Reviving Polymer Clay Scraps

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scrap clay tutorial red groupingScrap Clay is an ever growing constant for every polymer clay user. Every project has a few unused ‘ends’. When you create a clay-covered pen, reduce a millefiori cane, create props or costumes for your sculptures… the list goes on.

In the past I’d simply combine my scraps into an unattractive brownish lump. All the beautiful colors would mix together and get lost forever. This lump was ideal of creating support structures for larger pieces, however it always feels like such a waste of beautiful color.

In search for a few blue scraps to use in my Fairy Door project I remembered a fun tutorial on KatersAcres.com about grouping clay scraps into similar colors -> No Such Thing As Scrap Clay. Here is my application of her technique.

Sorting the Clay Scraps

scrap clay tutorial grouping similar colorsOf course I forgot to take a picture of my scrap pile. But trust me, it was a rainbow mess, with bits of color strewn all around my dedicated ‘scrap bin’.

The key to ‘beautiful scraps’ (translation non-brown muck) is to sort the clay by color. You can refer to the color wheel when sorting, or simply go by what you like and see. Brown is the result of all 3 primary colors being mixed together, so as long as you group your scraps by general family you should be ok.

I sorted my scraps by first separating granitex clay (which I use for sock monkies) from the regular clay. I then separate the dark and light colors into general families. Can you spot the teddy bear face? (let me know in the comments below)

Depending on your own scrap pile you can keep your colors very separated for smaller balls of clay, or lump all major scraps together for a larger ball of clay. For example I chose to keep the different reds and pinks separated, however they would have gone very well together if I grouped them all.

Turning a Ball of Scrap Into a Beautiful Clay Ball

Now for the fun part. Here’s how to turn the ball of scrap into a beautiful and usable ball of clay. Here are the steps, (see images below) as demonstrated with my ‘reds’ pile featuring some old tomato and citrus cane ends

  1. Start the conditioning process by squeezing the scraps together in your hand.
  2. Roll the scraps into a ball
  3. Mix and condition the scraps till you get a single consistent color. I use a pasta machine but you can try rolling and twisting by hand until the colors start to blend into a single solid color
  4. Roll your new beautiful scrap color into a ball and store for use in a later project

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Rinse and Repeat

This is a very relaxing activity. Be sure to have some good music or good video playing in the background, or simply let your mind wander.

I repeated this process with all of my color groupings till I was left with a single group of miscellaneous scraps. It’s ok to have SOME browns, and so I mixed all of these together. Notice the beautiful patterns than emerged in the mixing process.

scrap clay tutorial brown and random scraps scrap clay tutorial beautiful colors emerge

Just a few hours later, and 2-3 years worth of scrap clay are now beautifully conditioned and ready for re-purposing. Not only that, but my scrap container is no longer overflowing. In fact, it looks so empty I feel the need to continue sculpting to help make it look healthy and full.

scrap clay tutorial beautiful balls of color scrap clay tutorial organized scrap bin

And best of all, I now have a variety of blue and brown scraps to use for my Fairy Door project

What will you create with your newly ‘revived’ scrap clay? Let me know in the comments below

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m glad to see you made use of this tutorial! It works so great and then there’s that relaxing feeling of … “see now I don’t have to go buy more!”

    • MagicByLeah says

      Katie you are my inspiration when it comes to cool techniques. I didn’t even intend to do all this, but after looking at my sad mess I figured, why not, I’ve always meant to try your technique. And look at all the beautiful colors I wound up with. I really wish I had a before picture to compare, the scrap pile was a total mess. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  2. says

    i did this right before Thanksgiving with my scrap. I think Heather Powers mentioned her husband does this every so often and it is a great idea! I see the teddy face in the lighter brown clay

    • MagicByLeah says

      That’s awesome Cory and woohoo you found the teddy. It’s amazing how you can keep reusing scraps this way. I got the idea from Katie over at Katersacres.com

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