Polymer clay is a soft modeling compound that can be manipulated into any shape using fingers, tools, or molds. Once a project has been completed, it can be baked in the home oven to cure it to a hard and lasting finish. Molds for polymer clay can be made from metal, silicon, clay, or ceramic; they can be flexible or firm, depending on the material used to form the mold. Once a polymer clay piece has been removed from the mold, it can be baked as is or manipulated with tools or surface design elements to achieve specific effects.
The most basic molds for polymer clay resemble cookie cutters. They are made from metal and are designed to be pressed into a flat sheet of clay to create an impression. The harder the mold is pushed, the deeper the imprint. This type of mold can be used to cut a shaped piece of clay or to make an impression in the clay. Actual metal cookie cutters can be used as polymer clay molds as well. Once a kitchen item is used for clay, it should not be used for cooking.
Silicone is the most commonly used material for polymer clay molds. Each clay manufacturer offers a line of molds made from silicone featuring various shapes. Molds for polymer clay made from silicone are the easiest to use; the softened clay is pressed into the mold, then the mold is flexed to remove the finished piece. Seasonal molds for polymer clay made from silicone are often offered during the busy holiday crafting season, and can often be purchased at a discount once the season has passed.
Polymer clay can be used to create custom molds at home. Small items like buttons and figures can be dusted with baby powder, then pressed into a ball of clay. The item is carefully removed, leaving an impression behind. The resulting mold is baked in the oven. Once cooled, the mold can be used to create unlimited copies of the original item using softened polymer clay.
Custom molds for polymer clay can be made from ceramic or pottery; these are used in the same way as other molds, but they will break if dropped on a hard surface. High-end artist and doll forms are the most common types of ceramic molds for polymer clay. Ceramic molds for polymer clay can be placed in a refrigerator or freezer, if necessary, to help the artist remove the clay from the mold.