Tips for Working With Polymer Clay
Polymer clay ("poly clay" or brand names like "Sculpey®" or "Fimo®") is a great medium for creating Christmas decorations, equally easy to use for the beginning crafter and the seasoned pro. It is sold in 2 oz bars of assorted colors.
Essential tools for working with clay include a knife, a rolling pin to flatten it and an ovenproof glass dish or tile to bake it. Lining the glass dish with baking parchment will prevent the items from developing shiny areas. Keep these supplies just for your craft projects, never re-use them for cooking. Other things that are nice to have are clay cutters (small metal cutters in different shapes), eye pins (sold with jewelry making supplies -, use them to hang ornaments), permanent markers (to decorate finished items), glue and straight pins (cut off the heads with wire cutters and use them to join pieces of different colors).
Always bake poly clay in a well ventilated area or use an exhaust fan on and be careful not to burn the clay as the fumes can be harmful!
To start working: First you will need to soften the polymer clay. You can warm it between your hands or slice into strips and warm with a hair dryer held about 8" away for 30 seconds or so. To blend colors, work them together until the color is even.
Always keep your work area clean. Watch out for colors coming unintentionally in contact with each other - red especially tends to get on everything and any color will "contaminate" your white clay. Wash your hands between working different colors. Hand lotion and paper towels is also effective in removing colored polymer clay residue from your hands.
Temperature for baking: Can vary with individual ovens and the brand of clay, but a rule of thumb is 265 F for 20 minutes per 1/4" thickness. Undercooked poly clay is fragile and overcooked clay will turn color.