How to Bake Polymer Clay: Part 3 – Tips and Tricks

Polymer clay, also called polyclay or fimo, is a modeling material that you can cure or bake at home in your regular oven. Today I’m finishing my series on How to Bake Polymer Clay, with a focus on Tips and Tricks for getting the best results when curing your projects. Check out the other articles, too. Part 1 was on Choosing your Oven and Part 2 was about Temperature.

Polymer Clay Baking Tips and Tricks

  • Polymer clay must be baked long enough and hot enough to get complete fusion.
  • Delicate structures need to be supported during baking, so use a bed of cornstarch or polyester fiber for this. Toilet paper also works well.
  • To keep the back of your clay from being shiny, bake on a piece of copy paper or cardstock.
  • The oven’s element can be fiercely hot, causing browning even when the temperature setting is correct. Always cover your work.
  • Preheating is best as many ovens spike during the preheat cycle.
  • Boiling does not give a complete cure of polymer clay.
  • Ceramic tiles can help an oven maintain a stable temperature.
  • Make sure to read the articles on polymer clay ovenschoosing a temperature, and baking time.

How I Bake my Polymer Clay Projects

Just as each cook has his preferred way of making scrambled eggs, each polymer clay artist has a preferred way of baking their clay projects. I’ll describe my method and show how I bake my jewelry and bead projects. This isn’t the only right way to do this, but I have had really good results. I’ll talk about my process and then I’ll go into more detail about different philosophies, strategies, and tips.

I use my home oven because it gives me more uniform and reliable results than when I’ve tried using a toaster oven in the past.  I almost always bake my polymer clay projects covered, using two aluminum foil pans, one inverted as a lid, and I clip the whole thing shut with a binder clip. Inside the pan, I place a ceramic tile, then a piece of scrap copy paper, and on top of that, my project.

Polymer clay in baking pans

I do use an oven thermometer to verify that my oven is baking at the correct temperature. I bake Fimo, Souffle, Premo and Cernit at 275° (135°C), Kato Polyclay at 300°F (150°C), and depending on the project Pardo at 275-325°F (135-163°C).

I preheat my oven, making sure that it’s fully heated to the correct temperature. Then I place my foil pans in the oven, shut the door, and start the timer. I used to rely on the oven’s timer but I’d forget and go outside where I couldn’t hear it so I now use a portable timer that I just clip to my shirt or carry with me. (Your smartphone likely has a timer app that would work as well.) I sort of guess how long to bake my pieces…I don’t measure with a ruler or anything like that, but I do always bake longer than what I think I “should”. For most things this means about 45 minutes for a 1/4″ thick piece.

Use a standard binder clip to hold foil pans shut when baking polymer clay. The Blue Bottle Tree.

When the timer goes off, I take the foil pans out of the oven, remove the clip, and check things out. Most of the time I’m happy. I usually am too impatient to let things cool off on their own, so I often will pick up the copy paper and set it on the countertop to cool (as the ceramic tile holds heat a long time).

This is the most common way that I bake, for most of the work I do. But there are lots of times when I vary from this. I’ll discuss this and more below. Read on!

 

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How Long Should I Bake Polymer Clay?

It’s no wonder that people are confused about this one. Here’s what various packages of polymer clay tell you about baking duration:

  • Fimo: 30 minutes
  • Pardo Art Clay: Minimum of 30 minutes
  • Cernit: Approximately 30 minutes
  • Kato Polyclay: 10 minutes
  • Premo: 30 minutes per 1/4″ (6mm) of thickness
  • Sculpey: 15 minutes per 1/4″ (6mm) of thickness

Most polymer clay artists will agree that these are the absolute minimum times that you should use, and the recommended 10 minutes for Kato is just plain erroneous. Polymer clay becomes much stronger when it is baked longer than these minimum times. You cannot burn or damage polymer clay by baking it for a very long time, even hours. Unlike food, which will burn if left too long in the oven (because the moisture is driven out), polymer clay will not burn if baked at the correct temperature. The limiting factor, though, is that light colors of polymer clay will darken and brown with longer times in the oven. It does not damage them, but it will easily ruin your effect, especially if you’re working with light or translucent polymer clay.

I always recommend baking at least 45 minutes per 1/4″ of thickness and even longer for thicker pieces. For optimal results, do what works for you, not what a package says.

Not sure you’ve baked your piece long enough? Read about how you can tell if your polymer clay is baked enough in Part 4 – How Long to Bake Polymer Clay.

Position in the Oven

When you put your polymer clay in the oven, try to center it as far from any heating element as possible. You want good air circulation around your items, so that the heat can distribute evenly inside the oven. Put it on the center rack, equidistant from the elements, and keep it away from the oven’s walls. This is obviously more difficult in a toaster oven as the baking chamber is so small. But if parts of your project are too close to the heating element, it will burn.

Protecting your work from the heat

As anyone who has ever held their hand above a stove’s heating element can attest, it gets awfully toasty! Even if the overall temperature in the oven stays where you set it, every time that heating element cycles on, it glows red hot and can singe your polymer clay pieces if they’re too close. Some ovens don’t regulate this very well and the element will scorch things, quite badly at times. The best way to protect your beautiful artwork from baking disasters is to protect it and shield it from the heat by keeping it covered up.

Aluminum foil pans protect polymer clay from the heat during baking. The Blue Bottle Tree.

I use an aluminum foil cake pan, most often the 8″ x 8″ size because my 6″ ceramic tiles fit perfectly in the bottom. (Those of you outside the US will need to find the sizes that work for the materials you have where you are. In the UK, I know you can get 150mm tiles and 240mm square pans.) For larger projects I use larger pans and tiles. You could use a sheet of aluminum foil. Or a covered roasting pan. Or an upside down pan. Covering your work protects it from the heating element and it also helps keep the heat contained at a steady level inside the pan, leading to a more complete and reliable cure.

Another fantastic bonus of using a cover is that the chemical smells that come from baking polymer clay will be greatly contained. The few times that I have baked uncovered, my husband has come to me, worried, because he could smell the clay and thought it was burning! (It wasn’t.)

One other nice bonus that comes from using the foil pans is that I have a cover for my unbaked pieces in the studio. Sometimes I’ll have the pan sitting there for days until I’ve made enough pieces to bake. The cover keeps the dust and curious kitties from ruining my clay.

If you use a toaster oven and have a tiny space, you could use the tiny aluminum foil pie pans the same way that I use the larger pans.  Any pan with a lid that  is oven safe could be used to protect your clay while baking. Keep your eye open for a small unpainted metal box, or even a tin. Run it through the oven by itself first to make sure it will handle the heat, though, just to make sure.

Maintaining a Constant Temperature

Convection ovens are much better at keeping a consistent temperature, but conventional and toaster ovens use a hot element, cycling on and off, to keep the space heated. The element can burn your clay, as I’ve already stated, but there’s also the problem that curing of your items can be inhibited if the temperature doesn’t stay high the whole time. If your oven is one of those that gets fairly cold before the element kicks back on, it might be helpful to place ceramic tiles on the rack in the middle of the oven. This will act as what’s called a “heat sink” to help hold and evenly distribute the heat. You could also use an old pizza stone if your oven is large enough.

This is why I use a ceramic tile in the bottom of my foil pan baking system. It helps keep the temperature constant. I also use my ceramic tiles as work surfaces, if this is a new idea for you, you might want to read about how ceramic tiles are one of my most indispensable tools.

Support and Protective Material

When you place raw clay on a glazed ceramic tile and then bake it, the places where the clay touched the tile will be shiny. To prevent this, merely place your item on a piece of scrap copy paper, an index card, or a piece of card stock. Don’t worry, the paper will not burn. But make sure that it doesn’t have any printing or writing on it as the inks could transfer to your clay.

If you’re baking round beads, setting them on a flat surface is a recipe in frustration! To keep them from rolling all over the place, merely accordion fold a piece of blank copy paper and set your beads in the folds. They’ll stay in one place and they won’t have shiny spots.

baking polymer clay beads

Another method is to use a piece of polyester quilt batting. Again, it won’t burn in the oven, and it keeps your pieces from getting a shiny spot. Batting is a great tool, too, if you work with sculpture and need to support parts of your piece during baking. Just use lots of polyester fiberfill to prop it all up.

One thing to note about using paper, though. Don’t leave your art piece on the paper for very long before you bake it. You might notice an oily spot on the paper…that’s the liquid plasticizer that’s leached out of your clay. A small amount won’t hurt your clay (make sure to discard the paper afterward, though). But if excessive amounts of plasticizer are leached out, it might weaken your piece.

How to prevent browning of your clay projects

Translucent and light colors of polymer clay are very susceptible to turning brown during baking. This is not an indication of burning and is not dangerous, but it is frustrating. It’s just one of those thing you have to work around and there are some things you can do to prevent, or at least minimize the problem. Before we get to those, though, make sure that you are baking at the right temperature and are covering your pieces during baking to prevent the heating element from damaging your work. Here are a few other things you can try.

Bury your Beads

Another strategy to protect your polymer clay from the heat of the oven is to bury them in baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) during baking. Other people use cornstarch or salt. To do this, just pour an oven-safe bowl of your favorite powder, dig a hole, and put your beads inside. Put the whole thing in the oven to bake. After baking, you will need to rinse the powder off the beads. Some people report that cornstarch is harder to rinse off and leaves a white residue, so you might prefer to use baking soda if that’s the case. Regardless, don’t leave the beads sitting around unbaked in the powder for very long, though, for the same reason as with the paper above. The plasticizer can possibly leach out of the beads, leaving them brittle.

If you bury polymer clay beads in cornstarch during baking, it will help protect them from browning. Article at The Blue Bottle Tree.

Experiment with Time and Temperature

Higher temperatures and longer bake times lead to more browning. So reducing the temperature or the duration of baking can solve the problem of browning. But, as I’ve discussed previously, that can also lead to weakened and underbaked projects. I suggest carefully experimenting with minimizing the baking time and temperature while at the same time monitoring the project’s strength. You need to bake long and hot enough to be fully cured and strong. Try the other strategies first, and if you still have unacceptable browning, then try experimenting with the time and temperature of baking.

Preventing Plaques and Cracks

Plaques are whitish areas that appear in the middle of a piece of polymer clay after curing. They look like they’re air bubbles but seem to happen when there was no obvious air trapped in the raw clay before baking. Fimo and Pardo are notorious for this problem and it’s more obvious in translucent and light colored clay. It’s been suggested that they are caused by water vapor or air collecting in the clay during curing and that they are caused by or exacerbated by sharp contrasts in temperature during baking or cooling.

Sometimes cracks appear in a clay piece immediately after baking, apparently caused by expansion of the clay mass during baking. Sudden temperature change also seems to be the culprit for this problem.

A commonly suggested solution for both plaques and cracks are to cure the clay without creating thermal shock. To do this, place your covered clay into a cool oven, turn it on to the correct temperature, and then begin timing once the proper temperature has been reached. After baking, turn off the oven and leave your items inside the oven until they have cooled thoroughly.

Can you bake polymer clay more than once?

A common question for those new to polymer clay is “Can you bake polymer clay more than once?” The answer is YES! There is no reason you can’t bake a piece of clay as many times as you need to. In fact, for complex pieces it’s common to bake parts of the piece separately and then assemble and attach them after baking. It’s also perfectly fine to attach raw clay to baked clay and bake that. Sometimes it’s the only way you can get certain effects.

High Altitude Baking of Polymer Clay

If you live at a high altitude, then you already know that the laws of physics can do some strange things to your baking times and temperatures. You might very well need to make adjustments to your polymer clay baking times as well. I don’t have personal experience with this, but I’ve read that mountain dwellers have success by raising the baking temperature about 25°F (or maybe 10°C) and baking for 15 minutes longer. Your experience might be different depending on your altitude. But if you’re doing everything right and still getting underbaked clay, this is something to be aware of.

Alternate Methods of Curing

Microwave

Do not use a microwave to cure polymer clay. It’s the wrong kind of heating process. It’s not going to cause sparks or anything like that, but it will cause smoke when it burns! Read more about if you can bake polymer clay in the microwave in my article about it here.

Boiling

For some reason there is a controversy about using boiling water to cure polymer clay. Some people say that it works, but that just isn’t realistic. Water boils at 212°F (100°C), which is a temperature too low to cure polymer clay. You’d think that adding more heat would raise the temperature of the water, but in reality it doesn’t. Blame physics. Now some people will say that boiling for a long time does give a complete cure for polymer clay. I am very, very skeptical of this.

However, I can conceive of why you might want to boil a polymer clay sculpture, for instance, to allow the water to support the item long enough to partially cure. This might be helpful with complex thin projections or pieces that would ordinarily be too floppy to bake without the support of the water. You would then fully bake the item at a proper temperature in the oven. But that’s not something most of us are going to be dealing with.

Heat Gun

A heat gun is a valuable tool for working with polymer clay. You can spot cure polymer clay with a heat gun but you have to be very, very careful to keep the gun moving at all times and not get too close to the clay. Heat guns produce enough heat to scorch and burn polymer clay causing it to blister and turn black (and produce irritating fumes). Yes, I hang my head in shame here. I have done this. But as long as you’re super careful to avoid burning, you can sort of “soft cure” clay to get it to solidify. You might use this technique if using liquid clay to assemble a sculpture, for instance. But it’s not a complete cure and you would still need to fully cure your project in the oven.

Cynthia Tinapple does use a heat gun to cure her polymer in place in the wooden bowls she creates with her husband Blair Davis. But she also uses a digital thermometer to make sure the clay is actually reaching curing temperature. For most of us, this isn’t a generally reliable way of curing polymer clay.

Well that’s all I can think of. You should have a pretty good idea of how to bake polymer clay. Now go make something beautiful!

This article was Part 3 of a series on Baking Polymer Clay. Part 1 was about Choosing the Right Oven and Part 2 was about Using the Right Temperature. Next is Part 4, How Long to Bake Polymer Clay. I hope you found this series to be useful. If so, why not sign up to get an email notification the next time I post. I’ve got lots more great articles planned. Thanks!

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128 thoughts on “How to Bake Polymer Clay: Part 3 – Tips and Tricks”

  1. Hello,

    I have a question and I would appreciate your answer so much!

    I am sculpting little polymer clay dolls and animals, which are more complex than (for example) beads. It is hard to sculpt the whole figure at once, because while working on new parts, the other parts get smudged easily.

    So I want to “pre-bake” the figures, then work on new parts.

    My question is – should I “pre-bake” the parts at full baking time (30+ minutes) or is it enough to bake them for , lets say – half the time, and then, later when the whole figure is completed, to bake it all together at full length.

    I hope my question is not confusing.

    Thank you so much for your page full of information, it is an incredible help for beginners like me!

    1. Don’t look at it as pre-baking. Consider it to be “baking in stages”. Each bake should be a full bake. There is no advantage to partially baking your clay. It just makes it fragile and liable to break when you add more clay. Bake the full time for each layer.

      1. Thank you so much!! I can not tell you how much I appreciate your help (your answer and your wonderful website). It is truly a blessing. Thank you!

  2. Fabulous articles, Ginger. We’re newbies to polymer clay and have a question about my home oven. Us there any problem, or do I need to do anything different, if curing with my gas oven?

    1. As long as your oven can reach and maintain the correct temperature, it should work just fine. Get an oven thermometer and verify what’s going on in there. Adjust the temp if necessary, and you should be good to go.

  3. I am trying to bake a very large 1/8 inch thick rounded oval (approximately 6 inches X 18 inches long) it is to become the transparent lid for my studen’s Alien sculpture. I used Pardo pro clay and rolled it out very thin ( no small feet to hold the shape). I baked it for 60 min @ 300, then peaked in and noticed it was still white, so increased temp to 310 degrees for anther 30 – 40 min. I have taken it out and it is still milky white and brittle on ends. I did cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Should I bake it again? Any suggestions would be helpful – my student has high hopes to enter his sculpture in an exhibition coming up next week.

  4. Hi Ginger-your article it are just great. I want to add polymer clay to the handles of my new kitchen cabinets. Any suggestions? Basically I if you envision the kind you can buy that have a ceramic piece in the middle of the handle, I am doing the same thing only with some polymer clay. Suggestions for type of clay, any special process? I have bought some sample handles to see how they bake.

    1. I’ve thought about doing this very thing. Just remove the handle, cover it with clay as desired, then bake it. I think you’ll be happiest if there is no paint or varnish used, however. Just use clay itself. A sanded and buffed finish would make it very striking and easy to keep clean.

  5. I am new to polymer clay and looking for tips for making ornaments with my grandkids. I did some Googling and found your site — so glad I did!!! Great information! I feel confident, after reading this post, that we’ll have great success. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Minerva Salgado

    Hi Ginger, Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us all. Working with polymer clay is new for me, and I’m not sure how to measure a 1/4″ thickness of polymer clay, once I’m done designing my charm, before putting it to bake. How can I make sure it is a 1/4″ thick?

    1. You make the charm the size that you prefer. Then estimate how thick it is. For every 1/4″ thickness, you would bake 30 minutes. So for a 1/2″ piece, you’d bake an hour. For a 3/8″ piece, you bake 45 minutes.

  7. I’m wanting to make a replica of my daughter’s wedding cake for an ornament. it will be 3 layers of light pink sculpey about an inch thick, with “icing” piping in a pearl white sculpey. should i bake the layers together. or separately and glue them together? should i bake the whole thing with the piping on, it’d bake the cake and add the piping and bake again? any advice would be appreciated. I’m a newbie with clay. I’ve been making beads with flower petals in them, from my daughter’s bouquet. I’m loving it!

    1. I would bake the separately and then glue them together. You never want to make your clay thicker than 1/4″ with any single baking. And yes, you can bake repeatedly. Additive is always better. Do make sure you are using an oven thermometer to keep your oven honest, and make sure you cover your work to protect it from getting browned by the element.

  8. I just baked some Kato polyclay. I tried putting the clay on a piece of scrap copy paper (with no ink) which I put on a tile, then I covered the clay with aluminum foil. The paper stuck to the clay after baking!!! Why?

    1. The clay will often stick to the paper, especially if it’s been pressed down, but can be easily peeled away after baking. Some papers, especially rough ones, might possible stick more tightly, and in that case you’d want to use a different paper. I have good luck with plain printer paper from Walmart.

  9. Thank you thank you Ginger for these informative articles. I have made a few things but have been too worried to bake anything. Not terribly brave of me! But I’m so glad that I waited now. I’ve got quite a bit of Sculpey III and wonder if mixing it with Premo and then baking it for an hour would help or will this just weaken the objects I make i.e. the Premo would weaken? Gayle Thompson recommended that I read your blog and you might have answered this question before, sorry to be a bother if you have but I’ve only just begun this evening.

    1. I haven’t done strength comparisons with all the various brands and mixtures. I can assume that a Sculpey III and Premo blend will be stronger than Sculpey III by itself, and that the mixture will be weaker than using Premo alone. Use the Sculpey for making textures, for bead cores, on Sutton Slices, and miscellaneous crafting tasks. Then use the Premo for anything that strength matters. Usually, Sculpey III will work just great if you’re making things thicker than 1/4″.

  10. Hello! I’ve gotten into polymer clay. So much fun and I’ve made some pretty cute stuff! However after I read this awesome post of yours, I’ve realized I was baking way too low! I’ve baked at 170-200 F. Yikes. Is it okay to re-bake what I have on me still at 275 (they are premo) to help them become more bonded/solid?

    One of my items snapped off quite easily and that was a big sign for me to start investigating. I have no idea why I was baking so low. I think the whole F vs C thing threw me off!!

  11. I am new to this…been a pen turner for a couple years and want to try poly clay…my question is simple How long should I let it sit before I put it on the lathe and start work ??

    1. That’s a really great question. I don’t believe that clay gets any more solidified once it’s fully cooled. So depending on the thickness, about 30 min to an hour. More important is to have it fully baked in the first place, so for tubes I’d say a hour, covered, of baking time.

  12. I just tried baking dread beads at 275 degrees in my toaster oven which I have used before for the same thing. This time the clay melted? it was a puddle. I baked for about 20 minutes and when I checked I found a puddle of clay- not even really hot as you would imagine but I could safely “pour” into a plastic container and it just firmed up. What’s up with that? The PC is about 2 years old but never opened.

    1. It sounds like you were using modeling clay instead of polymer clay. They look and feel similar, but act very different in the oven. Polymer clay does not change shape (much) in the oven, and does not melt.

  13. Can you use something else other than ceramic tile? Or is it required? Sorry if it’s a dumb question I’m really new to this.

    1. No, you can use any oven-safe surface. A simple plate would work just fine. You can probably find a cheap one for pocket change at your local thrift store.

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  16. READ THIS.

    Hi people. So… I’ve learned an odd lesson. Actually, it should be common sense, but sometimes we just don’t consider possibilities. Always check UNDER your pan before baking. Actually, just wipe it down with a napkin or surface wipe to force you to check on it. Last night I must have set my foil pan down on my work surface and some clay stuck to it. I never saw it, but today when baking food, something just smelled off. A rogue piece was left in the oven. I didn’t think to look for any rogue clay bits, so naturally I didn’t look in the back of the oven.

    Just a heads up! You never know what strange things could occur.

  17. Deborah Thacker

    I love your article. I’m a little confused about thermal shock though. I read another article a few years back that said to plunge the clay straight from the oven into ice water to make it harder. I’ve done this technique every time since then with great results. I haven’t baked the clay for extended times yet though so this could be the difference. What do you think?

    1. This is an old wives tale that has spread through the internet like an old game of “telephone”. The story used to be that quenching translucent clay in ice water made it more clear. Some people do still think this works, but I’ve not seen any evidence that it does make translucent clay more clear. But somehow this story got changed (though nobody knows how/where and yet everyone repeats it) to say that ice water makes clay stronger. No, this is unequivocally untrue and has been tested and disproven by Cara Jane Hayman. What makes clay stronger is longer cures and/or hotter temperatures. Because warm clay straight from the oven is often quite soft and flexible, and it takes longer than you’d think to firm up, it’s very easy to see how quenched pieces could seem to be harder. They are, certainly, harder in the short term. But does quenching make a piece of clay harder, in the long term, than just cooling on the countertop or in the oven? The answer is no. In fact, it seems to make the clay weaker. The best thing is always to cure your clay at the correct temperature (or slightly hotter) for at least the correct time, preferably longer.

  18. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!! I have not even started playing with my clay yet. I’m reading everything I can find so I can make as few mistakes as possible. I’m so glad I found this series of posts before spending all that money on a dang toaster oven!

  19. Please help!! I made Calcifier charm (yellow flame with orange chalk pastel on the edges sitting on brown ” logs”) I have an oven temperature it was the correct temperature I placed it sitting up on a ceramic tile with the foil pan on top for one hour and it burnt!!! I have no clue why. I have a convection oven does it maybe get hotter under the foil pan? I’m new to polymer clay only been doing it for about 1 year but this is the first item I’ve ever burned… I am so careful and I followed all your rules… What did I do wrong?!? Help!!

    1. Hi Lisa, I’m sorry your little Calcifier burned. That’s so frustrating. Polymer clay will not burn unless the temperature gets quite hot, well over 300°F. The foil will not cause the clay to get hotter. The foil will protect what’s inside of it, actually. It sounds like your oven is lying to you. Try getting an oven thermometer and see what temperature the oven actually is. I suspect that even if the oven averages the correct temp, it’s spiking higher at times in the cycle. I use on of those digital probe thermometers and it shows the temp changing rapidly over the baking cycle. Even with a foil pan, I find that I have to set my oven quite a bit lower than the temp on the dial. It misbehaves otherwise and make my clay turn brown!

  20. Hello,
    Glad to read I can bake polymer clay twice, but my question is: if the clay has already been formed and cured once, can I bake it and reshape it again (perhaps while still hot, or by baking over a form) ?
    Thank you for considering this question.

    1. Sometimes. Some brands of clay will reshape when hot easier than others will. You can use a heat gun to do this. Just heat and area, push it to a new shape, and then let it cool in that new configuration. You have to be careful, though, because sometimes the clay will break. Clay is at its weakest when it’s warm.

  21. Thank you for the reply. I was thinking it was the fiberfill and will use other instead. Now my 5″ long needle creations didn’t work and trying to figure out why. They bend and break. I’m think it’s the Walmart cheap Sculpey – that it won’t bake up hard??? One of them I’ve now baked for an hour and it’s still bending and also the section that I reinforced with a ring of clay and the clay bonding is still weak. The creations are only 1/3″ – 1/2″ round. I thought that size (width) should bake up hard? (I’ve made fairy doors with it and they didn’t turn out like this.). Width wise they are, by length they aren’t. The smaller one I made duplicating yours is hard, but my arthritic fingers can’t use it and I’m going to give it to a friend. I need length so my fingers can stay stretched out. Is there a trick to longer clay instruments, or is it the clay – I need Premo or Fimo or one of the others? (I’m serious about clay – my new income stream I hope.)

    1. Yes, the inexpensive Bake Shop clay from Walmart is very weak and really not suitable for any serious clay work. Sculpey III is another bad one. I recommend Premo for most clay work. Though, for this project, Premo might be a bit too flexible and I would use Kato instead. However, you can also reinforce the handles if you’re going to make them long…just put an armature of some sort in the handle. Polymer clay will always be a bit flexible, it’s not hard like a ceramic. But some brands are harder than others. Sculpey III is brittle, Premo is flexible, Kato and Fimo are far more strong and substantial.

      1. Thank you Ginger, your answer helps me refine the process and I’ll use the Bake Shop to learn beginner things with till it’s gone. This is important to me.

  22. Hi Miss Ginger, im new in pm and would like to ask where can i buy ceramic tile? I always encounter that my clay breaks during baking..it’s very disappointing..i will follow your advice..
    thanks

    1. You can find ceramic tiles in any home improvement store, like Lowe’s, Home Depot, B&Q. They will be found wherever building supplies can be found.

  23. I’m new to PM and to start made your needle tools, only made them long and round. I needed to prop the first one up, so I remembered your article and used the Polyester fiberfill (not the cheapest but not the most expensive either) underneath the tool to help keep it round and to prop the needle. I also had two large indent close to the end that needed propping. During baking the fumes became severe, which was strange because I’ve baked clay in the new oven before without fumes. When I removed the cooled pieces from the baking sheet, they had pressed down into the nearly melted polyester batting, the props had squished down and hardened, the pieces were stuck to the fiberfill and had flat spots on the pan side.

    So, I don’t understand the use of polyester fiberfill / quit batting, and now I’m a bit concerned about using paper or cardboard in the oven for 30-45-60 minutes inside of a covered pan that I can’t see into to check on.

    When I bought the fiberfill I wondered if I was supposed to get a fire-protected type, or if there was a type like that – I can’t find any instructions for that.

    I baked the pieces at 250 degrees for 30 mins. Complete with oven thermometer..

    Also, aren’t all those fumes still trapped inside the covered pans and when you open them that releases the fumes into the room? I live in Arizona, battling overheated clay already (wondering how to cool it down), and working in my kitchen. No outdoor room to open stuff in. Is that where you open those?

    1. It definitely sounds like your fiberfill is melting and is the wrong stuff. Polymer artists have been using polyester fiberfill and batting for decades without trouble, but recently I’m seeing some reports of this happening, making me wonder if they’ve changed what they’re using to make this stuff nowadays. Definitely don’t use it again! There’s no trouble using paper or cardboard. That won’t burn in the oven at clay baking temperatures, not even close. And you can use paper towels, kleenex, or toilet paper to prop things up, too.

      Feel free to check on things in the oven, and open the pan. It’s not like baking a cake…you won’t ruin anything. But the heat will escape so you might want to add some time on.

      Polymer clay doesn’t release and fumes during baking, merely some mild plastic smells. So there are no fumes trapped. You can open the pan outside if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. I certainly don’t. As for a hot climate, it gets very hot here in Missouri, too (112°F two summers ago!), so I feel your pain. But it’s not that hot in your house (hopefully). Just store it away from hot windows and other heat sources. You can keep your clay in the fridge if you’d like. Clay doesn’t begin to cure til closer to 200°F, so you shouldn’t worry about that. But do take care not to let it sit in a hot car…we all know how our cars turn into little ovens in the summer!

  24. I am glad that I found your articles about polymer clay, I’m an aspiring person and everything is new to me. I signed up for a subscription. Thank you for the advice! Anna

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