Do You Have to Seal Polymer Clay?

Do you have to seal polymer clay? When is it a good idea, and when can it ruin your work? Learn more at The Blue Bottle Tree.If you read or follow any polymer clay groups and forums, you’ll notice that one of the most common questions asked is “Which polymer clay sealer should I use?” Everyone has their favorite sealer, and the answers differ depending on your need and the availability of products where you live. But perhaps we’re asking the wrong question. I think the first question needs to be, “Do You Have to Seal Polymer Clay?”

Do you have to seal polymer clay?

  • You don’t have to seal polymer clay. Baked polymer clay is durable plastic and therefore more durable than any sealer.
  • Sealers and varnishes will not prevent breakage. If your projects are brittle, address your baking process.
  • Use a varnish to protect fragile surface treatments such as chalk, pigment, or mica.
  • Use a varnish to change the gloss level of your project.
  • Many varnishes make polymer clay sticky. See here for more info.
  • Spray varnishes are nearly always incompatible with polymer clay.
  • For a glass-like finish on plain polymer clay, sanding and buffing is an excellent option.

When to Seal Polymer Clay

People often want to seal their polymer clay creations for protection against the elements or from damage during use. In most cases this is unnecessary. Once it’s been properly baked or cured, polymer clay becomes a durable solid plastic that is waterproof, shock resistant, and fairly tough. Because it’s such a durable material, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that it’s actually more durable than any sealer that you will put on it. Sealers, varnishes, and finishes do have their purpose, but bare clay itself does not need to be sealed for protection. Here are some reasons why you would want to seal polymer clay:

Protect Surface Treatments

When you embellish your polymer clay project with chalks, paints, mica powders, metallic pastes or metal leaf, those treatments are sitting on the surface of the polymer clay and are not nearly as durable as the polymer clay itself. Projects using surface treatments must therefore be sealed for maximum durability. In the case of jewelry, the wearer must also be protected from any pigments, dyes, and mica coming off on their clothes or skin. If the project is purely decorative and will merely be sitting on a shelf, sealing is not imperative. But keep in mind that cleaning any accumulated dust would likely cause the surface treatments to be disturbed.

Polymer clay artists often use acrylic paint to color and embellish their projects. Does acrylic paint need to be sealed? Well, it depends. Paint used to antique a textured surface is mostly rubbed off and the remaining paint is fairly well protected down in the “nooks and crannies” of the piece. In that case I would not seal it. But thin layers of acrylic paint can sometimes peel or scrape off, or will come off if the piece is washed. In those cases I would use a sealer. Even when the layer of paint is thick and strong, a sealer might give a brighter, more durable coating much in the same way that a clear coat is used over the colored paint on your car. You’re going to be the best judge for your own particular project.

Change the Gloss Level

Although different brands of clay have different native gloss levels, and the technique you use can leave you with a matte or glossy surface, the easiest way to change the gloss level of your finished piece is to use a sealer that has the desired type of gloss level. Many varnishes come in both glossy and matte varieties. Sometimes you will look at a finished piece and realize that you would like it better matte or glossy and choosing the correct varnish can easily give you the effect you want.

Ease of Cleaning

Polymer clay is not porous like wood or unglazed ceramic. It will not absorb and hold water. Polymer clay can, however, have fine pits in the surface, depending on the method you used to create the piece. Some clay brands, such as Sculpey III and Souffle, tend to have a surface that appears to be porous (this is also why those brands are so great for holding onto acrylic paint). Because of this, dirt and makeup may be difficult to remove from a piece without scrubbing with soap and water. This can also be a problem when clay is created with a finely textured surface. Plus, sometimes the dyes in your makeup can permanently discolor light colored clay beads. In these cases, sealing the clay makes sense.

Intensify Colors or Translucency

Just like a pebble dipped in water becomes more vivid and bright, a coat of sealer can make polymer clay appear more rich, deep, and colorful. This also holds true for translucent clays. They will appear even more translucent when a sealer is used on the surface.

When NOT to Seal Polymer Clay

Sealers and varnishes are wonderful tools to be used when the time is right. But there are reasons why trying to seal your project might not be a good idea. Here are a few reasons.

  1. Many sealers, varnishes, and coatings turn sticky or cloudy over time, ruining your project. What works for one person might very well not work for another. Unless you know how your chosen sealer is going to act, and unless you’re certain you need to be using a sealer in the first place, it might be better to reconsider. Always test some samples before using a sealer on something that’s irreplaceable.
  2. Because most polymer clay varnishes are, themselves, a kind of thin plastic coating, they can often be peeled from the project if you try hard enough. If the product will get lots of abuse, a varnish might not be strong enough.
  3. When making glass-like items, using a gloss sealer is not a substitute for creating a smooth item in the first place. Applying a glossy coat over the top of a project full of tool marks and fingerprints will just accentuate them rather than camouflage them, making your project look sloppy and unprofessional.
  4. Using a sealer on a highly textured item can go badly wrong. I remember waxing my dad’s pickup when I was about 10. I got wax on the black plastic trim. Of course it turned white in the grooves. Bad memories! Polymer clay is no different. Wax is great for smooth surfaces, but it will collect in the small crevices of a textured item and look awful. Liquid varnish such as Varathane will also collect or pool in highly textured areas, leading to a look that very much wasn’t what you had in mind. You can seal textured items with a varnish, but you have to be careful in your application. Don’t just slather it on!

Use the Right Sealer for your Project

There are lots of types of polymer clay sealers and glazes. I use a different sealer depending on the effect I want to accomplish in my finished piece. There are many excellent varnishes, finishes, and sealers out there, and I haven’t tried them all by any means! But here are some tried and true sealers that I can heartily recommend.

Glossy Sealers

Varathane is a brand name of polyurethane varnish available in the US. It has been a favorite varnish with polymer clay artists for many years. It does come in gloss, semi-gloss, and satin, but I find that even the satin is still pretty glossy. I wrote an article about Varathane describing why it’s my favorite sealer and giving sources (including non-US brands of polyurethane).

Pearl Ex Varnish is made by the same company as the well-known mica powders. But this is just a varnish. It works nicely on all brands of clay, but doesn’t give a super glossy finish.

Aleene’s Jewelry Pendant Gel is a glossy dimensional glaze that can be used on most clays, but avoid using it on Fimo as it can get sticky.

Epoxy Resin is a clear, thick coating that is gaining popularity among polymer clayers, for good reason. It is exceedingly strong and durable, more so than any other finish. But it has a long cure time, takes some practice to get used to using, and is known for causing swear words. But once you get the hang of it, it works very nicely. Favorite brands are ICE Resin, Envirotex Lite, and Magic Glos (a brand of UV-cure resin).

Kato Liquid Polyclay can be used as a sealer. Just brush or sponge on a thin coating and then cure in the oven. After oven curing, you can use a heat gun to further cure it to give a crystal-clear, glossy finish.

These finishes work well to create a glossy surface on polymer clay.

Matte Sealers

Translucent Liquid Sculpey is another brand of liquid clay but this has a matte finish when cured. To get this effect, use a cosmetic sponge to dab the TLS onto your piece, then oven cure. Do not cure with a heat gun or the effect won’t be matte.

Cernit Matte Varnish gives a nice, smooth, dry finish on all brands of clay. It’s not terribly matte, but does give a low-sheen satin finish that looks and feels great.

DuraClear Ultra Matte Varnish is a dead matte varnish that has no sheen at all. It performs beautifully on all brands of clay except for Kato.

If you do need to seal polymer clay, these products work well to create a matte finish.

For a Natural, Burnished Look

If you like the look and feel of polymer clay that’s been sanded to a very high grit and buffed, you will love the way that adding a coat of wax makes those pieces feel and look. Renaissance Wax is a favorite brand of high quality wax that has a great marketing program and a price tag to match. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ren Wax. But want to know a secret? Paste Wax and Neutral shoe polish will work just the same and have a MUCH better price. Remember, wax doesn’t work well on items with a fine texture (such as when you use sandpaper or a sponge to disguise fingerprints). The wax will collect in the pits and look awful.

Renaissance wax functions exactly like paste wax for use on polymer clay. But it's much cheaper.
I left the sticker on the Renaissance Wax so you could see the cost. The paste wax is an old can I stole from my dad. I don’t think Minwax even makes it anymore. But Johnson’s Paste Wax is readily available and does the same job. Cheaper.

For Sealing Delicate of Textured Surfaces

Sometimes the act of brushing or rubbing on a sealer can disturb surface treatments such as mica powders. And a sealer can actually dissolve the surface treatment, like happens when you put Varathane onto alcohol inks. And sometimes you do want to seal finely textured surfaces without getting air bubbles or pooling. In these cases a spray varnish would be great, but most spray varnishes can cause polymer clay to become sticky over time. There are two brands of spray varnish that are completely clay safe and really gives a great effect. PYM II is one brand, and Helmar Crystal Kote Matte is another. They sets and stabilizes mica powders and can help seal alcohol inks with a quick, light coat. After that, you can layer subsequent coats to give a thicker seal or you can use another type of sealer. Yes, you can use Varathane or Ren Wax over the top of PYM II and Helmar.

PYM II polymer clay spray sealer is safe for polymer clay. Read a review at The Blue Bottle Tree.

Sealers to Avoid

Just as there are good sealers on the market, there are also some bad ones. Keep in mind that many of these have been used by many people without any ill effects. But they are also known for having unsatisfactory results as well.

Future Floor Finish, which is now called Pledge Floor Care (and is very similar to the European product Klear) is a very clear, thin, watery finish that is favorite of beginning polymer clay artists. It gives a nice glossy finish, dries clear, smells great, and is readily available. I used it when I first started and I don’t really have much bad to say about it, except that it’s not very durable. There are better options, such as any of the sealers I mentioned above. It’s still a good sealer for things that won’t get any wear, such as figurines and models. But for jewelry, it just dulls down way too fast.

Liquitex Varnish, which I have previously recommended, is an artist’s varnish that comes in gloss, matte, and satin finishes. My tests show, however, that it has lots of brush strokes, turns cloudy on dark colors, and is sticky on some brands of clay. There are better options, such as Varathane or Pearl Ex Varnish.

Dimensional glazes are thick, clear one-part glazes which can be applied thickly to create a glossy, glass-like finish. Some are better than others, but all of them can turn cloudy over time. I think that humidity is a factor. Some brands are Triple Thick, Diamond Glaze, Dimensional Magic, and Aleene’s Jewelry and Pendant Gel. I have found that all of them turn sticky on at least one brand of clay. Aleene’s did show good results on every clay besides Fimo, however, so you might try it. For every person who recommends Triple Thick, I read of another one who says it gets sticky or cloudy. And the reviews I’ve read of Dimensional Magic are sad. I don’t like reading of people’s projects being ruined by a material that was used properly! Success is just too variable with these glazes for me to recommend them universally, aside from Aleene’s.

Nail Polish is often recommended as a paint or glaze by articles in craft blogs. Almost always there will be tears later because the plasticizer in polymer clay softens the polish, making it turn gooey over time. That is, if it dries at all. The thing is, it can be rather hit and miss, perhaps due to the brand of clay or nail polish. It does work often enough that people not knowledgeable in polymer clay will not see what’s wrong with recommending it, and the next person isn’t so lucky! If I had a dollar for every email I answer on this one….

Oil-based Varnishes will often work on polymer clay but will yellow noticeably with time. Cindy Leitz tested Minwax oil-based polyurethane and found that there were no compatibility issues with polymer clay, but it did yellow. This is most noticeable on white clay, of course. Cindy’s result does show the value of testing and making samples. Don’t just randomly grab any can of varnish from the hardware store shelf.

Mod Podge is a glue and decoupage medium that crafters have relied on for working with paper for as long as I can remember. Craft blogs also sometimes recommended it as a sealer for polymer clay.  Just don’t do it. No. Mod Podge is actually made from the same stuff as plain white glue. It’s not a real sealer. You wouldn’t coat your beads in glue, would you? Again, some people have good results with this. But for most of us Mod Podge gets sticky and cloudy in humidity. Just say no.

Spray sealers can also have unpredictable and disappointing results. Sometimes the finish never dries, other times it turns soft and sticky months later. It seems that the plasticizer in baked polymer clay can soften the spray varnish, so even a good trustworthy brand of liquid varnish might not work so well in the spray form on polymer clay. If you need a spray, do yourself a favor and order some PYM II. It’s one of the few sprays that I know of which is absolutely safe to use with polymer clay. Your mileage may vary, of course. I tested 10 different brands of spray sealers and found that only PYM had universally good results on all the brands of clay that I tried.

Sealing Myths

New clayers often assume that polymer clay needs to be sealed to protect it against water damage. Cured polymer clay is waterproof and does not need to be sealed against moisture. Most sealers are not fully waterproof (they’re merely water resistant) and can be damaged by prolonged contact with moisture. (A quick wash is not usually a problem for a sealer, though.) If you’re using polymer clay to decorate the outside of drinking glasses, you do not need to seal the polymer clay to make it safe for washing. You do, of course, want to hand wash any decorated glassware, but that’s true for any hand-embellished glassware. Dishwashers can be pretty harsh.

If you’re making polymer clay for use in aquariums or outdoors, a sealer is not only unnecessary but will most often deteriorate well before the clay. Polymer clay is weatherproof and will not crumble or fall apart after exposure to the elements (see the picture of my hearts, below). But the color of some clays can fade in sunlight. I would like to say that a UV sealer will protect your work, but I do worry about the durability of the sealer itself in outdoor conditions.

Another myth is the belief that a sealer will protect a weak polymer clay sculpture against breakage. A coating of varnish or sealer will not make your piece stronger. It will not prevent pieces from breaking off. If small pieces such as ears or arms are not properly adhered in the first place, a coat of sealer will not help things stay in place. The first time the piece is dropped or roughly handled, the ears will snap right off. I suppose if you coated a piece in a thick layer of resin, it would offer structural support. But it would also look pretty gloppy.

These polymer clay hearts have been outside in my back yard for 10 years. The finish has worn off, but the clay is in good condition.
These polymer clay hearts have hung from pots in my back yard for the past 10 years. They were made with Kato. The white one is pearl with no finish, you can see the mildew that’s grown on it. The other three are covered with Pearl-Ex and sealed with Future. As you can see, the finish has crackled and worn off, but the clay is just fine. I think we should use polymer clay more in outdoor projects. Just remember that the sealer will not hold up as well as bare clay will.

Tests and Samples

Regardless of what anyone tells you, though, it’s always best to test any new materials or techniques yourself before you commit to using them with a large or special project that you have put a lot of time into. That way you find out about the problems before anything gets ruined. For instance, Varathane is a fantastic sealer. But you have to learn how to apply it without creating bubbles, and the best way to do that is to do some tests and see what works best for you. Each sealer that I do recommend will come with its own quirks and challenges. Testing and doing sample pieces will help you find the best ways to use them.

Also remember that if you’re selling your work to others, your reputation as an artist depends on the long-term quality of your work. You owe it to yourself and your customers to make sure any sealers you use will hold up over time. Here’s a great article by Staci Louise Smith about how important it is to test your jewelry before you sell it to a customer.

And now I have a favor to ask of you. If you’re reading groups and forums where beginners are dealing with the frustrations of a badly chosen sealer, would you mind pointing them to this post? Maybe we can get the word out there and prevent some sticky beads!

248 thoughts on “Do You Have to Seal Polymer Clay?”

      1. Hey there, I didn’t know how to reply to the article, so I just replied to one of your answered questions. I hope you get this. I read in the article that it is ok to use resin on your polymer clay and that many people are doing it, however, resin does require paint thinner and alcohol to clean up. You did mention the inconsistencies, any thoughts? Do you know if resin makes the polymer clay tacky over time? Thank You, Great article!

        1. You can usually comment below every article. Yes, it’s okay to use resin over the top of polymer clay, and assuming the polymer is fully cured, there shouldn’t be any stickiness. The resin that most of us use (such as Envirotex Lite or ICE Resin) is an epoxy resin and while it can be thinned with alcohol, that doesn’t mean it contains any solvents that would harm baked polymer clay.

          1. Hello,
            I was thinking of making my own ornaments for my fish tank, now sealing the polymer clay I’m sure will be important. So as not to poison the fish and come out with beautiful long-lasting pieces, do you have any suggestions?

            1. I can’t speak anything about toxicity as I’m not a toxicologist. But I do know that varnish (there is no such thing as polymer clay sealer) will peel from polymer clay if left submerged in water. Polymer clay is vinyl. And just as you would not varnish your aquarium tubing before putting it into the aquarium, you do not need to varnish your polymer clay.

        1. Bologne Mustard

          Hi ginger? How is it going? I hope this finds ya well… listen i have a question… i have a very detailed sports piece that needs to be baked… upon its exit and cool down/ chill period… i want to paint it. Itll be black and silver.. im using super sculpey and this “piece” has been on wax paper wrapped to keep dust off for like a year or two lol. I know right? Anyway… im wanting to reallllllllly make sure this black and silver has metal flake… what do i use? This is the beige clay that comes in the greenish color and white box.. i also have a can of spray glitter with multi colored flakes that i want to use over top of whatever i can paint it with. I just dont know what to use so i havent baked it yet. Should i call super sculpey? Im certain it will indefinitely be “saleable” when its completed. Thanks so much. L8r.

          1. Hmm…a couple of things come to mind. First off, the spray glitter is a no-go. Never use a spray with polymer clay. Most of them get sticky right away. There are very few that will work on polymer clay. As for the right paints to use, just use acrylic paint. There are many brands of metallic acrylic paint. Most will work fine, so just find one that has the best shimmer and flake effect. Have you seen my article on metallic paints? I like using Viva Decor’s Precious Metal Colors and recommend it highly. But the silver color has a particularly small particle size and looks more like pure silver than a true metal-flake effect. I have had good results with the Dazzling Metallics by Deco Art. But before you paint your piece, please do a test with your materials on some baked scrap clay. Once in a while, some acrylic paints will remain sticky on polymer clay. I’m not sure why it happens, but it’s always better to check first. Good luck!

    1. Thank you for this! You mentioned about using Polymer Clay more for outdoor projects and this is why I was interested in your article. I am making a tree mobile and was wondering about any form of sealant. Now I an see that I don’t need to. I made an ornament which hangs from the porch at my front door about 6 years ago and it’s still fine so my tree mobile will be fine too. Thanks again 🙂

      1. Some years ago I made some ornamental bird houses for outside. At the time I think I was using Future. If not Future than Varathane. After some time the colors did fade from the sun. Just want you to know that.

        1. I thought I did mention that it can happen (or did I just mean to? I’m getting old.) But yes, some people report that come colors do fade. Which makes sense, really. Direct sunlight can be really hard on things. There are sealers with UV protections (Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS is one) but of course I wonder about the weather-ability of the varnish itself, too. Thanks for mentioning it, though. It can most certainly be a factor.

    2. Gustavo Ibarra

      Hi, great article! About the varnishes… So I have used Varathane and I agree that it’s one of the best! But unfortunately my local store no longer sells it and well I can’t find it anywhere. But I recently found another polyurethane from another brand called Old Masters. Do you know if that works?

      1. I don’t know about that specific brand. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. A lot of people report good results with various polyurethane brands, in general. The best thing is to try it.

    3. I use good resin and it works beautifully – when it works. The problem is the pulling away which it does erratically all over the pieces – even right in the middle of a piece. It looks more and more to me like some of the oils in the polyclay might be causing the problem but I have been unable to find out from the company if this could be an issue.

      I have done some pieces that had future on the piece in the first place and they have a better success rate so I am thinking I need to SEAL the pieces??

      What is your opinion and advice. And what would you recommend for the sealer?

      1. Resin pulls away and beads up as it cures. This is because it contracts as part of the curing process. The more strongly “doming” a resin is, the more likely it will do this. You could try putting a sealer on the surface. I’m not sure it would help. As for which one, the key is to find one that works. 😉 Obviously, choose one that performs well with polymer clay.

  1. Great article full of useful information! I especially like that your notions are based on first-hand experience and not just statistics and tech specifications. Thanks for the insight!

    1. One of the things I try to do here is make things real. There’s nothing worse than reading a pamphlet full of praise about a product and not learning a single thing about how it’s used or what’s special about it. I’ll get techy if it helps, but the goal here is clarity. I’m glad you liked the article. Thanks!

  2. Another great, informative article. I love the fact that you always explain the why or why not of using a particular product. I will continue to refer people to your site when they have questions regarding polymer. You have become the go-to “girl” for me. Thanks!

    1. Gosh, you’ve got me blushing now. Thanks! I guess I was that annoying kid tugging on the teacher’s sleeve saying, “But WHY???!!!!”

  3. “[resin] is known for causing swear words.” No poo? Who’da thunk it?


    (I can confirm that I made up 32 brand new portmanteau swear words the first time I tried to use resin with clay!)

    I’d like to mention that after curing clay coated in Kato Liquid Polyclay, when you buff it, it shines like a mother! Problem is I can’t *ever* get that stuff to go on smoothly. My air is apparently filled with buttloads of dust, so no matter how carefully I apply it, it’s very, very gently lumpy, so after curing, I sand it with very fine (600-800) sandpaper and then buff it on the benchgrinder. It’s glassier than glass!

    1. Your air is like my air. Dusty. I have never tried buffing it. The clay, I mean, not the dusty air. I will do that. Learn something new everyday!!

        1. Absolutely! With polymer clay you don’t have to limit yourself to brand. The clay is mixable, and you can pretty much use the liquid clays interchangeably.

  4. Wonderful article. But the Golden Varnishes should NOT be used to protect metal leaf details on polymer clay. It just sucks the color and shine out of any composition, variegated or imitative silver or gold leaf.

    I think that the culprit is water. So use Pym II or another product that does not have to be thinned with H20 in this case.

    What the heck, save yourself all sorts of pain, just use real silver and gold. Of course your wallet will be screaming but who listens anymore. Mine’s always grumbling about something.

    1. Ah, that is really good to know. I have used Varathane with no ill effects (and it has water), so there might be more going on. I’ll keep an eye on that. And…when I get around to testing these in a side-by-side comparison, I’ll add metal leaf to the roster of tests. Thanks for the input. And gee…your wallet sounds like mine. Real leaf indeed!

  5. Once again another wonderful article. I, like you, highly recommend Varathane. It is my favorite. I really want to try out the Matte Golden though… One day! Thanks Ginger. You rock!

    1. I haven’t played with it very much yet, but it’s enough to know that all the good press it’s getting is very correct. Definitely worth a place in your next order from Blick.

  6. Hi, Ginger. I’ve had good results (so far) with 3-D Crystal Lacquer ( which is a water-based, acid free, non-toxic lacquer. A thin coat dries in 30-45 minutes, bubbles are pretty easy to avoid and remove. It might be something for you to check out at some point, although it seems to me that you’re already busier than anyone I’ve ever known. I have some pieces that are approaching the two-year stage, I think, with no yellowing or such as yet, but time will tell. Sometimes I get some running of a laser-transfer with the 3-D, but not if I just drip it on, rather than brushing. I use Varathane more than anything else.

    1. Thanks Karen, I’ll put that one on my list to look for. It’s good to have more alternatives, especially for those outside of the US. Do you get it in Germany?

  7. Robin Stevens

    Wow, as usual, great article!!!

    I’ve used Varathane for years. I usually put on at least 3 coats, preferably 5, waiting for each coat to dry before the applying the next. Recently, I started using Triple Thick and so far results are good.

    If you have the patience to deal with epoxy resin, in my opinion, it gives the best and hardest finish. Use it after the clay has been baked, of course.

    1. Oh yes, that’s why I said resin is swear-worthy. In fact, I used it yesterday for something and later in the evening noticed a stiff spot on my clothes. Sure enough…I had a blob on my skirt. It just gets everywhere. #&%*#@&!!!!

  8. Christine Witton

    Thanks for a great article. Even though we cannot get many of the products here in Australia, it is god to know what to avoid and also know how the products we do get here react over time.

  9. Thanks for this well researched article Ginger – I had to bin three very pretty pendants the other day because I used sculpey glaze on them years ago and then overcoated them with Liquitex after they showed stickyness. These pieces also had a layer of liquid Fimo – I learnt the hard way that you can’t really coat varnish over liquid Fimo. The stickyness remained – I also tried rebaking them with no good results. I found Liquitex Gloss seems to work fine with Premo, but have now discovered a couple of Fimo pieces covered with Liquitex gone slightly sticky – and I assume it could be due to the brand. Very frustrating. Fimo Varnish tends to peel off, but I heard that if you bake it for 5 mins it stays on.
    I have now created lots of tiles with various varnishes (still have to sort out the Golden Varnish) and left them all in grip seal bags to see how they react in 6 months time.
    Unfortunately you can’t buy PYM in the UK, the closest I got to PYM is a German product recommended by Bettina Welker. Downside with sprays is – they stink and you better use them outside, but the upside is you can avoid brush strokes and bubbles.
    I love surface techniques and therefore finding the best varnish is essential.
    Haven’t tested Darwi – the price has put me off a bit.

    1. I know you’ve been struggling with sealers, Helen, and the discussions we’ve had are one of the reasons I wanted to write all this down. Many varnishes will set better if you bake them on, so you could always try that. And what is that German product that Bettina recommends? Not that I could get it here, LOL, but I’d love to know what it is. Darwi is great, but it is a tiny little bottle and it goes on thick, so it won’t last long. If you’re up for some more experiments, though, you could try the Ronseal polyurethane that I saw last month in Homebase. I’d love to know if it works as well as Varathane. And good news, there is a supplier in the EU about to get their shipment of PYM II. I’ll share that when it happens!

  10. Sheila Stevens

    Thank you, Ginger for yet another informative article, I wonder when we clayers in the UK will be able to buy PYMII? I have tried several alternatives but none as yet is perfect.

  11. Another wonderful article. I learned a few new facts. I love how you explain the reason why. As a scientist, this is right up my alley.

    1. Good, I’m glad it was helpful. And yes, the scientist’s mind is one that needs to know why. Why, why, why!!! It’s a curse, but it sure makes life more interesting.

  12. Kathy McCurry

    Ginger, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thorough article on the sealer issue. Perhaps you were motivated by a recent thread about this very topic where Future floor polish was getting lots of attention. This is such a useful and honest review of the products that we’ve tried or had on the list to try – many now being crossed OFF the list :).

    One of the challenges I face is finding a good sealer that works well on surface treatments where the piece is curved/curvy (i.e. not flat). I love resin, but these types of pieces really work best with a spray-on treatment, so it’s great to know about PYM II.

    Also, I recently purchased a can of Minwax Finishing Paste for some furniture I refinished, so it’s still available on the market!

    Thank you, again, Ginger! This is wonderful and I’ve emailed myself the link for my files and future reference where I’m sure it get plenty of use.

    1. Could be. Future has its rabid fans, and I was expecting some backlash about my stance on it, actually. It’s a nice “newbie” gloss that is great if you have it on your shelf already. But I see people mail ordering it. And if you’re gonna do that, get better varnish, IMHO. It’s good to know about Minwax Paste. I have such an old can…truly vintage. That stuff just doesn’t get old!

  13. Marilyn Ferro

    I found this article very informative and interesting…..truly appreciated this info. I am going
    to give the neutral shoe polish a try. I am a newbie to your site.

    1. Welcome Marilyn! Let me know what you think of it. If you’ve not used wax on polymer before, you’re in for a treat. Gives such a nice, warm glow.

    1. Good point. I’m learning that it’s not so much oil based as it is some solvents and some clays. Artist’s oil paints are perfectly safe on polymer clay. And there is a brand of heat-set oil paints, called Genesis, that are well-known for being fabulous with polymer. But in general, oil based house paints and varnishes aren’t so good. And you’re right, oil likely doesn’t have much to do with it. Thanks for the clarification.

  14. If I’ve asked you this before, I apologize, but I’m going to ask anyway. I’ve had a bunch of designs for polymer clay soap dishes in mind to complement the handmade soap I make and sell at a local farmers market. Do you recommend sealing the finished pieces with a waterproof, marine-type varnish or do you think they’ll hold up to holding wet soap without a sealer? I’d love to not have to seal them … what are you thoughts? I asked a clay manufacturer and that’s where I got the marine varnish recommendation.

    1. I have a soap dish in my shower. It’s been there for 8 or so years. Every few months I scrub the soap scum off it. It has absolutely no wear, no mildew, no breakdown. There is no reason whatsoever to have a sealer on it. It is made from just plain clay, though. The only reason you would ever want to seal polymer clay for a soapdish would be if you used paint, mica powder, foils, chalks, or other surface treatments. If it’s just clay it doesn’t need one. Of course, if you needed to use a sealer, a marine grade varnish is one to think about. But then you’re into the oil based varnishes, I believe, and they might not dry properly on clay. I’d stick with plain clay (use mokume gane, canes, any kind of patterns), but skip the surface treatments. Then you eliminate the whole question of what varnish to use.

      1. Thanks Ginger – When I originally had the idea for these soap dishes, I didn’t think I’d need a sealer because the clay is just essentially plastic, so I thought maybe I wasn’t thinking through something or didn’t know something about the clay (both entirely possible). And I was surprised when the manufacturer recommended an oil-based sealer, just for the drying reasons you mentioned. Of course the right thing to do would have been to make a soap dish prototype when I had the idea years ago and to keep it my bathroom to see how it wears. But it appears you’ve already done that homework for me – thanks! And seriously, thanks so much for ALL of your informative articles about polymer clay. I read them all and I appreciate each and every one of them. There’s still so much to learn …

        1. I used to do customer service for a mail order company and one of my challenges was answering questions about products that I didn’t really understand how to use. I suspect that’s a challenge for the people answering questions for the manufacturers as well. Who knows what experience that person had with polymer? Oh well. I’m glad you asked the question. Let me know how it goes, I’m curious.

  15. Lesley Symons

    Thank you so much for this, Ginger! I always find your blogs really helpful – and this is EXACTLY the info I was looking for. Great job! 🙂

  16. Wendy McKennon

    Extremely helpful advice!!! I do have a question, do you have to seal the cured polymer clay before you place the ornament in water like a pond, or a snowglobe? Some clay like sculpey III is still a little porous even after it’s been cured. I think it soaks in the water a little bit in my snowglobes. I know cured polymer clay is water resistant, but can it be submerged in water for long periods of time like years and doesn’t get mushy or fall apart, say in aquariums or snowglobes?

    1. I have not tried it myself, but I’ve been told that polymer clay is just fine for aquarium use. I wouldn’t use Sculpey III…I know what you mean about it being sort of “porous”. I would use a clay like Kato or Premo.

  17. Wendy McKennon

    Oh Ginger, do you have a link to a website or can tell us where to purchase PYM II ? Thank you, sounds like an excellent product and one I need in my Art Studio! 🙂

  18. I have had problems with using Liquitex varnish as a sealer over a painted polymer clay sculpture. My lovely little dragon never completely dried; the surface remained tacky. I don’t know if it reacted with the polymer clay or with the Pearl Ex powders that I mixed with the paint, but either way, I will never ever seal polymer clay with Liquitex again.

    1. Like I mentioned in the article, I also had trouble getting some types of Liquitex Varnish to dry completely. The red labelled one, like pictured in the article, seems to work fine. It was the green labelled on that I had trouble with. What does the label you have look like? And there shouldn’t be any trouble with the Pearl-Ex. If you can get your hands on some Varathane, I highly recommend it!

  19. Pingback: KatersAcres Millefiori Cane Flower Tutorial DIY Pendant & Earring Project

    1. You said, “thank you for useful information because I had very great difficulty in choosing the right polish <3"

      Thank you Lise, I'm glad that the information is helpful. I hope you have wonderful results!
      (Merci Lise, je suis heureux que l'information est utile. J'espère que vous avez des résultats merveilleux!)

  20. Lesley Symons

    Comment on Liquitex Matt – I just made some beads that really needed a flat matt sealer – ordered some Liquitex Matt Varnish, and they looked perfect!! ….. until I tried the “fingernail test” ….. and it peeled off in a sheet! Still looking for a durable matt finish ….. and wondering if such a thing actually exists … 🙁

    1. Most sealers will peel off when they’re fresh. Try giving your beads another bake in the oven to heat set the varnish. See if that helps. I also make sure that my base beads are grease free, to the extent that I’ll give them an alcohol wash first. And if you’re using Kato, I’ve found that it’s more of a problem. It seems that varnish has a real problem sticking to Kato. Varathane will also peel like this, too. But once it’s fully cured, the varnish is usually pretty tough.

  21. I have a question about air dry clay. I just don’t know where else to ask, sorry. I don’t have access to an oven, so I rely on air dry clay for my sculpting. And after I paint my work with acrylics and they dry, I apply a bit of sealer and it always ends up sticky even though I follow the instructions. Someone recommended a different sealer (modge podge) and this was far worse! Can anyone help?

    1. Oh yes, Mod Podge isn’t a very good sealer for that purpose. I’m actually surprised that you’re having trouble with sealers on air dry clay, though, as it doesn’t have the chemical incompatibilities that polymer faces. What clay are you using and what sealer have you tried? I think that a wonderful sealer for this purpose would be Golden Acrylic Varnish. It always dries nicely for me and it’s designed for use on acrylic paints. Liquitex should work, too. Try to stay with artists materials, though, for best results. A lot of craft varnishes are known for their frustrating qualities.

  22. Lots of useful information here! Thanks! 🙂 I’ve used the sculpey gloss glaze and also the triple thick glaze with good results, though I’ve heard many complaints with them. Weird… I’ll definitely be getting some varathane!

    1. I think it’s weird, too, and it’s really hard to figure out what circumstances are causing the problems, too. But I do love my Varathane. Thick coats, thin coats, it always does well.

  23. Jeri Staley-Earnst

    This is another great article that is going to save this newbie a lot of disappointment and frustration. Mahalo for the time, effort and caring enough to do it.

  24. Pingback: Polymer Clay Tips for Beginners - The Blue Bottle Tree

  25. If you paint a clay pendant for a necklace using acrylic paint, what clear coat do you recommend for a glossy finish? You are right with your comments about how important the type of clear coat to use. I was hand-painting gourd birdhouses and using Krylon Triple Thick Glaze as the protectant sealer recommended by my instructor…needless to say after one season of outside exposure, the gourd no longer has any of my pain-staking creative design left on it so I don’t want to run into problems with sticky pendants or milky looking ones.

    1. I always use Varathane as my first-line choice for a sealer and varnish For pretty much everything, including if I needed to seal acrylic paint. I’ve never had it be sticky or milky. I know you asked about jewelry, but I just want to mention that there are very few sealers and varnished that hold up for outdoor use. The great outdoors are pretty harsh.

  26. Have you heard of anyone trying Rustoleum brand water-based polyurethane? I’ve been using Olympic brand water-based polyurethane for about 7 or 8 years with good results, but couldn’t find it at my local Lowe’s. The only thing they did have was the Rustoleum, so I snagged that. I was just curious if anyone has any experience with it.

    1. Varathane, which I do heartily recommend, is a water-based polyurethane by Rustoleum. It might very well be a very similar product. I’ve not used this one specifically, but it would certainly be worth a try. People who don’t have Varathane where they live have tried various brands of water based polyurethane with good results. Maybe someone will come along who has used the specific one you mention and can give their experience. Let me know how it goes, I’m curious.

      1. Thanks for the quick response, Ginger! I put one coat of the Rustoleum on a couple pieces last night, and so far, so good. I’ll let you know more in-depth results as I use it more.

        I’ve always wanted to try the Varathane (and only just saw yesterday that Rustoleum now makes Varathane), but have a hard time sourcing it locally other than the big gallon can. Once I stumbled on the Olympic brand, I just stuck with it since I can get it in my town, but now even that’s gone. I’m hopeful about this Rustoleum, though!

        1. I couldn’t even find the gallon cans in my town. I finally ordered it online. It’s pricey that way, but the stuff lasts forever. Crossing fingers that this will work the same way.

  27. Great article, wish I read this when I first started claying! I tried using Sculpey glaze when I first started out because it was right next to the polymer clay in the craft store and I thought since its sold as a glaze for clay it would be prefect. WRONG its really thick so it goes on sloppy no matter how carful I am. And a few months some of my pieces developed cracks in the glaze. Horrible.

    I now use Varathane gloss sealer and I love it =D and just one small jar lasts forever! Worth the price compared to a tiny bottle of Sculpey glaze that in my opinion is way overpriced.

    1. You can use many different kinds of sealers. I haven’t tried all of them! If you’re getting good results then there’s no reason you can’t continue to use it. But if you’re not happy with it you might want to switch to one of the others that I suggest if you’d like.

  28. I wish I had this valuable info years ago. I made some really cute jack-o-lantern and black cat beads and used the sealer from Sculpty. I think I may have used nail polish also in the past. My beads did turn sticky over time. I had to toss them.

  29. I read that to make your baked clay as hard as possible, that you should put it into ice cube cold water as soon as you take it out of the oven. Is this true? Sorry this question is off the topic.

    1. Nah, it’s not you. There are some really zealous people out there who say things with such authority that it’s hard to know any different. I’ve been around awhile and have watched this particular rumor start and spread. Maybe there needs to be a Snopes for polymer clay, LOL.

  30. Hi Ginger! I make necklaces out of Premo Sculpey with leather flat cords to hang them from. I’ve noticed after a while the leather rubs off onto the clay and I can’t remove the stain from the clay pendant. I don’t want to seal the clay because I don’t want it to be shiny at all, or do any of the things you mentioned in the article about what sealants do (Unless you know of the right one I should use on Premo I will give it a go!). I do want to figure out how to prevent the leather from rubbing off onto the clay. Any suggestions? I recently tried putting leather protectant on the leather, but I know you have to keep reapplying that over time and I feel like there’s got to be a better way out there. Any advice would be AMAZING! Thank you =)

    1. Do you mean the color from the leather is staining the polymer clay? Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about that, at least as far as I know. Leather is treated with a dye and that dye can migrate into the polymer clay. I’m not sure a sealer would stop it. A couple of thoughts, though. You might try a different leather brand. Some dyes bleed, others don’t. And you should make sure the leather doesn’t get wet, which could lead to the dye bleeding. A sealer might help (and I’d pick Varathane), but that’s also plastic and susceptible to dye bleeding into it. One other thing is that remaining plasticizer in undercured clay can do all kinds of things, chemically, and could make the problem worse. But if you’re using Sculpey Original, I doubt that’s an issue. You might want to try Premo and see if you have better results. Premo is also a more durable clay that you might like better. Sorry, I wish I had a better answer for you!

      1. I forgot to mention, it might be a good idea that you use a jump ring or bail so that there’s no actual contact between the leather and the polymer clay. So that’s always a solution if you can’t fix it another way. Good luck!

  31. Wondering if you messed with the pump type of PYM vs the aerosol? Filigree sells both types and i’m curious about your thoughts on one vs. the other. I like the idea of being able to control the spray more with a pump type and I know it’s better for the air we breathe (I have asthma and birds) but I wonder if it goes on as well?

    1. I have only used the spray. But I do know of one accomplished artist who sprays hers into a cup and uses a brush. I suspect the pump liquid would work just fine.

      1. ok, thanks for your thoughts! i think i will call her tomorrow and see if she has anything to add. i like the idea of being able to apply it either way, esp since i can’t find varathane around here. she did say there was a bit more in the pump bottle than in the aerosol can.

  32. THE best I have ever found was .97 cents for a can of Walmart’s store brand of clear spray paint….dried and cured wonderfully and has not deteriorated or yellowed over the years but VERY TRAGICALLY (for me) was discontinued 5 or so yrs ago (just the clear 🙁 )……I am still hoarding and reserving a can or 2 for very special projects…….the finish had a nice sheen and really made the colors pop! I will have to try some of your suggestions! Thanks!

  33. I am absolutely desperate to seal my mica dusted polymer clay items, I want PYMII.
    However there is a problem. I’m in the UK.
    So please can someone – ANYONE – please please start stocking it in the UK?
    I hear nothing but moans from UK clayers about not being able to get hold of this supposedly magical stuff.
    Surely there’s one UK based firm who can get some shipped in?
    Ginger, if you know of anyone at all in the UK who can get hold of this please please tell me?

    1. I know of one shop who is desperately trying to get it imported. The process is not easy. That being said, there are other sealers that might work. Helen Briel is using a liquid called “Final Coat” that she gets from in Canada. I do have a sample of it to try but haven’t gotten to it yet. Helen uses it on her mica powder covered pieces and likes it better than PYMII or Spray Varathane. The minute that PYMII lands in Europe, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops, so stay tuned.

      1. Is it a spray, Ginger – or is it brush on? I’ve looked at the ShadesOfClay site and the bottle doesn’t look like it’s a spray.
        If so then I might just as well destroy the placement of my mica with anything else that you brush on. But thanks for trying. In the meantime I’ll look forward to your shout from the rooftops.
        Or someone in Europe or the UK developing something else as good for us to use.

        1. Fran, it’s a brush on. BUT, it should still work. Helen Briel (are you familiar with her?) works with gilders paste, inka gold, and mica powders as surface treatments on her pieces and SHE recommends this “Final Coat” sealer. That’s why I recommended it. Also, remember that you can turn any brush-on sealer into a spray sealer by thinning it with water and using a small spray bottle to spray it on.

    2. Hello, I am/was a supplier of a sealant/varnish which I bought in from the US. I stopped selling it purely because of leakage problems in the box when I sent out! 🙁 Franontheedge, please can you contact me and I will let you know what I have. It might not be suitable but there again, it might be. I live in Kent.

      1. Okay Sue, I’m willing to contact you, but how? Is it a spray? if not then there’s no point continuing. I have varnishes that you can paint on, but I’ve found that brushing varnish on disturbs Gilders Wax never mind delicate mica powders.

        1. Hi, No it’s a paint on with a soft brush. And I was going to send you some free as an act of kindness but I see you don’t want to go there. “There’s no point continuing”, ? Oh well. 😉

          Kind regards..
          Sue ~

          1. Oh Sue, that’s incredibly kind of you, I really do appreciate the offer. But the very act of brushing is what disturbs the surface treatment, I’ve tried with Fimo Gloss glaze, and the very first touch of the brush ruins it, that’s why I’m so keen on someone getting hold of some PYMII Spray for the UK. Simply BECAUSE it is a spray, and it seems the ONLY spray that doesn’t have nasty propellants that react with the clay. It’s so sad.
            Now if someone like Winsor & Newton, or Dalar Rowney, or Golden could come up with a make of spray that worked on Polymer, we’d be laughing.
            But I think PYM will arrive before that happens.

            Thank you again for the offer, Sue, I only wish it could have worked.

    1. If this is on paper or wood, the Plaid website says that you can cover up the stickiness with their acrylic sealer spray. But that won’t work on polymer clay. The spray itself stays sticky on polymer clay.

        1. I’d think if it was a flat piece maybe you could scrape off the ModPodge, and sand it down to new clean clay, and then reapply any surface treatments, and seal with a decent sealer, if you are in the US I’d use PYMII, if the UK – cry! and maybe use Fimo Gloss Glaze (or matte). However if it has a bumpy surface that you don’t want to loose, you could be in trouble if Ginger’s Varathane suggestion doesn’t work.

  34. Hey there so I read ur wonderful and most helping things about sealing polymer clay so I wanted to ask u if I used resin to seal my polymer clay charms will it PEEL OFF? and do u recommended it to seal polymer clay?
    And one more question is how durable is the varathane varnish ? I asked some one and she told me honestly it will peel but it depends on how much u take care of the sealed charm, so will it peel easly or when u just don’t take care and the charm exposed to sharp things like key chain and such? or it will never peel? Please help me coz varnishes have already ruind 2of my most precious charms on of them supposed to be a present for mom and i didn’t give it to her yet
    So help me please

    1. Resin will not peel. But resin isn’t really a sealer as much as it’s a coating. It is thick, runny, and mostly just suited for flat surfaces. Varathane WILL peel IF it doesn’t have a good adhesion to the polymer clay and if you pick at it too soon. I find that it will peel off of Kato, but not Premo so much. Thoroughly clean the surface of the clay with alcohol before coating. Then use a couple coats of varathane and then bake again. It takes several weeks for varathane to set fully and baking accelerates that process. But no varnish on polymer clay is going to give you a rock hard finish. If you need that kind of durability, don’t use any sealer. Just stay with bare clay.

      1. Thank u so much for answering my question I use sculpeyIII clay and soon I will transfer to fimo.. when I apply the varathane varnish do bake it when it’s still wet or wait for it to cure and then bake it?
        Oh and have u ever tried fimo varnish what do u think of it? And thanks again

        1. Your charms will be so much more durable with Fimo than Sculpey III. You can apply varathane to baked or raw clay either one. You’ll get a tighter bond when applied to raw clay and then baked on. Or you could do both. One coat on raw clay and then more coats after baking. I’ve not tried Fimo Varnish, but it does get good reviews from people who use it.

  35. If I am using silver leaf on a somewhat textured surface to make a polymer clay “setting”

    What would be the best sealant to use on top of that?

  36. “Darnitt!” I recently invested in a couple of cases of the Sculpey brand glazes in both satin and glossy. I was hopeful that they would not become sticky because of the marketing of the product.

    I have had problems in the past with sculpts I made using Pigments from Pearl-Ex, and then sealing them various sealants. I also have had surface tackiness with some Golden Brand acrylics. I use Sculpey Ultralight a lot, and then paint my pieces after baking. That is why I need a reliable sealant. I trusted that Sculpey Glaze would be the solution.
    Now, what am I to do with all the jars I wasted my hard earned money on? Recent pieces I used it on seem okay at the moment…but what will happen in a few months?

    Any thoughts on this would be appreciated,

    🙁 Thanks.

    1. I’ve never had Varathane get tacky, and this is the first I’ve heard of it happening, so I don’t really know what to say. As for the Sculpey Glaze, some people like it and I have heard that they’ve recently reformulated it. So it might be okay. If you change your mind and want to try something else, though, you could always sell your bottles on Ebay or on one of the many destash groups on Facebook.

      1. *Wipes forehead*…”Goodness, I sure hope so.” I will have to coat a sample, and see what happens. I cannot do anything about the pieces I already sold, so…I pray that they will be alright.
        I have been told that using Golden Brand Primer is supposed to help keep some of their acrylic colors from interacting badly with polymer clay. I wish I had know about it before I painted one of my Dragon sculpts in a base coat of Burnt Umber. The parts painted with that Golden brand color became tacky, while the painted parts done in Jacquard Brand Liquitex Pearl were fine. Now…that poor sculpt is sitting on my studio shelf with a plastic bag over it to keep all air particles from sticking to the Umber parts. I am fearful of making it worse. I do not want to throw it away.
        The very same thing happened to a huge art doll I started with the Golden Brand Carbon Black acrylic paint. The Dragon was way too large to bag up, (not to mention the “wealth” of Swarovski Crystals set into it)…so he has a layer of dust, and other particles stuck to the painted parts. I had to suspend my work on that piece as well, because I have no idea how to safely remove all paint and start over. 🙁

        I have links to images of the two projects I am referring to. If it can help you try to understand my predicament.
        Dragon before painted with the Umber:

        Dragon After painted with the offending paint:

        Art Doll with Dust:
        This one is over 4 feet long!

        Anyone….Please! …Help me! …I will hear any thoughts and suggestions. These pieces are too valuable to just give up on. (Big money in crystals, and gemstones were spent on them). 🙁

        1. Any kind of a finish on polymer clay runs the risk of there being incompatibility reactions, unfortunatley, so the best thing you can do is test everything first. Like I’ve said before, water based Varathane is my go-to main choice, and it’s what I would suggest to cover your dragons to stabilize your tacky finish. But not without testing it first! Try some on a small area and see what happens. I’ve heard nothing but good about Golden, so I’m very surprised you’re having trouble. I’m sorry, I wish I had better answers for you. I do love your sculptures, though. They’re wonderful and so well done! Maybe a reader will will have some answers for you.

  37. “Oops!”…I also had forgotten to mention, that I have pails of Varathane in both Satin and Glossy. I used them to coat my painted sculpts made out of Ultralight. After about a year, I checked on them…They were beginning to become tacky too.

    Now, I am not sure if the culprit is the acrylic paints I used, or the Supposedly good Varathane. I live in New England, so I do not think the climate has anything to do with it.
    I used Liquitex brand Light bodied Acrylics, and Golden Brand Light bodied acrylics, when I am not using the Jaquard Brand Pearl-Ex pigments on a sculpt.

    I am at a loss. (beginning to panic because some of my coated pieces have already been sold) D:

    1. If the paint isn’t likely to scratch or peel off, then you shouldn’t have to use any sealer. If you do want to protect it even further, then Varathane or Minwax Polycrylic will do nicely.

  38. Pingback: Tutorial on How to Make Polymer Clay Goddess Beads | karenascofield

  39. I have a sinking feeling that I may have ruined all my fimo ornaments by spraying them with an oil based varnish. If they are going to go sticky, how long before it happens generally and is there anything I could do to stop it happening?

    1. Some of the sprays do work, so if it’s not sticky now you have a good chance. Some people have reported that the finish suddenly turns sticky within about six months. Usually things are fine after that, if it makes it that far. Crossing fingers for you!

  40. Pingback: Tips on Caring for Clay Jewelry

  41. Hello! I’ve just spent a lovely hour reading lots of your postings – thank you for putting all your knowledge out there! I’m eager to try some clay projects (I would love to make my Mum some coasters for her birthday). I have bought some Fimo Soft Polymer Modelling Moulding Clay in white and peach, some lovely looking Adirondack Alcohol Inks in nice greeny shades and a jar of Fimo Polymer Clay Water Based Gloss Varnish. I am now officially one of those “all the gear and no idea” girls 🙂
    I’m just hoping you can help me with something. When I make my item, should I then bake/paint/varnish in that order? Or should I paint/bake/varnish… bake/varnish/paint/varnish….?! Any help would be hugely appreciated!

    1. Oh wow, there are so many things you can do! The alcohol inks are going to be a little bit like painting with a dye as they’re totally transparent and quite intense. But if thinned with alcohol (or medical spirits) you can get a lovely light colored wash with them. They’re also fun when mixed into the raw clay to create a new color. You can use alcohol inks or paints on either baked or unbaked clay…each gives a different effect. There’s really no wrong way to go. Have a look on Pinterest to see if anything strikes your interest. Here’s my board for Inspiring Polymer Clay Designs and another board of Polymer Clay Tutorials. Have fun!

  42. Best information I’ve found. I love your site. You give the most logical, detail, across the board explanatory information out of all of them. and I’ve been busy researching PMC.

  43. Pingback: Polymer Clay Faux Opal Test Beads | KarenAScofield

  44. Wow so informative. All I needed to know in one article, thanks so much. Im a big fan of polymer clays and love working with it. Fairy houses are my latest passion. Can’t wait to get my first emails from you!!

  45. I’m just starting with clay & your article simplified finishes for me. I’ve also started working with ice resin, so i’m glad that I can use it with the pmc. your article was straightforward & very easy to follow. thank you so much for all your hard work. Going to have fun making pmc pendants & beads with alcohol inks (I’m obsessed with them) & ice resin. Let’s go play!

  46. I was a future user till I also found it wore off too quickly. I love the high shine as I feel it makes my pieces look higher end. So I now use the varathane. I have always found that dipping my beads HOT out of the oven sorta cooks the finish onto the bead. I do small batches so they stay hot long enough to dip. With the varathane I do spend a little more time running a paper towel around the edges (where the toothpick meets the bead) to clear out the thick drips. Then after a few min I turn the bead over and reinsert the toothpick on the other side till it’s fully dried. This way no clumps dry attached to the bead and toothpick. Now I have a perfect bead and it does not peal. FYI…..I use only kato.

    Thanks for all your tips !!!!! Check out my designs on my denae designs board. I think u can find me on Pinterest under sharon wisener.

  47. Your articles are super helpful and easy to follow! I’m interested in making my own plugs for gauged ears. I was wondering if you had any recommendations or info on what to do if I plan on painting and possibly putting some time of gloss on them as well. I couldn’t seem to find anything about contact with skin over a prolonged period of time. I understand the clay itself wouldn’t be harmful. Thanks in advance!

    1. For best long term wear, I’d stick with using just clay to make your designs. No sealer or gloss is going to be as strong and durable as the clay itself. And also, you eliminate worries about long term contact of the sealer with skin.

      1. Thank you very much! Do you know of any paint safe to use on sculpey without irritating skin or peeling off?

  48. Hello Ginger Davis Allman
    I was wondering if I can use your article in a beginners book I’m working on? When I read your article I thought it can take a place in me book plus the things you write about are amazing. Like I said before I would like to use your article in my beginners book. Most of what I read I never thought to do research on what are the most use for polymer clay and what not to use

    1. Hi April, I’m happy to work with you in providing content for your book. However, I have a specific process for that kind of thing. Please contact me with your proposal and more information about your upcoming book. You can contact me through the contact form on my website. Thank you.

  49. Great article with some other options i can try cause i have tried everything i could think of right now I use future and have key chains that i made that i have carried around with me for years on my purse and the shine still hasn’t worn off but would hate to run into that problem someday so may try other suggestions in this article. I have tried Varathane but i found it dried yellow maybe there is something i am doing wrong with it because i know others have used it and said it works great but for me it turns yellow.

    1. If your Varathane turns yellow, I can suggest two things. One, that you’re not using exactly the same version of Varathane. Varathane is a brand name, so there are several varieties under the same name. The one most of us use can be seen in my Varathane article. Other varieties are an amber colored liquid that will appear yellow on white things, getting worse over time. The other possibility is that your brush has color on it from previous crafts. Even when I use a well-washed brush, sometimes color will bleed out into my Varathane because there are solvents (similar to alcohol) in the Varathane that color it. Happy Claying!

  50. I recently switched to Mod podge and have only had great experiences with it (so far), the only time I have noticed stickyness is when storing two things too close together after they have not long dried. I really love glossy finishes, if there is a better alternative I would love to try it. Is there any effects long term on sculptures coated in mod podge that you know of?

    1. Mod Podge (the original kind) is merely white glue (like Elmer’s). It is not a durable or protective finish. It WILL get sticky in water or humidity. There are many better options, several of which I listed in the article. I would opt for Varathane as being the best for the most types of situations.

  51. Pingback: Spray Sealers for Polymer Clay Can be Sticky

  52. I’ve bought a cellulose varnish spray at the craft/artstore, since I couldn’t find the pymII (I live in Belgium and went to one of the largest and they didn’t have it) so they gave me a cellulose varnish spray after I explain I have baked polymer clay with powder (mica & pastels) and brushing it wouldn’t be an option, because it will ruin the powder coating. I’m not sure if this is safe or not, I haven’t even got a clue if it is solvent based or water based, because the bottle doesn’t mention it. Can someone help me one this one? I haven’t used the bottle yet, so maybe I can still return it.

    1. Did you see my article on spray varnishes? There are very few sprays that will work with polymer clay for the reason that they don’t seem to dry. The people in the craft store will not necessarily understand this and they’ll often recommend something that works great on paper or glass but not on polymer. I would try a sample on a piece of scrap clay. You’ll know in a couple of weeks if it worked or not. You can buy PYM II, a wonderful spray sealer from in The Netherlands. Marja was recently able to import some of it for sale to EU customers. It is pricey, but quite worth it.

      1. Hey Ginger, Thanks for the answer! Since I do have this bottle I guess I could try on pieces that were experiments anyway but haven’t been sealed yet. I had no idea how long I would have to wait to see if it’s okay or not, but two weeks is not very long, considering that the chances are that it might go wrong. I’ll try this and keep you updated. Thanks for the link to for the pym II, it’s very hard to find over here.

      2. Hey Ginger, I promised to let you know how it went with the cellulose spray varnish and it turned out pretty good 🙂

        They are completely dry, have a nice shine to it. I also tried scratching the surface with my fingernails and it didn’t loosen or chip of or anything.
        I tried it on Fimo and a cheaper alternative from a local dollar store. They were already reasonably dry after one day, even though it has been rather humid these days, we had lots of rain. I must say the cheaper brand was drying a little bit faster than the Fimo.

        So I’ll think I’ll use it for now, since I already own this spray bottle, maybe later I’ll consider the pym II later on.

  53. Pingback: KatersAcres Faux Pen & Ink on Polymer Clay Tutorial - KatersAcres

  54. I have found most things I have tried to glaze my pieces have been a disaster! after some research plumped for the Judikins Diamond Glaze as it had some very good reviews. To begin with I thought my problem was solved. After a few days it was lovely and glossy and wonderfully hard. My products were stored ready to give away as occasion came up. I had a birthday eminent so got my lovely jewels out to pick one to find they had all turned sticky tacky and or dull in the 3 months or so tucked away. Mortified was I. I am going to have to try and fix them. I am now armed with this wonderful article and hopefully wont make the same mistake again. Thank you

  55. Thought I would post on this excellent article in case someone could help me. I am looking to put a polymer sculpture INSIDE of an ice sculpture I’m working on. Ice blocks are formulated with a small amount of rubbing alcohol to help it remain clear.

    Can anyone speculate as to whether I’m okay with using plain, unsealed, baked polymer if if I need to seal it?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Meaghan, baked polymer clay is inert to both water and alcohol. Most sealers are dissolved by alcohol. So I would definitely NOT seal it. Sounds like a neat project. Have fun!

  56. After reading the article , I came up with the idea to use the faded look for the idea of making people think that I’ve had that art for a long time. Like trying to get the cheeky look or is that the shabby? Anyways I’m going to do this both ways except for the sticky and cloudy part. My imagination does weird things some times.

  57. Hi! I’m a total beginner and I am making little fairy houses for some terrariums I made for Christmas gifts. I wanted them to be glossy. Sculpey is bad. The problem I’m running in to is that once it’s dried (for 2 days) and I put the piece in the terrarium, it immediately is wet again. Cloudy and if I touch the it, the glaze and the paint rub off. Trying to find something that works is killing my progress!! This article definitely helps!

    1. Yes, humidity can be a real bear when it comes to sealers, glazes, and finishes. Try using a polyurethane finish, or an epoxy resin. You might have better results with those.

  58. I am just getting started in polymer clay and found this article an excellent guide for finishes. I have been reading everything I can about this exciting medium. I was so glad to learn what not to use as well as what to use because I have nearly all of the lesser ones. PYMII looks like the one that I will start with, as it seems to be safe. I would sure hate to create something that I think is wonderful only to ruin it with the finish. The Envirotex Lite and ICE Resin also sound good. I am 79 which is probably pretty old to start something new, but it has had me interested for several years and now that I have more time on my hands I figure the time is right. I plan to mainly do jewelry. I find so many beautiful things on Pinterest, that I am anxious to get started. Thanks again for such an informative article.

    1. You’re never too old to enjoy life! As long as you can do it and you enjoy it, then roll up your sleeves and have fun, I say. I’m glad that you found the information helpful. Happy claying!

  59. Hi! Thank you so much for all your articles on sealing and finishing polymer clay crafts. Your website has been a great resource! At first I used the Sculpey Glaze on my little charms, but I noticed that after a week of wearing the charm, the finish (and the pastels that I used to shade the charm) started wearing off. I just tried your recommended Varathane (the crystal clear, diamond gloss finish) on some new charms and that worked well (I haven’t worn it yet, but it seems more durable than the Sculpey glaze)… But… I’m super paranoid, and I’m really worried about the toxicity of Varathane and the VOCs it might emit. I like how durable it seems to be, since my charms are meant to be worn and loved, but do you think there are other durable sealing options that wouldn’t be as toxic? Maybe I should try the Liquitex gloss?

    1. Hi Alyssa, Varathane isn’t particularly toxic. Certainly no more so than many of the craft glazes and mediums. They all do have VOCs. I think perhaps the Varthane needs to be labelled differently because it’s a “paint” type of finish that is typically used over large areas inside of a home. (VOC just means volatile organic compound…any organic chemical that evaporates easily. Even good ole ethanol is, technically, a VOC. It doesn’t always mean toxic in small doses.) I’ve looked at the Material Safety Data Sheet of Varathane and there didn’t seem to be anything particularly noxious in there. The only chemical with health warnings is one that is commonly used in sunscreens, so..well…I wouldn’t worry. If you’d prefer to be absolutely perfectly safe, just use in a well-ventilated area.

  60. Hi Ginger
    Is there a spray that can be used on an inkjet transferred image that will make it water resistant (ink from inket printers runs when wet and the transferred image has to be dipped in water before the backing can be removed, leaving the image on the polymer clay), but at the same time is polymer clay compatible, allowing other polymer clay shapes, to be placed on top? I am so keen to try this but can’t seem to find any information about what would be best to use. If you can advise I would be very grateful!
    Many thanks – Marion

  61. Virginia Soskin

    Thank you for this article. I use Diamond Varathane floor finish to create a gloss if I want one, and you can get small jars of it (rather than a gallon at Lowe’s) on Evirotex-Lite works great on flat surfaces to create extremely glass-like effects. See tutes on youtube for how to use it. Otherwise I wet sand and buff with a small cotton wheel on my Dremel for a gloss. This creates a lovely gloss but does take extra work. I have had a polymer clay mezuzah on my exterior door frames for at least ten years. It has no extra finish coating on it. It DOES get mildewed in the Florida climate and the door frame paint does too. So every spring I spray down my door frame with bleach which gets rid of the mildew on door frame and mezuzah and does not harm the mezuzah at all. Neither does the intense sun or rain. If it had been coated with Varathane, I am not sure but I don’t think it would be as durable as the raw matte clay, esp. considering I used a soft brush on the clay the get the bleach into all the crevices, and scrub away the mildew. PC is pretty amazing and lasts very well.

  62. Thank you! This is the best summary for finishing polymer clay. I’ve bookmarked it for next time I need it.

  63. Hi Ginger…thanks for the great article!
    I’m not sure if this question has been covered yet, cause I haven’t had a chance to read every comment, so here goes…Do you know anything about using artist quality fixative on polymer clay? It sounds like it may be similar to PYMii which unfortunately is not available in Australia due to shipping restrictions on aerosols.

  64. Hi Ginger, do you know whether you can use nail artists’ UV gel on top of cured polymer clay? I bought a pack of 24 colours and thought it would be good to try as a craft product rather than use it on nails but it seems to have reacted with it after a while. I’m not sure why as you can use other UV gels on top of clay.

    Your article is great and very clear by the way, thank you.


    1. Hi Caroline, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. Go ahead and give it a try. Do be sure to test the process before using it on a beloved project, though, just in case.

  65. Charlotte Firbank-King

    I’ve just stumbled on your site and I’m delighted with your advice. I live in South Africa where we don’t have the same products, but I’ll look or a polyurethane, water-based varnish. I have a question. I noticed you say don’t use oil based paints or any paint that needs thinners or turpentine (I assume) to clean brushes. I painted my fairy faces with Humbrol enamel model paint. Was this a mistake? On the first fairy I made a mess of the PC flesh color so I painted a flesh color on then added the lipstick and eye-shadow. I had to bake her a second time after I put on her PC hair and I noticed the eye-shadow and lipstick had faded. Ignoring the warning signs I simply repainted her LOL. These fairies are all supposed to live in a garden. My other problem is the wings. I made them with wire glued to cellophane then coated with Gallery Glass. I got the Gallery Glass online and only then researched it and it seems the stuff won’t last outdoors–well, not rain anyway.Any suggestions on making weatherproof fairy wings?

    1. Most of the time, enamel model paint will work well. But with any paint or varnish product you do need to test first because many of them will never dry on polymer. If yours is okay now, it will probably be just fine. You may need to repaint her occasionally after being outdoors, as the paints will fade in the elements. Instead of using gallery glass for fairy wings, try using liquid Kato Polyclay instead. Use mulitiple thin coats, curing in the oven and then clarifying with a heat gun between each layer. If done carefully, this should give nice fairy wings over the cellophane. You can also use Angelina Film the same way, I believe.

  66. Kerrie Venner

    While re-reading yet again your excellent finishes article, I’d like to add my penny’s worth to your thoughts on Renaissance Wax. Pricey, yes, but it was developed by the British Museum conservators and is safely used on precious and delicate items including paper and paintings. For me, that reassures me that my artwork is well protected with an archival quality finish. And the pot does last absolutely for ever.
    It is an efficient cleaner and does take off some of my favourite water based finishes however (Inka Gold, also Rub and Buff), so your tips on using light coatings of Pym II to stablise them before the RW finish is masterful advice. As is the advice to TEST TEST TEST, rather than rely on the good old internet search.
    Thank you as ever for informed, reliable and pertinent information.

    Would love to see you present at EuroSynergy some time!
    Kind regards


    1. Oh Kerrie, you’re too kind. Thank you. I would like to present at Synergy sometime. Maybe in a future year. We’ll see. As for Ren Wax…I do think that much of what is written on their little insert is a bit of marketing. But you’re right, it is a very nice wax.

  67. Very interesting and informative article. I have a question though. You mentioned resin as a sealer in liquid form, what about a resin spray?

  68. Pingback: How to Make a Fairy Door – Certainly Caroline

  69. Hey! I’ve read several of your articles, this is amazing advice!: )

    If I may ask a specific question — would you seal a vase? I’m trying to replicate this:

    I plan on using Sculpey, but I’m not sure if the piece will need to be sealed. If I do so I’d only seal the insides of the tubes, and leave the outside “natural clay.”

    I’m going to go looking for Varathane, I just wanted to check on whether or not it’s necessary for something that will hold water!

    Also — is it necessary to bake Varathane in the oven, or will it set/dry on its own? I’ve never experimented with any of this before and I’m somewhat afraid to damage my oven… or myself!

    1. Unless you’re adding surface treatments, I see no reason to seal it. Polymer clay is vinyl plastic. The clay is more waterproof than any sealer would be. Varathane is a regular air-dry varnish. No baking required. And you don’t ruin your oven, don’t worry.

  70. Ginger,
    Great article, very informative! I’ve only a small tip to add from my miniature model making experience. If you need or want to use spray can paints or other sealers on your clay, you can give it a coat of Future Floor polish first. Your comments on Future are spot on, but it should do a good job of sealing the clay against potentially harmful chemicals. Make sure the entire surface is covered, you want everything protected, once dry for 24 hours, you should be good to use other products on top. As with everything, test first.
    I’ll also use an airbrush to spray future on items that will eventually get a matte finish. If you see portions of your item turn glossy over time, that is the future showing through, you know the matte has worn off and its time to recoat.

    1. I’d have to check this to be sure. The issue isn’t that other things harm the polymer clay. Rather, the plasticizer in the polymer clay prevents varnishes from curing. I don’t think Future will be an adequate barrier, but I’m open to testing it. Thanks for the idea.

  71. Hi there!

    I’ve been using this water-based polyurethane floor sealant for a few months now, and it’s really great and definitely had no problems with it!

    Except for these past few projects 🙁 I painted a piece of baked clay yellow. I applied a thin coat of sealant on side. After it has dried , I saw that the paint has cracked! It looked like a dry cracking floor 🙁 but I had two colours on that piece, and it was only the yellow paint that had cracked, so I thought that the problem was with the yellow paint.

    Then I bought a new tube of yellow paint (different brand) and the same happens 🙁 only the yellow paint cracked, but the other colour didn’t. Then I tried it again on an even newer tube of yellow paint (different brand again) and the same story happened 🙁 but I don’t understand why it only happens to yellow paint..

    But today, I was sealing the acrylic paint on two different pieces. Purple metallic paint which I’ve never used before — and the paint cracked again when the sealant dried. Another is gold metallic paint, which I’ve used before with the sealant and has never cracked, until this piece. I sealed the gold paint then saw that it had also cracked when the sealant dried. So it made me think that maybe it’s the sealant that has a problem. I’m going to try to put a new batch of sealant in a new small container (I have a 3L bottle of it stored because it’s too much) I just want to think that it’s that small batch of sealant that’s the problem.

    I really hope you can help me out 🙁 do you have an idea on why the acrylic paint cracks after my sealant has dried? It’s frustrating because this sealant has been the best for me, but I don’t like having to redo the paint over and over again because of the cracking, which is a major hindrance. Thank you! 🙂

  72. Wow wow wow!!!
    Thank you so much. I’ve been following the breadcrumbs going from one article
    to the next and cannot thank you enough for your generosity in sharing all of this info. My shopping list is made and I’ll be heading to Dick Blick today. Also thanks for the online shopping options. You have helped me so much! Can’t use enough exclamation marks!!!

  73. Maria Johns Brown

    Hi Ginger! This is the first of your articles I’ve read and I just signed up for your newsletter! You have helped me (and many others) avoid so many potential mistakes! Most of the time I buff down to a very shiny finish but have had questions on sealers, too. Thanks for explaining why or why not particular sealers work! I’m the curious type and this makes the information stick in my head! I love the comment section because I’ve asked myself some of the same questions! I’m looking forward to your new articles and will be busy catching up on the ones here!

  74. Very helpful article! I just started using polymer clay and posted a picture of one of my works onto facebook. I instantly got someone asking if I could make one for them, so I figured I should probably get a sealant. I got the Liquitex Professional Gloss Varnish, and coated my first work with it. I used acrylic paint on the clay, and it considerably darkened the paint. Should I just paint the next one a shade lighter or is this not normal?


    1. Varnish will darken paint if the paint has a lot of fillers in it (think chalk) so that the varnish is “wetting” the paint. I suggest using artist’s quality paints. Be aware, however, that whenever you are using polymer clay, paint, and varnish, you’re combining three types of plastic, each which can be susceptible to the plasticizer in the other product. That can make for a sticky result. Always test your paint and varnish combinations with the brand of clay that you are using before selling your product or committing to a large project.

  75. katherine watts

    Hi there! Thank you so much for all the great information! I use Ladoll clay and I like to gold leaf my pieces with caromal imitation gold leaf. Do you know if the varathane will be a good varnish on top of the gold leaf for a final coat?

  76. Hello, thank you for the article! I’m new to all this, so I’m still not quite certain whether or with what I should seal hanging planters? Also, I have Sculpey and Crayola air-dry clay. Would you recommend one over the other for such a project?

    Thank you so very much!

    1. Hi Jess, to be honest, I’ve never worked much with air dry clay, so I’m hesitant to offer a solution there. If you’re using polymer clay, remember that they don’t need a sealer as they’re durable and will withstand weathering as is. But if you DO need to use a varnish, I usually recommend Varathane. But there are lots that will work with Sculpey, have a look at my sealer test article for more info.

  77. Hi! This is such a in depth informative article so, I feel like a dum dum asking this ::ducking under the closest table:: My beautiful kitty recently passed away. My daughter and I are devastated beyond words. The vets office took her paw print and imprinted it on clay. I’m not even sure what kind of clay it is. Looking online it looks like the kind you buy in kits. The thing is, it’s breaking around the edges. It brings us a lot of comfort. It’s all we have left. I don’t want to make a mistake and ruin it by choosing the wrong thing to seal it with. Can you please, please tell me what to seal it with? And also, after I seal it should I put it in a glass or plastic case to protect it? Thank you so much!

    1. I’m sorry about your kitty. I can’t really recommend a solution because I don’t know what the material is. Polymer clay will not be stronger with the use of a sealer…in fact, many sealers can ruin the clay. I would protect the imprint in a case rather than adding anything to it.

  78. Hi Ginger! I was just wondering about resin. I would like to try making tiny ponds with fish in them. I think the ‘water’ in them is resin, but am clueless about it. I heard Ice Resin is good (and you recommended it above) but I have no idea how to use or cure resin. (Or if any safety precautions have to be taken)

  79. Ginger
    I read and reread your articles and often pass on your website. You help so many of us be successful with our projects. My question today relates to PYM II. If I spray an alcohol ink polymer clay project with PYM will it provide UV protection? I’m using chameleon pens and have read that they are not light fast so want to add a protection from fading. The can says UV but I’m not sure if that means that it will protect the colors or if that relates to the sealer. Sorry if this is a silly question. If I were to use Golden varnis UVLS would it be ok on Premo and then with varethane on top? Or would it still get sticky? I’ve sprayed PYM and then varethane and so far am not seeing any change in colors.

    1. No, PYM II doesn’t give UV protection. You would need to use a UV protecting varnish. Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS does have it, but applying the varnish directly to alcohol ink covered surfaces will cause it to run and smear. So coat with PYM II first, then the Golden varnish. The won’t completely eliminate fading, because ALL dyes are fugitive over time and with exposure to the sun. But it will help. Varathane will likely help as well.

  80. Hi ginger
    I have been making dog tags and wondered if they would last longer if sealed, as they bang against metal on the collar and become dented.mthis also happens to key rings. What’s your advice please
    Thanks Becky

    1. No, varnish is never going to be stronger than your polymer clay. And there are some projects that just aren’t well suited for polymer clay. It’s very strong and durable, but it’s no match for metal! I’ve made polymer tags, but they will wear quickly. Luckily you can just make more. 🙂 Using resin on top will give some added protection as resin is fairly hard and thick. But it’s also brittle and may crack.

  81. I am making christmas ornaments with sculpy clay which i painted with acrylic paint after. Should I seal it? and what with? I unfortunately used modge posge and it got all sticky and stuck to the tissue paper i was wrapping the ornaments in for storage. so I’m having to try and remove the paper but i think I’m going to end up having to completely remove the paint too and start over. (because rubbing off the paper is removing sealer and some paint too) I feel upset because these are for my babies first christmas and i screwed it all up.

      1. i didn’t fully paint them but I used paint to outline the baby foot print and put his name on it. Or like to put a face on the teddy bear i made. Any ideas on how to get the sticky off?

        1. You can experiment with using water to soak it off. Just pop it in water overnight and see if the varnish will come off with a toothbrush. The paint will likely come off, too. You can also try using rubbing alcohol, the 91% that you can get at a pharmacy or Walmart. That will usually dissolve most varnishes, but I don’t know about ModPodge. You might find it easier to remake the ornament, though.

          1. thanks. I am hoping to at least salvage the the footprint one because its so hard to get baby prints. they are so wiggly! lol I’ll see what i can do. I used salt dough instead of clay for my first son. I thought clay was going to be easier…

            1. So I bought some varathane and just put it over the ornaments that i originally mod podged. It has been 2 days (I know it says it takes 7 to completely cure) and so far no more stickiness. I’ll update in a week, so that maybe if someone else makes my mistake we will have an
              answer for what to try to do to save it.

  82. I went and bought Translucent Liquid Sculpey as per your recommendation to seal my (Sculpey) clay pieces that have been painted with acrylics, however when baked the acrylic paint becomes darker (not burnt) in certain colours. What am I doing wrong for Liquid Sculpey to cause discolouration?

    1. It sounds like the acrylics you’re using have a large amount of chalk filler and are becoming “wet” from the liquid polymer clay. You’re not doing anything “wrong”. But you might want to use higher quality acrylics for your particular technique.

      1. Is there any other way you could suggest that would result in successfully protecting/glazing my existing pieces with the lower quality acrylics?
        Thanks for your reply

  83. I’m making an urn to be placed in a niche by putting polymer clay over the temporary plastic container. What type of clay would you suggest, and what kind of acrylic paints? This is an amazing article. Thank you very much.

    1. I always suggest any of the stronger brands of polymer clay such as Premo, Fimo, Souffle, or Kato Polyclay. You can learn more about the various clay brands here. Be careful about the temporary plastic container…will it hold its shape in the oven while the clay is curing? As for acrylic paints, it depends on the type of effect that you’re going for. Craft paints, such as Ceramcoat are very good and offer more coverage, but for layered, glaze-like, and antiquing effects then artist’s acrylic paints in the tube usually work best.

  84. Thank you very much. I’m going to try Sculpy Firm. i’m not planning to put the plastic container in the oven. I’ll surround it first with two layers of card so it can be removed before curing. At least that is my (evil) plot. Will start on Saturday. BTW, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. Had a little computer glitch.
    Thanks again.

  85. Amazing how this one article clarified sooo many of my noob, beginner questions so that I no longer have any logical reason for procrastinating. Off to open the clay packages and indulge creatively. Thank you.

  86. Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been tinkering with polymer clay for a couple of years. I prefer to use Super Sculpey and paint my sculptures with acrylics after they’re baked. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of using Mod Podge to seal my paint on many of my sculptures. Elsewhere, I was able to find advice on how to remove Mod Podge, though it takes the paint with it. This article helped me find better sealers. Because of this article, I bought Varathane and DuraClear Ultra Matte, and I absolutely love both of them!

  87. ¿la arcilla polimerica cruda es porosa o no porosa? ¿y la arcilla polimérica horneada es porosa o no porosa?

    1. You asked: “Is raw polymer clay porous or non-porous? And is the baked polymer clay porous or non-porous?”
      My answer: Raw polymer clay is a putty and is actually a mixture, like cookie dough, therefore it is not “porous”. It becomes a solid vinyl mass after baking. It is not porous in the same way that a piece of paper is. It can, however, be somewhat absorbent, depending on the brand. Some brands contain moisture-holding fillers such as chalk or earth clays. They can hold onto water, paint, or varnish more than a non-porous surface like glass. In addition, some brands are can have very small pits in the surface that allow paint or varnish to adhere well.
      Mi respuesta en español: La arcilla polimérica en bruto es una masilla y en realidad es una mezcla, como la masa para galletas, por lo tanto no es “porosa”. Se convierte en una masa sólida de vinilo después de la cocción. No es poroso del mismo modo que un pedazo de papel. Sin embargo, puede ser algo absorbente, dependiendo de la marca. Algunas marcas contienen rellenos que retienen la humedad, como tizas o arcillas. Pueden sostener agua, pintura o barnizar más que una superficie no porosa como el vidrio. Además, algunas marcas pueden tener pozos muy pequeños en la superficie que permiten que la pintura o el barniz se adhieran bien.

  88. I am SO glad I found this article!

    I spent about a week’s worth of time creating an armature and covering it with Crayola Model Magic, only to find out tonight while beefing up some parts (I’m sculpting hands for my banshee) that subsequent layers cause the first layers to soften back up and peel off.

    I was so frustrated I threw the hand away. But then a friend who is in the BJD community suggested Sculpey. Since the piece is going to be outside in our unpredictable Wisconsin October weather, I was concerned with the clay holding up (I had planned on coating the hands with at least three coats of Plastidip when I was using the Crayola clay). So I did a quick Google, and found this article!

    Now I’m going to pull all the old clay off, build up the hand shape with foil, and then use Sculpey over it. Thank goodness it’s waterproof!

  89. We do a lot of Cornhole boards and Barn Quilts. Most polyurethane yellows. We get Sherman Williams / Helmsman / Minwax / indoor / outdoor / water based (not oil) / clear gloss or matt / urethane. It looks milky white but drys clear. As far as our barn quilts, they have been outside for 5 years and still looks like the day they bought it. It’s expensive but it will last you a life time. Only don’t dip the brush in because it will ruin your urethane. Put some in a cup and if you don’t have enough add more. Once you have used the what is in the cup, don’t pour back. I do jewelry and my husband does the wood. Our site is just about wood but I’m sure this would work.

  90. Hello! Thank you for writing and sharing this information. I have been sculpting with Super Sculpey for the past 25 years and I wish I had this type of information back when I started. I don’t recall what brand of clearcoat that I had used, but yes, the results were as you stated … tacky to the touch and when the pieces were exposed to high humidity, they felt like they had just been freshly coated!
    Thankfully though the day finally came when I did happen to find a product that works excellent on my work. In your comparison article, you had tried a product by the same company, but the results for you did not turn out well. I use the Krylon Matte Finish spray. I use pastels on my Super Sculpey artwork so a protective coating is a must. However, for my work I want zero sheen … the more natural look the better in my case. The Matte Finish by Krylon works perfectly…no sheen at all, non-yellowing, and absolutely no tackiness no matter what the weather conditions are. Very pleased with this product.
    After the clay has cured and cooled off, I use just regular old acrylics watered down a wee bit and apply a wash over the clay and after that has dried fully, I dry brush on the pastels, then spray two light light coats of the Matte spray … making sure the piece dries for at least 15 minutes before I put the final coat on.
    Recently I had run out of Krylon and had to be setting up my booth at an art show that evening, so I had to go with a different brand. The only other matte coating the store carried was by Rustoleum. The product went on thick and heavy and was anything but MATTE!!! It was slow to dry and I had feared that I had ruined every piece.
    I set up my booth at the show that evening, but I kept that batch of work at home to give the top coat more time to set. I was very relieved the next morning when it did feel very dry to the touch…even though it looked like it just got out of a shower! ggrr. I have one item left from the show…one that had been from that Rustoleum batch, and so far its staying dry…no tackiness. The spray seems to be holding too as far as adhesion. I will never buy it again no matter what, but compared to that disaster years ago, the product was better!!
    Well thank you again for your informative article and I hope my input on my experiences and conditions with Krylon Matte and Rustoleum will shed added light on two other products.

    Take care!! Dawn M. Dodge

    As I just gave up my website on the 12th of this month …. I won’t be able to give you my web address on the form below as requested, but if you care to join me on my FB Wood Spirit Studio Page, I would be delighted. The page is new so not much happening on there so far, but hopefully this winter I will have time to remedy that. Just search for Wood Spirit Studio. 🙂

  91. Thank you for this website, very useful!

    But I do have a question:
    I understand the need for a sealer when adding mica powders ON the clay, but is it also needed when the mica powders are mixed IN the clay before baking. Like with the pearl clay straight from the package or kneeding PearlEx powders through the clay.

    I think I saw a shiny buffed mica shift example, that was not coated but high gloss buffed only, on this site.


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