What Are the Different Types of Polymer Clay Crafts?

Lori Kilchermann

Polymer clay crafts range from plain, such as simple round beads, to the ornate, such as intricately-detailed figurines and pendants. The clay lends itself to a variety of crafts in assorted colors, shapes and sizes, including miniatures. Other crafts include wedding toppers and dolls.

Colored polymer modeling clay is usually sold in packages.
Colored polymer modeling clay is usually sold in packages.

This versatile, man-made clay and is available in a variety of colors, which can be blended to create swirls, speckles and patterns or another color entirely. Known for its versatility and ease of use, polymer clay crafts can be created by rolling, cutting and sculpting the material. As it is easily manipulated for crafts, the clay is suitable for use by people of all ages. After being manipulated into a desired shape and size, the clay is oven-baked to give the craft hardness and longevity.

Figurines are a popular type of clay craft.
Figurines are a popular type of clay craft.

Making figurines is one type of popular polymer clay craft. From people and pets to out-of-this-world alien creatures, clay figurines are limited only by an artist's imagination. In addition to whimsical or life-like figures, crafters can also make look-alike figurines, such as those which can closely resemble a person, celebrity or pet. For a personalized touch on a wedding cake, look-alike figurines can be crafted of the bride and groom to serve as a cake topper.

Polymer clay can be formed into ropes, then cut and baked to make beads.
Polymer clay can be formed into ropes, then cut and baked to make beads.

Polymer clay crafts lend themselves to jewelry-making. Round beads can be produced en mass by rolling the clay into a cylindrical tube and slicing to a desired size. A hole is added to the beads' centers before they are baked, making an access area to string a necklace or bracelet. Pendants, pins and watch creations also lend themselves to crafts with polymer clay, as do earrings and charms.

Polymer clay can be used to make beads for jewelry.
Polymer clay can be used to make beads for jewelry.

Miniature artists use polymer clay to create a variety of items, from a plate of mini-cupcakes smaller than a quarter to a dresser for a doll house. The clay can even be used to make the tiny people and animals "living" in a miniature world. Christmas ornaments, imitation food and fake lava rocks are also polymer clay crafts.

One advantage of making polymer clay crafts is the ease of coloring and texturing the clay. Using faux finishes, crafters can create finishes resembling bone, ivory or semi-precious stones on simple objects like pendants. Textures can be added during the soft stage of making polymer clay crafts by simply stamping patterns into the clay, such as pressing an initial into a charm for a bracelet.

Polymer clay can be used in multitude of projects.
Polymer clay can be used in multitude of projects.

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Discussion Comments


I've actually seen Christmas ornaments for sale in a department store that were obviously made out of polymer clay. It's becoming a mainstream material more and more, which is good because I hope it will become more accepted as an artist's medium.

At the moment I feel like there are some gorgeous polymer clay ideas and projects out there that aren't getting any recognition as fine art.

Likewise a lot of professional sculptors dismiss it as a material, which I think is a shame.

I suppose part of the problem is that it has to be used in small amounts because otherwise it won't bake properly and the sculptures won't be well made.

But miniatures have a long tradition and they should be treasured as much as any other kind of art.


@KoiwiGal - That's the great thing about polymer clay. It's so versatile with all the available colors and textures and you can even add things like mica and glitter to make it look like anything you want. It's my understanding that most of the doll artists will mix their own recipe of colors in order to get the look and texture of human skin for their creations.

But, people have successfully imitated almost every kind of craft substance you can think of. The most impressive I've ever seen was mother of pearl and abalone jewelry that was completely realistic but actually made out of polymer clay.

The really exciting thing about being able to do that is that you'd be able to make anything you wanted out of the clay and wouldn't be limited by the properties of the material you were imitating.

Abalone is quite brittle, for example and you're hardly ever going to have more than a flat sheet since it comes from seashells.

If you make it using polymer clay techniques, though, you can shape it into whatever you need it to be.


Polymer clay figures can be incredibly lifelike. In fact they can be very beautiful and I fully recommend that you have a look at them online if you get a chance. There are quite a few polymer clay clubs which display their users work online in galleries and you can also look at.

It's amazing all the different kinds of styles that you find. There are some where the artist has tried to remain true to the natural human figure, even if she is sculpting mythological scenes, and there are others where the artist takes liberties and draws inspiration from art movements such as Cubism.

There are quite a few collectors out there and I know at least half a dozen people who are making a living out of sculpting polymer clay figures. The really good, one of a kind ones will sometimes sell for a thousand dollars and up.

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