The polymer clay industry has be plagued by what we call the "hard clay problem." During the pandemic that started in late 2019, the demand for polymer clay products skyrocketed. Manufacturers had labor issues due to extensive world wide lockdowns and isolations. This created the perfect storm in polymer clay inventories. Suddenly, demand was at an all time high as folks looked for things to do while stuck at home. Supplies were at a record low and prices surged upward. Anyone with any block just lying around was trying to cash in. Many of these were really old and not properly stored.
We do not like the term "hard" due to these negative connotations. We typically talk about the firmness of the clay. Now, the dilemma part...we have taken Cernit packages that you cannot dent with your fingers, and just by rolling it between our hands, it shaped into a rope rather easily. So we try again and the clay crumbles. Why explain all of this? You cannot determine how usable a particular product is until you try to use it. Now the market for polymer clay is competitive. We try our best to bring you a quality product at a good price and we are totally transparent for shipping. We only charge you what it costs us to ship your order. That comes with one side effect however, that also means that returns are the responsibility of the purchaser. See our Return Policy for more details. The basics of this is, that many times, it is not cost effective to return one or two blocks of polymer clay. This is why trust is so important. If you are ever dissatisfied with something you have received from WLC Artistry, please reach out to us and allow us help.
Cernit polymer clay has a shelf life of just over 4 years. So "old" clay would need to be well over 4 years old for it to be unusable. The packages are date coded on the back of the package. The vertical line of numbers starts with the first two digits that show the year of manufacture. The remaining digits are the batch number for that year. Low numbers would be the beginning of the year but that is about all you can determine from the batch number. This ensures that the product is traceable to the date it was made. Now that does not help you if you have a project and need to work with some clay that is just too firm period. If your clay is hard and crumbles to a point when the solutions below cannot remedy this, then most likely your clay was heat damaged.
For solutions to your hard clay problems see this link