Here are my hot tips when working with Polymer Clay.
1. CHOOSE YOUR CLAY.
I am continually stuck between FIMO and SCULPEY. I love FIMO a billion times more than Sculpey because of it's really nice, firm, smooth, really workable texture. Sculpey on the other hand, I find very oily and way too soft to work with, never goes the way I want and often shows up heaps of ugly air bubbles after being cooked. But then Fimo colours I find very boring and can often put me to sleep but Sculpey colours are amazing!! Ideally what NEEDS to happen is that Fimo and Sculpey have a baby !! I say, buy a couple of blocks of each yourself and then you decide.
2. GET NAKED!
When you get home from the shops get naked! he he he. Not kidding! If conditions permit like no flatmates or if it's not - 4 degrees, get naked. Polymer Clay does not like all that fluff and stuff that comes from your clothes.... scarves etc. All of it, get it off!
If you don't choose to get naked, then second best option is to put on very light coloured clothing that don't shed too much fluff and make sure you roll up your sleeves up.
TIP: I wear a white Country Road cotton sweater that's incredibly old! I'm not counting but i'm assuming it's been through the wash 4 million times so no fluff could fall off even if it wanted to.
3. CLEAN HANDS.
True, Polymer Clay will make even 'clean hands obsessed' peoples hands look dirty. Clay picks up everything on your hands so if you fail to clean your hands properly your fresh new clean clay will soon look like a gravel pit. Hot soapy water should do it and dry them on a light coloured towel if possible, that's not too fluffy!
TIP: After washing my hands I wipe them over again with an alcohol wipe.
4. PREP THE AREA.
I'm not one for buying stuff just because but you'll certainly need 100% rubbing alcohol when working with clay. Firstly you need it to clean down your work station. Moisten a baby wipe with the alcohol and go cleaning crazy! Wipe down your bench, the surrounding area, as well as the utensils you'll be working with. AND then when you think everything is clean, do it again. I'm really NOT kidding when I say this - dust, dirt, fluff and lint will find you and your clay so its best to do a thorough clean before you start. Nothing worse than working really hard on a piece only to find dirty bits and pieces all over it. You will cry, believe me.
TIP: I tape a piece of baking paper to the bench and work on that for an even cleaner surface.
5. CONDITION YOUR CLAY.
I'm not a fan of this but it's one of those things like - 'no one notices what I do until I don't do it'. Conditioning your clay means: squishing, squashing, banging, pushing, playing and mushing it till your hands hurt! Three to five minutes should do it, or until the clay is really soft and malleable. People say it's like bringing the clay back to life after it's been sitting on the store shelf. It's SUPER important that you do this because if you don't, expect big cracks and really ugly air bubbles to appear after you cook it. Again, nothing worse than working really hard on some beads only to have them all cracked coming out of the oven.
TIP: Using a pasta machine to do this works a treat!