Coping With Stress and Illness Through Polymer Clay Art Therapy

Polymer Clay Art Therapy

How Polymer Clay Can Keep Your Mind Positive During The Healing Process:

The subject of using polymer clay and other hobbies as a stress management technique has been on my mind a lot lately. In fact just today I had a bit of a conversation with a very sweet lady (Betsy) that was telling me how she started making polymer clay candle holders as a way to stay mentally positive during her battle with thyroid cancer. Here’s a link to the article page where we were chatting if you want to read more about her inspirational story: How To Make Polymer Clay Canes

Betsy’s wonderful attitude in coping with her illness reminded me of how art therapy can really help with the healing process. Here’s a couple of other stories I’ve heard recently of others who have found comfort in polymer clay…

A polymer clay artist by the name of Mike Devine is a New York City Policeman who looked to polymer clay as a way to help him deal with a particularly traumatic event. He needed something to do during his recovery phase. Today Mike continues to develop his polymer clay skills and says this focus really helps in coping with the many job related stresses he deals with on a daily basis.

Another lovely woman and talented clay artist, Ponsawan Silas, sadly found her whole world turned upside down when her daughter was in a tragic accident that left her in need of full time care. Ponsawan says she turns to her clay “every chance she gets” to help keep her sanity.

Although I have never had to deal with as serious events as these, I sometimes do find myself becoming overwhelmed with daily responsibilities and have had anxiety attacks in the past. Whenever stress gets the better of me, I roll a little ball of clay in my hands and the stress starts to melt away.

I am wondering if you ever find yourself claying as a way of dealing with your stress? Does it help you like it helps so many others? There is so much more that can be discussed on this important topic. What are your feelings?

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. KB, 02 October, 2008

    It helped me kick a 13 year smoking habit! = )

  2. Cindy Lietz, 03 October, 2008

    KB How fantastic is that!! You can’t smoke when your hands are busy in the clay making beads! You must feel so proud… good for you!

    Anyone else with a great story like KB?

  3. shar, 27 October, 2008

    I found polymer clay in 1999 right after someone important in my life got arrested for a serious crime. It has helped me alot in coping through that time and even with the everyday stresses of today

  4. Cindy Lietz, 28 October, 2008

    Shar, thank you so much for your candid and touching comment. There is something calming and peaceful about using your hands to create something. It gives you a sense of order and beauty when things are chaotic around you. It is such a healthy way to cope with your stress and I am very impressed with you!

    Lately I too have been stressed, and I find just having a chunk of clay at my desk or a bead that I am sanding while reading emails, helps me a great deal!

    Thank you again for sharing your story and I look forward to reading more of your comments!

  5. Annmarie, 07 December, 2008

    I have a presentation to give in a few days on how using creativity to outsource stress may be very effective. Since my presentation is on creativity I decided to buy some clay to give out to the students to use in class while I present. When I came across this page I was so happy to find that using clay really helps people cope with stress. I will be quoting from this site and sending people here if they are interested. Also I was wondering if there is a certain clay you need for this to be effective of if any clay will suffice?

  6. Cindy Lietz, 07 December, 2008

    Very Nice to meet you Annemarie. Thank you so much for your comments! I hope your presentation goes very well for you. Getting your audience involved always improves their interest in your subject, so I think your talk will be quite effective.

    As far as the type of polymer clay you use, it really depends on what you are going to do with it. If your students will make something with the clay and then bake it, then a high quality brand like Premo is best, since it is strong and they will have the best success with it. Premo is my favorite clay to make beads with.

    Another option is to use an air-dry clay like Makin’s, where your students could take their work home to dry hard.

    If they are just going make little things and then squish them back up, again and again, then plasticine would be better since it will never dry out.

    Good luck, I know you will do well! Come back and let us know what your students thought about your presentation. I’d love to hear about it!

  7. Cindy Lietz, 14 March, 2009


    I’ve been spending some time lately answering a few ‘health and wellness’ related emails that I’d like to mention here. For privacy reasons I’m not going to mention any names, but the topics fit well, into the context of the article on this blog page.

    A member at the library wrote…

    • “Cindy It has not been an easy time for me with my husband’s cancer and such, and when I get a few hours to myself I try to catch up. I’m so happy for you and proud to be a member. Plus this is the best therapy for me having a wonderful person like you to teach me and to help me feel better.”

    I feel very blessed that my tutoring work is playing at least a small role in helping out with difficult situations like this. Please join me in sending out your thoughts and prayers to those who may be in need of some extra spiritual love and support.

    Another non-member said…

    • “I am disabled and I would love to participate in these clay classes. I just can’t afford it.”

    I wanted to share this comment because I am learning that many subscribers to my free email newsletter do not realize how affordable a membership at the paid library actually is. So to make sure you know, the price for the weekly video tutorial classes works out to only $3.32 per month.

    I have purposely kept the cost so low in order to to make it as affordable as possible for as many people as possible… even if you are on a tight fixed income.

    Several members have told me that they have actually saved a bunch of money by becoming a paid subscriber because they are making far fewer mistakes than if they tried learning new polymer clay techniques all on their own. Mistakes can be costly. My tutorials will help you to avoid making those costly mistakes.

    Just wanted to share that perspective.
    Take care everyone,

  8. Angel, 26 April, 2009

    A person very close to me has been imprisoned, I suffer from depression and I am stressed beyond capacity on many levels. I was looking for low cost art therapy of some sort for myself and my son where I live and came across this article which I find very interesting. Please, if any one can tell me more about this form of clay and also where I can get the art therapy I am seeking in New York, I would appreciate a great deal. Thank You

  9. Cindy Lietz, 27 April, 2009

    I am very sorry to hear you are so stressed Angel. Hopefully someone will let you know of an art therapist in your area.

    In the mean time, get some clay and just play with it, like a kid would. Roll a ball, make snakes, form things and smash them back up. You’ll find the stress starts to melt away if you don’t put pressure on yourself to create a masterpiece.

    As for information on claying, this blog is filled with free information. Click the home page and scroll through the photos until you find a topic that interests you. Or you can use the search box at the top of the page to find what you need.

    If you decide you would like to learn how to make beads, there is a beginners course that both you and your son may enjoy. If you click the link by my name, it will take you to a page that describes everything in the course.

    Ask questions in the comment sections and participate in the conversations. You will find it is a very supportive community here.

    Take care of yourself. Hope you find peace within and joy in your art.

  10. Angel, 29 April, 2009

    Awww, thank you so much for responding and for the support and info. I appreciate a great deal and I will follow these links and see what i find. Bless xoxo

  11. Cindy Lietz, 27 November, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing June Frederick, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Polymer Clay Creative Art Therapy” link by my name to have a look.

  12. Cindy Lietz, 13 December, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Alexa Kazashinskaya, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Polymer Clay and Disabilities” link by my name to have a look.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 08 April, 2010


    Polymer Clay Projects

    Hello to Everyone,

    Some new Spotlight project pictures that relate to the topic of this page (Polymer Clay Art Therapy), have just been added in another post. They were submitted by Brenda-M. The link by my name will take you to where you can see them, along with a bit of a write up. Hopefully they will inspire you to achieve great things with your own polymer clay projects.

  14. Ritzs, 10 May, 2010

    Hi Cindy, On June 17th I have to have surgery on the top of my spine. I should have had the surgery in March but it was postponed and it seems I will be out of action for about 4 to six months I just hope I can still clay I am not one for being inactive I still have four weeks to do things… like this week’s tutorial… it looks good and I will have a go over the next couple of days. Your site has kept me sane over the last few months while coping with my health issues. I feel like I have a family of friends who care. Thank you and Doug for all you have done.

  15. Cindy Lietz, 10 May, 2010

    Ritzs – Thank you for being part of the community. You are such an important part of it! I’m so glad that polymer clay and your family of friends here, have been helpful for you. All the best with your upcoming surgery!

  16. Jen L, 25 May, 2011

    I think doing something with our hands- whether it’s squeezing a stress ball or molding clay, the stress gets channeled to our hands and therefore soothes the mind. When I’m stressed, I like to play with silly putty because the tension of the putty helps me relax. How can I view the pictures from the classes?

  17. Cindy Lietz, 25 May, 2011

    @Jen L: I like your silly putty idea :-) The link by my name will take you to a page where all of my classes are listed. For each class you can watch a preview video showcasing the polymer clay projects discussed in the lessons.

  18. Nicola G, 06 September, 2013

    Hi Cindy, I love your videos. Working with polymer clay is my relaxation as I also have an autoimmune arthritis ankylosing spondylitis which I need distraction from at times. Thanks again for providing access to the wonderful polymer clay videos you allow us to watch your great creations. Cheers from Australia.

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