Questions about crafting with POLYMER CLAY! Artists only!?
I'm just starting out on this craft. Ordered some off of Ebay and am awaiting the package.
I've decided to make some really cool earrings for an upcoming art show I'm having.
I really don't know a whole lot about this oven-baking clay......I do have some questions:
1) Is it soft when you get it? What is this "polymer softener" chemical used for?
2) How long do you normally have to bake it for? What oven degree?
3) The clear glaze (I bought both satin and gloss).....do you put it on before or after baking?
Can you add metal beads or wire to the creation and still bake it?
4) Do you grease a cookie sheet? Put down tin foil before the cooking? How does the art creation not stick to the pan when it's done?
5) Can you paint and highlight it with regular acrylic paint (for shadowing and such) and THEN put it into the oven?
Thank you so much! I'm new to this polymer clay and the most info you can give me would be great!
- Diane B.Lv 76 years agoFavorite Answer
1. Polymer clay is soft when you get it (since it is a "clay"), but the degree of softness will depend on:
...the brand of clay
...the line of that brand if there's more than one
...how it's been stored (the hotter, the harder...sometimes hard enough not to be useful)
...how much sunlight or fluorescent light it's been exposed to (see previous point)
...how old the clay is (most will "advance" the older they get) and the oily stuff in the clay may have sunk to the bottom too (not visible, just needs longer conditioning to make it pliable again)
...how warm it is (from sitting in a warm place, or having just been handled)
1b. The "softener" is called polymer clay diluent (and is the same thing as "liquid polymer clay," and is used in many ways:
...to soften clay that's too hard, or too hard for a particular use (e.g., to create fake frostings and even icings and sauces for miniature foods)
...to act as an excellent glue between bits of polymer clay (though sometimes must be clamped/weighted while heating)
...to make films such as those for "clings"
You can read more about those uses and other uses on this page at my polymer clay "encyclopedia" site:
2. Polymer clay is a thermosetting plastic so the temperatures and lengths of time for hardening are interdependent.
The general temperature (when cured in an oven or with hot air) usually ranges between 225 F and 350 F (for only one brand) to cure in a "reasonable amount of time." Too hot though and many brands/lines of polymer clay will darken excessively or even brown, and they'll all burn and smoke at about 385 F or so.
Baking polymer clay is one of the tricky bits though because the temp has to be measured as the amount actually reaching each tiny bit of the clay, for every second during heating. That requires an oven thermometer at the least.
You can read more about baking polymer clay on the Baking page at my site, and get a summary of some important points in some of my previous answers here:
3. IF you want to use a clear gloss finish on polymer clay (many polymer clay "artists" use no liquid gloss finish, or they just sand and buff to get anything from a beautiful sheen all the way up to a glossy shine), then it's usually added after hardening.
More info on finishes in my answers:
3b. You can add all kinds of other materials and items to polymer clay and bake them together as long as the material can take the relatively low heat used for curing polymer clay. Most all materials fall into that category except for a few plastics and even those can sometimes work if they're protected a bit during curing. (Or you can add those things after baking.)
I'm running out of allowable links, so for the rest of the pages at my site just go to the Table of Contents page (see Sources below) and click on the pages listed using the alphabetical nav bar on the left:
4. Nothing should be "greased," and using aluminum foil would only create shiny spots at areas of contact.
See my baking answer above, or:
....Baking > Materials to Bake On
5. Painting, and even antiquing and highlighting are usually done after polymer clay is hardened (though when metallic powders or leaf or foils are used they're often applied before hardening). Other colorants can vary too.
...Paints (and other categories on that page)
...Molds > Antiquing, Highlighting, Staining
P.S. Since you're a beginner to polymer clay, there's lots to learn about using the medium successfully, especially if you want to do more sophisticated things with it (not just making little sculpts/charms):
http://glassattic.com/polymer/kids_beginners.htm > Adult Beginners
.Source(s): http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm .