What do I need to know before I start sculpting with Polymer Clay?
Question: I'm about to start sculpting with polymer clay for the first time and I was wondering if there's anything I should know before I start. Can you give me some starter tips?
Answer: Before you start sculpting, you need to knead it with your fingers, get it nice and warm and slightly stretchy. Don't use a lamp or something to warm it up though or it will probably partially bake.
Make sure your tools and your work surface is perfectly clean because the polymer clay will pick up every single speck of anything.
Make sure your sculpture is solid, don't leave air pockets anywhere or else it will crack.
It won't dry on you, but it will firm up a bit when it cools. If you're going to leave it sit for a day or two, I'd probably just drape some plastic wrap over it to stop dust settling on it.
When you're finished, pop it in the oven for however long it tells you on the packet. It's usually about 15 minutes for every 1/4 inch. I like to put the sculpture into a cool oven, turn on the heat and then let it bake; leaving it in there for an extra 10 minutes than instructed. Turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven. If you touch it while it's still hot, it will get cracks.
If you can, I suggest making a dome out of aluminium foil and placing it over the sculpture while it's baking. It tends to reduce cracks and stops it burning.
Finally, the polymer clay will get really soft in the oven before it bakes hard, so don't rely on the clay to support itself, even if it seems fine while you're sculpting. Make a SOLID armature.
I hope those tips help :)