How To Make Beads | You Must First Condition Your Polymer Clay

Conditioning Polymer Clay

Not Conditioning Your Clay Properly, Will Lead To Disappointment:

If you have worked with polymer clay for awhile, the process of conditioning your Fimo or Sculpey is second nature. You know it needs to be done, so you just do it without even thinking.

But to a newbie or beginner just starting out, the concept of “conditioning” is associated more with what you do to your hair rather than something you do to your brand new block of polymer clay.

And it doesn’t help matters much that most polymer clay packaging does not even mention how important the process of conditioning really is, if you want to make quality beads and jewelry projects.

Plus what’s even worse… there is all sorts of misinformation out on the internet that can send a new polyclayer in the wrong direction. I have seen many online videos demonstrating how to use clay straight from the package without doing a thing to it. This is just wrong!

I also saw a video that provided “perfect” instructions on how to use a pasta machine for conditioning clay… perfect that is if you like to trap air bubbles in your polymer clay. No wonder beginners are running into problems!


FUN QUIZ (there’s a prize for one lucky winner that gets all the answers correct):

1) Conditioning polymer clay is kneading, stretching and or beating clay until it is soft, pliable and the plasticizers and pigments are thoroughly mixed.

  • True or False

2) You will know that your clay is completely conditioned when there are lots of cracks along the outside edges.

  • True or False

3) When using a pasta machine, it is better to put the folded edge of the clay into the machine first, to avoid trapping air inside the clay.

  • True or False

4) When mixing two colors of unconditioned clay together, you will know they have been thoroughly conditioned when the color is completely mixed and no longer marbled.

  • True or False

5) Tearing the clay is better than folding the clay, when trying to avoid air bubbles.

  • True or False

BY THE WAY… all of the above information (and more) about conditioning polymer clay, is covered in Video #2 of my 39 Part Polymer Clay Basics Course. If you would like to see a sneak preview clip for this Course Video, here is the link:
How To Condition Polymer Clay Properly Using A Pasta Machine

Or if you want to go straight to the the course order page, here is that link: Polymer Clay Bead Making Fundamentals


Now rather than give you today’s quiz answers on a platter, I’m going let you post what you think the correct answers should be. Use the comments section below.

One lucky person (random draw), will win a bonus color recipe. You can choose from any one of the “bonus” colors listed at the members library. Click on the following link to see the full recipe list that you will be able to choose from: Polymer Clay Color Recipes

Simple Fun Quiz Rules: Jot down your answers in the comments section below AND add a quick note about something to do with conditioning polymer clay. For example…

  • An explanation for one or more of your quiz answers.
  • Another tip about conditioning clay that you would like to share.
  • Describe a mistake you have learned from in the past that perhaps involves NOT conditioning your clay.
  • Etc.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Gayle, 23 November, 2008

    1 – True
    2 – False
    3 – True
    4 – True
    5 – True

    When I condition my clay with my pasta machine, I start with the thickest setting for a few passes then switch to the 3rd thickest. This helps condition the clay faster and also blends colors faster.

  2. Marsha, 24 November, 2008

    1. True
    2. False
    3. True
    4. True
    5. True
    Following all the guidelines I’ve learned from you, Cindy, I’ve had really good results when conditioning my clay. I do have a problem though with not being able to get the pasta machine rollers really clean. I use alcohol on a paper towel but the next time I put clay through I’m picking up colors from before. What should I do about this? Thanks!

  3. Mary Ellen, 26 November, 2008

    1.True 2.False 3.True 4.True 5 True I have been having good luck with conditioning the clay except for one time I had to add the clay softner and it worked after some patience. If it is harder than usual I use the roller and roll,turn over,roll again till it gets soft enough to put in the machine. Because I just started working with the clay this spring, I’m learning to adjust the temperature around it. I like the summer, even though you have to cool it at times. The cold days I have to put the clay in a zip bag between a heating pad on top of the pasta machine. The machine and my hands are colder, since we try to keep the temp. down to save and also we sleep better when it’s cooler.

  4. Cindy Lietz, 27 November, 2008

    Well Gayle, Marsha and Mary Ellen… you all scored 100% on the pop quiz. Congratulations and thanks for playing along.

    But three entries in a random draw just seems kind of silly doesn’t it!!?? So… you all win! Please post below which Bonus Recipe you would like and I will forward your link via email.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Marsha, 27 November, 2008

    Wow! I never win anything!! :-) I would like to add Fair Skin to my color recipe library. Thank you so much!

  6. Mary Ellen, 13 December, 2008

    Wow I just got back to this Quiz! Goody I want Cashmere Rose because I could’nt find it in the hunt no matter how hard I tried Thanks Cindy

  7. Cindy Lietz, 18 December, 2008

    Well Marsha and Mary Ellen have been taken care of… paging Gayle :-)

  8. Roberta H, 12 January, 2013

    Dear Cindy,
    I have enjoyed your basics class and the free videos. I don’t know if you covered this somewhere, but I couldn’t find info–I have some packages of premo and sculpey III which have become impossible to condition. I’ve worked them with my hands, a brayer and my pasta machine and they are still crumbly and dry. Any advice you can give would be appreciated. I think I may have read somewhere that you can use baby oil (mineral oil) to soften polymer clay, but I would like some expert advice before proceeding with anything. Also, is there an expected “shelf life” for packages of polymer clay?
    Thanks in advance!
    Roberta Hittner

  9. Cindy Lietz, 13 January, 2013

    Welcome to our little clay family Roberta! I think you are going to love it here. There are tons of articles about conditioning clay. If you type ‘Conditioning clay’ or ‘hard clay’ or ‘soften clay’ into the search box at the top of the page you will find all of your answers most likely will be within the posts, videos, tutorials and comments from others.

    As far as the shelf life, that depends on how it was stored. I have been able to revive clay that was more than ten years old. But if the clay has been stored in a hot environment or the oils have been leached out from sitting on something absorbent, you might not be able to revive something that is only a few weeks old.

    Always give the package a little squeeze when you buy it. It should have a little give to it. I think it feels similar to squeezing the end of my thumb. If it is hard as a rock, then it was most likely stored improperly and therefor difficult or even impossible to bring back to life.

    Hope that helps to answer some of your questions.

  10. Roberta H, 13 January, 2013

    Thanks so much for your reply and the great resources you provide! I look forward to learning more about this and many other topics.
    Take care,

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