- Arts and Design
My Polymer Clay is too soft, help!
Sticky Clay is no fun to work with!
Polymer clay is a fun medium to work with that can be used to make all kinds of crafts and projects with, but it can also provide plenty of challenges. Working with sticky, soft, doughy clay is a challenge that no artist or hobbyist wants to get in the way of their creativity: There are ways, however, to work with your clay and not against it involving a few simple techniques and everyday materials.
Keep Things Cool
When the weather is particularly hot or/and humid your clay may become especially mushy and difficult to work with. Make sure your surroundings are as cool as you can manage by turning on a fan or air conditioning. Working away in the heat means your fingers can get pretty sticky so try dipping your hands in cold water from time to time to make sure the heat from your palms and fingers aren't contributing further to your problem. If you find this is only helping a little then wrap your clay in some baking paper and place it in the refrigerator for twenty minutes. If this doesn't do the trick then place your clay in a zip lock bag and leave it in the freezer, checking it couple of minutes so it won't become too hard!
It's not just the Weather
Leaching: A more Time consuming Method
If the weather isn't playing havoc with your crafts then it could be a generous amount of plasticizer in your polymer clay that is causing the softness. A trusted method called "leaching" helps reduce the amount of plasticizer if this is the case. All you need to do is roll the clay out flat (around 2mm) and place it in-between two pieces of white or craft paper, stack a few heavy books over it and leave it for several hours or more conveniently do it before bedtime and leave it overnight. When you get up in the morning you will find that there are big, oily patches in the paper and hopefully a firmer block of clay to work with. If the clay is still too soft then make a ball out of the clay, roll it out again and repeat the same process until you are satisfied with the result.
How to Leach Polymer Clay
Deb shows you how to leach your polymer clay in a friendly and useful way.
Brand of the Clay also plays a Role
Some other factors to Consider
Brand is another important factor when it comes to storing and working with your clay: Fimo in my experience goes crumbly, Sculpey iii is unbelievably soft in general and Premo is quite firm, but still tends to be on the softer side. If you are working on a sculpture with a lot of detail then perhaps Sculpey iii would give you some problems due to it's stickier, softer quality. In this case looking for firmer clays such as Fimo Classic could be a better option and would give you more control over your work.
Polymer clay is tempermental so you need to factor in brand, the time of year and which colours you are dealing with in your new projects or designs. Hopefully after choosing your clay wisely and learning a few simple tricks and solutions you will be able to have less bad clay days than good.