Polymer clay is a chemical compound that resembles natural clay. The colorful and pliable substance hardens at low temperatures, whereas regular clay requires high temperatures, and polymer does not dry out in the open air like regular clay. The versatility of polymer clay makes it a common medium for crafters of all ages. However, like any other modeling craft, beginners should start out with simple projects.
Homemade beads are a common project for people just learning how to work with polymer clay. A simple bead consists of a small clay ball with a hole poked through the middle. The bead can be baked in a warm oven, covered with varnish for protection and used to create jewelry. More complicated beads require rolling different colors of clay into thin, long snakes. You mold the snakes together into a long tube shape, slice the tube into beads and poke a hole through the middle of each one.
Polymer clay button projects are similar to bead projects, except the shape needs to be flat. The simplest button method is to make a small clay ball and press it flat to create a disk shape. Two or four holes poked through the front of the button make it easy to sew onto clothes. Fancier button projects include molding the button into a flower shape or smearing the button with a contrasting color clay for a marble effect. You can also create thin snakes in assorted clay colors, roll them into a tube and slice off each button.
You can create any type of ornament with polymer clay, from simple snowflakes to elaborate eggs. The easiest way to create ornaments is to roll the clay anywhere from 1/4 to 2/3 inches thick. Cut a shape from the clay using a knife, cookie cutter or bottle cap. Once a hole is poked through the top, the ornament can be baked as is or you can add more details. You can press fabrics against the clay to add texture, smooth other clay shapes into the basic ornament to add detail, or carve letters into the clay to add a message. Finishing touches for the baked ornament include paint, glaze, beads, ribbon and lace.
A decorative pen cover is an easy polymer clay project for beginners. The cover consists of mixed clay rolled evenly into a 1/3-inch sheet. You remove the casing from any pen and measure the height and circumference. Cut a matching rectangle from the clay sheet and wrap it around the casing, smoothing the edges together. The plastic casing is removed and the clay baked to harden. Slip the plain or varnished clay case over any pen or pencil.
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