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Polymer clay is a soft modeling compound that can be manipulated into any shape using fingers, tools, or molds. Once a project has been completed, it can be baked in the home oven to cure it to a hard and lasting finish. Molds for polymer clay can be made from metal, silicon, clay, or ceramic; they can be flexible or firm, depending on the material used to form the mold. Once a polymer clay piece has been removed from the mold, it can be baked as is or manipulated with tools or surface design elements to achieve specific effects.
The most basic molds for polymer clay resemble cookie cutters. They are made from metal and are designed to be pressed into a flat sheet of clay to create an impression. The harder the mold is pushed, the deeper the imprint. This type of mold can be used to cut a shaped piece of clay or to make an impression in the clay. Actual metal cookie cutters can be used as polymer clay molds as well. Once a kitchen item is used for clay, it should not be used for cooking.
Silicone is the most commonly used material for polymer clay molds. Each clay manufacturer offers a line of molds made from silicone featuring various shapes. Molds for polymer clay made from silicone are the easiest to use; the softened clay is pressed into the mold, then the mold is flexed to remove the finished piece. Seasonal molds for polymer clay made from silicone are often offered during the busy holiday crafting season, and can often be purchased at a discount once the season has passed.
Polymer clay can be used to create custom molds at home. Small items like buttons and figures can be dusted with baby powder, then pressed into a ball of clay. The item is carefully removed, leaving an impression behind. The resulting mold is baked in the oven. Once cooled, the mold can be used to create unlimited copies of the original item using softened polymer clay.
Custom molds for polymer clay can be made from ceramic or pottery; these are used in the same way as other molds, but they will break if dropped on a hard surface. High-end artist and doll forms are the most common types of ceramic molds for polymer clay. Ceramic molds for polymer clay can be placed in a refrigerator or freezer, if necessary, to help the artist remove the clay from the mold.
@croydon - I know a friend who has a spaghetti roller and she says she uses it all the time when making different things with polymer clay.
I don't use this kind of clay all that much, but when I do I've found that a simple manicure set is my best tool.
Even when you are only pressing the clay into molds, you need tools in order to cut away any extra bits and make sure that the surfaces look exactly as you want them to.
Polymer clay picks up dust and dirt very quickly and you can damage the shape of the mold easily if you try to use your hands.
But clay tools can be expensive. All you need will be in a cheap manicure set, especially if you aren't planning to do anything complicated.
I find that there are quite a few chocolate molds out there which are suitable for polymer clay. You can make medallions out of the shapes which can be quite intricate and beautiful.
You should make sure that you remember to poke a hole into the clay before you bake it though, or make whatever other modifications are necessary.
I've also been told that if you are planning to make a lot of things with polymer clay it's worth buying a spaghetti roller.
They can be used to combine colors so that they are even, and to make the clay soft enough to go into the mold smoothly.
If you are just going to make the occasional item with polymer clay, though you probably won't need one.
You can also make your own custom molds from silicon which might be better for some projects that need a softer mold.
You just take silicon filler of the kind that is used in building projects to fill in gaps. You can usually find it for a few dollars in a hardware store. Coat the thing you want to make a mold of in handsoap to stop the silicon from sticking to it, then cover it with the silicon.
You might have to do it in layers, letting each layer dry before adding the next.
Once you have enough layers you can peel it off and you have your mold.
This doesn't capture the same amount of detail as other kinds of molds might though, so you are better off using it for larger projects.
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