A polymer clay figurine is a small sculpture made out of polymer clay. It is possible to represent nearly any item in polymer clay, but people and animals are some of the most popular subjects. The size limitations involved in making a polymer clay figurine are partially related to traditional uses of this type of clay, but it is sometimes difficult to harden items that are very large or thick. These figurines make excellent crafts for all ages, and there are many books and tutorials that teach the basic skills required to get started in this craft.
In all cases, a polymer clay figurine is a sculpture made of polymer clay. This type of clay is usually hardened in an oven, but there are some brands that dry in the air. Almost all brands of polymer clay used for figurines are colored, so the way in which a polymer clay figurine gets its coloring is through using different colors of clay, not by painting. Many artists do use paint to add details to figurines, and varnish is sometimes used to make them shiny.
Typically representations of people, animals, or objects, clay figurines may also symbolize abstract subjects, but these are somewhat rarer in this medium. Many artists choose to make colorful, cartoonish sculptures out of this material because of the bright colors available and the relatively inexpensive material. In addition to sculpting these items with the fingers, there are a number of tools and molds that can be used to create uniform figurines.
Materials other than clay can be incorporated in order to make highly unique figurines. For example, real shells and small metal items can be added to figurines as details. When these items will not survive the temperatures to which the clay is heated in order to harden, they can be added using glue. Some figurines that are large can be made lighter and less wasteful by creating a core out of aluminum foil on top of which the clay is placed, reducing the amount of clay that must be used.
Most figurines are purely decorative, though they can be made for a variety of purposes. Cake toppers, ornaments, and earrings are all popular uses of these figurines. Classrooms often use polymer clay, and this type of sculpture may be a student's first introduction to working with clay. Even though this medium is popular with children, it can be appropriate for adult projects as well.