Can I soften hard polymer clay?

A reader on my Facebook Page wrote to ask a very good question this morning. Can old, hard, crumbly polymer clay be given new life? You see, for some reason, some brands and formulations of polymer clay get hard and crumbly if they’ve been sitting around too long or stored at high temperatures. Some people say it’s because the clay is partially cured. Others say that the plasticizer has evaporated or leached out, essentially leaving it dry like a week old loaf of bread. I don’t know the cause, but I do know that it’s not all brands, not all clays, and not all the time. It’s really hit and miss. I have clay that’s six months old and too hard to be very workable. I also have perfectly supple and nice, soft clay that’s nearly ten years old. So go figure. Who knows. But if you’re in the midst of a project and pull out the color you need and it’s hard as a rock, what do you do? Can the clay be saved?

Can you save hard, crumbly polymer clay?

  • If you can pinch together crumbs of the clay and make them workable, the clay can be saved.
  • Fimo Professional, Cernit, and Pardo are naturally crumbly but this goes away with conditioning.
  • Kato Polyclay is naturally stiff and requires effort to condition.
  • Any clay brand can become too dry with age. It needs to be “moistened” with one of many products.
  • Adding Sculpey Clay Softener, any brand of liquid clay, or Sculpey Mold Maker are the best things to mix with your clay.
  • Oil can be added, but only tiny amounts. Too much can make your clay weak.
  • To mix these in, you can use a food processor, a clay press such as the Never Knead, a mallet, etc.
  • Warming your clay helps make this easier. Use body heat, a heating pad, or submerge clay (in a baggie) into hot tap water.
  • Craft store clay is often hard when you buy it.
  • The freshest clay come from quality online suppliers.
  • Softening hard polymer clay is hard work and you may prefer to just set it aside and buy new, fresh clay.

How to soften hard polymer clay

Unless clay is already cured, it can be brought back to life with enough work. The way you soften hard polymer clay is a combination of working (conditioning) it and adding new materials to make it more supple and workable. In general, the basic procedure is to chop up the clay in tiny bits (with a blade, crumble it up, or use an old thrift store food processor). Then add some Sculpey Clay Softener, mineral or baby oil, or liquid polymer clay to it. Mix it up, put it in a ziploc sandwich bag, and leave it alone for a few days. During that time, the liquid will seep into the hard clay and soften it. You should then be able to get it to hold together and run through the pasta machine repeatedly to get it conditioned. You might need to repeat the process with more liquid. If given enough time, it’s not terribly difficult to do it this way. Thing is, I never realize I need that color until I’m ready to use it and find that it’s crumbly. Then I try to rush the process and that always requires a lot of elbow grease. If your clay is only a little bit too stiff and is cracking more than you’d like, you can easily work some softener into it or even add some translucent clay. Translucent clay is typically softer than opaque clay and will give a bit of smoosh power to slightly hard clay. There is also a product called Fimo Mix Quick that helps soften hard polymer clay. Another favorite product to add is called Sculpey Mold Maker. I’ve read that lots of people like to whack the clay with a rubber mallet to “get things moving”.  It is true that the more you work the clay, the better it behaves, and certainly giving it a few good solid whacks will help get that process started (and can be a lot of fun). But if the clay is very crumbly, even this won’t be enough and you’ll need to add one of the above materials to help further soften your clay.

You can soften hard polymer clay. But is it worth it? Answers from The Blue Bottle Tree.

Can all hardened polymer clay be saved?

Is polymer clay ever too far gone and impossible to be saved? Yes and no. Unless the clay had truly been cured, perhaps by being left in a hot car in the sun in the summer in Phoenix, given enough time and work most hard clay can be softened. Adding the solvents and additives does change the way clay behaves, though. You might find that the clay doesn’t perform as well as fresh, new clay. If you’re doing highly technical work, I’d stick with fresh clay. But if you’re just making bead cores and playing around for fun? Why not try it? But the question really needs to be how much is your time worth? Is it worth it to you?

Fun Projects for Hard Clay

I used a tutorial from Rebekah Payne to make these opulent faceted beads with some old crumbly translucent clay, some black clay, and some gold paint. I made these faceted beads from old, hard, dried, crumbly clay. This is just one solution for working with crumbly clay, Read more at The Blue Bottle Tree.   Kathy from Flowertown Originals had a slightly different twist on the same tutorial when she made these square mosaic beads. Kathy then discovered these great multi-colored stripes when she was softening some more old clay. So she used that clay to make these really great striped beads.

NeverKnead

There is a tool called the NeverKnead. It’s a modified arbor press that is used to smash polymer clay, allowing you to condition it without hurting your hands. It’s not a substitute for a pasta machine, but it does allow you to condition and mix clay, or add softener, without as much hand fatigue. You can read a great review of the NeverKnead on Kater’s Acres. You can see my modified arbor press here.

My Favorite Solution: How I soften hard polymer clay

So what is my favorite way to soften hard polymer clay? I am an impatient person, so my solution is to put the clay in a specially dedicated “old clay” shoebox, grab my purse and keys, and go to the craft store. Even better, I order my clay online from trusted suppliers. It is surprisingly effective at producing soft clay. 🙂 Life is short. I don’t like hard clay. I know, I know, some of you find it meditative to spend time working with it. But I rarely take the time for it. Have a great day everyone, and thank you Tondy for a fantastic question. Happy Claying!

72 thoughts on “Can I soften hard polymer clay?”

    1. I am, and I know just the tutorial you mean. I hadn’t thought of including ways to use hard clay, but you’re right, that’s a fantastic one. Thanks for mentioning it!

  1. Excellent post. I use Kato and it is often a lot stiffer that other clays I’ve worked with. The black is usually darn right hard. I absolutely agree with the “whack” method. But for me it’s more like a good ol’ beat down. Even if the black is just merely “stiff” it takes forever to get it well conditioned. So for stiff clay, and always for black, I do like you suggest. I use 1/3 translucent and 2/3 base color. and whack, whack, whack the two together – take the flat piece fold, rip and tear, re-stack and whack, whack, whack again. (repeating several times as needed). It does work wonders. But then again, I do like your “grab your purse and keys” methods almost as much.

    I do so enjoy these post and all the wonderful tips and information. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Yeah, I’ve noticed that the black can be a bit testy. But let me tell you, fresh clay is a joy. Lately the packages of Kato that I buy have been nice and soft, even the black. Maybe it’s getting better? I hope so!

  2. I’m totally with you Ginger. To spend many, many minutes whacking, banging, working, conditioning a block of clay is just such a time waster. I have Kato clay from a few years ago that I never could get workable, even tried running over it with my car tire!!

    1. That’s just it. It’s a time waster. It would take a whole day to get my clay conditioned and I don’t have that much time to create as it is. The car tire…that’s funny. Talk about desperate measures!

        1. To be honest, I’ve never had clay do anything but crumble when I whack or smoosh it. I suppose it works if you’re using that method to mix the clay, though. Run it over, fold, run it over, fold, etc.

  3. Thank you Ginger for this enlightening answer. I do however have a question about old and crumbly canes. If they are large enough, i guess reducing is the answer. But, if it is already small in circumference, or, as i just had, an old Stroppel cane which crumbled, what do you do then?

    I already have a shoebox of old canes 🙁 and would rahter be able to use them as sich and not mush them all up into scrap clay….
    Thanks

    1. I’m with you, Suzanne. I wish I had an answer, too. Though, I wonder if you could coat the outside of the cane with Sculpey Clay Softener and then wrap it up and leave it for a month or two. Would the softener diffuse and leach through the cane, making it soft? I really don’t know the answer, but if the cane is unusable, it might be worth a try. What do you have to lose?

      1. Ginger -I enjoy your blog so much Thanks for being so generous. Jana Benson stores her canes coated with liquid sculpey and wrapped in plastic wrap to keep them fresh. Don’t remember if it softens already hard canes but do remember Cythia of polymerclaydaily mentioned trying it. Jana may have posted on polymer clay central about it too.

    2. I know this is quite an old thread but I thought I’d point you in the direction of someone who has done experiments specifically for this issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDBIuZrSXCQ

      She is trying to reduce them but I think the techniques she decides are best would be great for just bringing them back to life and using them as-is. Also, she has a wealth of knowledge about claying that is just fantastic. Good luck!

      1. Cindy does a wonderful job trying out different things. It’s interesting that she found that heat was actually the best solution for canes. I agree that the Sculpey clay softener doesn’t do a whole lot. I’ve had the same experience. Thanks for the link.

    3. Hi – jumping in here. Our local guild sponsored a workshop with Jana Roberts Benson last year and about a week before the workshop, she had us take OLD HARD canes and coat the outside of the cane liberally with liquid clay, then wrap them with plastic wrap. I was amazed that the canes became more workable in just a week’s time. My first love with polymer clay was caning so I had quite a few that I made early on that were hard. I came home from that workshop and went to work on the rest of those old canes! AMAZING!

      1. Very good to know. I had heard this before, but it’s excellent to get the info verified. I will make sure to recommend that in the future. It’s such an easy fix, too.

  4. krnjns0@gmail.com

    Great article! I also have lots of hardened Kato clay that I don’t have the patience to try to soften it! My craft store is an hour away (50+ miles as I live in the boondocks) so I can’t just get into the car to buy softer clay. Maybe some day I’ll try your methods and use that clay!

    Thanks for another informative article.

    1. Hi Karen, I think we’ve talked before about living waaay out in the middle of nowhere. But you’re down where it’s awfully pretty, so it all balances out. I grew up 90 miles from the nearest town over 2500 people. We’d get to “town” a couple of times a year and see a movie and hit the mall. My parents still live there, so I know exactly what it’s like to live “in the boondocks”!

    2. What about just crumbling it up and using it as filling for a larger price. I mean you won’t us it for anything fine but in the same way hat you cancelling up an old cake gone dry into a new dessert it must be doable. There may be lots transposable would be impossible to do with fresh clay, like a crumbly coating on a teddy bear or yellow crumbly dust on a little bee. I would work with it as issues what is possible than try to rework it.

  5. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I used a few methods you mentioned but never left crumbly clay to soften in a zip lock bag. Will try and remember this for next time. Ideally I just make sure I use most opened clay up immediately as I am very impatient and don’t want to spend valuable time trying to make my clay workable again:) I find that Premo keeps fresh for longer than Fimo.

    1. I keep the opened packs of clay in a ziploc bag, too. Keeps it fresh and cat hair free. Premo does stay nice, but it is also a bear to work with in the summer. Mushy city. I’ve always worked with Kato until recently and was really surprised how differently Premo acted in winter vs summer.

  6. Haha, I so agree with you. I like to do the math with these kinds of things. If I spend an hour bringing back a $2.79 block of clay, I just made $2.79 an hour. Definitely not worth my time.

  7. Elizabeth Drake

    I guess I’m the odd duck here. I LIKE working with hard clay…LOL For me, it is very satisfying and zen-like to get it back to a soft state. So, If ya’ll want to get rid of your hard clay, I’ll pay the postage. 🙂

    BY THE WAY

    Electric food processor is my friend

    JoAnne’s has clay on sale all the time for $1.00 a block. Check out their website.
    I even got a 29.99 pasta machine for 9.99 the other day. Prices vary weekly. They even have a famous 40% off coupon and free shipping on orders over $25 this week. Last week, shipping was a dollar. You might want to check this out.

    http://www.joann.com/crafts/general-crafts/clay/

    I also live in the ‘boonies’ and I find that the internet is my friend.

    1. Oh wow, you are the odd duck then! The stuff drives me nuts. I need to just set aside some time to chop it up and let it sit with diluent on it. I agree about Joann.com for their clay sales. I buy Premo and Fimo from them (I don’t use SculpeyIII) and the clay is always fresh and nice. Also, their prices on alcohol inks, pearlex, and inka gold is phenomenal. I also keep buying up the Spectrum Noir markers when they’re on sale, too. I love that they have free and low shipping specials…it makes up for living in the boonies. My town is pretty good sized, but I find that the more “unique” things are hard to find here, so I’m always ordering something from somebody! Thanks for the info!

    2. I’ll be an odd duck with you. 🙂 In addition to actually finding the experience pleasurable, it can also provide a challenge. And I will NOT let a mere block of clay beat me. 😉

      I also soooooooo agree about JoAnne’s. I just recently discovered their sale after being disappointed with my local craft store’s “sale”.

      I agree, if anyone wants to send off their hard clay, I’m happy to pay postage as well. 😉

  8. Elizabeth Drake

    You’re quite welcome. LOL

    I marked Hobby Lobby off my shopping store list…yes, I’m boycotting them because of their attitude toward health insurance for their employees. Really? I mean REALLY? We’re having the fight the battle our grandmother’s won? Jeez…off soap box now.

    When I was told about Joann’s sale on the pasta machines, I toddled over there (letting my fingers do the walking, so to speak) and was AMAZED at the variety and their PRICES.

    ‘Forever Yours’ is the song I’ll be singing about them now…LOL

    1. I’m so glad to hear that others share my feelings about Hobby Lobby. We just got one in my community, and I will NEVER set foot inside it

  9. I also hate dealing with crumbly clay, and if I open a package and it crumbles all over, it goes in my “gar-BAHge” box. I hate cleaning up those crumblies, it just takes up my time. I wasn’t about to throw it away either, so in defiance, I took a bunch of it, got a food processor and ground that gar-BAHge up. I had to add some TLS to it to get it grindable. I ground it up until I got a sort of gravel that’s pliable when pressed. I did different colors of hardened clay and even did this with my scrap clay. I put the different colors in baby food jars my then-pregnant daughter gave me. I had quite a collection of jars of different sizes, but now her baby is going to be 7 so no more a jars. But now I can store them easier, plus, whenever I need gravel or mosaic filler, I’ve got it.

    1. Sounds like a fantastic solution. I found yet another package of crumbly clay today and was thinking about this very issue, about grinding them up in bulk and storing them so that the TLS or softener would “migrate” through. Baby food jars would be fantastic. Do they even have them anymore? I’ll admit I’ve not looked in years! Thanks for commenting. I love the “gar-BAHge” box!!

  10. I too live in boonieville..different part of America! Ohio! And I have to say I am with most of you…I don’t want to work hard crumbly clay. I am in a situation where I make clay babies and the orders stop and go. So all the clay I bought just 6 months ago are junk! Orders are rolling in and looks like I am off to the craft store an hour away!lol The baby oil idea is good but as stated it does effect the way it behaves and in my situation..it’s behavior is unforgiveable!lol Might have used too much but I am done trying! I am a Premo clay addict! Only 2 packs out of 19 were Premo and they are in very workable condition after 6 months. Keeping my clay in a old Tupperware container(1960’s type I got at a yard sale for .25)has been a life saver! All the clay I kept in the shoebox is junk! Thanks again for letting me share my nightmare!lol

    1. Angelia, I had never really thought about that, but I believe you’re right. I know that opened packages get crumbly much faster than closed packages. And the clay that I have in a plastic shoebox stays good longer than clay which is still in the shipping box. Hmm. I think I need to start scouring the thrift stores for old square tupperware boxes. Those lids seal tight and there’s no wasted space. Excellent idea!

  11. I have recently been enlightened about Sculpey Mold Maker (http://www.sculpey.com/products/clays/mold-maker) From Lynn Ann Schwarzenberg, clay artist extraordinaire. Don’t use it for mold making, I’ve not heard good things about that. But as a -conditioner- for hardened clay? AMAZING stuff. And you only need very small quantities to get a block of pretty hard clay feeling wonderful again. For the minimal amount of money it costs, and the fact that it will probably last you for several years of claying, this is at least worth trying. I am in no way affiliated or financially involved by the company, just another clay artist with way to much hard, hard clay and friends who shared their knowledge with me.

    1. Yes, this is on my list of things to check out. I have some on hand and will be comparing it to Fimo Mix Quick, which has a similar purpose. Thanks for the suggestion! I also think that whatever you do to soften clay, time is also part of the equation. You have to allow enough time for the chemicals to soak in.

  12. Just thinking that all those cute little blocks of petrified color could be the beginning of a really cool rock garden!—–Hmmmm.

    1. Bwahaha!! Exactly! Not a terrible idea, actually. And there are some techniques people have developed to use up petrified blocks. It crumbles well after all.

  13. I just have to share this!!! My 5 year old seen all the hard clay I was throwing away and asked if she could have it….So, we got all 27 small unopened clay blocks out of the wastebasket. Made her a place to work on the dinning room floor with wax paper. A few minutes later, I go and check on her…She had broken all the clay into small pieces and used her plastic needle and made holes in all of them. She had them on the cookie sheet nice and neat. I asked her what she was making and she looked at me and said beads! After they were baked she strung them and I have to say…Beauitful! She also took some of my foam balls and covered it in elmers glue and rolled it around in the little crumbs all over her work mat. Once dried…well lets just say we have new orniments for the tree this year!lol Better than throwing it away!lol

  14. Angelia,
    What a clever little girl you have! She will be making tutorials before you know it! Let me know when she starts!

    Elizabeth Drake,
    I have lots of Kato clay that is much harder than I like (I don’t usually use Kato anyway and am not sure why I bought it), but if you would like it and be willing to pay postage, it is yours! Would love to get rid of it.
    Karen

    1. Hi Karen, if Elizabeth isn’t interested I would love to take your hard clay off your hands and pay the shipping. 🙂 Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  15. For experiments I did, I had an old freshly store bought block (new brand to me and a test block purchased months ago was equally hard so how was a newbie to know?) – I used alcohol which leached some color from dark clays and about two drops walnut oil. They baked fine and were usable like other clays- with no noticeable lack of intended hue! The alcohol is used as a softener anyway, but. I found hand sanitizer works better than alcohol- mine has aloe in it. But we used this trick in college classes and a friend who made large character sculptures swears by it.

    1. I’m not surprised that it works, actually. I know that when I add alcohol ink to clay to color it, it can become quite soft. I will have to try it and see what I think. Thanks for the idea!

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  17. I have several blocks that were stored in a Phoenix outside facility for about 1.5 years, and have been STRUGGLING to rework them with baby oil since my budget is rather tight. I’ve managed to get the Premo translucent and Premo white to come back the fastest and softest, and I’ve gotten some Premo green to come back, but man that was MESSY!!!

    I crumble the pieces up by hand, put them in a disposable container, and soak them with baby oil. In about a week, I take them out and work them on a piece of cardboard and that soaks the excess oil up, making the clay workable. The color leaches out and makes a huge mess. Doesn’t seem to affect the pigment that is still left in the clay, though (meaning the clay doesn’t seem to be less saturated in pigment). I suppose it’s for this reason: “Kato, Sculpey, and Premo are colored in their raw state.” http://thebluebottletree.com/which-is-the-clearest-translucent-polymer-clay/ …. LOVE that article!!!

    I’m going to try other colors (Premo yellow, orange & purple), but some of the little bits are so hard (like Premo black) that I think they were pretty much baked in that storage facility. I’m going to try other ways to use it up, like the mosaic ideas, since I can’t afford to waste it. Great thinking! Thanks everyone!

    1. Gosh you’re persistent. But if you can make it work, then hey why not! Have you tried baking the clay yet? How does it act? There are lots of ways to use super hard clay, though, so I’m sure you’ll find some way to use it all up. When you get some new clay, you’re going to be so spoiled with how soft it is, LOL.

      1. I’ve made a Frankenstein head bead and some leaves from the reconstituted green; the head bead was fine, but the leaves were a bit greasy, most likely from the release agent I used for the mold (it had essential oil in it – don’t ask). I just blotted them off and antiqued the leaves with a darker acrylic green paint (for the veins) and they seem just fine. New clay is sooooo much better, but I love the challenge of using up the ‘unusable’. I’ve also crumbled the purple and incorporated it into differently colored fresh clay and it leaves a very nice speckled inclusion look. I now feel that the inclusion idea is the best for crumbled old bits of clay, as the other is way too much work.

  18. I’m going to throw in a plug for the NeverKnead. Ginger, I know you’re familiar with it so I won’t re-invent the wheel here, but I’ve been doing a major clean-out of my studio recently, targeting my clay. I have lots of old scrap clay, various brands. I’ve taken sandwich size bags, added about 3-4 oz (I’m guessing) of clay crumbles and worked it till I form a cube. Then I’m done. When I need scrap, I can slice and sheet out (or whatever configuration I need) what I need from the cube. If, when I get the clay pieces in the bag and press it a few times, it turns into dust or very tiny dry crumbs, I just throw it out rather than wasting time.

  19. Hi, Ginger! I know it’s a very old thread, but: I’m a self-taught polymer clay “putzer” … I make ornaments that are just a very small part of my Holiday “trunk” shows of handmade art creations, and I have only just found you, even with all the info I’ve gathered on Pinterest through the years! I can’t tell you how much more I have now gleaned from the three articles I have read so far, as well as in the comments and replies! You are that often rare artist who is happy to share your knowledge with all ~ who teaches willingly! So a huge THANK YOU … and I’m following along now!!!

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  21. I indulged in getting a NeverKnead – especially because of the new Fimo Pro. It was the best investment. I have a motor for my pasta machine but that can leave a crumbly mess until the clay softened up. I can do an old fimo classic in less than five minutes and then run it thru the pasta machine without crumbling. It is just about ready to use..
    It seemed frivilous to buy but if you have a lot of clay sitting around, for 120 it was a great investment.

  22. I have one 1-lb block of yellow that is as hard today as it was a year or so ago. When I’m in a hurry, I use the newer blocks of clay that I have, but when I’m just squishing clay waiting for an idea or that perfect color mix, I slice a chunk off that yellow block, chop it up a bit (the squiggly slicers grate it just fine), put a bit of plain vaseline on my hands and go at it. In the summer, heat and my hot hands usually get it going eventually, and in the winter it just takes a little longer. I tired mineral oil and baby oil and both feel equally vile to me, and most of the other products were more expensive than a new block of clay so I figure the vaseline was worth trying. It works, or else it was the time and the heat that did the trick. I don’t know which, I didn’t care which, I was squishing and waiting for that perfect idea/color mix. No time lost since I didn’t start out to make anything specific. My hands felt great afterward, too!

    1. Yes, vaseline will work, too. It’s a lubricant that will get the clay mass moving. Your hands are tougher than mine…mine hurt far too much to do hand conditioning, though. I suppose it’s early arthritis. Boo!

      1. I used vaseline to soften my clay and after I baked my pieces (for an hour and a half at 110ºC under a foil tent) they were brittle and would crumble between my fingers without being to rough on them. Do you think this could be because of the vaseline? Or do you think it could be something else?

        1. Unless you added a large volume of Vaseline, I don’t think that’s what the problem is. I would most certainly get an oven thermometer to make of the actual temperature in your oven. 110°C is the absolute lowest temperature that will cure clay, and that would only be Fimo (other brands require more heat for full strength). If your oven isn’t reaching and maintaining the correct temperature, then it’s not baking fully and that is the cause of the crumbling.

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  24. I’m using polymer clay for the first time and accidentally picked up some fimo professional, I also have fimo soft, but I was distracted and stressed that day, so anyways I opened the pro, ALL of the clay except the premo translucent is hard as hell, its winter time so that is a factor for sure. First I tried putting it under warm water and a plastic bag, that never worked, now I’m using baby oil and my hands/rolling pin, and so far its working so I’m relieved, I was about to exchange my other unopened packs, but its fine, Its brand new clay, so next time I’ll stick to premo clay it seemed a lot softer at the store!

    1. Fimo Professional is different from most other brands of clay when it comes to being hard and crumbly. Most brands are dried out when that happens and need clay softener to be added. But Fimo Professional will actually soften up quite well by conditioning it. IF you can get it worked without losing your mind! A lot of people advocate using a mallet on it. I use an arbor press (similar to the Never Knead). Slice it in thin slices, put it in a ziploc bag, then whack the heck out of it with a hammer. This will help it start loosening up and moving. Pretty soon it will be soft enough and sticky enough to stay together when put through the pasta machine. Not too long after that, it will smooth right out. Premo, Fimo Soft, and Kato will soften with conditioning, of course, but not like Fimo Pro. It really is different.

  25. Hello , SO much great advice, so much knowledge out there, all thanks to you for sharing it. May I ask for some advice re sculptures that I’ve allowed to go hard through beginners ignorance.. I’ve some very precious sculpted figures that I was working on for several years, that I left to do other sculptures, meaning to go back to the original figures to complete the finer detail, but to my horror I now find the figures I left, extremely brittle and dry. I really don’t want to lose them…Would you recommend I bake them as they are, dry and brittle? Or might the chemical composition have altered in the drying out? The material is super sculpy (pink) h-e-l-p!!!

    1. I would go ahead and bake them. They might crack, but then again they might be fine. It depends on the deeper preparation you did. If the clay is more than 1/2″, you might have cracking. The fact that the sculptures are now old and hard really shouldn’t make a huge difference. But I haven’t ever done this myself and I can only give general advice on the subject. Good luck!

      1. Thank you SO MUCH Ginger, you’ve given me hope, I’ll bake them and let you know how they turn out. Thanks again, and for all the fabulous information on this fabulous site, a gold mine. Gill

  26. Thanks, I’ll definitely try any of these methods when I can
    I use Kato Polyclay and I’ll tell you one thing, it is hard af, even when straight out of the packaging

  27. Thank you for the article. My husband is trying to soften some Fimo Professional, that I purchased because of the gorgeous colors, and he is ready to through in the towel. He has been working so hard but the clay is totally crumbly and won’t soften. The last step will be the food processer, which we had not known about, thanks for this final step otherwise I’d have to return them all to Michael’s. BTW, I don’t think these are old, at least not on the shelves in the store. If they are old, it must have been from wherever they get their supplies.

    1. Yeah, sometimes you just need to give up and buy fresh clay. If you can pinch the crumbles together and make them stick together, then the clay is worth saving. But if you can’t make it do that, then it’s too far gone and should absolutely be returned to the store. Many of us prefer to buy our clay online because they go through so much clay that what you receive is always fresh. I like http://www.polyclayplay.com and http://www.munrocrafts.com.

  28. Nika van Tilburg

    Not sure this is the right place to ask this question, but here goes. I use my big oven and would like to be able to bake a bunch of pieces at one time. After I’ve gotten my clay conditioned and my pieces shaped, how long can I let them sit before baking? I was reading an article at Kater’s Acres that says “after about 12 hours [clay] will start to lose that conditioning.” If that’s the case, then it sounds like I have to bake at the end of each day rather than collect pieces to bake over 2 days. Any experience or suggestions on this issue?

    1. When polymer clay sits for any length of time, it sort of “gels” up and needs to be mixed or kneaded to make it workable again. So if you’re going to work the clay it needs to be reconditioned. But there is no time limit between when you finish your project and when you bake it. It can sit on your workbench for decades and be just fine. The one thing is that it will attract dust and lint, so do make sure it’s covered.

      1. The comment on not having to instantly bake is very helpful. This coming spring I will again be responsible for 24-30 mini-gardens for our Church plant sale. I am a total newbie to polymer clay but have high hopes it will be the answer to gnomes, fairies and critters that would be shaped to the scenes needs rather than having to shape the scenes to what is available at Hobby Lobby and Joann’s. The rummage sale committee does a great job of saving pots and figurines, but there are times I need baby ducks or this coming year, a Fred Flintstone. I think polymer clay and your marvelous information will save me. Many thanks.

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