Polymer Clay Lesson Plans & Tutorials

Kira has a background in Art Education, and she feels that it is important to introduce students, ages pre-k all the way through high school, to this wonderful, non-toxic, colorful and versatile art medium. Polymer Clay can be cured in a small toaster oven if you do not have access to an oven at school. Just be sure to follow the baking directions and keep the clay parts away from toaster elements.

Some Basic notes for classrooms:

1. Polymer Clay is non-toxic, but as with all clays, should never be ingested.

2. Rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl) is the solvent for polymer clay. It can be used to clean tools, counter tops, and if necessary can be swabbed onto hands to get the clay off. Of course, rubbing alcohol should never be ingested as it is a health risk. Please note, regular soap and water will not dissolve this type of clay.

3. Polymer Clay needs to be cured in an oven. Otherwise it will remain soft. Please follow the package directions for curing. Over or under curing the clay results in brittle pieces that are prone to breaking. An oven that is too hot will scorch the clay and turn it brown or black. White and translucent clays are usually more affected by a too-hot oven. It is recommended that you get a small oven thermometer to check the accuracy of your oven dial.

4. The temperature for curing is under 300  degrees F. This is not hot enough to burn paper. Therefore, a good trick for curing clay for students is to put each creation on a piece of thick paper such as index cards or cut up manilla folders – that way you can write the student’s name on it for identification after baking. Please use common sense if you use this technique and make sure your oven temperature is accurate(use an oven thermometer). A too-hot oven will catch paper on fire. Ceramic tile or a metal pan are an excellent choices for a baking surface, and a 6″x8″ tile fits inside most toasters. 12×12 and 18×18 tiles are great for regular sized ovens.

5. Wire and aluminum foil can be used inside polymer clay pieces for strength. NEVER use styrofoam, as it releases dangerous gases when heated. Polymer clay does not shrink when baked. There are some types of wire, such as telephone wire and a brand called Fun Wire, that are coated with plastic. These are great for use with polymer clay because the plastic bonds to the clay when heated. White glue and “super glue” can be used with polymer clay after baking. You can stick things into clay too, such as glass beads, dry pasta, beans, marbles, stones, anything that won’t melt. Just be sure your students embed the objects deep enough that they won’t fall out after baking. There should be some clay mushed up and around embedded objects to hold them in.

6. Did you know that polymer clay is really just a ground up fine pigment mixed with plasticizers? When you cure the clay, the plasticizer hardens and then the polymer clay finished piece is pretty much a piece of plastic. This is an interesting fact for kids to know. Other facts- polymer clay sinks in water. Sculpey has come out with a product called Ultralight, and that clay does float. You can even mix small amounts of Sculpey III into it (less than 1/3 colored clay) and it will still float. Sculpey III is a good brand to try with kids. It is economical and comes in some great colors, neons and glow in the dark too. Polymer clay is not good for fish tanks or other use with pets. Even though it is non-toxic, it is not recommended to come in contact with food or with ovens you will be cooking food in later. Please keep your tools and oven dedicated to polymer clay.

Please email me if you have any specific requests for themes or grade levels. I love a challenge!

Lesson Plan PDFs:

inlay-lp.pdf
mokumeganelp.pdf

Other Tutorials:

Video Resource List

Simple Caning
Lots of Great tutorials- a nice collection
Fantastic tutes on figure sculpting