October 4, 2012

Homemade Polymer Clay* Questions and Answers

Awhile back I posted a recipe for homemade polymer clay. I recently viewed the post and saw all the questions that readers had asked in their comments. Rather than answer each individually, I thought I'd post a follow-up that answers the most frequently asked among them. So, here goes:

Can you add color while the clay is wet?
Yes, you can add acrylic paint or even food coloring, but for even tinting throughout, you'll want to do it while the mixture is still liquid. If you want a swirly effect, then add it to the dough. Be prepared for color-stained fingers. And also note that adding a lot of colorant will alter the recipe and affect how the clay performs.

Does the clay shrink as it dries and how much?
It does, about 15-20%.

Can you bake the clay to speed drying?
Absolutely! I usually dry my items in the oven at about 150°F. How long to keep them in depends on their thickness. Also, if you’re making flat shapes, watch them for curling. Periodically flip them over to keep that to a minimum.

Will dried items stand up to water?
Dried items are water resistant but not waterproof, so if they get a little wet it’s OK, but don’t submerge them in water or even subject them to wet environments. They’ll certainly do better if they’re sealed with polyurethane or acrylic or the like.

Can dried items be used outdoors?
I haven’t tried but wouldn’t risk it. Dried items are water resistant but not waterproof. A sealant will help but I still wouldn’t expect them to last very long, especially in wet conditions.

Can dried items be used for food?
No. While the clay does plasticize during the curing process, it won't stand up to extended exposure to moisture.

Can the clay be used to make shapes with cookie-cutters?
Absolutely! Sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on the surface and roll it out on wax paper, or even in a pasta machine. Flip your shapes over throughout the drying process to keep them flat (they tend to curl).

Can you use glue other than Elmer’s Glue-All?
I haven’t tried but any PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue should work, with, I would expect, somewhat different but probably OK results.

Shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, your clay might be too dry. Be sure to keep it in an airtight container between uses and only take out what you intend to use immediately.

Cook the mixture for longer or use a bit less glue. Once out of the pot stickiness is harder to fix but sometimes adding more cornstarch helps. Altitude and likely also humidity will affect how the recipe performs.


Not homemade Sculpey or Fimo. The polymer base of those products is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), while for this one it is polyvinyl acetate (PVA). Both PVC and PVA are polymers, and both this clay and commercial polymer clay “plasticize” during a curing process. This clay therefore has many of the characteristic properties of commercial polymer clay (elasticity, pliability, flexibility, durability), but it doesn’t have all of them (particularly insolubility).

Until next time --

Purty Bird


Anonymous said...

Hi! Can i use this recipe to make flower pots? Maybe i could put small holes at the bottom just like the normal pots so as not to retain moisture. You think it would work? Thanks!

PurtyBird said...

I don't think it would work for flower pots, unless they're purely decorative -- meaning, not going to hold dirt and water and the other stuff plants need to grow. You can only put dry things in it. The clay isn't waterproof. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Hi! i was wondering if i could use "polybond universal" glue for this recipe. and i would like to thank you for your awesome recipe as there is no polymer clay in sale on my small island, well not that i known of or where!

jaxsen logan said...

well it looks to me that all the questions I was going to ask have been covered, thanks for this page and answering the questions.

Unknown said...

I've got one question that hasn't been covered: for how long will this stuff store in the fridge or freezer?

Anonymous said...

Would this product work in a fondant and gum paste mold set? The mold has the alphabet and I am wanting to place a sripture on a PAINTING. The letter on the molds are thin somewhat small. would I just push dough into mold and let dry (which would take forever to write entire scripture)or push it back out immediately and let dry. Also will dash of cornstarch keep from sticking?

Presvytera Eleni said...

Nicely done on answering the questions from previous post.

Anonymous said...

so bummed that this didn't work for me-it was too sticky to work with, but cooking it longer just made it cement to the bottom of the pot...too bad!! Also was a challenge to clean the pot after...

Shilpa said...

The previous article was really informative and this follow up does a good job of clearing up many of my questions.I still have a few questions such as
1.Will cornflour work instead of cornstarch?
2.Will real lime/lemon juice work rather than a bottled version?
3.How long can it be stored?

Thank you so much for the help :)
God bless :)

Anonymous said...

One of the last questions on prior posting was about bugs eating these items. Has this problem occurred with using the PVA glue versus a plain white glue (not sure if certain preservatives are in the wood glue versus the white glue...)? Hope that question makes sense...