Polymer clay is one of the most versatile and colorful media you can use for jewelry making.  Many designers and artists show how amazing it can be. Yet, there are a lot of misconceptions and uncertainties with the material.  So it pays to really understand what polymer clay is and how to handle it well to get the most out of it.

I received a copy of Ginger Davis Allman's Polymer Clay Essentials eBook for review.  I've curated some of her excellent resources on her site, The Blue Bottle Tree, before. However, this book goes in much greater depth and provides invaluable information for anyone working with polymer clay.  The book is 96 pages long. So understandably is only available in the digital format due to its length.

This is not a project book as you can see from the content pages. It deals with all the practical details of buying and working with clay.  As Ginger is scientifically trained, the lead section on the chemistry of clay is solid and clearly explained for everyone.  Polymer clay is indeed a plastic material, one that is already polymerized -  the building blocks have already been put together. There is no polymerization when you bake the clay.  

This section goes over what other materials go into the making of polymer clay. So knowing what they are will give you a greater understanding of why brands differ, what happens when the clay is baked. or when it crumbles, and so on. 

Polymer clay safety is  also covered.  Unfortunately, the internet is rife with outdated articles (and sometimes discredited claims) such as this  very old 2002 article about the dangers of phthalates in polymer clay. People still get worried when they stumble on it (see the comments in my past post on 5 Polymer Clay Questions and Answers for Beginners) . But since 2008, those kinds of plasticizers (needed to make plastic softer, flexible and durable) have been eliminated from polymer clay as regulations were brought in. Safer plasticizers are now used.

Ginger goes over many aspects of safety and dispels many myths. She answers the common questions on whether you can use your regular oven, whether the fumes dangerous and whether you be using polymer clay to make dishes used for eating!   

Another stellar section is the one on different kinds of clays including air dry clays which are not polymer clay.  Ginger said, " I am often asked which brand is my favorite. It seems that people want to pick one brand of clay to invest in and never use any of the other brands."  She goes on to say, "There is no one best brand." It will depend on what you use the clay for - sculpting or caning? Or on personal or project preferences for flexibility or rigidity after baking. Some clay brands will never buff to a glossy finish so it helps to know which one before you spend too much time trying to do so! Liquid clays from different manufacturers are not the same.

So the information on the pros and cons of each brand was incredibly useful as it will guide users to choose according to their needs.

Also invaluable is her advice on mixing polymer clay brands - you can indeed do so and cure them at the higher temperature. But there is one exception which she covers in her book.

How to tell whether the clay is properly conditioned is perhaps one of the most common questions, someone starting out with polymer clay would ask.  There is no magic number of passes through the machine to count on! Ginger explains what to look for - the lack of cracks is not a measure of conditioning - and how to deal with dry clay.

The book is filled with a lot of tips and tricks and how to solve problems which inevitably occur. I also liked her section on which pasta makers to buy depending on the state of the wallet.  I have to agree, the basic model you get from Michaels (which I have) is temporarily useable, but there are better ones out there! What astonished me was the use of a modified arbor press to compress and resurrect hard, crumbly clay!

This book is beautifully designed and full of in depth information for polymer clay workers who need answers!

If you'd like to win a copy of Ginger's Polymer Clay Essentials ebook, please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info below if you do not have an online shop or blog.

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This giveaway is international.

Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc. If you also do shout outs about this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too! Please say so in the comments. (The exception is Facebook - just like/comment on the giveaway status there!!)

It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, June 19, 2017. I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!

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