Polymer Clay is really popular right now with crafters, kids and hobbyists alike. But not many people, especially those new to the material, know ‘how to store polymer clay’?
Polymer clay should be stored in things made from polypropylene (PP) plastic, such as: the plastic wrappings it came in, cling film, a zip-locked sandwich bag or a plastic storage box/drawers. Glass storage solutions also work well.
But it’s not that simple! How do you store baked clay? Clay jewellery? How long can it be stored for?
Read on for answers to these questions, storage solutions tips and more…
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How to Store Polymer Clay
Storing Unbaked Clay
Avoid storing your clay in wooden or metal boxes, as the wooden boxes can dry out the clay’s oil residue, which is essential for keeping the clay pliable. The wood is more porous than the clay, so it will draw moisture into it, ruining the box and your block of clay. Metal boxes can be an issue in warm rooms, as they are a heat conductor and will melt your clay.
Plastic or glass is best in this case! Also, the containers don’t need to be completely air tight, as clay won’t air dry or dry out, which is one of the reasons it’s so easy to keep and use.
Top tip: to tell if something is the correct plastic, flip it over and look for the markings on the bottom. There should be the number five in a triangle on the underside.
Clay should be stored in a cool and dry place, as heat will cause it to bake prematurely. For best results you can opt to store your clay in the fridge or freezer – many crafters keep blocks of clay in their freezers for years at a time. Room temperature should be fine however, as long as you’re in a cooler climate and the clay is kept away from radiators.
The biggest issue with unbaked clay is exposure to heat, as this will start the curing process, and exposure to sunlight (two fold!) as the light will cause the clay’s vibrancy to fade, leaving you with a washed out, sun-bleached block of unusable material.
Shop storage solutions here
- Keep your clay in a dark place like a cupboard, fridge, freezer or cellar/basement.
- Keep colours of clay wrapped separately so colour transfer between blocks doesn’t occur.
- Keep your clay out of the car – if you’ve just bought some from a craft store think of it like ice-cream, and get it in the house ASAP. Cars can become very hot, very quickly, and will ruin your clay in no time.
- Keep clay away from fabrics and furniture as dye transfer can happen easily.
- Keep clay away from unclean surfaces, as lint and dust will stick to it very quickly, and will be nearly impossible to remove.
Storing Baked Clay
Keep baked polymer clay away from oils and moisture, as these may cause the clay to become brittle after curing. Baked clay should also be kept away from unbaked clay for the same reason – the oils from the unbaked clay may weaken the structure of the baked clay, ruining your creations.
Top tip: simply swipe a thin layer of varnish over your finished design to add an extra waterproof barrier!
Storing Polymer Clay Jewellery
The proper way to store Polymer Clay jewellery is in the packaging it came with, and it is best to keep it away from sunlight.
If you have purchased or made some lovely polymer clay jewellery for yourself, the proper way to keep this would be in a jewellery box, or a storage drawer away from the light, as prolonged exposure to the sun will eventually bleach the colours of your clay, causing your vibrant jewellery to fade. Also, it’s less likely to get damaged if it’s stored properly – polymer clay jewellery may be very strong after proper curing, but it isn’t indestructible!
Storing Polymer Clay Stock – if selling
- Make sure you keep your earrings on earrings cards and in packets or gift bags to keep the earrings pristine for sale. The same goes for necklaces and bracelets; keep them stored on the packaging you intend to sell them in. This way, your stock pieces won’t gather dust.
- Store your stock items somewhere they won’t get damaged, in organised rows so it’s easy to see your stock amount and keep a note of the pairs you made for inventory purposes.
- If you’re keeping them in storage drawers add a little label to the drawer so you don’t need to open it to remind yourself of what’s inside.
- You’ll be surprised once you get going how these tips make it much easier to keep track of stock in the long run!
How Long Can I Store My Clay For?
If properly stored polymer clay can last for years on end at a time. Polymer Clay canes can also last for years.
If stored according to the techniques I outlined earlier in the article, you should be able to enjoy working with your clay for a long time; this is particularly useful if you fall in love with a colour from your favourite brand that is soon to be discontinued – you can buy a bulk batch and store it for years.
There is a general rule in the crafting community that clay shouldn’t be kept for more than a year, but if you’ve been storing yours properly and the clay is still useable, you can continue to store it for as long as you like – do you!
Will Polymer Clay Dry Out?
Polymer will not dry out at room temperature. Polymer clay requires oven baking in order to properly dry and harden, at the temperature suggested on the packaging of each individual brand, and so will not dry out in a normal room, in normal conditions.
Is Polymer Clay Toxic?
Polymer clay is non-toxic, making it safe to use around children and pets, as it has been tested and certified. Polymer Clay only becomes toxic when baked at extremely high temperatures, for prolonged periods of time. If baked according to the packaging instructions, it’s perfectly safe.
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Will Polymer Clay Air Dry?
Polymer Clay cannot air dry, it needs to be oven baked at the correct temperature for the brand you are using; instructions are found on the packaging of each clay block. Oven baking allows the clay to sufficiently cure (harden) which cannot be achieved at room temperature with air drying.
Can Polymer Clay Get Wet?
Both baked and unbaked polymer clay is waterproof as the material is oil based (made with plastics), so it cannot get wet.
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Can I Store Baked and Unbaked Polymer Clay Together?
It’s not advised that you store baked and unbaked clay together, as the uncured components of the unbaked clay may actually weaken the baked clay over time, through exposure to it’s oily residue.
This is due to what the clay is made of and how it responds to baking; the clay is made up of plastics, stabilizers, fibres and colouring components, that can be quite greasy before baking. Once exposed to the proper temperature for the allotted time, the clay hardens up and the oily residue solidifies. If you then place that hardened clay next to unbaked clay, the residue in the unbaked clay can draw back into the porous baked clay and start to make it brittle.
I hope my ‘How to Store Polymer Clay – The Best Way’ article was helpful for you and you now feel at ease to head to your craft table and properly store your chosen brand of clay!
Good luck with your creations, with your new knowledge of storage solutions for your project.
Polymer clay is so easy to use for beginners because it’s versatile when moulding, comes in loads of great colours, can be firmed up or softened depending on the project, doesn’t dry out, is water proof and can be stored for a long time unbaked because it doesn’t air dry! Wow!
This is why it’s so great for jewellery making around the home, as you can set up a small business (How to Sell Polymer Clay Earrings on Etsy) from a nook in your space, without the need for a professional set up, overly complicated storage solutions and a premium-grade industrial kiln or oven.
Make your jewellery from the comfort of your kitchen, and make some serious money selling it online – wonderful!
My goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to understand the world of crafting, so you can go into your new hobby or small business venture with estimates, tips and facts under your belt for a smooth and rewarding start in this craft.
I also provide articles on: a How-to Guide for beginners, a Sales Guide for selling polymer clay earrings on Etsy, a comprehensive Cost Guide, and a bumper list of earring Design Ideas, so you’re never stumped by clay-makers block!
For more information on getting started with polymer clay earrings, check out: