Saturday, August 29, 2009

Question for those who work with polymer clay

I'm going to do a post a bit later about the things I finished for custom orders (the plushie and some earrings), but first I have a question about polymer clay. Is there a way to bake clay, add clay to it so it sticks, then bake it again? Or will that burn that clay that was baked the first time (or burn/darken the glitter and powders I use on the first part of the process)?

I'll use the horns I made as an example:

When I made these, I made the base for them with black clay that I covered in glitter. Then I stuck the black spirals around, but that's where I had a problem; the glitter got on the black spirals where I didn't want it because I couldn't hold the horns without the glitter getting on my hands. Here's where my question comes in- could I bake the clay with the glitter (so the glitter stays on it better), then add the clay spiral and bake it again? Would the spiral stick? Would the glittery (or powdered- they seem to work the same way) part burn since it would be in the oven twice?

It's not too much of a problem to have to paint the spiral when it's black to cover the glitter that got where it wasn't supposed to go, but I'd like to start using other colors for the spiral and then I won't be able to match the paint with the clay as easily.

So please, does anyone know what I can do here? Please help a novice clay worker out! *puppy eyes*

And I'll include a picture of the finished dragon horns here, modeled by my best friend (since I made them for her and all).

They're on a black shoelace now. (Note to self: buy more shoelaces since I'm almost out.) I tried ribbon and yarn, but neither are thick/strong enough to hold up the horns; so far I've found only the shoelaces work.


luthien said...

hey merily,
i hope i can give you some help here. i've read that you can re-bake clay. it will not burn if you don't re-bake it for too long. one way to avoid burning your clay is actually to protect it by covering the object with aluminum foil, like i did with the pendant.

uncured clay does not stick to non porous objects. so my guess is, your glitter would be quite smooth after baking? new unbaked clay will not stick on it. so if it doesn't stick, you can't really bake it again cos your spirals will unravel once you put it down. what i did with my first project (if you remember, the very colorful one on the driftwood)... i had the same problem when i wanted to stick unbaked clay onto the wood. i used poly glue. the white ones. and i stuck the clay on first. it didn't melt in the oven so it must worked. and the baked clay is still stuck to the wood now.

i hope that's the info you want. go check out cindy lietz's blog. it's full of info on polymer clay and lots of other nice stuff :)

intothedawn said...

Hi Meri~

Yes, you can rebake polymer clay again and again, which is one of the things that is so cool about it. The most important thing is to make sure your oven is at the correct temp-- I use an oven thermometer.

I don't know which brand of clay you are using, but the package will say how long to bake it per 1/4 inch thickness, so you can estimate time from there for something thinner, like the spirals on your horns.

You may find that you have a bit of trouble getting raw clay to stick to baked clay, but that is easily remedied. You can use a little bit of TLS (Liquid Sculpey) or other liquid polymer to help it stick-- a little bit of white craft glue will also work. Then bake.

Your horns are very cute! Love the glitter. I've been meaning to try making horns for a long time now, its just one of about a hundred poly clay projects on my "to do" list. LOL!

Merily said...

Wow, thanks for all that advice, Luthien and intothedawn! That really really helps!

Luthien- the glitter isn't completely smooth, but I think any powders I use would be. I use my little clay oven (it's a toaster oven) and so far haven't had any problems with things burning like when I used the regular oven a few times. Hopefully that'll help me with this, too. :)

intothedawn- I didn't even think about shortening the bake time the second time around since it'll be much thinner for just the spirals. I use Sculpy usually, and I do have a thermometer, so that's good. :D

I didn't think of glue or Liquid Sculpy, either- I'll try that out, too. :)

You guys are so awesome! Thanks for helping me out! :D

Thanks for the compliment on the horns, too! They are so much fun to make, but my problem is that it's usually pretty hard to get two that match. I'm getting better at it, though! :)

PolymerClayTutor said...

Sorry to contradict my friends above, but you can re-bake your clay for as long as you want without burning it. In fact I have baked many pieces for several hours in total.

What I would do is bake your horns, glitter and all for 1/2 hour. After baking dust off any loose glitter.

Then add a thin spiral of TLS or the new Studio by Sculpey Bake and Bond, which I prefer. Stick your snake of clay to the spiral of clay glue and bake for 1 more hour.

Make sure to bake your pieces on a ceramic tile and tent your pieces with a folded piece of paper. Use an oven thermometer to make sure the temp doesn't spike and you will have strong and beautiful horns.

I have seen people embed bobby pins into horns like this, if you are interested in trying them instead of the laces.

Hope that helps. If you need more baking info, I have lots on my blog.

~ Cindy Lietz

Merily said...

Oh wow, thanks for all that advice, Cindy!

I love that bobby pin idea- I'll have to try that, too. :D

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