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★ Creative Polymer Clay Tutorials & Techniques For Beginners | DIY FIMO, Sculpey & PMC Craft Projects ★

Updated on April 24, 2015
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How to Use Clay and Mold It into Fun Shapes

Polymer clay is a wonderfully versatile material to work with. It is available in many colours and it can be sculpted into pretty much any shape or pattern, then baked to turn your creation solid.

On this page you will find many tutorials and project inspiration, plus beginner's advice on how to start working with clay.

You don't need much to get started; just clay, your hands, a smooth work surface (plastic, ceramic, glass or stone), a baking tray, baby wipes for cleaning and an oven (not a microwave!).

There are more tools you can use on top of these basics of course, including a roller (acrylic roller and/or a pasta maker), sculpting tools, cutting blades (e.g. ripple or tissue blades), sandpaper, paint, craft knife, clay sealant, gloss etc. but you can add these to your collection once you learn more about this creative hobby.

I hope you find this page fun and informative :)

Polymer Clay Canes

Polymer clay canes are long lengths of clay which are the same all of the way through - so that when you slice it anywhere along the length, the same design appears. You can make all kinds of designs including animal faces, fruit slices and abstract patterns (see the tutorials listed on this page for details).

Photo and canes by P's Design Miniatures.

Top-Rated Polymer Clay Instruction Books

The Polymer Clay Techniques Book
The Polymer Clay Techniques Book

A must-have for any beginner, 50 techniques are explained in this book including those for beginners and those looking for a challenge.

 
Polymer Clay 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction
Polymer Clay 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction

This spiral-bound book covers all of the basics of clay craft, including tool and supplies, plus beginner project instructions.

 
The Complete Book of Polymer Clay
The Complete Book of Polymer Clay

Expert guidance, secrets and tips as well as jewelry projects and tutorials for making millefiori, image transfers, and faux dichroic glass.

 
Polymer Clay Master Class: Exploring Process, Technique, and Collaboration with 11 Master Artists
Polymer Clay Master Class: Exploring Process, Technique, and Collaboration with 11 Master Artists

Talented artists offer knowledge for a range of interesting advanced surface techniques and much more.

 
The Polymer Clay Cookbook: Tiny Food Jewelry to Whip Up and Wear
The Polymer Clay Cookbook: Tiny Food Jewelry to Whip Up and Wear

Fun how-to book for showing you the steps for making cute food charms - with designs including cupcakes and cinnamon rolls.

 

Introduction To Polymer Clay

Summary Of The Craft

Polymer clay is an extremely versatile craft material that is available in endless different colors - you can even get interesting clays that look like granite or are glow-in-the-dark for example. Clay can be sculpted into almost any shape you like and there are many techniques you can learn in order to get the most out of the material; including embedding different products in the clay, simulating other materials like lava rock or wood, and combining different colors of clay together to produce an amazing array of patterns.

The main brands of polymer clay are Sculpey and FIMO. When you buy clay it will be fairly soft to start with but before you shape it you will need to 'condition' it to make it much more pliable and easy to work with. Conditioning can either be done with your hands or can be done by repeatedly passing clay through a pasta machine (which isn't being used for food). If done by hand, you simply knead the clay continuously so it becomes warm in your hands and is stretched and squashed until it gets as soft as you want it.

Once it has been conditioned you can shape it as it is or blend different colors of clay together to form a custom color before you manipulate it. Colored powders can also be blended into clay to color it, and you can add many materials to create different appearances including glitter, chalk, art sand and ink. Clay is ideal for making into jewelry charm designs, beads, models, sculptures, dolls, miniature food, doll house ornaments, home décor items and many art projects.

Polymer clay is baked in an oven when it has been shaped in order to harden it (following the guidelines on the clay packet). Once it's baked it can't be reshaped, but can be finished by being sanded, painted or glazed.

It's best to buy a non-stick mat or tile to work on so you can roll the clay around without it sticking to, and marking, a table's surface, and you'll also need a rolling pin or something like a glass jar to roll the clay into flat sheets. You can use tools like cutting blades, molds and cookie cutters to shape the clay, and to make textures on the surface of clay you can use all kind of regular items including buttons, cocktail sticks, bubble wrap, leaves, sponges etc.

When you're not using the clay, it is important to wrap each color up separately and store it in a cool dark place.

I hope you enjoy learning to use clay, and remember that you don't have to always follow instructions to the letter; experiment, be creative and have fun!

Flower Pendants

Photo and pendants by Randee M Ketzel - find creations and tutorials in her Etsy shop here.

How to Make a Snow Globe

how-to-make-snow-globe
how-to-make-snow-globe

What You Will Need:

* Clean glass jar (jam jar/baby food jar for example); it must have a tight-fitting lid.

* Polymer clay; the amounts and colors depends on what ornament you will be making. I'll use an example of a Christmas tree, so I'll only be using green clay.

* Oven and baking tray

* Any clay sculpting and shaping tools you require

* Glitter

* Distilled water; either buy water ready-distilled or boil some water and then let it cool to make it yourself.

* Glycerin; this is the best choice for slowing down the glitter as it falls, making a lovely effect, however if you can't find glycerin, I've seen people use clear liquid dish soap or mineral instead. If you don't mind if the glitter falls very quickly, you can just leave this part out :)

* Waterproof epoxy glue e.g. E6000

* Sandpaper

* Small sharp scissors


- Condition a small amount of brown clay and roll it into a stick shape which tapers slightly towards the top. It should be quite thin but not fragile; maybe 1/2" - 3/8" across, and no more than 3/4 of the height of your glass jar.

- Bake this clay on a baking tray, according to the instructions on the packet. Let it cool completely.

- Shape a base for the tree from red clay so that it will be sturdy, well-balanced and flat on the bottom. Stick the brown trunk you have already made into this base so that it stands straight up. Bake, following the instructions as before.

- Roll a larger amount of green clay into a conical shape and use a suitable clay tool (or the end of a paintbrush handle) to make a hole up through the middle, but without coming out through the top of the cone. Put this clay onto the tree trunk and re-shape so that it looks as much like a tree shape as possible. Make sure the tree is small enough to fit inside your glass jar.

- Take your small scissors and snip up at an angle into the clay so as to make downwards-pointing arrow shapes. Practice on another bit of clay before cutting the tree so that you can do a neater job. The scissors snips should be done randomly over the surface of the green clay and it should end up looking a lot more tree-like.

- Now take a tiny little piece of yellow clay and make a star. You can use a craft knife, a specialist clay cutter or some other sharp edge for this.

- Put the star on top of the tree, check it still fits inside the jar OK, and then bake the whole piece in the oven.

- Sand the inside of the glass jar lid with sandpaper so it is rough.

- Make sure the tree has cooled completely and then roughen the base of the Christmas tree with the sandpaper, and make sure it stands upright.

- Use the waterproof epoxy glue to stick the tree to the jar lid. At this point you could cover the remaining inside surface of the jar lid by glueing glitter to the area around the tree base. Or you could decorate it with more clay. Leave the glue to dry overnight.

- Pour 2 tablespoons of glycerin into the glass jar and fill the jar half full with distilled water. Now add however much glitter you want; I would suggest 1 heaped tablespoon. Then fill the jar right up to the top with distilled water.

- Best doing this step over a sink because there will be overflow :) You could first add epoxy glue to the top of the jar lid at this point to to make sure the lid stays secure. Then turn your lid (with tree attached) upside down and push it down into the water. Twist the lid on tight.

- Finished!

Empty Snow Globe for DIYers

Snow Globe with Wood Base Makes a Fun Project For Do-It-Yourselfers (Pkg/2)
Snow Globe with Wood Base Makes a Fun Project For Do-It-Yourselfers (Pkg/2)

Instead of using recycled glass food jars, you could also buy a specially-made glass globe like this one. You will receive 2 glass globes with this product, complete with maple-finish bases. In total, they measure 3" tall.

Simply glue your mini clay creation onto the rubber section inside, then add the water and floating bits (which are included.)

 

Video Lessons for Absolute Beginners

Clay Wall Ornament

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Sea Glass Clay Pebbles

Very effective idea of embedding glass pieces into clay and then using shells and other items to imprint textures onto the surface.

Photo and fossil rocks by Randee M Ketzel - find creations and tutorials in her Etsy shop here.

Knitted Clay

What a brilliant idea - and it looks so real!
What a brilliant idea - and it looks so real! | Source

Lace Clay Brooch

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Scrap Cane Bangle

I love the mosaic effect of this technique.

Photo and bangle by Randee M Ketzel - find creations and tutorials in her Etsy shop here.

80's Geometric Rings

Featured in the book "Edle Schmuck-Unikate & Accessoires aus Polymer Clay".
Featured in the book "Edle Schmuck-Unikate & Accessoires aus Polymer Clay". | Source

Superhero Pets

Fun idea for turning your pet into a clay superhero!
Fun idea for turning your pet into a clay superhero! | Source

PMC Robot Ring

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Precious Metal Clay Instructions

Metal clay is very clever stuff; it looks and feels like clay and yet is actually made from particles of pure silver mixed together with binders.

It allows you to make fine jewelry at home without the need for lots of tools, time or equipment, and because it is made to resemble clay, it is really easy to shape it with your hands and mold it into the exact design you want.

Once you have created the clay shape, you should refine the piece as much as you can do so that amendments don't need to be made later when it will be more time consuming and difficult. Then you leave the clay to dry thoroughly before firing with a torch (or a kiln if the piece is relatively thick).

The firing eliminates the binder within the clay, which cause shrinkage (about 10-15%) and means that what is left is just the silver particles - which fuse together because of the heat, leaving you with your design in 99.99% fine silver. The final step is finishing, where the piece is tumbled/polished/buffed etc. to produce the final finish you are looking for.

PMC is not as strong as cast metals, but it offers people the chance to make fine silver jewelry in a much shorter timeframe, and even beginners can have a go.

You can also find gold, copper and other types of metal clay.

Click here and here for step-by-step instructions of all the stages of using metal clay.

Precious Metal Clay

This packet of metal clay (which is available on Amazon) has a 5-star rating, is great quality and is easy to work with. So if you're looking for supplies, or you're a complete beginner and you want to experiment, this product is an excellent choice:

Hanging Gingerbread Ornaments

Photo and gingerbread ornaments by Nothing Like It - CLICK HERE for the tutorial.

Quirky Bear Sculpture

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Contemporary Ombre Necklace

Photo and fantastic necklace by Randee M Ketzel - find creations and tutorials in her Etsy shop here.

Filigree Clay Bangles

The clay core of the bangles is baked first, and then the clay swirls and spirals are added after.
The clay core of the bangles is baked first, and then the clay swirls and spirals are added after. | Source

DIY Polymer Clay Tiles

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Interesting Ideas & Inspiration

Have You Ever Tried Clay Crafts?

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    • de profundis profile image

      Cathy McClelland 2 years ago from Leigh's house

      Some great polymer clay ideas. Thank you for your blog.

    • Diana Abrahamson profile image

      Diana Abrahamson 2 years ago from t Francis Bay

      This is one art form I still would like to try.. Thanks for the info!

    • Richard1988 profile image

      Richard 3 years ago from Hampshire - England

      This is possibly the best lens I have ever seen on squidoo - I love what you've done with clay and I never would have thought of the projects you mentioned on here. Nominated for LOTD :)

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

      I think that I shall try the ones that drew me in. And that would be the super hero pets. No guarantee as to how it will turn out though.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 4 years ago

      Great ideas and information-thank you!

    • thecrochetcubby profile image

      thecrochetcubby 4 years ago

      Thanks for posting this lens. Great info! My husband and I are going to start working with polymer clay and this is very helpful!

    • profile image

      inspirationz 4 years ago

      absolutely beautiful creations!

    • pimbels lm profile image

      pimbels lm 5 years ago

      Great lens, thanks for sharing. Love the robot ring.