Polymer clay was first created in the late 1930s by a German dollmaker, Fifi Rehbinder. She sold the formula in 1964 to Eberhard Faber who tweaked it and renamed it from Fifi Mosaik to the Fimo brand and sold it to toy stores throughout Europe. It did not reach the United States until the 1970s though various forms of Polymer clay had been created in the U.S. earlier, but its popularity as a craft or art medium did not come about until the 1990s. There are currently ten different brands on the market today.
The clay is not meant to be eaten, nor should you eat off of it. You may want to keep an eye on the little ones who will be sculpting with you. It emits a toxic fume when burnt so keep your temperature low when curing the clay, and a close see on it. Some crafters will dedicate a toaster oven just for baking clay. I bake it in the same oven I cook with. When I have finished baking the clay for the day I clean my oven with the self-cleaning mode, or by using the spray cleaner meant for ovens before cooking any food in the oven.
You may choose to work the clay with cheap latex or vinyl gloves, or yu can wash your hands throughly after you have finished crafting and before eating. Make sure not to snack on finger foods while working with the clay as small amounts of chemicals will be on your fingers and you will ingest them as they transfer to the food. It is also suggested that you not eat off of the polymer clay items or store food in them. It is best suited for decorative items that will not be placed in the mouth. Dedicate tools specifically for use with the clay so that contaminants are not transferred onto items used for food preparation or eating utensils. Many crafters have used Pasta machines to help roll the clay thin enough to use in the layering process to make canes.