Polymer Clay: Jewelry-Making Supplies and Equipment

Premo! Sculpey focal bead created by the author using a technique involving multiple polymer clay canes
Premo! Sculpey focal bead created by the author using a technique involving multiple polymer clay canes | Source

What is polymer clay?

Polymer clay is made from tiny particles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic mixed with a pigment and a liquid plasticizer. It remains pliable for long periods, but when baked or “cured” in a toaster oven, convection oven, or home oven at a fairly low temperature, it becomes a permanent solid plastic. You can sculpt the hard—often pliable—surface, carve it, stamp on it, texture it, sand it, buff it, paint it, and build with it to create jewelry, home décor, figurines, and dolls. You can also embellish many wood, glass, or metal surfaces with polymer clay. I read an article several years ago in which someone repaired the dents in their car using polymer clay!

In this article, I will discuss the types of polymer clay readily available in craft stores and the tools and equipment that are used with the clay to make jewelry. In future articles, I will give you step-by-step instructions for creating polymer clay jewelry.

What happens when polymer clay is baked?

When polymer clay is baked, the liquid plasticizer evaporates and all the tiny particles of PVC that make up the clay body fuse together into a permanent plastic. The curing (or baking) process is achieved by a combination of the correct temperatures and baking long enough for the clay object to be heated to the required temperature all the way through the clay.

Polymer clay is rated as a nontoxic material. Studies by Duke University have confirmed that there is little or no toxicity concerns with polymer clay, even if it is eaten. I recommend that you do not let polymer clay come in contact with food because the porous clay could absorb the food and become unhygienic.

Premo! Sculpey polymer clay, the type of clay used by the author
Premo! Sculpey polymer clay, the type of clay used by the author | Source

Caution: Don't Burn the Polymer Clay

If you accidentally bake the clay at a high temperature—above 320°F—the clay will burn. Burning plastic can give off toxic smoke, but the polymer clay smells so bad when burnt, you are unlikely to inhale enough to harm yourself. If your clays burns, turn off your oven, and ventilate the room.

If you want to avoid polymer clay smells in your home oven, bake the clay inside an ovenproof pan with aluminum foil or a glass lid covering the clay. Rather than use a home oven, you can use a small toaster oven or convection oven dedicated to baking polymer clay. Polymer clay ovens look like toaster ovens. One difference is that they have a maximum heating temperature of 300°F and a maximum of 30 minutes on the timer.

I have an area in my home dedicated to my craft projects. My house has a front porch. When I’m ready to cure my polymer clay items, I put a wooden tray table on the porch and set my polymer clay oven on it.

What are the different types of polymer clay?

Polymer clay is manufactured by a variety of companies all over the world, among them Polyform / Sculpey, Eberhard Faber, and Van Aiken International / Kato. The following is a list of some of the more popular types of polymer clay. You might want to experiment with several types to see which ones best suit your crafting needs.

Eberhard Faber Products

Fimo Classic is the most difficult polymer clay to condition*. Fimo users often use food processors—with a blade and bowl dedicated to polymer clay—to chop the clay into small pieces as part of the conditioning process. Fimo Classic is primarily used for making jewelry, miniatures, flowers, and dolls.

Van Aken International / Kato Products

Kato Polyclay is the most durable and least likely to break of all the brands of polymer clay. Even with extensive handling, the clay doesn’t become overly soft or sticky. Kato Polyclay is denser than other brands. It is the only brand of polymer clay that can be safely cured at between 275°F and 325°F.

Polyform / Sculpey Products

Original Sculpey is the original clay from Polyform Products. Sculpey is soft and pliable, works and feels like ceramic clay, but will dry out when exposed to air. It is available in white and terra cotta and will have a bisque finish when cured. It is used in classrooms and is the most economical polymer clay. Original Sculpey is good to use for bulkier projects. My experience has shown that it can become brittle in areas when it is thinned when carved.

Super Sculpey is a more durable development of Original Sculpey. It can be carved and used for projects requiring fine details. Beige-pink in color, it is easy to condition*, maintains fine tooling and detailing, and will have a matte, slightly-translucent finish when cured.

Sculpey III is popular for its softness, finish, and variety of vivid colors. Sculpey III is easy to condition and use. It bakes hard and takes on a matte-bisque finish. It maintains tooling and details and can be used for figurines, jewelry, and home décor. Sculpey III can be easily mixed to form your own colors of polymer clay. It can also be mixed with other polymer clays such as Premo! Sculpey and Granitex. Sculpey III is softer and stickier after conditioning than Premo! Sculpey.

Premo! Sculpey is the type of polymer clay that I use. It’s popular with craftspeople because of its strength and its beautiful colors. Premo! Sculpey was developed as the result of artists’ ideas of the perfect polymer clay. Although it may seem stiff at first, it is easy to use and stronger than Sculpey III. It holds sculpting lines well. Premo! Sculpey comes in more than 30 colors, including metallic and pearlescent ones. Many of the colors are based on the Grumbacher artists paint color line.

One of my favorite Premo! Sculpey “colors” is “Glow-in-the-Dark.” I mix “Glow-in-the-Dark” with Fluorescent Green, Pink, Red, or Yellow and create jewelry for children to wear while they are out trick or treating on Halloween

Granitex is a type of Sculpey III. It cures to a speckled stone look. It’s available in a variety of pastel colors, which have a denim look when baked. I like the results achieved with Granitex, but I’m not a fan of its stickiness.

(The *conditioning of polymer clay will be discussed in a future article.)

Overview of Polymer Clay Tools and Equipment

I’ve divided the tools and equipment used in polymer clay jewelry-making into two categories—basic tools and equipment that you “must have” and special tools and equipment that are “nice to have.”

Special Polymer Clay Tools and Equipment

Bead Rollers: acrylic devices that enable you to consistently roll beads of an identical size and shape.

Buffing Cloth: after you sand your cured pieces with wet-dry sandpaper, the sanded surface will appear dusty, and also pale in color. Rubbing the piece with a stiff cotton fabric such as denim will give the piece a shine.

Clay Extruder: a device similar to a cookie press that enables you to form strips of clay in various shapes that can be cut to either create beads or used as embellishments on beads.

Cutters: cookie cutters, cake decorating cutters, brass cutters with release plungers to push out the clay, acrylic clay cutters.

Molds: resin and flexible rubber push molds are sold by companies that sell polymer clay.

Sanding Equipment: wet-dry sandpaper is used to smooth blemishes in cured clay pieces. If you want a very smooth surface, you will need coarse grit sandpaper, medium grit sandpaper, and fine grit sandpaper.

Sculpting Tools: plastic or wood-handled tool sets with different tips, dental tools, ball-headed embossing tools, and clap shapers (rubber-tipped tools for shaping clay) can all be used.

Basic Polymer Clay Tools and Equipment

Baking Equipment: a toaster oven or convection oven dedicated to baking (curing) polymer clay.

Cutting Tools: tissue blades (thin, flexible, and very sharp knives used in pathology), ripple blades, craft knives, cookie cutters.

Flat Piece of Acrylic: used for rolling clay that has been formed into logs or snakes to an even thickness.

Hand Wipes: for cleaning your hands, work surface, and clay tools.

Measuring Tools: ruler, 6-sided tool that makes indentations on a clay log or sheet, or comb with teeth broken out at intervals.

Oven Thermometer: a thermometer to measure the temperature inside you toaster oven, convection oven or home oven while your polymer clay is baking (curing). You need to have a thermometer inside your oven because the temperature reached by setting the dial of your oven isn’t always accurate.

Pasta Machine: you can condition clay by the warmth of your hands or by kneading it. The quickest and most efficient way is to use a pasta machine dedicated to polymer machine.

Piercing Tools: you will need tools of various diameters to make holes in uncured beads. I have several knitting needles that I use for this purpose.

Roller Tools and Rolling Strips: you will get a consistent thickness when you roll a sheet of polymer clay using a pasta machine. If you need a sheet of clay that is thicker than the thickest setting on your machine, you will need an acrylic roller and two knitting needles.

Work Surface: a smooth, non-textured work surface, such as a sheet of glass with smooth edges or a tile, slab of marble, or melamine board is essential. I use a glass cutting board on top of my craft table.

Have you ever used polymer clay in craft projects?

See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 42 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I had no idea this clay existed, but I do now. Great details and descriptions! Useful and interesting!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Daisy......making jewelry has always interested me....but I cannot add another thing to my plate or I'll crash and burn.......I know several ladies who are really into jewelry-making and the pieces are all so beautiful.....Very interesting hub! THERE'S that Sunshine.....here, commenting on your hub! I was worried about her!

Take care Daisy and keep the great hubs coming.. UP++


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

What a wonderful and informative hub about polymer clay! I love working with it. It's amazing stuff for sure. I really appreciate the tip about baking it in an oven proof pan with a covering on it to help cut down on the odor. I Next time I work with clay, I'll definitely do that. I don't have a small oven for mine so I do have to use the large oven and the smell really can be overwhelming at times. I have noticed that the Fimo seems to smell the most.. not sure why. Voting UP and useful.. thanks for sharing !


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Sunshine,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs.

Polymer clay is a great craft medium, but the projects are more time-consuming to complete. I like to make cuff bracelets using the clay. I might write an article about that.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Paula (fpherj48),

It's nice to "see" you again. Are you certain you can't take on one more project? Actually, it would be a *double project*...making polymer clay beads, and then making jewelry using the beads.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Jamie,

Thanks for commenting. If you ever have an opportunity to buy one, a craft oven is a great piece of equipment to have.

A few people in the polymer clay classes I taught told me that they've purchased "regular" toaster ovens at yard sales and have used them for polymer clay baking.


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Daisy, I am going to keep my eye open for a nice cheap or even a used toaster oven. I noticed above in your comment to Sunshine that you like making cuff bracelets with the clay. I have been wanting to learn how to make those with polymer clay for the longest! I hope you do decide to do a hub about it :)


Moonmaiden profile image

Moonmaiden 4 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

I've had good luck finding used toaster ovens at thrift stores.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Jamie,

Thanks for visiting again. I'll put the polymer clay cuff bracelets on my *to write* list.

A decoupage article is next on my craft Hub list, followed by a wire wrapping craft Hub. Moonmaiden commented right after you did...thrift stores are another source for used toaster ovens.

If you find a toaster oven for your polymer clay projects, please post another comment.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Moonmaiden,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for suggesting thrift stores as a source for used toaster ovens. If you're not already familiar with her work, I recommend you read some of Jamie Brock's craft Hubs... http://hubpages.com/@jamiebrock


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

An informative hub! You covered this entire topic with your vast knowledge of polymer clay. Looking forward to your forthcoming hubs. I have passion for jewellery-designing and now attended jewellery-designing classes.

Thanks for SHARING. Useful. Voted up.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Thanks for this overview. Polymer clay is something I've always wanted to try because you can make all kinds of things with it. Voting this Up and Useful.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

ishwaryaa22,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs. What type of jewelry do you design? Are the classes in an arts and crafts store?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aurelio,

I'm glad you enjoyed reading my article. You're busy with so many projects...do you have any time for craft work?


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Jewelry-designing is my passion and I dreamt of becoming a professional jewelry-designer. I recently enrolled in jewelry classes conducted by a reputed company in my country that promote professional creativity in areas like fashion-designing, website-design, animation, interior-designing, etc. They now taught me the basics and tricks of the trade. In later classes, they will teach me the advanced techniques of jewelry-designing. I like to design jewelry of all kinds such as Indian- traditional, international-modern and antique. These are the answers to your questions. Happy Hubbing! Take care.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

ishwaryaa22,

Thanks for visitng again and giving us incite into jewelry-designing in your country.


shabbygirls profile image

shabbygirls 4 years ago from Australia

I really enjoyed the article and I am now interested in your step by step instruction, I had never heard of the bead rollers before and have tried rolling the beads myself but I wasn't always happy with the way that they turned out, I'm looking forward to you next Hub


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great resource, Daisy! I'm going to add this to my handmade beads hub, which has a whole section about polymer clay beads.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

Your information on all the polymer clays on the market and the differences between them is really useful. I've used Fimo and Sculpy III for making beads and small objects like magnets. It's a fun hobby! I also use a pasta maker to condition my clay and it saves lots of time and effort. Very nice hub! I'll look forward to seeing future hubs on your clay projects. Voted up!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

shabbygirls,

Welcome to HubPages! It's nice to meet you.

For some jewelry designs, you want all your beads to be the same size and shape. Bead rollers are an amazing tool that will help you achieve that uniformity.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Rose (randomcreative),

Your handmade beads Hub is great! Thanks so much for adding my article as a resource.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Stephanie,

Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting in it. I didn't want to overwhelm everyone by including too many types of polymer clay in my article, but...

Children like *Sculpey Super Flex Bake & Bend* and *Amazing Eraser Clay*. With *Super Flex* you can make dolls and figures that can be posed. With the *Eraser Clay* you can make all sorts of fun erasers that really work.


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

Interesting project ideas! Do you sell any of your pieces?

Voted up fr interesting!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audra,

I'm glad you enjoyed reading my article. I've sold oil painting and jewelry items in the past, but I haven't done so for a while.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Oh, now I want to try this, too! You always have the best craft hubs! Thanks for sharing this!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Jeannie,

Thanks for commenting in another of my craft Hubs. I appreciate your kind words.

I'm trying to find the time to write a Hub explaining how to make cuff bracelets using polymer clay. I have so many articles on my *to write* list, I think I need a day with more than 24 hours in it.


janikon profile image

janikon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

This is a really interesting hub. I want to try this with some of my friends. Voted up, and emailed to a few friends.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

janikon,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading and commenting in my Hub. In this article, I've explained about the types of polymer clay readily available and the supplies and equipment needed for most projects. In my next polymer clay article, I'll be describing actual projects.

If you're looking for step-by-step projects for items you can make now, check out my Duck© Tape "how-to" craft project Hubs.


janikon profile image

janikon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

Lol, I wasn't very clear, I meant I want to try using polymer clay for crafting but now I am totes going to look up those hubs you mentioned. Thanks. I look forward to your next article.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

WOW!! Great idea and a wonderfully creative hub. Voted up.Polymer clay is something new to me.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs. I appreciate your support.

Many people don't seem to be familiar with polymer clay It's a wonderful product to work with.

Are there many stores in Dubai that sell craft supplies?


talfonso profile image

talfonso 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

I saw someone work with polymer clay, and I would like to try it! But I'd stick to the translucent one because I love the almost jeweltone effects of it. I'd just make beads from it in colors of amber to give my jewelry interest. Your Hub rocks!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Loved this, Daisy! I haven't tried my hand at polymer clay in about 10 years. Very happy to see they've made improvements in the ease and use of the material. Voted up and shared.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Terrye (TToombs08),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub.

I've been trying to find the time to make some polymer clay bangle bracelets and write a "how-to" Hub about it. I need 48-hour days...


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

I used to be huge on arts and crafts, especially with clay. I never worked with polymer clay, though; however, ti does sound like a lot of fun to work with! I'll def keep an eye out if I ever put it in an oven lol :) Thanks for the great info, daisy!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Keith (KDuBarry03),

Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting. If you ever let polymer clay get too hot while while curing (baking) it, you will never forget the smell.


khalil 3 years ago

really thanks about this fantastic information

believe me after this information i start today polymer craft.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Khalil,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Please write again after you have made some polymer clay jewelry.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Congrats on the perfect score. This post certainly deserves it. Well written.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dianna (teaches12345),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Thanks, too, for your very kind words regarding my Hub receiving a score of 100.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Very nice, useful and informative hub about Polymer Clay.

I have worked with clay but with your description, it seems working with Polymer clay would be fun and creative.

Thanks for sharing this detailed hub, voted up and shared on HH!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Chitrangada,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub.

Polymer clay is one of the newer mediums with which I work. I saw the products in the arts and crafts store at which I was employed, and I couldn't resist buying the oven, supplies, and clay in every color. Using the clay is a fun way to express one's creativity.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working