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How to condition polymer clay?

Posted by Elena Segers on

Conditioning polymer clay means warming up and softening the clay before you start working with it.

When the clay is properly conditioned, it feels malleable and has the same consistency throughout. Conditioning is important because it mixes all clay ingredients which ensure that you have a durable end-product.  Clay becomes more elastic, it can be rolled into thin sheets without tearing and crumbling.

How to condition the polymer clay?

Some people say that using a pasta machine is the easiest way to condition polymer clay. But you can condition it equally well by hand or with an acrylic hand roller. Here is how:

  • Break the block of clay into smaller pieces. Condition small pieces separately before combining them into a larger mass.
  • If necessary, warm up the clay by placing it in your pocket or event sit on the package for a few minutes.
  • When the clay is warm enough, start rolling it into a ball, then into a snake. Repeat this process as many times as needed. 
  • Do not heat it up in the microwave or in the oven.
  • If you are using a pasta machine, do not put hard clay into it. The pasta machine will shred the clay.
  • If the clay is hard, watch this video, explaining the steps to recover very hard polymer clay.
  • Adding a drop of Cernit Magic Mix to clay will soften it faster.

How to check if the clay is conditioned enough:

  • Roll it into a snake, try to twist it in the middle. If it does not show any cracks, it is ready.
  • If you are mixing colors; the colors should be blended into one, without any visible streaks or pieces of an individual color.

There’s no such thing as too much conditioning. However, clay may get softer and softer the more you warm it up. If you think your clay has gotten too soft, then just leave it to cool down until it firms back up.

Conditioning requires time, so try to prepare your clay in advance for any last minute inspirational ideas.