From the making of dolls and modeling materials to jewelry making, polymer clay has come a long way to what it is today. Originally developed in Germany by Kaethe Kruse, polymer clay went from being used for doll making to modeling clay used to a variety of objects such as vases, miniatures and mosaics. Kaethe encountered polymer while studying in Lebanon; it was given to her as a gift in the early 1970s although she didnt really see the potential of the product until the 1980s when she used it for small sculptural details.
Polymer clay is made up of tiny particles of polyvinyl chloride that is suspended in a plasticizer, this in turn keeps it pliable up until it can be heated and turned into a hardened durable plastic when the particles fuse together. Polymer clay has the capacity to do just about anything; it can be layered, sculpted, folded, blended, or formed. It can also be painted, colored, stamped, drilled, textured or sanded. For these reasons, this product makes it a relatively inexpensive and easy material to use in jewelry, beading as well as other art forms.
Types of polymer clay
Polymer clay comes in different types which make for great polymer clay beads, however the most commonly used include:
Sculpey III which is soft and easy to work with, it also the easiest to push through a clay gun and comes in forty-four vibrant colors.
Granitex which comes in eight pastel colors that resemble the colors of natural stones
Cernit which comes on over sixty colors
Fimo classic which is stiffer than any of the Sculpey clays and comes in twenty-four bright colors
Polymer clay is workable when cured with temperatures between 265 Â°F to 275 Â°F. It takes about fifteen minutes to cure with a diameter of 6.4 mm of thickness. Polyemer clay does not get smaller when cured.
Polymer clay artists prefer working with machines for making homemade pasta, which is a stylish multi-purpose tool. It is used to create sheets, mix colors or create variegated sheets, and to soften the clay. Polymer clay must be conditioned before it has used which entails kneading the clay using hands, and then it has to be sandwiched between two rollers to break any particle adhesions.
Important things you need to know about polymer clay
Depending on the brand you use, you will be left with varying finishes right after firing, for example, the Sculpey will take on a matte finish, and the Fimo will take on a slight gloss while the Cernit will become slightly waxy-looking. This means that you dont really need to add any special finishing treatment since the clays natural finish will leave you with the best enhances for the effect that you are looking for. With this in mind, you know that you will get the best polymer clay beads for your jewelry making.
If you opt to sand your polymer clay, then you best do it under water with dry or wet sandpaper. Other alternatives are making use of a clean soft towel to buff the piece by hand until you get the shine you need, pt using an electric buffer with a muslin wheel or clothe. Important to remember is to keep the clay in movement while buffing in case you are using a power buffer and also to hold it lightly against the wheel in order to avoid gouges that may arise with pressing it.
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