A Favorite Summer Hobby: Polymer Clay Sculpting

From drawing to vacation brainstorming, from cooking to poetry, I have engaged in all kinds of hobbies. This summer will be no exception; especially with my new favorite hobby'”polymer clay sculpting.

I actually discovered this new hobby very recently; I wanted to do some kind of clay work, but most of the clays that I was familiar with required a very expensive piece of equipment called a kiln in order to bake them. I knew about air-drying clay, but I wanted something different. So I searched for clay that I could bake in an ordinary oven — what I found was polymer clay. This type of clay can be baked not only in an oven or convection oven , but surprisingly even a toaster oven will do the job. They come in various colors and are easy to work with after a little conditioning (working the clay to make it softer).

Of course, in order to sculpt polymer clay I needed to purchase a few things: Polymer clay and a cheap toaster oven were at the top of the list and I was able to find these at online stores. When I researched polymer clay, I searched for a brand that would be best suited for me and came up with Kato Polyclay. There are others (Sculpey, Fimo, Cernit, etc.), but I felt most comfortable choosing Kato. This is only a personal decision however as I am still a beginner and not familiar with the other brands yet. With online stores that mail things straight to my house, there is no need to go out under the hot summer sun to search for art stores that sell polymer clay, but some people may be more inclined to shop at trusted arts and crafts shops and get the materials immediately rather than wait for them in the mail like I did.

Most clays can be sold in small packages of about two ounces (they can fit in the palm of a person’s hand), which is why I decided to save the clay by making miniature pieces. With miniatures, I have learned that every little bit helps. I wanted to create pieces of jewelry like pendants for necklaces and earrings that could potentially be sold. Before I could do that, I needed to familiarize myself with sculpting. I molded tiny figures, like animals and things. As a beginner with a limited budget, I could not afford to get any special tools yet, so I only used a plastic knife and a headpin to cut tinier parts. Then I set up my new toaster oven that I dedicated solely to my clay works (It is not healthy to use tools and equipment for clay that you plan on using for food). I followed the instructions for baking Kato clay which is 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes and the result was successful. I was so pleased with my first creations that I decide to dedicate myself to making at least 100 or so over the course of summer to hopefully sell them for some extra money.

Though this began as an individual hobby, some family members, especially the younger ones became eager to try it out. Even though I can’t let them use much clay (they do cost money) I encouraged the parents to buy a few packs to let them have a constructive hobby to do this summer. Depending on the detail of the piece and the speed of the artist (I like my work intricately detailed and I am certainly not the fastest sculptor yet), sculpting can easily take up an entire day. Still, I do not think that this is a hobby I will be giving up anytime soon and I plan on making everyday I spend doing it one of new discoveries.