More Ideas for Polymer Clay Plastic Storage Boxes

Ideas For Polymer Clay Storage

Vid #68: This Plastic Embroidery Thread Box is “Sew” Terrific for Storing Polymer Clay Canes:

I know my posts have been pretty corny over the last couple of days. “Something Fishy” yesterday and “Sew Terrific” today. But hopefully you are at least getting a few good storage ideas for keeping your polymer clay safe and protected.

As I said yesterday, if you are going to store any kind of polymer clay (Primo, Fimo, Sculpey, Kato, etc) in plastic containers, you must make sure that the type of plastic used to make the storage box, is actually compatible with the clay.

I can tell you with confidence that my Beechwood brand, plastic embroidery box works just fine with all of my polymer clay. The small compartments inside of this box are perfect for keeping short lengths of cane organized and well protected.

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The full version of the Embroidery Box” preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-004 Back Issue Package.

This “Embroidery Storage Box” video tutorial is part of my ongoing series on being resourceful when it comes to ideas for polymer clay storage.

  1. Cindy Lietz, 06 May, 2008

    Plastic embroidery boxes come in quite a few different colors of plastic. A cool idea is to color coordinate your boxes with the canes or clay kept inside of them. If you have lots of canes to keep organized, this makes finding the right one when you need it, a whole lot faster.

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Creative Techniques for Polymer Clay Inclusions

  2. Katina, 24 August, 2008

    So, are all the embroidery boxes safe for polymer clay, regardless of the color? And, can they be left in the boxes unwrapped or do you still have to wrap them with a film of some sort so they don’t dry out?

  3. Cindy Lietz, 24 August, 2008

    This particular brand and model of embroidery box is fine without wrapping the canes. If you found your clay was sticking you would have to wrap them. Generally all plastic boxes with a 1 or 5 in the recycling symbol are OK to use with polymer clay.

    Cindy’s last post..Polymer Clay Tutorial: Adding Fimo Cane Slices to Round Beads

  4. Zoe Kessler, 20 September, 2008

    Cindy: What a great idea! I have several bead boxes and they would work well also. Your idea made me think of using those. I also use a fishing tackle box by Plana (you can buy cheap at WMart) for beading and they would work great for polymer clay. They come in different sizes so there would probably be one for everybody. Thanks again for helping me learn something new today. love ya, Zoe’

  5. Heather d’Entremont, 20 September, 2008

    Hi Cindy,

    I’ve been playing with clay for awhile now but really appreciate your videos. They’re straight forward and easy to follow. Thanks so much :)


  6. Maria, 20 September, 2008

    Dear Cindy,

    How do you always read my mind? I was just trying to figure out the best way to store my canes (which I’m happy to say are looking better!) when out pops this video. Thank you, yet again!


  7. Andrea, 20 September, 2008

    OOH OOH membership news, now I’m afraid to leave the computer,don’t want to miss out if numbers are ltd.Also cos of the time difference here in the UK I will just have to use matchsticks to keep awake.
    Great box tip, as I have several of theese just waiting to be filled & good to know that you don’t have to wrap [I couldn’t make anything rhyme even if I tried-ha ha].Going to frieds tonight & I had asked for some claying stuf for my birthday,so getting excited[I am also looking forward to seeing them]

  8. Pamela, 20 September, 2008

    I also find that the ‘Stanley’ type tool boxes work great as well…these are the black and yellow boxes and they come in all sizes too…You can purchase these at your local home improvement store….
    Once again Cindy… done good….;0)

  9. Cindy Lietz, 20 September, 2008

    @Zoe: Thank you for your comment! You’re right those Plano Fishing boxes are excellent for clay! For those that want to see what we’re talking about, click the link by my name.

    @Heather: I really appreciate that!

    @Maria: Didn’t I tell you I was Clairvoyant?! ;-) Glad I could help!

    @Andrea: I know it is really exciting isn’t it! That is cute about the toothpicks! Maybe we should launch in the middle of the night, just for you! :-)

    @Pamela: Thank you! I’ll have to go take a look at those boxes… they sound cool!

  10. Brenda, 20 September, 2008

    This was very helpful. Thanks for the information.

  11. Kimberlee, 20 September, 2008

    I was going to ask about any symbols I should look for to know a box is safe, but you already answered this. So if Recycling symbols 1 and 5 are okay, are there any symbols that will tell me for sure that I should not store clay in them? What type of plastic is the problem (for leaching, right)?

  12. Kim, 21 September, 2008

    Hi Cindy,

    How long can you keep the canes in there with out them getting hard or crumbly?


  13. Cindy Lietz, 21 September, 2008

    @Brenda: Thank you… I appreciate that!

    @Kimberlee: That’s a good question. I should do a test on that! I have had some problems with some hard crystal clear plastics, you know the ones that snap and break in sharp points. The kind that CDs are in and some small plastic hinged boxes for beads. Unfortunately they didn’t have numbers on them, so I can’t give you a definitive answer right now.

    @Kim: You technically can keep canes in there forever as long as they are not leaching out. It probably depends on the brand and the temperature of storage though. I found some old clay in my stuff that was from the 80’s. Some was super crumbly and some was just fine. So I guess what I’m saying is ‘a long time’, but use them up just to be sure!

  14. Oana Manta, 21 September, 2008

    Thank you for the very helpful videos! I found late about it, and i don’t know how to get the videos i missed. Sorry for my english, I hope you understand! Love, Oana

  15. Cindy Lietz, 21 September, 2008

    You are very welcome Oana. Your English is fine. What country are you from? I love it how the Internet brings so many like minded people together from all around the world!!!

    In regards to getting access to the missed videos from the weekly Guest List newsletter series, please click on the “Bead Jewelry Making Link” by my name above. It will take you to a response that I just posted yesterday about this question in another thread.

  16. Oana Manta, 22 September, 2008

    Hello, dear tutor!
    I am from Romania, and I am very happy to learn about polymer clay from you! You are the best tutor ever!
    I speake english good, but writing, well, that’s another story :)!!!
    Love, Oana

  17. Oana Manta, 22 September, 2008

    And a suggestion: maybe you will make a video about baking polymer clay, because my work with fimo soft is not very hard after is baked, and if I try, I can bend it (the flat pieces). Y don’t know what I do wrong, because the temperature is good, the time should be longer than 30 min.?
    Love, Oana

  18. Cindy Lietz, 22 September, 2008

    Thank you so much Oana and welcome!! It is wonderful to hear from you, all the way from Romania!

    Yes, bake your beads longer. Go to the Baking Beads link beside my name to read more about that.

    Ask as many questions as you like… I love to help!

  19. Cindy Erickson, 25 September, 2008


    Thanks for letting us know about these boxes. I have some that I use to hold my findings for jewelry making. I was not sure if they were the right kind of plastic or not for polymer clay. It is good to have options!

    :)Cindy Erickson

  20. Cindy Lietz, 25 September, 2008

    You’re welcome Cindy E.! Glad I could help!

  21. Patricia F, 21 March, 2009

    I also found the recycle #5 number on the ziploc plastic storage containers.. love the small round 1 and two cup sizes. They come in handy for many different reasons, epecially working with several colors in one project and they stack up nicely to save space in your work area.. They come in sets of 6 and 3, found them at the dollar store for 2.50 a set

  22. Cindy Lietz, 22 March, 2009

    Wow Patricia thanks for passing that info along! Spring is the perfect time to do a little organizing and this is a helpful tip for that!

  23. Sue, 11 January, 2010

    I’ve just discovered that different brands of polymer clay can react differently to a specific type of storage container.

    I’ve been organising all my polymer clay, beading, and other art and craft goodies over the Christmas break. When I tested the type of container I wanted to use for bead and cane storage to see if I’d still need to wrap my canes in Glad Wrap, I found that:

    – Kato, my preferred brand, didn’t react with the container at all: no stickiness, no visible residue, nothing.

    – Premo, which I use for the translucent background for ghost canes, had a very minor reaction with the container: there was no stickiness, but when I lifted my test Premo clay off my test container plastic I could see a very minor mark where the clay had been. The mark didn’t rub off immediately, and a quick wipe with Jiff didn’t remove it either, so I think it is actually a change to the surface of the plastic.

    – Fimo Soft, which I don’t actually use but which I had lying around for testing, had a moderate reaction with the container: my test piece of Fimo Soft clay stuck to the test container plastic, and when I pulled it off bits of Fimo stayed stuck. When I scraped these bits up they had a slightly different texture to the rest of the Fimo (they were stickier). After doing that the test container plastic seemed fully clear, but I could see a fine line running around where the test Fimo had been. However, the real indicator is the stickiness and the change in the Fimo texture.

    For anyone who is interested, the container I tested was “Krus” from IKEA, which is a hard, completely transparent plastic container with a clip-on lid that is also mostly the same completely transparent plastic, and optional dividers:

    I chose this type of container because (a) I wanted something completely transparent, and (b) four of the 24x19cm containers fit perfectly side by side in my IKEA “Billy” bookcares, which in turn fit perfectly along the back wall of my “workshop” (spare bedroom). It’s food grade plastic for food storage which supposedly shouldn’t react with anything, but I had to see for myself.

    To test it, I took a spare container divider, rolled balls of unbaked translucent Kato, Premo and Fimo Soft, squished them down HARD onto the container divider, and left them for three days before lifting them up to see what, if anything, had been doing on underneath.

    (And I’m still wrapping my canes in Glad Wrap just to be on the safe side, except for all-Kato canes that will be used up quickly.)

  24. Cara, 28 February, 2010

    @Sue: Thanks for doing that test, I had some problems with storing fimo in exactly the same box. Such as shame as the canes were pretty much ruined- all sticky. I lined the box with tin foil in the end but then it isn’t transparent. Good to know that Kato would be OK in the box.

    I have also had problems with putting 2 pieces of Fimo cane in a plastic bag together and them sticking to each other – pulling parts off when I tried to separate them. I guess I should get some UK Glad Wrap equivalent to avoid that in future and probably use a blade to separate them instead of just pulling – would have cuased less damage.

  25. Jocelyn, 12 January, 2010

    Sue, how timely! Just getting ready to invest in one of the IKEA glass front door storage systems to finish up in here. It’s been a long road, but, when I finally get this place set up and ready to tackle polymer clay and sewing when I can, what a joyful day. Thanks for the good ideas.

  26. Cindy Lietz, 12 January, 2010

    @Sue: That is excellent and detailed information Sue!! Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Do you happen to know the recycling number that is on the bottom of that particular plastic? And are the dividers made of identical plastic to the rest of the container? (Just wondering if they may have used some more flexible or rigid for the dividers.) If I remember correctly, type 5 and type 1 have not been a problem for me, but of course I haven’t tried this for a long time and there have been quite a few formula changes with the new Phthalate free clays. Good to know about those particular containers from IKEA since I am hoping to redo my studio soon and IKEA is definitely one of the places that I will be purchasing supplies from.

    @Jocelyn: That’s great to hear that you’re getting more and more set up. It is fun planning spaces to do crafts in, isn’t it! I just the love the ‘potential’ in it all.

  27. Sue, 12 January, 2010

    @Cindy: There are no recycling numbers on those “Krus” containers.

    The container base and dividers are exactly the same type of plastic (SAN plastic according to IKEA’s web site, i.e. styrene-acrylonitrile resin), and that same plastic is also used for most of the lid (the big see-through panel).

    The lid uses a second type of plastic (ABS plastic, i.e. acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) for the outside edge of the lid and its clips, with synthetic rubber underneath where the lid sits on the container base.

    I’m really happy with them. They fit my bookcases perfectly both vertically and horizontally, they look good, the lid clip mechanism is very practical, and the fact that the lids are mainly completely clear too means light penetrates the stacks of boxes well and all the colour and detail inside is perfectly visible while everything is still sitting on the shelving.

    I bought my local IKEA out of them, actually (“you AGAIN???”)… and when they restock I’ll be back for some more!

  28. Sue, 12 January, 2010

    @Cindy: I should have mentioned that the other neat thing for a polymer clay workshop that I got from IKEA was a pair of “Udden” kitchen consoles, which I put back-to-back (without the splashbacks) in the centre of the room to make a large island workbench. They have smooth stainless steel tops which means I can use my heat gun against them, can put hot things from the oven wherever I want, and can roll and cut directly on the surface too.

    They’re a nice height for working at while standing, but I also got a stool (“Julius”, 63cm version) in case I want to sit and work.

    You can add shelving, cabinets and drawers underneath, but my local IKEA was out of stock over the Christmas break… when they are back in stock I’m adding one set of open shelving, two sets of drawers, and one cabinet which I’ll line with sound absorbent foam to make a “home” for my neat but noisy vibratory tumbler.

  29. Jocelyn, 13 January, 2010

    Honestly I gave up on wrapping canes for storage a long time ago. Just use a spaghetti jar (small opening, large contents) cover the lid with polymer, and group canes in them by color or design specifics. Even though the metal cap has a seal, I still add a small piece of plastic over the opening to seal the jar. Display them in a dark closet. Lasted for years, and better, I can see what I want without unwrapping tons of stuff to find it.

  30. Cara, 28 February, 2010

    @Jocelyn: How are the canes in the jar? All just jumbled in? I can’t quite picture it. Do you have problems with canes sticking together?

  31. Jocelyn, 09 July, 2010

    @Cara: Cara, the canes are still great, tested some the other day. A slight dusting of cornstarch keeps them from sticking, and it’s cool and dark in the closet, plus I group them by color. Like Cindy’s idea, I want to be able to see what I have and use it, and this is the fastest way I’ve found, plus no fingerprints.

  32. Cindy Lietz, 13 January, 2010

    @Sue: Thanks so much for the info! That will come in super handy when I’m re-doing my studio!

    @Jocelyn: I have a bunch of canes that I have now put into a plastic drawer unit a friend gave me. It is compatible with the clay and since the drawers are covered I don’t have to wrap these canes either. It is easier if you don’t have to go to the effort, plus they are easier tot see that way.

  33. Sue F, 28 February, 2010

    @Cara: You’re welcome. Thanks for bringing the topic up again, by the way… that “Krus” container test is still sitting in my workshop, so I went and had another look at it.

    7 weeks after I posted the initial 3-day test, things are now as follows:

    – The Kato still shows no reaction with the container at all. The clay is just as it was, and there are no marks or residue visible on the container.

    – The Premo has now left a definite frosted-looking mark on the container where it’s been sitting. It’s not stuck, and the consistency of the clay still seems pretty normal, but there’s definitely a reaction.

    – And the Fimo has basically become part of the container. Yuck!

  34. Cara, 02 March, 2010

    I emailed STAEDTLER who manufacture fimo about storage – here is their response

    Please store unpacked material wrapped in aluminium foil, in tins or plastic bags (PE / PP). Please avoid unhardened FIMO coming into contact with polystyrene (PS), PVC or Styrofoam, since the surface may undergo a chemical change – as described in your mail.

  35. Phaedrakat, 04 March, 2010

    @Cara: Good info!

  36. Samone, 08 July, 2010

    Hi Cindi: Do the canes dry out since they are stored without plastic wrap around them?


    Love your videos.


  37. Cindy Lietz, 22 July, 2010

    @Samone: No Samone, they don’t dry out if they’re not wrapped, they just get dirty or dusty. Polymer clay uses oils and plasticizers to stay soft, not water or solvent. So it doesn’t dry out in the air, but it does get hard and crumbly if the oils and plasticizers leach out. It is important that whatever the clay touches doesn’t absorb the oils. The type of plastic wrap is also very important because some will bond with the clay and make it sticky and weird. Go to the article by my name for more info on that.

  38. Jennifer T., 01 March, 2011

    I saw somebody said they use clear contaners for polymer clay but that dont work for Premo. At least not completly clear boxes in my experiance. A semi-transparrent bead box and such work fine though. If you try to use the reely clear stiff kinda plastic the clay will melt it and make it blury. The box and clay both get ruined in the proccess. Thanx for all the tips. J

  39. Sue F, 01 March, 2011

    “I saw somebody said they use clear contaners for polymer clay but that dont work for Premo.”

    That would have been me. The completely clear rigid plastic IKEA “Krus” containers work perfectly for Kato: after 14+ months there isn’t even the slightest marking on them from raw Kato sitting directly on the plastic.

    I agree that they do not work for Premo unless you use some kind of safe lining: there was enough of a reaction when in direct contact for there to be noticeable cloudiness under the Premo sample on a test piece after several weeks. By now, more than a year later, the Premo sample is partially stuck to the test plastic, and where it’s not stuck the surface of the test plastic underneath where the Premo was is roughened and looks frosted.

    And they definitely do not work for Fimo without lining! With Fimo there was a consistency change even in the very short term; then, after several weeks the Fimo had basically become melded with my test piece, and now, more than a year later, it looks like it’s submerging itself in the clear plastic and will eventually eat its way through!

    I don’t like the semi-transparent plastic boxes or containers myself because you can’t see through them well enough, and they don’t transmit sufficient light when they’re stacked either. So for Premo and Fimo, I just line my completely clear “Krus” containers with a single layer of Glad Wrap: that’s sufficient to protect them without losing the ability to see everything inside with perfect clarity. (Kato, of course, doesn’t need even that and goes straight in.)

    So… test for polymer clay compatibility if you can, and if in doubt use a safe lining like Glad Wrap, or use a more generally safe plastic if you don’t mind your containers not being completely clear.

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