In previous post we talked about what is polymer clay and how to condition polymer clay fast. Now we move on to polymer clay safety tips. In general, polymer clay is non-toxic, but that it is advisable to take some precautions, “just in case”. Honestly, chances are that the double cheese burger you ate for lunch is more of a health risk than polymer clay. Practice safe claying, but don’t let safety concerns take all the fun out of clay, and certainly don’t let fear keep you from giving it a try.
Polymer clay is a made of plastics known as PVC (polyvinyl chlorides), PVC is a product that can take many shapes and forms. It can be hard and rigid, or soft and malleable.
For our use, there are two areas of concern. The plasticizers added to the clay are classified as hazardous chemicals by OSHA. If you leave a piece of unbaked clay on a sheet of paper for awhile, you’ll notice an oily ring left on the paper. This is the plasticizer leaching out of the clay. Because of this, you should never work clay in the vicinity of food, and any utensils used on the clay should never be returned to the kitchen. You might also ask “what about my hands?”. The average user would have no need for concern as long as the hands are thoroughly washed after working the clay. Those artists who work with the clay on a daily basis often make the concession of wearing surgical gloves during the softening, mixing, and kneading processes, and remove them for the detail work. Thus, exposure to the plasticizers is minimised.
Here are some polymer clay safety tips:
- Work surfaces and tools that have been used with polymer clay should no longer be used for food preparation. If you’re using a cup, a whistle, a plate as claying tools then be sure to mark them so you don’t accidentally touch your mouth/ or eat in the clay.
- Clean the blades and knives to keep them in good working order. Lay them on a paper towel to clean. Using a second, folded the paper towel, wipe in 1 direction, from the dull edge to the sharp edge. Be careful! these blades are sharp!
- Polymer clay is safe to touch, but clean your hands thoroughly after your work with clay and before you eat or cook. Polymer clay can easily get off your hands with soap and water.
- Always use a timer and be around to watch when baking your clay. If it does burn, remove it from the oven with a placeholder and place it outside. Do not breath the fumes.
- Many people are concerned about the “fumes” from baking polymer clay. Clay correctly baked produces smell, as do most things you bake in your oven. Fumes (i.e. gaseous emissions) only result when you burn the clay; so take care not to burn your project.
- Polymer clay is save with kids as long as the kids are old enough not to try eating the clay. Also children too young to use an oven safely will require supervision during curing. Another option your kids will be air-dry clay because it’s softer to use and no baking is required.
Remember, Polymer clay is a lot of fun to work with, and should not be considered as “dangerous”. But have respect for your materials and their properties, and you can only grow as an artist with a thorough understanding of your medium.
The Floor is yours…
Are you a polymer clay expert? Do you have any polymer clay safety tips that we might have missed out? Please leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts!
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Tags: Polymer Clay, safety tips