Check back often

Have you checked out all my blogs?

Dollhouse Minis:

18” Dolls:

General Crafts:


Also if for some reason I can't post I will try to give a head's up on the Facebook page so check there too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Organizing My Polymer Clay

Well, I spent several hours last week organizing my polymer clay. This was in between trying to get some work done outside in the wonderful weather that Oregon had last week. The project took me a few hours (anywhere from 1 to 5) each day- Monday thru Friday. So it was a big job, I am so glad it is done and I am very happy with the result.

Now I can see exactly what colors of clay I have, how much of any given clay I have, I can easily (and quickly) find the clay I need, and I know exactly what the clay will look like when baked. I also think that the system I now have in place will be easy to maintain and keep organized.

I have been going to organize my clay for a long time but I kept putting it off. I always had something better to do. After all I knew it was going to be a major project and I really didn't want to bother with it. However, last weekend I really got frustrated with first off having a some clay bake up in a way I was not expecting and then not being able to really find what I needed to complete my project. So it was time for some major brainstorming to figure out a system to get organized.

Remember I have been working with polymer clay for about 15 or 20 years (maybe longer) and I have a lot of clay. I really hadn't done much in the way of organizing it either. From the beginning for whatever reason I had kept the clays separated by brand and that just wasn't working anymore. Back when I had a dozen or so packages it was fine but now I have a lot more than that. I had a box for Sculpey III, a box for Premo, a box of odds and ends and two full boxes of Fimo. When I wanted to find a color I had to go through all those boxes to see if I had it. Many times it was just easier to get new clay than to have to dig through to look for a block that I needed.

It just so happened that I had emptied out some notebooks that held some of those sheets that are made to hold baseball cards a few weeks ago. I knew I would find a use for those sheets so I kept them. Thank goodness I did because they were the perfect answer for this project.

I also had a package of white cardstock that I really didn't like working with. It just has a strange surface on it and didn't really work for what I bought it for so it was sitting here taking up space too.

I measured the spaces in the plastic sheets and found that cards cut 2 ½” by 3 ¾” (or thereabouts) fit just fine. This also gave me plenty of area to write the information I needed on each card: brand, color and space for 3 swatches.

I used Bake and Bond to adhere the clay to the cards but any liquid polymer clay would work. I baked the cards at 250 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes. Everything seems to be cured just fine at this temperature and time.

I then slipped the cards into the plastic sheets dedicating one (or two) sheets to each color group. In the video you can easily see how I divided them up. For me this made the most sense but you might find a different system works better for you.

Now onto the packages of clay themselves. I set up 7 plastic shoe boxes for the clay. They are divided as follows: 1) translucent & whites, 2) Browns & tans, 3) oranges & yellows, 4) Blacks, grays, & metals, 5), pinks & reds, 6) greens, and 7) blues & purples. Inside of each of these boxes are plastic ziplock type sandwich bags each containing a single color (brand) of clay. In other words there is a bag for Premo White, one for Fimo white, one for Sculpey III white, etc. That way I can easily find each color as I need it.

You may be wondering why what may seem like repeats of colors. After all do I really need that many types of white clay? Well, probably not but I do use all of them depending on what I am making and the effect I want. Some of those whites are warmer (more yellow) some cooler (more blue) some are softer some firmer (useful depending on what I am making) some mix better with TLS than others. So I can justify having most of those packages.

Now I did make a few surprising discoveries. One being that I own 8 packages (or partial packages) of Fimo Caramel clay. That is one that I use a lot and tend to stock up on when clay is on sale. I also seem to never be able to find in the bin of clay the way I had them before. Now they are all together in one bag so I can get them used up (someday)

Another discovery I made was that some of the clay I bought when I was first starting to do clay is still just as good as it was the day I purchased it. We are talking some of those packages being 15, 20 or maybe more years old. I also found some of what I will classify as middle aged clay that was not good anymore. I do know that the major clay brands made some changes to their formulas a number of years back and I have a feeling that had something to do with the ones that were not any good any longer. I think they were probably some of the clay that came out when the changes were first being made. The clays did change a few times to get their formulas working the way they wanted.

In the video I also showed my scrap clay bag, this is where I put the little bits of leftover clay from projects, miss-mixed colors etc. I use this clay to make a lot things mostly when I am making a blank to make a mold from or to try a technique out, to figure out how big to make something, etc. My scrap clay bag was almost empty before I started this project it now weighs a pound and a half! I ended up putting a lot of clay in there that was loose in my old boxes either because it was no longer labeled (so I wasn't sure what it was) or because it had become dirty floating around loose in the boxes.

In the video I also touched on being careful how you open the package of clay. This is pretty obvious to me now but when I first started working with clay it wasn't. Just check the package to see where the clay manufacturer has put the label with the clay name (or number) Premo and Sculpey III are usually labeled on the top edge while Fimo is usually on the lower part of the back of the package. Try to preserve that part of the label, it will make your life easier in the future. Trust me, it will.

So how much clay do I have, 99 different colors and I have no idea how many total blocks (I don't think I want to know that or how much money I have spent on it over the years)

So I hope this was helpful for you. I do highly recommend that you organize your clay before you get any where near as much clay as I have. It will be so much easier if you start early and stay organized from the start.

1 comment: