 24 nice and bright colours which fits my projects. The other important reason for me to use FIMO Soft is quite pedestrian – availability. Well, as I live in Europe FIMO (which is produced  in Germany) is more accessible in our area. If you live in USA Sculpey III (very similar in the terms of softness and blending) might be your choice.


2) Surface

The best surface to work with polymer clay must be smooth and easy to clean. That’s why most of polymer clay artists use glass or tiles. My advice in that is to look around and do a little treasure hunt at your place. At the very beginning I used centre – piece of my mothers old glass coffee table. It was ok. but too big to move it from one place to another, so I decided to do some research and that’s how I found my actual surface which is a piece of glass from my old scales. I used to keep it in my bathroom but after mechanism broke, I put it into my parents basement and forgot about it. I asked my father to disassemble the old mechanism and it’s now the perfect surface to work on. The glass is thick and easy to storage as it’s not too big.

As you will see in the next paragraph (tools) I’m not the big fan of buying professional equipment (mostly because it’s usually expensive and not worth the price as in most cases you can easily find substitute in your environment) , that’s why I recommend looking for it in your own apartment. I’m sure that you can find in your basement or attic some old redundant  tales or pieces of glass to use as your working surface.

3) Tools

    You can find on the market a lot of different sets of tools dedicated to polymer clay artists such as professional blades, acrylic rollers, modeling tools, cutters, clay machines, extruders, moulds etc. Of course some of them you can’t swap with replacement but there are some that you actually can.

When it comes to modeling tools I've never used professional ones. Instead of pro tools in my kit I have: toothpicks, ice cream sticks, skewer sticks, drinking straws, big and normal size needles, blades (normally used for hob cleaning), scalpel, plastic cooking roller, different types of paint brushes, pliers and pincers, a lot of aluminum foil and that’s probably it. I used to this kind of tools so much that I feel no need of buying some pro ones. Maybe in future. If it ever happens I will write a review on that for sure.

4) Glues, liquis polymer clays, varnishes and silicones

In my projects I use glue only for attaching eye-pins to be sure that they’re secure and won’t fall off. I tested different ones, and since the very begging of my crafting (which was about 2,5 year ago) I haven’t found the perfect one. The one which I use right now is good in the terms of keeping things in the place but it dries really fast and it’s not based on water which means troubles if you soil with it your clothes or skin. 

               Glue which I currently use.

When it comes to varnishes I also tested different options and believe me, nothing works as good as original varnishes from polymer clay brands. Varnishes that aren’t purposed for polymer clay don’t dry which means your creations will be sticky or they  exfoliate after some time. I use FIMO gloss varnish.

Liquid polymer clay is very important in my projects. I use it especially when I’m creating cupcakes, cakes or other sweets. It imitates frosting, icing, ganache.

Silicones are used in my projects to imitate whipped - cream. I try different ones which I find in DIY shops. Currently I’m using acrylic one. 

                    My acrylic silicone.

5) Others

Semi - finished articles for jewellery making are essencial if you want to transform your polymer creation into a  piece of jewellery. Be careful –  I am totally addicted to buying that stuff;)Things which you can find in my box of treasure are – eye-pins, clasps, findings, chains, pendants, charms, beads, Swarovski crystals, straps, twines and probably many more.

Storage – It is very important to keep your polymer clay in nice closing box because otherwise it’s gonna dry out. It is also important to buy different types of boxes to storage your creations, findings etc.

Moulds – There is a big variety of moulds on the market. I bought some of mine threw the Internet and the rest I’ve done by myself using Sculpey mold maker. I know that there are different types of mold making products but unfortunately in this part of the Europe it’s very difficult to get them. I read good things about Amazing mold putty but I have to test it out.

Acrylic paints and paper pastels are essential for shading, especially when it comes to donuts, biscuits etc.

           Some of my Swarovski crystals.

Owen – remember that polymer clay is not bio product. I own a little roaster which I have bought almost 2 years ago for very little money (it was a bargain) especially for polymer clay hardening. But if you don’t have such a thing please remember not to bake polymer clay with food because it might be toxic.

Nail – brush and soap:) Yes it is very important. Keep it always close to your working area. If you have ever work before with polymer clay you may know that after working with one piece of clay it leaves some residue on your hands. That’s why after working with one colour of clay (especially if you move from working with darker colours into lighter ones)you have to remember to clean your hands properly otherwise it will mix with another colour that you’re going to work with.

Last but not least - a big mug of nice coffee or tea and lot of patience. Yes beginnings are difficult but it's worth it.After some time working with polymer clay can give you a lot of satisfaction as well as relax and fun.

I hope this post was uselful. Wish you great fun with polymer clay crafting and see you soon! xoxo TCHS

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