Baking Polymer Clay

Do you have questions about baking polymer clay? Not sure what oven to use, for how long, and what temperature to use? Worried about burning your creations? These are very common questions, especially when you’re new to working with polymer clay. Here’s a series of articles that I wrote to address these questions and much more about baking polymer clay.

Choosing an Oven to Bake Polymer Clay

Yes, it is perfectly safe to bake polymer clay in your home oven. There are reasons why you might choose to use a toaster oven or a convection oven, but you don’t have to. In many cases, a home oven can be more reliable than a toaster oven, especially if it’s small and doesn’t have good, trustworthy temperature regulation. Read all about choosing the right oven for baking polymer clay in the article Part 1- Choosing a Polymer Clay Oven.

Selecting the Correct Temperature and Time

Different polymer clay brands recommend different baking temperatures to ensure a complete cure. It is imperative that you bake your polymer clay at a sufficiently high enough temperature. Considering that many ovens are inaccurate and heat unevenly, it’s common for new polymer clay enthusiasts to burn or singe their first project. So they lower the temperature for the next batch and, somewhere down the line, realize that their work is brittle and begins to break. There are ways to protect the clay from browning, but because underbaked clay is weak, reducing the temperature is not the answer! Learn about why you need an oven thermometer and why you should always cure longer than you think in the article Part 2 – Baking Polymer Clay – Time and Temperature.

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Learn about the right temperature, times ovens, and baking setups to ensure optimal results. No more broken or scorched projects!

Tips and Tricks for Baking Polymer Clay

Once you have a dependable oven and are using the right temperature and time for baking your polymer clay project, there are still plenty of things to know. Like how to prevent browning? It is very important that you always cover your polymer clay to protect it from the heat of the oven’s element. Just like a piece of toast in your toaster, an oven’s element will cause your clay to get toasty brown if you don’t protect it. I always use two simple aluminum foil pans, clipped together, to cover my clay. But there are many more tricks that will help you get good results. Read about using cornstarch, a ceramic tile, and find out if you can boil your polymer clay in the article Part 3 – Tips and Tricks for Baking Polymer Clay.

How Long to Bake Polymer Clay

It’s very common for new polymer clayers to notice that their polymer clay creations are flexible when they take them out of the oven. They see this and wonder if they baked it long enough. On the other hand, others find that their creations are always breaking and crumbling. What’s going on? How can you tell when you’ve baked your polymer clay long enough? Read Part 4 – How Long to Bake Polymer Clay.

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38 thoughts on “Baking Polymer Clay”

  1. Hi Ginger. You’re the absolute guru for clay…
    I was just wondering if over-baking can make clay brittle? X

    1. I’m sure anything is possible. But I’ve never seen it happen. If you’ve baked a long time and the clay is brittle, it’s more likely that the thermometer is correct or the clay is too insulated (too many tiles or too deeply buried in cornstarch) and did not reach the correct temperature.

  2. I found items from one cane of clay which was meant to be finely marbled black grey and white baked all black. In the oven at the same time a black and white set of items from another cane baked showing true colours as it should. Any ideas why this is happening?

    1. I’d be able to tell you more if I saw a photo, but there are a couple of possibilities. One is that translucent was used instead of white. After baking, it would turn translucent and the black would be the only thing visible. The other possibility is that it was closer to the heating element and therefore burned.

  3. Chip Borkenhagen

    Now I’m not sure if my last note went through here. I erred in saying that my sculpture is 1 inch – I meant to say that it is 12 inches tall. And there are parts that are 1-1/2 inches thick. Your thoughts?
    Thanks again for being here for us!

    1. Yes, the same advice holds true. Make sure the oven’s temp is correct and make sure to cover with foil to protect it. With an item that large, however, I’d use my home oven rather than a small toaster oven. You don’t want it to be too near the element or it will burn.

  4. Chip Borkenhagen

    I’m doing a sculpture that will end up being roughly 1 inches tall. I have used some old pieces of wood, sculpture armature wire, and crunched up aluminum foil. I have applied the Sculpey (regular/terra cotta) in thicknesses of 1/4 inch up to 1-1/4 inches (it varies throughout the sculpture). Is there anything special I should know about or do before I bake it? I’m assuming I bake it for an hour and a half to accommodate the thicker parts of the sculpture?
    Thank you for putting this great blog together for us. It’s wonderful having your expertise available to us neophytes!!!

    1. You’ve got it! Just make sure your oven is the correct temperature (use a thermometer) and make sure to cover the item with a tent of foil to protect it against the heat of the oven’s element. Good luck!

  5. Hi Ginger,
    I love using Fimo and Premo, but can we use them together as the baking temperatures are a little different? I made a cuff recently with a mix of both and baked at Fimos recommended baking time but the cuff ended up snapping! Is there a happy medium to be found?
    Please help!

  6. I used sculpey souffle and baked in my normal fan forced oven for 10 to 15 minutes on 130 degree Celsius. I make earrings they are small and only 3 to 4mm thick.

  7. Hi I use a purloyned hologen but it took time to sort out as it heats up and cools throughout any cyule. So I used an oven thermometer and doubled the cure time depending on the thickness of the project subnext to brand packeying instructions. It works well for me. I am a disabled crafter with low budget and unable to access the kitchen oven. My little hologen sits happily in the craft area and is very easy to clean

    1. Halogen ovens work nicely IF the oven will reach and maintain the correct temperature for the entire curing cycle. There are many tabletop solutions for baking your polymer clay.

  8. Tereya Callisto

    How long should I bake Premo clay? And, what container do I put the baking soda in when baking?

  9. Hi Ginger, great article!

    I wonder if you can give me some advice to make polymer clay to resemble metal or stone, not in appearance but in weight and feel, should I try mixing it with sand or metal powder..? Or should I move to another medium altogether? I’m trying to make it seem less like a warm lightweight plastic and more like cold heavy stone.
    Thank you!

    1. Mixing polymer clay with sand or metal will just make it weaker and not change how it feels very much at all. Polymer clay, by its nature, is vinyl plastic and so will always feel like a fairly flexible, soft plastic. Have a look at a material called Pal Tiya. You might really enjoy it.

  10. I have started making tiny babies and fairies…I would prefer to have my molds not all in one piece..arms and legs separated from head and body…cannot find any molds…does anyone have any idea where I may purchase..

    1. why can’t you make your own molds from your babies? I’ve used sculpey to make molds, and i’ve seen silicone calk tubes used to make molds also…and there is molding silicone for crafters.

  11. I am a metalsmith and have been fascinated with polymer clay since I started seeing it on Pinterest. I have been working with it for a few months but there is so much I don’t know. I have made and baked a piece of polymer clay and a piece of silver and would like to combine them. Is it possible to do that without just gluing them together? I was thinking of using liquid polymer clay between them and baking again.

    Thank you Ginger in advance for any help you can give me. I have learned so much by reading all of your articles on The Blue Bottle Tree.

    1. You can bake the clay into the silver, just as you can bake clay into anything like wood, seashells, glass, etc. Sounds like there are lots of fantastic possibilities for you. I know a lot of metalsmiths combine clay and metal. Look up Celie Fago and Lizard’s Jewelry for two neat examples.

  12. I baked some small puzzle pieces for friendship necklaces. And one has a small crack… Is there anyway to fix it after the fact, and avoiding that in the future?

    1. Usually the best thing is to work some liquid polymer into the crack and bake again. Sometimes cracks are unavoidable, but if it’s cracking due to damage, like from a break, then it’s due to underbaking most often.

  13. Thanks, Ginger. I’m new to clay and thought that was probably the way to go, but just wanted to be sure. I appreciate it.

  14. Hi. I have a question. I made a pendant with Sculpey Souffle and wore it twice without glazing it. I live in Texas and it’s been unbearably hot. I sweated on it-a LOT. I’ve decided it would look better glazed. Is it okay to go ahead or should I clean it first? And if so, how? Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    1. Polymer clay is just vinyl plastic, so you can easily wash it with soap and water. Give it a good scrub with a toothbrush if necessary. That is, of course, if you don’t have surface treatments on it. I would certainly wash it before varnishing it because body oils might keep the varnish from sticking.

  15. Pingback: Tutorials from The Blue Bottle Tree | The Beaded Bazaar

  16. I found by accident that a turkey roaster, the electric oven kind works great for my clay, it;s roomy enough, no open filament like a toaster oven to toast your clay, you can adjust temperature just like big oven and I just plug mine in and set it on my stove top when I use it, and it has a rack in it also. I bought it to cook with and don’t use it much now, I was even able to sit my glasses up in it after doing glass painting and bake them like you have to. Funny how no one else I have seen mentions using one, and they are not so expensive at Walmart etc. Toaster ovens, I bought the clay one and you always have to worry about the darn clay getting literally toasted, I hate that, so the roaster works more like a real oven and no open filament to burn on top, it heats in the core like a crock pot, thought you might want to try one out and see how it works.

    1. I know of several clayers who use roasters as their polymer clay oven with great results. If you can get one with a really accurate temperature control then it will work fantastic. Any oven that will reach and maintain the correct temperature will work for polymer clay. A lot of people use halogen ovens as well. There are many options. Thanks for weighing in, though. It’s good to hear success stories.

    2. Looking into Turkey Roaster Oven for polymer. Does self basting lid matter? Should you stay away from that? How do you test the temp in a closed oven? Thanks so much

      1. Self-basting just means there’s a lip so that juices flow back into the roaster. Not relevant to us. I would use a thermometer with a temperature probe, and yes, the cord makes the lid stand up just a touch.

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