August 18, 2014

Gah! Dust! Part 1: A clean work surface

One of the single most frustrating things about working with polymer clay are the little speckles of dust that seem to seek out white clay and cling to it for dear life.  You can easily spend twice as long trying to get that one little fleck of dust off of your perfect piece as you did sculpting it in the first place.

Dust prevention will make your sculpting a whole lot more enjoyable and save you all that time fixing pieces later!

There are a lot of different tips and tricks we've picked up over the years to help with dust prevention.  This week, I'll break it down into a series of posts with one tip in each one, and a whole dust-prevention roundup at the end.

The first step to dust prevention is working with a truly clean surface.

I use three things: a white ceramic floor tile, rubbing alcohol (or alcohol-based hand sanitizer), and a clean cotton cloth.

The ceramic floor tile is a fantastic work surface for so many reasons- inexpensive, flat, stays relatively cool to the touch, and the white surface shows any dust or clay residue very easily.  I buy my tiles at my local hardware store, and they're cheap.  I'm sure you can also find them easily at a Habitat Store or any major home improvement store.  Get the white ones with a totally smooth surface.  I like to work on an 8" x 8" or 6" x 8" tile.

Rubbing alcohol (I like the 90%) dissolves the clay.  This makes it an ideal cleaning agent to use on your tile. It will clean off any residue from the last goodies you made, so you won't need to worry about color residue showing up on your perfectly white clay.

A clean cotton cloth is the last crucial item in your cleaning arsenal. I save old cotton sheets and cut them up to use as my cleaning cloths. The woven cloth doesn't shed fibers the way that towels can.  A quick swipe over your tile with a cloth and some rubbing alcohol and your surface is beautifully clean and dust-free!

I have a bunch more dust prevention tips to come, and will link back as I write them up!

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