Learn how to soften polymer clay when you find your brick or slab has gotten overly hard, brittle or difficult to get started pinching it off and working it! I’ve worked with overly-tough clay in the past and it’s not fun. The good news is there are some easy fixes out there, and most of them could be right there in your kitchen pantry.
What causes clay pieces to be overly hard or crumble? Sometimes it’s age. I know because I’ve stored up clay for periods of time – I don’t think I would ever recommend stockpiling this clay – it can last for months in a cool, dry spot ( but not ages and ages.)
Or sometimes, it’s just a tough batch. This happens sometimes – but these tricks I am about to show you can fix that – and and help you avoid frustration!
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The Sculpey brand does carry a proprietary brand of liquid softener. So you know they are well aware that it needs some assistance every now and then. While I haven’t tried it yet, I do think others like it. But afterward, some of the other ways are household ingredients, and understanding clay chemistry.
Since one of the ingredients in polymer clay is oil based, it makes sense that an oily substance could be used to help make it more pliable.For this I am going to start with one of my favorite products, olive oil – which is a great moisturizer and highly sought after for cooking, and as a soap ingredient.
Good idea to just start with a few pieces of clay at a time; it will be easier; don’t try to treat the whole brick at once. Put them in a closeable bag, like Ziplock.
Place a few drops of oil into the clay and then close the bag, or at least gather it near the top , and distribute it around. Like so…. Just knead the bag with the clay in it the way you would if it wasn’t in it. Doing this will keep that stuff off your hands too.
Keep working it. When it starts getting easier to knead take it out of the bag and continue rolling and kneading it prior to proceeding with your project.
Oils to Use to Soften Clay
All of these may prove to be effective, check to see which of these you’ve got in your pantry kitchen or cabinet!
- Cooking oil
- Olive oil
- Mineral oil, baby oil
- Petroleum jelly
I also wanted to try another familiar substance – glycerin. Since it’s a humectant that gives homemade soap its moisturizing qualities, I thought a little bit of glycerin could help? I have never heard of anyone using it to soften clay but thought I’d give it a shot anyway. I repeated the above procedure this time with a few drops of glycerin to see how it would work.
The ball in the back I used olive oil, the one in the foreground had the glycerin. I don’t think it worked as well as the oil, but I did like the way it left my hands feeling! This whole activity was kind of fun; I know that’s besides the point, it was like squeezing a stress ball. My hands got a much needed workout😄 .
Now we come to the last method …Have you ever used a hair dryer? On low setting and just move it around as you squeeze the clay.
I think it worked a little, but I think the best way was a dab of oil.
Do All Polymer Clays Work Better With This Method?
Well, almost. One particular brand – Fimo. Fimo is mineral based – (why am I just now finding this out?) which is similar to the air dry kind, and to get it moving again, you only need some (wait for it) water.
Just follow the method above this time, just add water to the bag. I had a tough time with Fimo back in the day. I had a bad experience that soured me on the brand overall,
I know that if I’d had access to the internet back then, I might have figured out a better way to salvage the crumbled bricks of Fimo I had.
So if you are ever stuck with crumbling or overly hard to work batch, now you know how to soften polymer clay. Yay, you! Try these suggestions and let me know what you think!