Conditioning Polymer Clay By Hand Without Any Tools

Conditioning Polymer Clay By Hand - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #596: If you are a beginner without a pasta machine, here’s how to condition polymer clay without hurting your hands.

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • In the past I have shown you how to condition clay using various different types of tools.
  • But I also know that some of you are just starting out with polymer clay and don’t any have tools yet.
  • I show you some tips on how to condition clay by hand without hurting your wrists and hands.
  • First warm up the clay in your hands or by placing in a warm (not hot) location.
  • Some people like to sit on the clay (or put in bra) to initially warm up their blocks of polymer clay.
  • Don’t squeeze or knead with fingers or thumbs. That will be hard on your muscles and joints.
  • Instead, roll and press with the palm or heal of your hand.
  • Continually twist and wiggle the clay to wake up the oils and plasticizers.
  • Keep rolling and squishing clay with palm until clay is soft, pliable and workable.
  • It can take a while by hand, but you still can do a good job of conditioning clay without any tools and without being too hard on your hands.
  • However, if you have hand mobility issues, then you are going to have to invest in some tools.
  • Using tools to condition polymer clay… like a pasta machine… the NEVERknead… or a food processor… will obviously help speed up the process.

Do you have any suggestions for videos on tips, techniques or products you would like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments section below!

My goal is to help you to learn quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Hermine R, 27 November, 2014

    Thank you Cindy that was really helpful!

  2. Jocelyn C, 27 November, 2014

    Thank you for this video, Cindy. Warming and conditioning clay by hands can be very theraputic and relaxing. The satisfaction you feel when it first starts to meld is always a magic moment for me, I marvel at it.

    If the north wind blows a storm, it is cold in the work area. I work small, trying a bunch of stuff themed on a colorway, and could not survive without the pasta machine motor. I always go for the Black and Decker coffee grinder first. Metal interior and blade with a plastic pop off lid, so just do small amounts, heat them up spinning, then dump contents into plastic bags and “massage” into a sheet through the bag.

    Sometimes these lucky little bags of mixing color dots ends up in bed with me, heating on the pad with my knees. Keep a towel to work on over the lap, and have kneaded many a palette while watching PBS…… I tend to roll snakes of color first, and gradually mix.

    Happy Thanksgiving all. I am very thankful for Cindy and Doug, and all who work with polymer clay.

  3. Dixie Ann, 27 November, 2014

    Several years ago when I first got into claying I tryed manipulating Fimo and we all know how hard that was. Now with arthritis running rampant throughout my whole body I was forced to find alternatives. Like Jocelyn I used a heating pad laid across my lap to really warm up the clay but as things progressed I bought a $20 pasta machine and that helped a whole lot. But, still you have to manipulate with your hands at times. Now between the NEVERKnead and the pasta machine the only time I have to use my hands is when I reduce canes. That probably is the hardest part for me because there is no other way to do it. I took your advice Cindy and now I reduce them immediately right after I make them while they are still warm. Every section moves better together and it is easier on the hands. Bless you for all the wonderful tips and support you have given us throughout the years. Happy Holidays to you and Doug and the kids.

  4. Cindy Lietz, 19 December, 2014

    You are so welcome Dixie Ann! Thank you for the lovely comment!

  5. Tracy L, 30 November, 2014

    Hello Cindy,
    Having only recently become a part of the polymer clay community , I have a ton to learn and your videos have been invaluable to me. My first set back was buying clay from a previous owner , it was very dry and crumbly so learning how to save my purchase was my first objective. Of all the different conditioning techniques i’ve learned about and tried , ultimately i’ve found chopping up the clay most effective. But the idea of using my food processor to do all the chopping made me cringe at the thought of the clean up. So I elected to use my blade and hands to do it, I figured the clean up would be much easier than the processor.
    But even more importantly this technique did the best job of resurrecting my dry mess. Just a couple of drops of baby oil and some finely chopped bits and I was well on my way to Polymer play.

    Thanks again for your help and I look forward to more along the way!


  6. Cindy Lietz, 19 December, 2014

    You are very welcome Tracy! So happy to have you here in our sweet little polymer clay family! Have a great holiday and look forward to a creative New Year!

  7. Linda Monte, 26 January, 2015

    I need help to find out how do I make sure the polymer clay sticks to my old clay teapots and do I put it in my oven, convention oven or kiln to cook. And for how long ? is there are gude somewhere that i can find out this info.

  8. Cindy Lietz, 30 January, 2015

    Hi Linda, I don’t believe there is any guide out there that will help you. Although I haven’t added clay to teapots, the process would be very similar to baking clay on glass, which I have done. There are many things to consider, that would be too difficult to explain in this tiny little box. My best advice would be for you to take the Mistletoe Ornament Tutorial. Although it is based on a glass ball ornament, the techniques would be similar. Here is the link if you are interested: Attaching Polymer To Glass Surfaces (Vol-055 Back Issue)

  9. Bernardo Carrillo, 21 February, 2017

    Hello Cindy,

    I’m fairly new to polymer clay. Conditioning clay has been one of the topics that I want to be familiar with. Now I don’t have any tools to condition clay so I use my hands. I’ve tried your method and it works well. However, how can I tell if I am done conditioning the clay? Also how about aire bubbles? How can I be sure I don’t have any air bubbles in hand conditioned clay?

  10. Cindy Lietz, 24 February, 2017

    Hi Bernardo, You are done conditioning polymer clay when it does what you want it to do without falling apart. It is really just about making it workable again. As far as bubbles go, you won’t get that many in hand conditioned clay, but you will see them if you do. Just pop them with a tool or stretch the clay to release the bubbles. Have fun!

  11. Dawn Butts, 29 April, 2020

    I appreciate the tips on conditioning the clay and saving my hands.
    I have been doing this Willie’s nilly for over thirty years and I really need to take care of my hands, before I injure them.

    I will adjust my techniques.

  12. Cindy Lietz, 01 May, 2020

    That is excellent to hear Dawn! :)

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