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Clay Too Hard or Soft?

So, you are all excited about your latest polymer clay purchase. You gleefully open the package...and to your horror, you have a solid hard brick! Or worse, you get a soft almost gooey package that absolutely will not hold its shape!

This is not uncommon. To explain, let's start with what polymer clay really is. It a mixture of Polyvinyl Chloride (aka PVC), pigments, oils, plasticizers and other items like mica and synthetic mica. When the polymer clay is first made, it is quite soft, and even "gooey." Just ask anyone who has purchased some of our new Cernit Pearls. This was just released in September 2021 and all of it is very "fresh" as most users call it.

So is all lost? Absolutely not! We will address both types of polymer clay issues in this section. So let's start with leaching.

Leaching -> the solution for polymer clay that is too soft

Leaching is a process where we remove excess oils and plasticizers from newer (aka "Fresh") polymer clay. The trick is literally plain old uncoated copy paper.

Take half of your soft package and roll it to less than 1/8" thick (2mm). Place the sheeted clay between two pieces of copy paper and put some weight that will cover the entire portion. Some folks literally sit on it! No, we are not joking! :O

The next step is to wait. How long? Well, this depends on the type of clay and the manufacturer. Some brands need to set overnight. Some, like Cernit Pearl, need to sit only minutes. Others, like Cernit Number One are formulated differently and require different times. The same goes for Cernit Translucents as they can be quite soft when first made. The point is, how would you know the difference? The best approach to determining the correct treatment is to test it.

Start with 3 minutes. After that time period has passed, roll the clay back up and mix thoroughly. The portions touching the paper will be very firm and the inside will be less firm. Mixing and kneading will restore the balance to the entire piece. Is the final product firm enough? If not, simply repeat for another 3 minutes. Continue until you have the half block firm enough for your needs. Now, if you went too far, simply mix the other half of the untreated package and work the clay again. This is really all by feel and you are the judge of what you need.

Hard Clay -> can it be saved?

Now, let's say you forgot about a piece and left it leaching overnight. Uh oh...what now? What about that portion of a block that got pushed to the back of your cabinet and was long forgotten? Do you have to toss all of this in the trash and spend more money on new stock? This is an emphatic NO! Cernit has two great products that enable you to recover almost all hard polymer clays of any manufacturer. We say almost all as there are two ways polymer clays get hard. One is the aging process and this is recoverable. The other is the heating process which, unfortunately is not so forgiving.

Cernit Soft Mix

Cernit Soft Mix is literally a very soft polymer clay add in for restoring a hard clays elasticity or softness. Simply mix 1/3 of a package of Cernit Soft Mix to 2/3 hard clay. As long as you maintain these portions, this will not change the color of the hard clay. If you use more than 1/3 of the Cernit Soft Mix, you do risk lightening the color so use only as directed. The mixture must be well mixed until no color variations can be seen. This process continues just like normal polymer clay conditioning.

Cernit Magic Mix

Cernit Soft Mix is for making small changes in a firm clay. The "sledgehammer" of all polymer clay tools is called Cernit Magic Mix . And it really works like magic. To use Cernit Magic Mix on a hard clay, start like you normally would to condition any polymer clay block. Some chop it up into tiny bits. Some shave off slices and break those up. Once you have the hard clay prepared, add a drop or two (literally, that is all it takes sometimes) to the pile and work it in. Cernit Magic Mix is a plasticizer. Where you use copy paper for removing excess plasticizer and oils, this process adds plasticizer to the clay. Work the clay until you feel you have the consistency you need for your project. The interesting thing about Magic Mix is that you can take your clay all the way to a "bubble gum" effect if you continue to add more and more.

Magic Mix use is not limited to polymer clays either. It can be used with paints and other materials as well. Magic Mix is a perfect ally with acrylic paint: make it more flexible, perfect for the technique of pouring where the acrylic tends to crumble or crack! Mix up to 10% of Magic Mix with your paint.

Attention: this type of pure product is not intended to come into contact with plastic. It could damage this material.

Questions? Please use our Contact Page to send us your requests. Can you improve on this? GREAT! We would love to add your input. "It takes a village" is a great way to look at it!

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