Polymer clay is a versatile and popular medium used by artists and crafters to create a wide range of projects. However, if you’ve been working with polymer clay for a while, you may have encountered the challenge of dealing with clay that has become dry, crumbly, or difficult to work with. In this article, we’ll explore methods to revive old polymer clay and breathe new life into your creative endeavors.
1. Understanding Polymer Clay Changes
Recognizing the signs of polymer clay that needs revival:
Over time, polymer clay can undergo changes due to exposure to air and temperature fluctuations. It may become dry, hard, or difficult to manipulate. Cracks, crumbles, and a loss of flexibility are common indicators that the clay needs some attention. Understanding the causes of these changes can help you take the right steps to revive the clay.
2. Softening Techniques
Restoring the pliability of polymer clay through kneading:
One of the most effective ways to revive old polymer clay is by kneading it. Work the clay between your hands, applying gentle pressure and rolling motions. Kneading helps redistribute the plasticizers within the clay, making it more supple and easier to shape. Depending on the extent of dryness, you may need to knead the clay for several minutes.
Addition of Softeners:
Using additives to rejuvenate the clay:
If kneading alone doesn’t yield satisfactory results, you can try adding softeners to the clay. Baby oil, mineral oil, or specialized clay softeners can be added in small increments. Gradually incorporate the softener while kneading until you achieve the desired consistency. Be cautious not to over-soften the clay, as it may become too sticky to work with.
3. Conditioning and Testing
Giving the clay time to rest after conditioning:
After kneading and conditioning the polymer clay, allow it to rest for a short period. This allows the clay to fully absorb the softeners and achieve a consistent texture. During this resting period, you can move on to other projects or prepare your work area.
Conducting a test before using the revived clay:
Before incorporating the revived polymer clay into your projects, perform a test by creating a small sample piece. Bake the sample according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the clay has regained its proper properties and will hold up during the baking process.
4. Prevention for the Future
Properly storing polymer clay to prevent drying:
To prevent polymer clay from becoming dry and brittle in the future, it’s important to store it properly. Keep your clay in airtight containers or resealable bags when not in use. You can also use clay conditioners or softeners intermittently to maintain the clay’s consistency.
Reviving old polymer clay is possible with the right techniques and a little patience. Kneading, adding softeners, and allowing the clay to rest can help restore its pliability and make it suitable for your creative projects. By taking proper storage precautions, you can also prevent future issues and ensure that your polymer clay remains in optimal condition for your artistic endeavors.