How to Harden and Strengthen Polymer Clay?
When the weather gets warmer in the summer, polymer clay can soften more than it should and even become sticky. The warmth of hands and warm work areas can cause the clay to become much softer. Artists know how important it is to work with hard polymer clay. When the clay is hard enough, you can achieve clearer, finer details in your designs and molds. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to harden your polymer clay to sufficient hardness.
Why Hard Polymer Clay?
Whatever you make, whether it’s jewelry, life-like dolls, figurines, buttons or sculptures, you need to harden your clay when it becomes too soft. Being very flexible, polymer clay is quite difficult to work with and can stick to anything – or everything will stick to it!
7 Effective Ways to Harden Polymer Clay
Whether you’re a trained artist or a novice, you should know these few tips and tricks when your polymer clay is too soft. Here are seven ways to make your polymer clay harder and workable:
1. Cool the Clay
Place the polymer clay in the freezer for about 10 minutes before you start working. Take a bucket of ice with you. When you start working with clay and it starts to soften again, you can put it in an ice bucket and cool it for a few more minutes. If it starts to get sticky, you can also put it in the freezer periodically.
2. Cool Your Hands
To keep the temperature low, periodically dip your hands in a bowl of ice water and dry them with something. This can reduce the heat transferred from your hands to the clay.
3. Reduce the Temperature in Your Study Room
Turn on the air conditioner or fan. Close the curtains or blinds on your windows. You can also work during cooler hours of the day.
4. Mix with Ancient Clay
If your clay is fresh and has become too sticky, try mixing it with old clay. This will spread the excess oil in the new clay and make your polymer clay more workable.
5. Leave the clay outdoors
Try leaving your polymer clay outdoors in a shaded location for a few days to release some of the oil.
6. Strain the Clay
This method should be a last resort as too much straining can cause the clay to become brittle. Cover the clay with a piece of paper to protect it from dust. Next, place a piece of clay between two sheets of paper and put something dense on top. Check firmness at intervals of 10 minutes to an hour. You can start working with clay when it reaches the appropriate hardness.
7. Use Pasta Maker and Paper Together
If you’re in a hurry, place the clay between two plain pieces of paper and run it through a pasta machine. Do not force the paper and clay and make sure you start at the thickest setting. Rolling the clay between two paper sheets using an acrylic roller will also help harden your clay.