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Author Topic: PB - Baking Polymer Clay  (Read 8329 times)

ejralph

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PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« on: March 26, 2011, 04:58:02 PM »
I'm often asked questions about baking polymer clay.

The main thing to realise is that polymer clay needs to attain a certain heat for a certain duration of time to sucessfully harden. This info will be on the packaging for the clay itself

If you underbake your clay, it will be brittle and weak.

Overbake it and you risk it scorching, discolouring or developing hairline cracks. If you seriously overheat your clay, it can even burn and release toxic fumes! Don't worry, this is really rare and you will know if you do it! The smell is quite different from the normal aroma of baking polymer clay. (Just evacuate the room and air it if this does happen)

People are often concerned about using their kitchen oven to bake the clay.

I like to remind people that the clays have been designed to be baked this way. I have always baked my clay in the kitchen oven for 20 odd years and never noticed any "residues" from the clay or other ill-effects from doing so. I personally feel the residual chemicals in many oven cleaners pose more of a risk tbh.

However, this is one area where you must make your own decisions. If baking this clay in your kitchen oven doesn't feel right with you, don't do it. Look for a table-top toaster oven to use or bake in a covered pyrex casserole dish. There are always workarounds with polymer clay.

However you bake, you need to be sure the correct temperature is REALLY maintained. Most ovens are wildly inaccurate when it comes to their own thermostats.

So invest in an oven thermometer and really be sure that the oven you use is reaching the recommended baking temperature and STAYING there for the full time. Check the dial every few minutes to see if the temperature is spiking too high or dipping too low. Only by doing this a few times will you learn how your oven is really performing.

When clay has baked properly, it will still be slightly flexible. This means, fine sheets will have a slight bendy-ness to them,  thicker pieces of clay like round solid beads will mark if you dig your fingernail into them. It doesn’t mean you baked it wrong. It just means you shouldn’t dig your fingernail into your beads  8)
   
You can bake clay in a glass or metal baking tray / dish. Put a sheet of baking paper down so that the clay doesn’t develop a shiny patch where it is in contact with the glass or metal. Another good baking surface is old glazed ceramic tiles. You can work the project on the tile, turning it this way and that, and then pop the whole thing in the oven for baking. Simples.

Beads can be baked on card concertina-ed to form a baking rack (see my tutorial for example www.ejrbeads.co.uk/glitz.htm ). Alternatively you can buy commercially made bead baking racks.

Always allow the polymer clay to cool completely before you remove it from its baking tray, tile etc. The clay won’t maintain its correct rigidity until it has totally cooled.


Emma
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 05:00:42 PM by ejralph »
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
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noani

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2011, 06:29:29 PM »
Than you Emma! Have had such a bad consience about baking in my regular kitchen owen......Thinking about buying one just for the clay, but didn't know where to place it...
There's clay every where in my kitchen ;) And my daughter has given up asking whats cooking, because now she knows the answer ;)

KMD

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2011, 04:43:58 PM »
This is very informative Emma, and I too was worried I have a small oven in shed I couldnt get it to right temperature I nearly turned it off and it still was too hot so told hubby id go back to using kicthen cooker lol, I was concerned about how to cover as never used to and read you should tent it, but will try the casserole dish instead.

Thanks

ejralph

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2011, 05:01:05 PM »
If you are going to use a covered dish - the ideal is to get a clear glass one that you can see through and pop the oven thermometer inside it.

Because you will need to do some test bakings and make sure the temperature inside the dish is getting to the right heat and staying there. Which might mean using a different setting on the oven to baking without a dish.

Emma
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
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Kayleigh

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2011, 11:25:57 PM »
It took me a while to realise how important the temperature of the oven is. I'm using my one at uni at the moment and it works relatively well for one that is abused by students. Will definitely have to check my mini oven though when I'm back home, I have the feeling that it has horrible spikes in temperature and is very innacurate.

Another question I run into and also ask peoples is whether you should bake multiple times or not? I haven't really got a conclusive answer for this yet! Emma...?

ejralph

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2011, 06:41:31 AM »
Yes you can bake multiple times.

If you are adding unbaked clay to baked clay, you may find it useful to use some fimo Deko Gel or other liquid clay as an agent to help the clays bond, but this isn't always necessary.

Just do not exceed the baking temp on any of the bakings

Emma
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polynana

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2011, 11:19:56 AM »
Thank you for that information Emma.
I invest (only about £2) on some square aluminium trays and made little ridges along two opposite edges, to sit my mandrels in, then place another one on top and crimp over the corners.

ejralph

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2011, 12:45:17 PM »
That sounds like a very cool idea Nan. I was with you until the "crimp over the corners" bit though - I am sure i am being really thick, but can't seem to figure out what you mean by that bit.

Emma
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polynana

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2011, 01:57:08 PM »
ha ha , well I don't use my crimping pliers. I mean that the trays are like the metal Chinese takeaway containers, they have turned over edges and corners and I fit the trays together by opening the corners up putting the other tray on top then closing the corners over the top tray.

ejralph

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2011, 02:01:31 PM »
So is the tray on top upside down, acting as a cover?

Sounds a fantastic method and beautifully simple too, like all the best ideas actually tend to be!

Emma
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polynana

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2011, 08:58:35 PM »
yes, upside down and covering the bottom tray with the beads in. I'm not very good at explaining things I should have taken a picture

ejralph

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Re: PB - Baking Polymer Clay
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2011, 10:10:41 PM »
No, you are great at explaining things. I just had a brain fart over that particular bit, but it was very obvious really, just my brain being ill.

Emma
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
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