June 28, 2011

Homemade Polymer Clay

At different points over the last few years I've played around with different kinds of homemade "clay." My favorite is a polymer clay also known as cold porcelain. Its main ingredients are cornstarch and white PVA or Elmer's glue. I like it because it's smooth and a little bit elastic to work with and dries extremely hard. It's also relatively non-porous so it takes paint really well. And it doesn't degrade over time like baker's clay or salt clay does. I've used it to cover blown-out chicken eggs for Christmas ornaments, as well as to make various and sundry bowls, boxes and pendant blanks, among other things.


But it took awhile to get the recipe right. Most of the ones I found online resulted in a compound that was way too sticky to work with. So I experimented with different proportions of glue and cornstarch and the inclusion/exclusion of various secondary ingredients. What follows is the fruit of my experimentation. Lucky you!

Materials
  • 3/4 cup white glue
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons mineral oil (I used baby oil but reportedly even vaseline will work)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Non-stick pot
  • Wooden spoon
Steps
Add cornstarch to glue in a nonstick pot. Mix together and then add mineral oil and lemon juice. Blend well.


Cook over low flame stirring pretty much constantly (you can take a quick break or two if your arm gets tired, which it will) until the mixture resembles mashed potatoes.



Remove from heat! Squirt a little additional mineral oil around the top of your mashed potato mass and with your hands, remove it from the pot. Knead until smooth. It's best to do this while it's still as hot as you can handle.


Pull off a bit to work with and put the rest in a re-sealable plastic bag with the top about half-way open until it's cooled down a bit. Then seal the bag (with as little air in it as you can) and store in the fridge.

Let dry about 2-3 days, then paint, or not.

Until next time --

Enjoy!


Linda

95 comments:

Jingle said...

Well, that is interesting! I love your gnome. I might have to try this..hmmm....

Metalicious said...

What a great idea, thanks Linda!

Lu said...

As soon as I saw the title of this post, I knew it was a Purty Bird joint. You are so creative and lucky us, indeed! Do you know if one can add food coloring to the mass while it's still pliable?

PurtyBird said...

Thanks, Lu and everyone else! :) Lu: yes, you can add food coloring, but for even tinting throughout, you'll want to do it while the mixture is still liquid, and even before cooking. If you want a swirly effect, then add it to the dough. Be prepared for food color-stained fingers. As an aside, you can also add acrylic paint. Have fun!

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

That is so cool! It never occurred to me to try making my own before. Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

Karina said...

Great tutorial! Thanks for showing us your secrets. :)

Anke said...

Thanks for sharing your special recipe, it is indeed a little different than the one I once tried.

I have a question concerning shrinkage: Does your clay shrink while it dries? Because the clay I made shrank about 5-10%, so I was wondering how your clay-covered eggs "survived" the drying process ;)

Colorfulcreationsbys said...

I thought your polymer clay recipe was a great idea. I recently found a similar recipe to make playdough and it turned out great. I just tried to follow your directions and must have done something really wrong because my mixture was still extremely sticky at the "mashed potato" stage and so I cooked until it was too think to stir anymore and then when I took it out of the pan, it was still way too sticky to knead. I followed the measurements exactly so any ideas on what else I might have done wrong? Thanks and I'm really excited to try it and get it right!

Stephanie

Lav said...

I was wondering if I sealed this clay with a sealer glue purchased would this make a mug? Or stand up to water?

Lav said...

I was wondering how well does this mixture stand up to heat and liquid if sealed? I wanted to make a mug and some pens....

Lav

Anonymous said...

I myself wanted to make mugs or bowls to use for food as well. However I found an article saying that there is a chance that DINP (found in PVC I believe) can be ingested in small dosages and no one knows for sure whether that's a good thing or not. I wouldn't chance it.

Anonymous said...

Colorfulcreationsby, this may be too late for you, but mine was too sticky too. At first I thought it might have been the glue (I bought Elmer's School glue instead of Glue-All), but my husband had the idea to put it back on the stove and let it cook for a bit longer. Lo and behold, it worked! the consistency was much better, more like clay. So for anyone else reading this that might have had the too-sticky problem, try "cooking" it more.

Anonymous said...

Would this clay work if I wanted to make ornaments out of cookie cutters or would it be too sticky? Thanks!!

Chessles said...

Awesome.... I've been fascinated with clay lately and was tempted to buy Sculpey... But this will work perfectly for now! It doesn't need to be cooked in the oven, right? Also how much does the batch make?! Thank you so much! awesome post!

Anonymous said...

Thank You so much for the great recipe! The kids will LOVE this and the price to make is totally affordable unlike real polymer clay! You are GREAT Linda!
Sage

cucicucicoo said...

can't wait to try this! thanks! :) lisa

coffeenut said...

can you bake it to make it harden faster, like the kind you buy at a craft store?

Cathy said...

Yes, like coffeenut, I am also wondering if this can be baked? Thanks! Cool recipe!

Hoofmaiden said...

Curious if the dried result would be damaged by contact with water or not.

Anonymous said...

oh wow thanks so much for sharing this, I work with polymer clay so much and where i am living now i can never find it on sale, it is getting more expensive all the time. this is a wonder and i love it thanks.. ps. can you put any dyes in it to color it? have you tried? thanks so much
tina

Anonymous said...

PutryBird....I am trying to make beads...I've been experimenting with homemade clays and none seem to work for the beads....as when it starts to dry and I put needle thru it for hole it cracks...would this work? Thanks...lesnick.cindi@yahoo.com

Amy P said...

This is great - thank you so much for sharing this. (As seen on Pintrest)

Donna said...

Thanks so much for sharing your recipe with us. I'm excited to see how this works!

Blessings,
Donna

Anonymous said...

:) i used this recipe for couple of years and i made some adjustment which would result a silky smooth perfect dough for all crafting purposes and u could save lot of money too :)
so what u do is to follow the same recipe but additional cup of water and a table spoon of glycerin instead of vegetable oil, then mix em all with mixer until smooth, pour it in micro oven safe bowl and bake it for 3 min in microwave oven . take out let cool a bit not for long you need the warmth of the dough to kneed it with a table spoon of Vaseline and kneed it well until all Vaseline dissolves in the dough. VOILA !! you have this great dough you can make any thing you want now its time to get crafty!! :)

SweetPepperRose said...

oooh, thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe! Will give it try in the very near future :)
JoAnn

J9 said...

Thanks for sharing! Can you bake this like sulpey clay?

Bubbles & Blessings said...

Is it possible that the recipe needs a cup of water aswell? I made this yesterday, but without water It was lumpy already and did not look like the first photo. I added 1 cup and so was able to cook it and then kneed it.
Does it need baking? If so what temp and how long?
thanks for sharing!

Iciee said...

so does this mean that no baking is required for this polymer clay?

Anonymous said...

Is there another option other than the glue-all? I've heard of using wood glue but I don't want a yellow clay. Is there any other glue I can use??
Can't wait to try this out!

moderator said...

very easy to make...
does it crack or break when dried?

Judy Bostic said...

Hope this isn't a Dah! But what's the purpose for the lemon juice?
Thx everyone

Sophia Ysabelle D. Yu said...

Can you bake this? What if you want the paint to dry faster? :)
Please answer!

Sophia Ysabelle D. Yu said...

Will this rot???

nanaleah said...

Thank you do much for sharing this recipe and your expertise with us!! I will definitely be giving this a try!

8933b584-8ba5-11e0-af70-000bcdcb5194 said...

Would this stand up to weather? I want to make an outside decoration, but I'm concerned that rain will cause it to dissolve.

Candace said...

Please don't call this polymer clay. As a clay artist who specializes in polymer, I can tell you this is nothing like polymer clay and calling it such is misleading to those who might wish to learn about polymer. Polymer clay has plasticizers in it which require a low temperature heat cure to eliminate, in order to harden and retain their plastic like quality. Cold porcelain clay and homemade clays do not handle anything like polymer clay does. Polymer clay reacts to warmth, by softening and to low heat by hardening (aka curing). What you have made is an air dry clay.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, really good to find an alternative, here in Zimbabwe,where art and craft stuff is either hard to find or really expensive. thanks again, much better than salt dough.....horrible stuff.

Anonymous said...

I guess you don't know the answer to the questions asked, as you have not answered:

Does it shrink?
Can it be baked?
Will it stand up to washing?

I know we should experiment ourselves, but since you have already made some projects, we would appreciate your answers.

June said...

I love this clay too.. and like Candace said - this is not polymer clay. It is cheaper, and has different properties. In answer to the other question about baking.. i've baked it when i added some polymer clay accents to the dried piece. Baking at 250 degrees didnt hurt it. I know it will erode with water, so do seal real good if you put it outside. Yes it shrinks a bit.. not major. and no it will not stand up to hot liquid. hope that helps

Patricia Needham said...

Thanks I'm going to repost this on my blog after I have a chance to do this with my kids. This is awesome.

Ardienne said...

Thanks Candace. This is all over Pinterest as "Porcelain Clay/Polymer Clay" and "Homemade Polymer Clay". Some of the people who replied to this post seem to think this is actually a version of polymer clay.
I wish it were retitled and any reference to polymer clay removed.

Browneyed hippie said...

I'm so happy to find recipe and then the revised one with the adjusted recipe for silkiness ! too cool thank you all for the comments and advice and especially Candice for explaining to all about it not really being Polymer clay ..You see when your an artist and you sell a piece and expect it to last forever it's just that !! I want it to be able to be pasted down from one to the next .. I'm proud of my pieces it got my heart and soul in to it.. I dont mean to sound conseaced I'm just saying I like to know just what I'm making is going to last a life time if not longer.. ♥❤♥ HIPPIE HUGS WITH LOVE ♥❤♥ MICHELE ...

Anonymous said...

if I make some charms using this,do I need to bake it? sorry for my bad english,I'm Indonesian
Thanks

♥ ♥ ♥ Cold Porcelain by Erika Alvarado said...

That is the same recipe I have used for years!! I use cold cream in my hands at the end for kneading, in latin america we know it as cold porcelain or "pasta francesa" "porcelana fria". I really love this air dry clay. Please visit my blog or facebook to see my work. I hope you like it.

Megan Noel said...

i am guessing the reason some people had their clay turn out sticky even if they followed the recipe exactly was because it probably makes a difference how humid it is and altitude can also make a difference. have you ever tried to make gnocci on a humid day? it turns into sticky mush.

Anonymous said...

Hey Judy Bostic I think the lemon juice may be a mold inhibitor? just a guess ;)

Anonymous said...

What can I use as a subsititute for Glue?

aleesya johari said...

Wow !That's is a brilliant idea !

PurtyBird said...

Answers to your questions here --

http://thenewnew.blogspot.com/2012/10/homemade-polymer-clay-questions-and.html

Thanks for your interest, everyone!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I was looking for a recipe that did not require the use of formoldahyde (a carcinogen). SOMEONE ASKED ABOUT PAINTING-Cold Porcelain is pigmented with oil paints. Add a couple of drops to the clay you wish to paint. If you want to leave it white you should still paint it with white oil otherwise the paint will dry translucent. :)PinkBat^..^

Heart of flesh said...

What will happen if you bake it

Heart of flesh said...

Okay so upon trying this I've found it to be great (so far- items I made still have to dry out) buy I had to make 2 batches because the first one was way too gooey to use. So what I recommend from trying this is to cook it and stir constantly until it forms into a Sorda ball and starts to cone off the sides of pot (you need a pot that's good at non sticking) and Mabey even a little tiny bit longer. Then kneed and roll into ball.

Anonymous said...

Ya u bake at 400 degress tell u think it is hard

Anonymous said...

Can we use normal glue?��the transparent one

Anonymous said...

I did it and it worked great.I really want to paint it tho and dont want to have to wait for 2 or 3 days to dry. can this be cooked in the oven?..thanks for the info..

Anonymous said...

Hey, can i use corn flour instead of corn starch in your recipe??

vardah said...

as you said....really am lucky...thanks dear....

Petroglyph said...

Yes, Meghan, the person who spoke of stickiness after following the recipe, made me wonder about altitude.

Anonymous said...

what if i don't hsve non stick pan ?

Niesha said...

Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I pinned this on my pinterest board. Had another pinterester ask..." what is the recipe ratio?"

Lisa Leavitt said...

Thank you - definitely giving it a try :)

annie68776 said...

I have used the glue and cornstarch to put in nail holes on my walls. Works great!

Sandra Miller founder said...

This is my favorite recipe to use for smoothness of texture and easy to work with. I replace the mineral oil with glycerine. Unfortunately I got reports back from a few customers in the southern states that cockroaches loved the stuff!!!

I had sold a number of dollhouse miniatures that ended up as roach appetizers. Would love to figure out a way to avoid that problem.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. This is the most amazing recipe! I've never seen homemade clay before, and Iknew this would be the perfect thing for my project! I have made about 9 batches so fat and my last batch I was comfortable enough with to double it. You are an amazing, wonderful, person for posting this. I was almost giddy when Imade my first batch!

Anonymous said...

Uh, this isn't a recipe for polymer clay, it's a recipe for Cold Porcelain clay.

Anonymous said...

Nice thanks for sharing Purtybird! If I may I'd like to share another recipe with less ingredients that needs no cooking/heating. Its a wonderful Hard clay when air dried. Lasts forever. All it is white bread without the crust and white glue." Alleenes Tacky Glue" is best. (You just tear off the crust and discard or eat it) add equal amount of glue. So if you rolled the bread into a ball (yes it will be crumbs but pour about the same size ball of glue as the bread is. Its not critical to be an exact amount .Just close to equal as possible. mix together in a large disposable plastic cup. Using a plastic disposable spoon. Mix until you have a ball light dough if you need to add more bread it will just make more clay (Bread dough clay.) If you want color you can add a drop at a time of acrylic craft paint. Separate the dough into pieces to make different colors. It will be goowie at first but start rolling the dough by hand until a clay consistamcy developes. You can coat your hands with hand cream first to prevent too much sticking to your hands. But be patient eventually you'll have bread dough clay that needs to be kept in a sealed ziplocked baggie in the refridgerator when not in use. And when using it any thing left in the baggie should be kept on closed baggie to prevent drying out. This is an air dry clay that dries hard and I've had miniture roses made from this for over 20 yrs. No problems. I wouldnt make something that has thickness larfer then 1/4 inch as ive never tried to do so and cant say what would happen. Bit thin pieces like flower petals etc. Work great!! I live in a dry area thou. I can't speak for humid areas. And just a note I can't answer anyone's question if I haven't explaind things enough I'm very sorry.

ME said...

Can this be used to make a clay cooker? Any toxic releases?

Anonymous said...

As I am looking through all these really great questions, I am not finding any responses from the Pinner. I'm just curious to see if anyone knows how well it really holds paints and putting it in the oven actually works. We want to make fourth of July necklaces but don't wanna wait to paint. Thank you in advance :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't have one. I just used my stainless steel. I also didn't have a wooden spoon. I used A regular silverware spoon. Worked Ok for me :)

PatTheLimitless said...

What is the lemon juice for?

Anonymous said...

LEMON JUICE IS TO PREVENT MOLD!!

Meow Opre said...

Lovely designs of Polymer Clay. So talented!:)

Nili Jowaheer-Sannassee said...

Hi.

can anybody suggest a substitute for Elmer's glue? we don't get it in Mauritius

thnks

Anonymous said...

Hi, I need to ask, how big should this cup be? :P

Sahana A. V. said...

Nice idea. Will try in week end. Thanks :)

TheCat said...

WOOT

Anonymous said...

The same thing happened to me : (

Himalaya Polymer said...

Waooo...such a beautiful way to make home made roys.. thanks

Smera Goel said...

It turned out perfectly! I also featured the tutorial on my blog. Check it out: http://thelazyteenagegirl.blogspot.in/2013/09/tutorial-do-it-yourself-polymer-clay.html

professorparegoric said...

I would like to add by ten penneth to this.
As a Physical Chemist, specializing in Ceramic coatings,I have been myself a ceramic artist as a hobby for many years, I don't take umbrage that this is called cold porcelain as it looks very much like porcelain when dry.
As a specialist in Bioplastics also, to the polymer clay artist who takese offence I can safely say that cold porcelain is actually more of a polymer than polymer clay as polymer clay needs to be heated in an oven for the links within the formula to actually 'polymerize' Cold porcelain's links have already been polymerized bfore the modelling takes place, granted, there are a few polymer chains with unbonded links but this can be achieved by adding sorbitol (syrup 30g, powder 15g), permanently bonding all polymer chains within the mix.
Chemistry lesson over. NOT polymer clay statement? Busted! No artist should turn up their noses to another, ten years ago ceramic artists would have turned their noses up to a 'real polymer clay' artists, take note.

Anonymous said...

Does it shrink?
Can it be baked?
Will it stand up to washing?

I know we should experiment ourselves, but since you have already made some projects, we would appreciate your answers. kumudinidias@yahoo.com

Kim Allen said...

I hate the argument that people try and make by saying *this* isn't a polymer clay. Time for a science lesson kids.

First of all, the term polymer clay is not specific in the context we think it is. There are so many polymers in this world, from man made items like plastic to naturally occurring things such as carbohydrates.

The polymer clay you buy in the store is called polymer polyvinyl chloride or PVC. It's a plastic. It has zero clay in it.

This type of homemade clay is made from polyvinyl acetate or PVA. Which is also a polymer.

Both PVC and PVA are vinyl polymers. Neither are actually clays; that term was derived because of the texture. I mean if you just called the stuff by their technical names, poly clay would not have caught on like it has.

There are positives and negatives to both clays. PVC doesn't shrink, and it has to be baked, and has a longer shelf life once you complete your project. PVA (as written here) has a lot of shrinkage to it, but its cheap to make and coloring it your exact color is far easier.

I've been making my PVA clay in the microwave but I am reading that you can actually just combine it and not heat it and end up with less shrink. I hope to try that soon.

For those that suggested water...no no no. Do not add water. All the ingredients in PVA clay are biodegradable. Adding water can speed up the breakdown of the clay over time. Start with 50/50 amounts of cornstarch and glue and go from there. Some days I need more cornstarch, some days I dont.

Holly Donner said...

Hi,
If I was to pour this mixture into a mold without heating it would it still eventually harden?

orgonejoy@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

LOL, I accidentally added butter flavoring inplace of mineral oil.Ididn't want to waste the glue and cornstarch,so I added the other stuff and cooked it. Do you know it turned out better than the right recipe? But it stinks to high heaven,lol.

Faith said...

Yikes! Didn't work for me. What might help is if you guesstimate how long you have to leave the mixture on heat. Perhaps I removed mine too early, but I think that generalizing "when mixture looks like mashed potatoes" take it off heat is a bit too general.

It was cheap enough to try, though!

Anonymous said...

Cant ve use poster color to dye the.clay instead of oil paints?

Anonymous said...

I made this stuff and it woed well. The recipe I used is different:

2 cups corn starch
1 cup white glue (I used anne's craft glue)
2 T baby oil
1 T distilled white vinegar
1 t white tempera paint
Neiva lotion (the thick stuff in the jar)

Cook in microwave for 5 15 seconds stir between each 15 seconds. put about a Tablespoon of lotion on wax or parchment paper spread it around. I wore gloves for this part, pour the clay out onto the paper and knead it until cool. Form it into a log and put it into a ziplock bag put a little lotion inside the bag on the sides and bottom. Take a little more lotion on your hands and rub it over the log before puttingbitbin the bag. Close the bag with as little air inside. Wait 24 hours before you work with it. It does shrink as it dries, and you can paint it or add different colors of temprea paint. If you are planning to make beads you need to seal them with a sealer before you at ring them. You DO NOT bake this stuff it air dries and depending on what you are making and the humidity where you live wil determine the drying time.
You could probably use a different lotion, I would just make sure it has mineral oil and glycerin in it. You are only limited by your own imagination

Anadryl Nash said...

Wow awesome education in clays as well as great recipe. Thank you!

nogysbaby said...

Do you bake it in the oven like the store bought. Or is it different?

cehalles said...

I found you on Interest and will be attempting to create something out of your recipe...I posted a link to your site and hope you will look in on mine to see how I did...thanks for the info...and wish me luck...https://cehalles.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/my-attempt-at-polymer-clay/

Carbon Fiber said...

Carbon Fiber is the best!

Lie Veve said...

Really great recipe, I make this all the time, it always turn out good. Thank you <3

Ceramic Art said...

Great post! Been looking around at different art in this medium. Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Did you try putting the hole in it before it dries? Carefully, of course because they could become oblong.