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d. Conditioning Clay

Different brands of Polymer Clay vary with how much conditioning they need before using.  However, my rule is never use straight out of the packet without first conditioning until the clay is soft and smooth.

  • If you are using Kato Polyclay, then this one needs more conditioning than most of the others, but all can be conditioned by hand by cutting the block into small pieces using a clay blade, rolling the clay into a ball, then into a snake, folding it up and repeating until clay is able to be folded easily without cracking or breaking at all.
  • If you use large quantities of clay, consider investing in a pasta machine which can assist with conditioning clay - you just slice your clay into thin slices, pass through the machine at a thinner setting, then keep reducing the thickness, fold in half, keep folding & rolling until it is soft and conditioned.  Note:  Always pass it through with the fold first or on the side of the piece, not at the back of the piece as that can cause air to become caught in the piece.
  • Sometimes clay may become too soft, in which case you can let it sit for a while to firm up, put in the refrigerator, or if just far too soft, roll into a sheet and put between two layers of absorbent baking paper to leach out some of the plasticisers (overnight is best).
  • For Fimo Soft, Premo & Sculpey III, less conditioning is required, but still mix to a smooth soft consistency either by hand or using a pasta machine to assist.
  • Remember you can mix your own colour palette with polymer clays and the colours are unlimited - don't be afraid to experiment with different mixes and make sure you write down the proportions when you create new colours so you can repeat it if you like it!
  • Storing Clay:
    Conditioned clay can be stored for a long time in cool conditions - some people store it in wads or balls, or in plastic containers but I roll mine into sheets using the pasta machine and store flat in layers in a drawer with baking paper between each layer.  When you go to use it again, it takes just a few passes through the pasta machine to re-condition it again.  Just avoid storing clay in very warm places.

Products related to this article:

KA12607  Kato 8" Clay Roller
KA12607 Kato 8" Clay Roller
SD-1  Sculpey Clay Softener
SD-1 Sculpey Clay Softener