Let's begin with an understanding that these are what we believe to be true. In the coming months we will try to add more detailed sections...possibly separate areas for various levels. Changes will occur as time allows. Many more tips than I could possibly remember or write are to be located in Dejanews by looking up the newsgroup "rec.crafts.polymer-clay" and research for a tread that pertains to your interest.
We do 40 art shows yearly, give or take, and the most glaring problem most people have is giving up due to poor results. This is usually because they are trying to cane with Sculpey III. While there are two people in the world that can do this, I know one of them switched to Premo two years ago. Caning requires consistent clay colors so the design does not get lost in the shuffle. The problem is that Premo and Fimo require proper conditioning which is hard work. There are no shortcuts, however, there are tools to make the process easier.
**Before investing in alot of clay, tools, and most importantly your time, RTFM !!! This means read a book or two on clay and caning to gain an understanding of what you may like to try.
**When experimenting with polymer clay, try working on the same side of the color wheel for awhile. There's plenty of contrast between yellow and red, or green and blue, to create a few designs. The reason for doing this is your mistakes can still be usable clay since they will make a real color instead of mud.
**Working with polymer clay can cause injuries! Pain in elbows, wrists, shoulders, back, etc. are a regular occurance unless you take proper precautions. Limit your sessions, timewise, until you figure out how much you can do without problems. If you're going to do ALOT of clay...acquire the proper tools.
**Tools: Minimum would be a water glass to roll out sheets of clay, a knife or xacto blade, wax paper or glass work surface. Better would be a plexiglass rolling pin, non stick large work surface such as a formica table or 1/2 inch glass plate, pasta machine with a motor attached, and most importantly...a large food processor to chop and warm the clay before putting it through the pasta machine! REMEMBER THAT TOOLS MUST BE DEDICATED TO THE CLAY, YOU MUST NOT USE THEM WITH FOOD AFTER CONTACT WITH CLAY. Check with thrift shops in your area and yard sales. Food processors can be found for under $10.
**BE PATIENT !!! Caning can be rewarding if you're careful and plan it through. Start with very simple canes such as a jellyroll or concentric circles. It takes us 4-6 hours to do a flower cane, and two full days to do a face. Keep it simple and small until you're comfortable with the procedure.