How to Work with Fimo Polymer Clay

Before I explain how to work with Fimo, I'd better tell you what it is!

Fimo is a polymer clay for modeling, that can be hardened by baking it in the oven at a low temperature.

Once hardened it can be sanded, drilled, painted, and cut. You can even add extra bits to a model and then bake it again.

It can be used to make all kinds of things from Fimo beads to doll's house miniatures; from badges to puppets.

Fimo is a non-toxic substance and is virtually odourless. It comes in many different colours, including translucent, which can be mixed to create new tones. When mixing colours together you can also leave them loosely mixed to create a marbled effect.

Other brands of polymer clay include Sculpey, Cernit and Formello.

How to work with Fimo - WARNING!
Fimo loves dirt, dust and pet hair. Your hands must be kept clean when working with the clay, especially when changing from one colour to another. A clean work surface, preferably a glazed tile or sheet of glass, is also important. You need to wipe the surface down with a cleansing wipe in between colours otherwise the Fimo will pick up bits of the previous colour left on the surface, and "muddy" the new colour.

How to work with Fimo - warming and conditioning

You cannot use Fimo straight from the packet. Classic Fimo is firm in consistency so that it can hold detailed and intricate shapes when modeled but it needs warming up and softening, or conditioning, first.

Break off, or cut, a quarter of the block, and hold it in your hands, gently turning it over and over, for 5 - 7 minutes. However, if you have hot hands, this process can happen very rapidly. You may even find that you need to cool your hands several times in cold water, or by pressing them onto the cold tile. You can also achieve the same effect by resting the clay on a cold surface to let it cool down.

On a cold day you could pop the clay on a covered hot water bottle for a few moments to warm it up.

DO NOT try warming it in the oven or microwave as the clay will start to harden and can then no longer be worked. Also do not leave it in hot sun outdoors for the same reason.

After kneading it gently for some time, roll the Fimo into a ball and lay this on your work surface. Using the palm of your hand roll the clay back and forwards creating a pencil shape. If it cracks then the Fimo isn't soft enough and needs more conditioning.

When conditioning your Fimo you may come across two problem areas.

Fimo too crumbly and dry?

If the Fimo just will not soften and instead just crumbles it may have been stored too long or in conditions that were too warm. Fimo makes a product called Mix Quick for this purpose.

How to work with Fimo Mix Quick

Fimo Mix Quick is an essential ingredient of any modelers "toolbox". The chemical reaction that happens between Fimo and this clear and slightly soft product is absolutely amazing. You only need to use a very small amount of mix quick, say 1/8th of the amount of Fimo being used to achieve the desired effect. You simply take the Fimo and Mix Quick and knead them together. Keep turning and stretching the resultant combined material until it suddenly softens in your hand and the Mix Quick has disappeared leaving your Fimo once again smooth, elastic and usable.

It is important that when you choose your blocks of Fimo at point of sale that you gently press the block to make sure that you are not purchasing something that has been incorrectly stored. If you see any cracks appear do not buy that block but show it to the shop keeper, as it may have been overheated whilst on display.

How to work with fimo when it is too sticky

On the other hand, sometimes a packet of Fimo can seem too sticky or greasy.

I tackle this by either leaving it overnight either on the tile or by laying it on a piece of kitchen paper and covering it with another.

If, however, the Fimo gets sticky while you are working it, leave it to rest on the cold tile for 10 minutes, before, as a last resort, popping it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Please be careful if you have young children in the house or they may think that foil wrapped items in the refrigerator are food! Eating Fimo will give them a sore mouth as well as not tasting particularly pleasant!

How to work with Fimo - Storage

Once you have conditioned the Fimo you don't have to use it all at one sitting. Wrap each colour separately in kitchen foil and put it into a grip lock bag to keep the air out. It will easily keep for several months. The life of Fimo can be extended by the use of Mix Quick.

Don't do your Fimo modeling on a varnished table top as it can cause damage to the varnish; softening it and lifting it from the wood.

Once you have learned the basics of how to work with Fimo you can start modeling.