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Old 09-07-2012, 02:25 PM   #1
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Default Plz help - creative people - polymer clay help

I am assuming that my Splitcoaststamper creative friends work in other mediums also. So here's my problems.
I have tried several polymer clays over the last couple of years. They all seem to be very hard and dried - I have worked them, warmed them, rolled them, stretched them. AND THEY STILL NEVER SOFTEN UP enough to be workable.

Am I just getting old clay at my local craft stores or am I doing something wrong. Please let me know if you have found a secret for them.
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:10 PM   #2
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I don't make things with clay, but I have quite a lot of Sculpy in many colors for my granddaughters. I got it at Michaels about a year ago, and it is still pliable and easy to work with.

When you first unwrap the little block, it is pretty firm, but quickly softens up when you work it around in your hands. I have stored the unused pieces in plastic zip lock bags and it seems to keep it in good shape.

They have made many things, figurines, jewelry, etc. We have baked them according to instructions and they have all turned out very well.

Maybe you just got a bad batch.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:36 AM   #3
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Different clays have different properties but if you've tried several then it's probably not just that you've hit problems with the stiffest of the clays or have a bad batch. There's a useful list of the common brands and their properties here.

I've worked with Sculpey III, Sculpey Premo and Fimo in the past. I tend to use Premo these days. It does take quite a bit of "conditioning" before it's ready to use - maybe you're giving up on it before it's had long enough? I'm not sure what consistency you're expecting but do remember the clay needs to stay stiff enough to retain shape and detail without edges starting to sag and blur so it's never going to be as soft as, say, children's Plasticene-type modelling clays when they're warm.

I tend to put the block(s) in the pocket of my jeans when I decide I'm going to have a clay day and leave it there until I'm ready to start work. Body heat is enough to start softening the clay. When I'm ready to start, I pull off a piece big enough for what I want to do and start working it by squeezing and stretching. One thing to watch out for as you condition is trapping air pockets - if you fold your clay over as you're working it, squeeze from the fold out towards the edge so you push any air out rather than trapping it in.

I do have a pasta machine dedicated to clay but I only get that out if I'm going to do several projects. Even with a pasta machine you need to work the clay by hand to start with to get it soft enough to go through the rollers.

Are there any classes/demonstrations in your area? You could save yourself a lot of frustration if you see somebody in action with a clay you've tried yourself so that you can see how long it takes and what kind of firmness it has when the clayer considers it ready. Failing that, there are oodles of videos of clayers at work on YouTube that might give you some idea - it's a poor second as you have no opportunity to feel the clay but it might help.

HTH!
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Old 09-08-2012, 04:19 AM   #4
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[QUOTE=Angelnorth;19671904]Different clays have different properties but if you've tried several then it's probably not just that you've hit problems with the stiffest of the clays or have a bad batch. There's a useful list of the common brands and their properties here.
/

Joanne - thank you for the detailed reply. I haven't noticed a class, but great idea - I'll look.

The clays that I have bought are so brittle when I try to work with them, they just chunk up and crumble. Is that normal?

I will try your suggestion of putting it in my jeans pocket.

Thanks for the point about not getting air into it. At this point, I don't think that's a worry. What I have won't even fold at all, just break. Hopefully I can get it to that point.

Thank you. Jaymie
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Old 09-08-2012, 04:19 AM   #5
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do you have an old manual pasta machine? Ifso use that to condition the caly. Artist caly (premo, and fimo original, and kato) are much harder when you are working with them yey after baked are more flexible and durable, it ssems the more flexable the baked result the stiffer the clay is. Old clay is also harder, you can use a but of clay conditioner or baby oil to work in it and soften it up a bit, also working in a warmer area will help, in the winter I cannot use clay in my basement craft room because it is too cold to get it to condition. You might try sculpy 3, it goes on cale for 88 cants at ACmoore often so it is cheap enough and they sell a lot so it will be fresh and easy to condition.
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Old 09-08-2012, 06:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abcsnana View Post
The clays that I have bought are so brittle when I try to work with them, they just chunk up and crumble. Is that normal?
I've had clay crumble when I first break it off the bigger block and start to work it but you can usually squish the little chunks back together. It can take quite a lot of pressure to do that squishing though! Warmth definitely helps (not too hot though, you don't want it to start curing - body heat is a good guideline). If my squishing seems not to be having much of an effect, I'll hold the clay piece encased between the palms of my hands for a minute before squishing again.

I've had clay in opened packages that's still usable after a couple of years. I do store them in an old ice cream tub so it's reasonably air tight but I can't imagine anything you've got from the store is any older so I'm kind of puzzled why you're having such a problem. Exposure to air and normal household temperatures doesn't typically make polymer clay unsable for a good long time anyway - it's not hardening in the way an air-dry clay would do.

What brands are you trying to use?
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:06 AM   #7
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Default brands of clay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angelnorth View Post
I've had clay crumble when I first break it off the bigger block and start to work it but you can usually squish the little chunks back together. It can take quite a lot of pressure to do that squishing though! Warmth definitely helps (not too hot though, you don't want it to start curing - body heat is a good guideline). If my squishing seems not to be having much of an effect, I'll hold the clay piece encased between the palms of my hands for a minute before squishing again.

I've had clay in opened packages that's still usable after a couple of years. I do store them in an old ice cream tub so it's reasonably air tight but I can't imagine anything you've got from the store is any older so I'm kind of puzzled why you're having such a problem. Exposure to air and normal household temperatures doesn't typically make polymer clay unsable for a good long time anyway - it's not hardening in the way an air-dry clay would do.

What brands are you trying to use?
Over the last 3 years I've tried 3 different brands - I would absolutely like to use this product. I think I have pretty strong hands - I have a grip test of 60 and the PT was quite impressed with that. I say that to say its amazing to me how hard and brittle the clays are that I have tried. Someone suggested carrying it around in a jean pocket for a few hours before using it, so I will try that. If that doesn't work, I'm going to order some from a large volumn vendor and see if that will help.

Thanks for your response.
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:51 AM   #8
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There's a lot to sort through here but there a good tips, reviews and advice: Polymer Clay & Tools | Craft Test Dummies
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:37 PM   #9
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Thank you all so much for your help. I knew I could rely on all you crafty people. I have come to the conclusion that:
1. My hands are getting weaker
2. I am buying older clay
3. I will need to get some mechanical help - ie, a pasta machine
4. I am also going to order some oil to soften the product I already have - 10 blocks of bring lime green to make labels for my new garden.
Should be fun -hopefully.

Again, thanks so much for your feedback.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:10 AM   #10
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Default Lots of great ideas

I like the idea of putting the clay in your pocket. I also have used a dedicated pasta machine, and mine has an electric motor attachment so I don't wear out my arm cranking. Good luck!
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:13 AM   #11
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I like the idea of putting the clay in your pocket. I also have used a dedicated pasta machine, and mine has an electric motor attachment so I don't wear out my arm cranking. Good luck!
thanks - that helps confirm I'm on the right track.
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:56 PM   #12
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Using a drop or two of of liquid polymer also help to soften stiffer or crumbly clay. This is what I do and it works great plus I use the liquid polymer to add dimensional details to some of my projects and for other effects.
You can't do that with baby oil.
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:35 PM   #13
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Using a drop or two of of liquid polymer also help to soften stiffer or crumbly clay. This is what I do and it works great plus I use the liquid polymer to add dimensional details to some of my projects and for other effects.
You can't do that with baby oil.
Can you give me a brand name on the liquid polymer? Thanks for the hint.
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Old 09-21-2012, 01:56 AM   #14
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Can you give me a brand name on the liquid polymer? Thanks for the hint.
Several brands do liquid polymer - most likely finds are Translucent Liquid Sculpey (sometimes known as TLS), Liquid Fimo and Kato Clear Polyclay Medium. They all come in a bottle with a nozzle applicator, rather like Stickles or the Ranger alcohol inks bottles but typically a bit bigger.

HTH!
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:40 AM   #15
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Several brands do liquid polymer - most likely finds are Translucent Liquid Sculpey (sometimes known as TLS), Liquid Fimo and Kato Clear Polyclay Medium. They all come in a bottle with a nozzle applicator, rather like Stickles or the Ranger alcohol inks bottles but typically a bit bigger.

HTH!
thanks. I only have a Hobby Lobby 30 miles away - and so I order a lot of things over the internet. As good as HL is, they just don't have everything. I've learned to research and plan ahead.
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