Polymer Clay - Basics and Techniques

Hi, I'm Christy Friesen and thank you for joining me here at Fire, Mountain Gems and beads jewelry, making studio and guess what we're going to do. Today we are going to learn everything there is to know about polymer clay and, as short, a time as it takes me to tell you and then you are going to have a new addiction. So just warning you after I tell you how amazing polymer clay is. You'Re, probably are going to want to spend the next six or seven years playing with it. So just warning you, if you don't have that kind of time, I'll give you the shortened version. You can have maybe two or three years worth of fun forever: okay, polymer clay. What we have is all kinds of brands of polymer clay, including primo, which is my favorite. All polymer clay is amazing. Any one you use is going to be terrific. Each brand has its own different little quirks and things that it does best. I'M a primo gal, because I do a lot of sculpting and a lot of mini canes and primo works beautifully for that. Other clays are good for more extended and complicating canes, and if you don't know what a cane is I'll tell you that in just a second and other clays are good for working with your children, because they're soft and they're easy to use, etc. But we're going to talk about primo a bit today because I love it. So primo comes a little easy to use packages and you can get those right here at Fire, Mountain Gems and beads, of course, and I've opened one up. So you can see how soft and flexible it is. That'S how clay is supposed to be if it's hard as a rock, because you left it in the dashboard of your car and it baked. All you can do is build a little fort with it. So you want to keep your clay, nice and soft by storing it properly, which is our basic tip number one storage. This clay is an oven, curing clay, which means that it's not going to dry out just by laying around in your house unless your house is a thousand degrees. So if you do have a hot spot in your house, try to keep the clay in a cold spot, something cool it doesn't get up to a hundred degrees is the best you can store it. Just as it is some people like to put it back in its original wrapper, which seems like a lot of work to me, I like, ripping it all up and cut it in little chunks and throw it in a glass jar, and then I can pull it Back out, when I'm ready to use it also, if you're into being neat, you can keep all the colors nice and separate. I'M not neat. So I like to make a big jumble because, as we will discuss, scraps are your friend. So the first thing I want to show you is just a little bit of how to condition your clay generally speaking, you're going to use a clay conditioning machine, which is also called a pasta machine. But we like to call it clay conditioning machine, because that sounds way more artsy and that makes short work of this. But you see how quick and easy this is to roll. I'M going to show you this now and we'll get to that clay conditioning machine shortly, but look see how mushy isn't that terrific, which means that you can then blend colors and mix things very easily, because this clay is so soft and flexible. Conditioning just refers to making your clay that's coming straight out of the package, be soft and bendy like this. That means it's conditioned. If you can roll your clay and fold it and it doesn't have cracks on the edge it's conditioned properly. A lot of people want to say: well once I conditioned it, you know how: how long can that last for years when they're? Basically, you want to try to condition your clay each time you're going to use it? It just means it's getting all molecules all worked up and it's soft and is flexible, so you're going to do that when you get started to play all right. So now, we've talked about our clay, brands and storage of the clay. Now, what is the basics of playing with it, and why would you want to do that? The basics of that are basically get your clay start smashing around have a good time. So that's we're going to do. I'Ve got a couple of different colors in here and I wanted to show you a little trick. I like in blending clay colors together. So let me grab for my magic clay stash and what you see here is lots of bits and pieces. Remember I talked to you about scraps. Scraps are your friend when you have a lot of bits and pieces of clay like that they blend together really nicely to create new colors. When you take one color of polymer and a second color of polymer and jam them together, what happens is that they stay two separate colors right up until they're not, and you can use that to your advantage, because what that means is you can get fun things Like stripes, I'm going to take a little blade here, cut it right down the middle and we'll talk about tools in a second, so I'll come back to that. But you see when I cut this open, see those fun little stripes right there. Those stripes are showing that the clay are still separate, but if I keep mashing this, whether I use my hand or clay conditioning machine and I'm mashing mashing mashing mashing, now I'm getting a whole nother color and if cut that in half just so, you can see. What'S inside, we have very little stripes left, there's just a bit, but it's becoming a different color. So polymer is beautiful in that you can do both things. You can have new colors or you can have stripy bits and stripy bits or what canes are all about and we'll talk about that in just a second. But let me just discuss tools like any wonderful, jewelry or craft product. There are certain things that you need to have in order to make that product work well and that's the tools you do not have to spend a lot of money on polymer clay tools. I, of course encourage it because that's fun and there's all kinds of nifty things out there, but you don't have to you, can use a toothpick and a roller. Let you have at home for making pies. If you bake pies - and if you do, would you call me over because I love them huckleberries, my favorite anyway, the tools that you want to use are very simple things and it's things like needle tools, brushes any kind of sculpting tool that you can find and There'S a number of sculpting tools. You can ask your dentist for some here at Fire, Mountain Gems and beads. There'S a number of sculpting tool kits that you can buy just about anything will work with clay. Metal works. The best well, plastic and wood are also acceptable. This is your best tool, not my fingers. Yours fingers are terrific fingers. Do all the blending fingerprints can make wonderful texture all that good stuff. So don't underestimate the cheapness of having a good set of fingers, then the last one I wanted to tell you about. That is very important with polymer clay is a cutting blade and, as you can see, this has a really sharp edge. Keep that away from all your arteries and fingertips, because blood on your polymer clay, although pretty at first, tends to darken in the oven, and it doesn't look as good after that, so keep the sharp edge down and away from your fingers. There'S often like a kind of a funky little sharper edge on the corner, and there are some blades that have little handles on the edges. If that's something you worry about, so, if you're working with kids be careful about this, you may want to give them a more dull knife to cut their clay with or cut it for them. Okay, so that's tools. The only other tool I would mention is wire cutter and pliers. You don't use that specifically on your clay, but you do use it to add beads and things to your clay. Yes, you can add beads to your clay. This clay does not shrink in the oven, which means when you Jam stuff in it, it stays there there's no racking. So you can put any kind of bead that will make it in the oven, most polymer clays bake, which is how they're fused to turn into the hardened finish product that we know and love and they're baked at about 275 degrees. Some have a little more a little less read the package. It'Ll tell you right on there. If you can't remember, but once it's fused anything you've stuck in it will stay as a part of that. So as you're designing, you can stick in feathers. You can stick in beads of all kinds: you can stick in crystals and fossils and paper and fabric anything that can go in the oven, if you're, not sure, if something that you've picked will be able to stick in the clay and go in the oven. I suggest you take a little piece of tinfoil. You put that thing on it. You put it into your preheated oven if it bursts into flames, don't use that anything else is good to go and, as you know, any kind of stone and glass and bead up the sky's. The limit on what you can stick in clay. So, since we're talking about that, why don't I show you how to do that, because that seems to be something you might want. I'M gon na take a bit of clay, pretend that this is a marvelous pendant. That'S just ready for some beads to be added and I have a whole bunch of beads. How convenient is that? One of the tools I didn't tell you about yet, but I bet you could guess, is a needlenose tweezer that helps stick beads into clay. If you have giant sausage fingers like I do and then the other thing we want is just some wire. This is just a 28 gauge. You know a craft wire, it's fabulous for inserting into a bead, and here I have a bead with a wire inserted. Let me see if you can see that right there, so I've got just a little piece of coral. I'Ve got a wire in it and I am going to take that use pliers to grab it and then twist. So what I'm doing is I'm twisting a little tail and you might be asking yourself well why? Because if I just stick in a bunch of beads in the clay, I'm cutting off the end of the tail, then, while the clay is soft and grabby, that's going to be lovely, but as soon as that clay gets hardened. Now you have a bunch of glassy things, stuck in plastic things and they're, going to pop right out, usually in the middle of the disco floor, and then they fling it around and hit somebody in the head. There'S a lawsuit. You don't want that. So what you're going to do is make a little twisty tail Bend a little hook on the end, because the hook grabs in the clay and keeps it from pulling out and you're just going to press it right in the clay. So there is just a bead insert it into the clay. Doesn'T that look lovely? It looks like it. The bead just went and the popped right out, so that is going to stay nice and sturdy in there and if, after you're done baking, which we'll talk about in just a second any of those little things you put in, there are Wiggly and not as strong As you wanted, then you can just put a little drop of glue and help that grab any jewelry glue like e6000 will do that. One other little thing here is: I've got a head pin with a couple of beads on it, and I've got that same little hook on the end, you can press that into the clay as well, and I always push it down a little bit to embed it And that is another way to make beads stick on clay now that putting beads into the clay is kind of what got me all hooked on polymer, because that is one of the most fun things to be able to work immediately and have that sense of instant Gratification which, as we all know, is the best kind of gratification. So anyway, now to recap: we've talked about clay and conditioning. We'Ve talked a little bit about mixing and blending colors we've talked about the tools of the trade and we're going to just do one more little quickie thing for you just to kind of get you started in clay, I think mixing colors is one of the things That makes polymer clay so exciting, because every time it's a different thing, every time, you're having unexpected happening and that can kind of make the creativity part rather fun. For those of you who like for things to be predictable and unpredictability, is not very much fun for you, then you can measure and take notes and figure out exactly what proportions you need to blend to get the same result every time. But don't ask me to help you, because I don't want to do that, but you're welcome to now what I've got is a bunch of scraps. We talked about scraps before I've smashed them all, together with my clay conditioning machine when you weren't looking and I've stacked them up into a little stack, and I think you can see here - I've got little layers and I've started to press these layers with my hand, Because it makes them all Wiggly and I like Wiggly better, it has a little bit more natural feel. What I'm doing here is I'm going to call it a tornado twist for lack of a better term, but it's a nice way of making a fun little blend. So that, as you mix your clays, you get lots of color all at once. So what I've done is I've ripped and stabbed and I'm smashing these are very technical terms. They will be on the quiz at the end, so I'm smashy-smashy smash and then you roll it up. Just like you're making a little ducky though, and then I'm going to roll that so that all of those layers are now swirled around. And now I'm twisting a little tornado twist and as I twist I'm pushing my hands towards each other. Because if you twist and make a longer, you have a rope and there's really not much. You can do with that. Now. I'Ve got my little twisted blend there and I'm going to chop it right in half with my blade. Remember that shiny pointy slaty side is down to the bottom, and can you see what's inside, look at all that little tornado twist in there? This by itself is just fun. You can do that all day long. You come home from work, your little brain dead. You want to play, don't really know what to do make a few of those, because I don't get you in a creative mood. It'S easy! You can snack and watch TV at the same time, what's not to love and then this easily we'll go from here into a blended. Now let me grab my pasta machine for you a little bit of a blended fun. This is a fun little machine and if you'll notice, there's a knob on the side, you pull that knot out and spin it around there's numbers and it makes the little rollers which are right here that gets them wider or smaller. Depending on how squashy you want it to be, I'm going to mush this by hand, you can also use just a little roller of any kind and I'm going to feed it through at almost the widest setting just run it through. Now you see how that's just squashing the clay and one sides boring one sides interesting each time the clay goes through because it's a thick piece getting squished it's going to blend and that blend is where all of those smeary lovely colors come in. If you keep doing that and what I'll do then is a look at all over and go that amuses me. I like that, the best, so I wrapping it into a little present for myself with the fun stuff here and I'm going to run it back through the machine, so you can see I've folded. The part that sickens me out of my way and I'm going to run it back through each time. You do that you're doing that, because you need to have the clay, thicker and thicker so that when it goes through the machine, it can be squashed. So now we see it's even more blended. If I keep that up indefinitely, I will get one whole blob of clay about that same green color. But if I stop right here now, I have an interesting swirly fund and I could create beads out or put a sculpture on or whatever amusing thing happens. Next and then one last little trick, I'm going to talk to you about with polymer clay basics, because this is something that you're probably going to want to explore and that's the use of pigments or mica powders. There'S a lot of pigment powders out there glitters all kinds of stuff they all go beautifully. On the surface of polymer clay, they can add a shine and a shimmer to things that you're doing, and I go into that more detail in some of the other videos that you can find right here at Fire, Mountain Gems and beads. But in the meantime let me just show you a quick little mica, because if you're not hooked already, you will be now so. I'Ve got like a little blob of clay and I'm just going to put a second blob of clay on there for no particular reason. Just so I can show you mica powder. Any mica powder is fantastic. I'M just going to use this little bit of gold that I have here and I'm going to use a brush. I'M just going to get a little bit on the the bit of my brush. You do tend to get a lot of powder on the brush, so tap it off before you put it on your piece and you see how I'm just kind of blending that on and adding a little bit of shimmer shine. Isn'T that kind of cool? Now, there's a lot of tricks. You can do that, something that I get in to more discussion of and some of the other videos and some of my lovely books and that's another tool for polymer clay is instruction videos and books. It'S always nice to have somebody. Go before you and make all the mistakes and figure out what works and then tell you, it works and that's a good launching point for you to go and explore from there. So of course, I highly recommend all of my books because they're amazing and you love them, but there are other wonderful, polymer books out there too, and you can get all of that here online at Fire, Mountain Gems and beads. So, let's just recap very quickly: polymer clay is marvelously addictive. You want to buy some right now and play with it. You want to go online to Fire. Mountain Gems and beads comm find other videos that I've presented and others have presented on how to play with clay or grab some fun books and just go nuts. You don't need many tools, but a few will do well, for you there's a lot of other fun things like liquid, clays and glues and powders that can all be used with your clay. Aren'T you allergic and ready to get playing with polymer clay, and you know what the fun thing is is everything you need is available right here, books, tools and clay and, of course, lots and lots of bees at Fire, Mountain Gems, calm and don't forget, there's also A lovely Facebook page and some Pinterest stuff you can just get lost in all the fun 

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