Here are some answers to a lot of questions I had before I started working with polymer clay:
What kind of clay should I use?
I've tried two different brands: FIMO and SCULPEY. They're close in price, but FIMO is slightly more expensive. The baking instructions are a little different, so I wouldn't mix the two brands. The biggest difference is that FIMO is much harder to work with. It takes a lot longer to knead the clay, and it ends out hurting your hands even. However, it is also less soft and sticky, so it is easier to get it into the shape you want. SCULPEY is much softer and faster to work with. However, sometimes it's too soft and it doesn't do what you want it to do. I think that I prefer FIMO even though it takes longer, but many people prefer SCULPEY.
How do you bake it?
This is the part that was so surprisingly easy. All you have to do is make a shape, put it on a cookie sheet, and pop it in the oven. (Each brand has different times and temperatures so read the package carefully). Let it cool before doing anything else with it, because it is fragile while hot.
Does the color or size change when you bake it?
Not really. Sometimes the color changes very slightly, as does the size. For most projects it's completely unnoticeable. For very precise projects, the slight change in size might make a difference.
Can you paint it? Do you need to use a glaze or sealant?
There is still so much about polymer clay for me to learn. You don't have to paint it or use a glaze at all. If you want to, you can paint it with simple acrylic paint (after it cools) and then coat it with a sealant. If you choose to use a glaze, you just paint on a coat after the clay has cooled and let it dry.
Do I need to buy any special tools?
Not necessarily. You can make so many great projects with just clay and your hands. You can also use a lot of things you probably already have around the house instead of buying tools just for clay. For example, you could use a rolling pin, craft knife, box cutter, kitchen knife, pizza cutter, cookie cutters, paperclips, toothpicks, jewelry wire, rubber stamps, play-doh molds, and anything with an interesting texture.
(NOTE: Once you've used something with polymer clay, you shouldn't use it with food ever again!)
I bought a few tools because I'm planning on making a lot of things with clay in the future. They are also useful tools for other craft projects.
1. An acryllic roller (Sculpey Acrylic Clay Roller-8")
2. A clay cutter (Sculpey Super Slicer With Comfort Handles)
3. Some tiny cookie cutters (9 Pack Mini Geometric or 22 Pack Geometric Cutters)
4. A starter tool set (11-Piece Pottery Tool Set)
What's a good project to start out with?
Here are a few awesome projects for someone just beginning to work with Polymer Clay. They can all be made with just your hands, your oven, and everyday kitchen or craft items. (Plus optional jewelry findings).
1. Clay Bangles (via Delighted Momma)
2. Clay Bead Necklace (via Delighted Momma)
3. Braided Clay Bracelet (via Delighted Momma)
(Delighted Momma is an amazing site with so many great tutorials. Lindsay is the one who inspired me to start making things with polymer clay.)
4. Glittery Faceted Beads (via Hazel and Agnes)
5. Painted Leaf Pendants (via Alisa Burke)
6. DIY Clay Earrings (via The Alison Show)
7. Stamped Clay Gift Tags (via Art Mind)
8. Fingerprint Pendant Necklace (via Sarah Ortega)
9. Clay Rock Magnets (via Happy Serendipity)