Acrylics are a popular choice for painting on polymer clay. Acrylic paints are widely available in a variety of brands and a range of price points.
Some people feel that acrylics that come in tubes or more expensive brands work better than cheaper alternatives, but some people have success with the cheapest craft paints they can find. To a large degree, your rate of success will depend on the project at hand. If you have problems with one brand, try another. Most craft stores will have at least a few from which to choose.
While you can mix inks into translucent or light-colored raw clay to color it, most polymer clay artists don't recommend that you do this with acrylics. The water in acrylic paints can turn to steam during curing, which leads to bubbles and plaquing. However, some people report success using smaller amounts of acrylic paints inside raw clay. The best way to find out what works for you is to run your own experiments using small bits of clay.
The following are just a few of the ways that people use acrylic paints with polymer clay:
- Use acrylics to paint cured polymer clay. This is especially useful when you're working with Super Sculpey or another single-color clay.
- Antique pieces of cured polymer clay with acrylic paints. Either thin the paint with water for a more transparent effect, or brush on the paint and carefully wipe away the excess so that paint remains only in the recessed areas of the piece.
- Paint acrylics onto a sheet of raw polymer clay. Use these sheets "as is" for mokume gane or stretch the sheet (usually by putting it through the pasta machine) to crackle the paint.