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Is it safe to paint clay with paints?

I was thinking of ideas to tell my husband that we're expecting (though it's unkown right now, but good chances!) and I thought of making a clay baby (or two) and painting it/them. I was either going to make one and paint have the blanket it will be wrapped it (also made of clay) half blue and half pink, or I was going to make two, one blue and one pink.

Now, I am using Polymer Clay (the kind you find easily at Wal*Mart and have to bake) and I was wondering if it is safe to paint it with oil paints, or mix the oil paints in with the clay then bake it? I know I could paint with acrylic, but I'm not an acrylic painter, I use oils. So seeing as it is on hand, and arcylic would only be for this one thing, I just had to ask. Either way, I am making the baby/babies to use as a way to tell him. I just need to know if I can use my oil paints or not. Thanks!! :D

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Oil paint is not recommended. Never mix oil paint with clay, the paint is flammable. Any acrylic paint works great. It's water based, and it is possible to paint it prior to baking. Just finish your project off, after baking, with either Future Floor finish or Diamond Elite Varathane to give it a nice shiny coating.

    Source(s): I am a Canadian Sculpey Clay Mail Order Supplier and teacher.
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  • 1 decade ago

    You can use your oil paint after you have baked the clay.

    Acrylic is just like oil paint except it is soap and water wash up. Plus acrylic dries faster. You can get pink and blue polymer clay. That way you won't have to paint it at all.

    Just use a glazed finish made for polymer clay. Hope this helps. Congrats on your pending bundle of joy.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You can use your oil paint to paint on top of baked polymer clay but it will take a long time to dry (compared to acrylic paints). There are also paints which handle like oil paints but are water-based, etc.

    What you don't want to use on cured polymer clay is any paint (or clear finish, etc.) with a *petroleum-based solvent* in it (those used to be called "enamels," alkyds, and sometimes spray paints contain them only in the propellant) because it will eventually eat into the clay.

    You can find loads of info on those and various types of paints (and inks) that can be used on or in polymer clay on these pages at my site, if you're interested: (Alcohol Inks)

    Since polymer clays are oil-based you can also color the body (inside) of polymer clays with artists oil paints (or oil pastel shavings) as well as with alcohol inks and various other pigments... just mix them into the raw clay well before shaping. (Acrylic paints can be used for coloring the body of polymer clays too but since they contain water, use only a small amount and let sit out overnight before curing to avoid problems).

    Cured polymer clays usually have their color built in (from the manufacturer, by mixing purchased colors, or by adding colorants), but some people also like to paint them like they might other kinds of clays--usually people with a "painting" background. However, facial color is sometimes "painted" (or dabbed, rubbed, etc.) onto flesh-colored polymer clays for lips, cheeks, etc.

    You can find lots of info on coloring polymer clays, and on using clay on facial features, etc., on these pages: (Adding Skin Color)

    Btw, no finishes *need* to be used on polymer clays unless you just want to give the surface a glossy appearance, for example, or you've put something on the clay that might come off (*air-dry* clays will require a finish though to seal them since they're not automatically waterproof).

    If you're interested, you can also find some sculpted babies made from polymer clay on these pages... some simple, some quite realistic: (click on Misc. Gifts, then scroll down a few screenfuls to the babies) (click on More Realistic, then scroll down to the babies)

    And lastly, you mentioned using a polymer clay from WalMart so I assume you're using the brand/line called "Sculpey" or SuperSculpey flesh, or Sculpey III. Be aware that those 3 lines of polymer clay are weak after baking in any places that are thin or projecting (rounded balls, etc, are inherently strong shapes so not a problem) so they can easily break with stress.

    If you have areas like that (or you just want a stronger and better handling polymer clay), you'll want to buy some of the other lines of polymer clay like Kato Polyclay (at HobbyLobby only), or Premo, one of the two Fimos, Cernit, or SuperSculpey-Firm (gray only). They're also sold online of course.

    Or you might want to buy a good brand of *air-dry* clay instead of a polymer clay (one like Creative Paperclay or Crayola's Air Dry clay), or even want to make some "bread clay" at home --homemade "salt dough" clay would probably be okay for what you want too . . . google those clay names for instructions if you're interested.


    Diane B.

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