Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Conditioning Clay By Hand

Most conditioning is done by working the clay with your hands until it warms and becomes soft and pliable. The warmth of your hands combined with the stretching and compressing of the clay changes it to a working consistency. You will know when your clay is completely conditioned because the clay's texture changes and you will be able to see and feel this change. To speed up the process, many doll makers use pasta machines, food choppers and commercial clay softeners as aides. To use the clay softeners, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Some doll makers find using a dedicated electric food chopper is a helpful time-saver (never use it for food). When you're chopping clay to condition it, crumble the clay into the bowl and pulse the blades in bursts of several seconds, just until the clay is the size of a pea. The friction from the blades will warm the clay. You can over heat the clay so watch the clay and stop when it has been chopped into small bits. Dump out the clay and press the bits together, then continue conditioning with your hands.

Clay cannot get too conditioned, but clays get softer the longer they're worked and the warmer they get. If your clay is getting too soft you can firm it up by letting it rest for a while, even overnight, or chill it for an hour or so. Sometimes, the clay will be crumbly no matter what you do because it has been partially cured. This can happen if the clay has been exposed to excessive heat or ultraviolet light.

Check out this photo tutorial on conditioning and blending polymer clay: http://www.debwood.com/p199.htm

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