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How To Condition Polymer Clay

You need to condition polymer clay before you use it. The clay is made of pigments, gels, color agents, fillers, resin and plasticizers, and it needs conditioning in order to remix the ingredients, and to press air bubbles out of the clay. Conditioning also makes the clay soft and easy to use.

You can condition polymer clay by hand, or you can use a pasta machine

Conditioning by hand:
Conditioning by hand can be hard work, but can be made a little easier by using a clay that is soft. You can read about the different polymer clay brands here.

To condition polymer clay by hand, cut thin slices of the clay, and knead them together into a log. Rub the log between your palms until it gets warm. Fold the log and twist it, and rub it again. Continue until the clay is soft. This procedure is is a bit exhausting for both your hands and arms, so work with small pieces of clay at the time.

To flatten it/make a sheet, sprinkle it with cornstarch, or put a piece of paper on top of it, and roll over it with an acrylic rod. If you put some cards on each side of the clay, you can easy get the same thickness on the sheets. The cornstarch and paper prevents the clay from sticking to your acrylic rod.

Slice the clay before you condition polymer clay with a pasta machine To condition polymer clay with a pasta machine.
This is the easiest way to condition polymer clay. If you use a hard brand of clay, like Fimo Classic, it may take a while though, compared to a softer one. You must run the clay through quite a lot of times to get it soft enough to work with. But depending on what you plan to make, it may be well worth the effort.

Cut thin slices of clay and stick them together into a sheet. Put the sheet in your pasta machine on the thickest setting, and roll it through. Fold the sheet in two and repeat. Continue to fold and roll until the sheet is soft and flexible.

And that is pretty much it.

Want some tips as well? Keep on reading!

Crumbling clay:
New clay straight out of the pack shall be easy to condition, but sometimes it has been stored wrong and has become dry. This usually occurs when it has been disposed to higher temperatures or direct sunlight.

When you try to condition it, it crumbles, which is extremely annoying, since the pack is brand new. You get crumbles everywhere and have to run it a zillion times through the pasta machine in order to get it just a little bit soft.

However, there is something you can do. (apart from taking it back to the store and complain) Add some drops of liquid polymer clay, and rub and knead it in your palms until it begins to get soft and stick together. Add more liquid clay if needed. This procedure is a bit messy, but works wonders to crumbling clay. When it is beginning to stick together you can run it through your pasta machine and continue conditioning it as usual.

Be nice to your pasta machine:
It is tempting to run large lumps of clay through the pasta machine. Don't! Unconditioned and hard clay in lumps will bend the plates in your pasta machine, and ruin it. Cut thin slices and stick them together into a large, thin sheet instead, as described above. This way you keep your machine happy and you will work together for a long, long time.

See how to clean your pasta machine without taking it apart

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