Welcome to the PowerWood website’s creative corner and the first in a series of posts offering information about material and simple creative ideas that the family can either do together or that children can attempt on their own.
I’ve used this versatile material for a number of years to make small items/details that accompany my fairies and dolls – it was only natural that my daughter would eventually get her hands on my supplies and last year she began to incorporate the use of this material into some of her own designs and ideas. She was gifted her own set of polymer clay for her birthday this year and needless to say it has already provided her with hours of contented independent crafting time!
Polymer clay does vary in quality and expense. Many people are familiar with the brand FIMO which is suitable for hobbyists and artists alike. It is possible to buy small sets aimed at children but generally it is sold in small individual blocks of colour, which adds up when you are purchasing a few. I do use this brand myself sometimes, as well as Sculpey and Premo (part of the Sculpey brand) – which I find are softer to work with and have a lovely professional finish. Depending on where you buy it, it can be a little cheaper than FIMO. However, there are now a number of sets aimed at crafting for children that are relatively inexpensive and often come with some basic crafting tools and a few accessories – e.g. pieces to make earrings or keyrings etc. Again, these vary in price and quality but we found this set to be very adequate!
Polymer clay (as opposed to air-drying clay) is a lovely material to work with since it can be oven-baked, meaning the final pieces are solid and long-lasting – this is definitely an added bonus for those children prone to disappointment when their creations break or don’t last (I do think there is value in experimenting and making things that don’t always last, however it’s also nice to have something to show for our efforts from time to time!). Most polymer clays are baked in the oven at 130°C for around 15 minutes – but there will always be instructions with your particular clay so do follow these.
Ideas (for use of material)
There are so many things that you can make with polymer clay besides Making your own Dragon! Further ideas include: animals, favourite characters from books or cartoons, small things to decorate and accompany a dolls’ house or Lego playset, items for a fairy garden – which can then be built either in a pretty spot in the garden or a tiny spot on a bookshelf; leaves, flowers and items from nature; earrings or jewellery or a series of “mini collectibles” … and if all else fails, there is usually a little booklet that accompanies these clay sets to get you started with ideas.
Younger children, who might not have such fine motor skills or patience, might want to make creative ‘monsters’ where it can look any way they like – younger children should always be supervised with this material.
Generally speaking – working with clay can be a very grounding experience. When you work with natural clay, it often starts damp and cold, and as it is worked it becomes warm, soft and dry… Its earthy, tactile nature is calming and soothing to some (whilst others don’t enjoy the sticky feel). Working with polymer clay is a slightly different experience – in that it generally requires more fine motor skills – but working in such a detailed way, as this clay allows, can be very absorbing and therefore just as grounding. It also has the advantage of being non-sticky and relatively mess-free, minimising the frustrations of those who don’t like the feel of messy materials; it is also quick to get out and pack away.
Tips: remember to work with clean hands, as the clay can pick up tiny bits of fluff and debris otherwise. Working on a clean dry surface such as a mat or tray is also a good idea, and if you bake the creations on a small bit of tin-foil, you can set this to one side afterwards or pack it away with the kit to use it over and over again. Always bake according to the instructions – and do wait a few minutes before handling – it can be very hot when it first comes out of the oven and takes a couple of minutes to finish setting.
Happy modelling – wishing you lots of fun with this lovely material!! 😊
© Abigail Cole 2020. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents of this article is prohibited. For more creative ideas visit www.forgetfulfairyartstudio.com
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