Securing Polymer Clay Earring Post Backs – What’s the best way?

When you’re making polymer clay post earrings or stud earrings, you need to attach an earring post back to the back of the polymer clay earring. It’s the part that goes into your ear and is secured with a little doohickey called an earnut. What’s the best to attach and secure earring post backs to the backs of stud or post earrings? Is glue best? Which glue? Is it best to use Bake and Bond (whatever that is)? Or is it best to embed them, and what is that? Read on, intrepid earring maker. I will reveal all.

Graphic that reads, "The Best Way to Attach Earring Post Backs"

What’s the best way to attach earring post backs?

It’s the hottest question in polymer clay right now. How in the heck can you attach post backs without them falling off? What works best? Here’s the answer.

It depends. There is no one, single best way.

It’s strange how this has become such a hot topic, with people taking sides and aligning with certain people who advocate that certain ways are “the best”. Come on guys, this isn’t politics! This may be a shocker, but I use several ways, myself, depending on the situation.

Gluing Earring Backs

The easiest way is to glue the earring backs on. But you know what? Many commonly recommended glues either never set or get brittle and pop off. E6000, the most commonly suggested glue to use, is just not a good one for use on polymer clay. Anyone who’s been around the polymer block for very long knows to avoid using it. Yes, many people on social media swear by it, especially those who work with other jewelry and are new to polymer clay. But just trust me on this. Do not use E6000 for adhering earring post backs onto polymer clay jewelry.

But what glue can you use? Use superglue! Superglue has come a long way in recent years and it’s not the “use it once” mess that I remember from my childhood. This cyanoacrylate glue now comes in gel form that is easy to apply with precision and works very well. I like to use Loctite Gel Control, but the Gorilla Glue company also has a Gel Superglue that works well. So does Dap. Go for it. Use a gel superglue and get on with things.

But be aware that GLUE OFTEN FAILS. It’s not a permanent solution for jewelry that you want to last more than a few years. And if your clay is poorly cured, the glue and the post will pull the clay right off. But if you are doing a quick project, are making a lot of earrings, this is a great solution. But use the right glue, bake your pieces well, and don’t make a mess of it.

Can you bake the earrings after you apply superglue? Sure. No problem. (Any toxic breakdown is really minor…use proper ventilation…don’t make a habit of it.) But the glue very well might weaken. Plan ahead and don’t bake superglue.

Loctite Ultra Control Gel is perfect for glueing crystals in place on baked polymer clay.

Resin Over the Posts

Some people recommend pouring UV resin over the post backs for their polymer clay earrings. That works. Sure, why not! But resin is expensive and this is hard to do for lots of earrings, especially if you are also drilling holes into the pieces.

It’s hard to make a neat puddle around your post back, so most people like to drag the resin to cover the whole polymer piece. And that takes time. But it works. If this is your jam, excellent! I like to use UV resin with my earrings, and this is the one that I’ve been using recently. It’s thin and flows well without any beading up. (Learn more about using resin with polymer clay in my article here.)

Be aware, however, that ALL RESIN (both epoxy and UV cure) are health hazards and you NEED to wear a respirator (something like this, but research it) when you use it. Although resin is non-toxic by classic toxicological standards, it’s highly allergenic and can cause extreme hypersensitivity reactions. This adds a layer of complication that makes it a less-than-optimal solution. And if you need to bake your earrings again? Don’t bake resin. No, not even UV resin.

Resin creates a nice thick clear coating on polymer clay.

Bake and Bond over Post Backs

The idea here is that you make a puddle of Sculpey Bake and Bond over the back of your earring post and then bake your earrings again, face down. Again, this works. Go for it. Why not. But it takes experience to do this without it being messy. You have to add enough Bake and Bond to extend past the post pad’s metal and onto the earring. It won’t do anything if you just apply it to the metal only. (By the way, Bake and Bond is now called Sculpey Oven Bond Adhesive.) Plus, it’s expensive.

Bake and Bond MUST BE BAKED. It’s not glue, it’s thick liquid clay.

But you know what? This isn’t a permanent bond. Bake and Bond can peel off, especially if it’s not cured fully. And Bake and Bond doesn’t cure fully at the regular temps. You have to heat it quite a bit hotter. Check the label.

Can you use liquid clay for this? YES, YES, and YES. But make sure to use a thicker liquid clay like Sculpey Translucent or Sculpey Clear. Thinner liquid clays like Glassymer, Cernit Glue, and Fimo Liquid are less useful. They also tend to cure rubbery, and nobody wants an earring back that feels like a gummy worm. You can learn more about this in a video from Hobbyrian.

Well-finished polymer clay earrings look as good on the back as they do on the front.
Well-finished polymer clay earrings look as good on the back as they do on the front.
polymer clay earring backs

Embedding Posts

In all my years of working with polymer clay (nearly 20 and counting), THIS is the topic that seems to confuse people the most. How in the heck (and why) do you embed posts? Well, all this means is that you cover the post with another layer of polymer clay. Easy peasy. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it doesn’t cost much at all. You can apply a simple circle, or you can cover the entire back of the earring and blend it in. But even this can fail if you’re not baking your clay adequately. Polymer clay, properly cured, should be so durable that you will never pull that post off your work! But if you can, you have a baking problem! (And if you’re EVER getting broken clay and don’t know why, RUN to buy this tutorial. Stop wasting your time and clay. Ignore what you read on the internet. Solve your problem.)

Not visualizing what I mean? Here’s a quick and dirty video I did once as a reply to a comment. But it explains it.

Because all the other methods can fail, embedding is the only sure way to attach polymer clay earring backs that will never fall off. The only way for them to come off would be to destroy the earring. If you’re having trouble with the other methods or you want to have zero risk of failure, this is the best way. It does require two bakings (as does the Bake and Bond method above.) And like anything, there is skill involved. But this is an excellent and important skill to know.

If you’re having trouble embedding posts without it being messy or if this doesn’t make sense, then I strongly recommend getting my earring tutorial. It shows EXACTLY how to do this and make it neat. Another advantage of embedding your posts is that it gives you an opportunity to add a stamped logo or image or other branding detail into the earring backs. That’s a nice touch to distinguish your work from that of others.

Join the earring craze!

Discover how to make earrings, work with templates, and embed posts in a way that’s neat and professional. Raise the bar on your work!

So which method is BEST?

I glue earring backs onto my Watercolor Agate earrings because they’re translucent and the effect would be spoiled by adding another layer of clay. But on my Holo Effect or Crackle earrings, I embed the backs. I even like adding my logo stamp.

There are very few things in life that are 100% one way or the other. Learn about the materials, learn what’s possible and what you need to look out for, and soon you can evaluate for yourself which way to go.

Blue polymer clay earrings made with a watercolor agate effect.
These Watercolor Agate earrings use glue to attach the post backs. There is a tutorial for this technique here.

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23 thoughts on “Securing Polymer Clay Earring Post Backs – What’s the best way?”

  1. Slight suggestion — cut the clay backing, centre the post over it, push it through. Then push the backing clay down onto the back of the metal. Add your adhesive, and then place the metal and clay onto the correct spot and press the overlapping clay onto the earring. This way is much easier to get the clay cover evenly and centred over the metal, and looks neater.

  2. Pingback: 10 Polymer Clay Tutorials from Beginner to Advanced - Nunn Design

  3. Hi, I’ve been using Diamondglaze to glue the post backs on, will this last or would superglue be better? Thanks. Karen

  4. Ive learned that i can bake in posts.
    But can i bake in jump rings? Can i bake in headpins/eyepins? Or eyepin type screws?
    Do i need to use a certain type of metal??
    What gauge pins and jump rings are best?

    1. Yes, you can bake in other metal pieces, too. Like bails and eye/headpins and wire and brooch pin backs, etc. You can use any metal you’d like (though…steel will rust fairly readily). As for gauge, it depends totally on your piece. Some designs need fine wire and tiny rings. Other designs need chunky ones. It’s totally up to you, there is no one right way to do it.

  5. Hi Ginger- thanks so much for all the great info. You are my “Safe and Sane” go-to for polymer clay. Your advice is always safe and sane to follow! I wanted to let you know, the link to the watercolor agate actually goes to your crackle techniques. I can’t wait to try it!


  6. Hey, Ginge: (Yes, I finally made it here! Hi! )

    While I *always* apply clay over my earring back to make certain it stays, I will, every now and then, use some cyanoacrylate when I’m in a hurry and need earrings NOW (yes, it happens!) and I got curious about this bit from the article:

    “Can you bake the earrings after you apply superglue? Sure. No problem. … But the glue very well might weaken. Plan ahead and don’t bake superglue.”

    I have a feeling you started that paragraph, turned your attention to something else, and then came back to it because you contradict yourself there. “Sure, you can bake it! But don’t bake it” makes me think you lost your train of thought. ☺️ So which is it? I ask because it *has* happened that I’ve come back and worked more in quickie earrings (like when I liked them enough that I decided to keep ‘em). I’d be grateful for some clarification.

    Thanks, and I hope you’re healthy, happy, and SAFE!


    1. Well, the answer is that technically and according to the labels and manufacturers, cyanoacrylate breaks down in the head and might weaken. But I’ve never had a problem with it. So is that because I got lucky? Maybe. So…if you get yourself in a bind and have to bake it…don’t stress about it. Go ahead and bake it. But don’t make it part of your normal procedure. Plan ahead and avoid doing it. Clear as mud?

      1. Yeah, it is. You know what I’m thinking? It’s really not difficult at all to remove an earring back I’ve attached with cyanoacrylate using an Xactoknife, so with that thought in mind, I think than when I need to do this again (keep some earrings I’d meant only as one-offs), I’ll just remove the back, scrape off the adhesive, and cover it the way I know reliably works insteada hoping that the glue doesn’t give out because I baked it. That seems like the safest way to do it, and it’ll keep me stress-free.

        Thanks for talking it out with me; it always helps getting an outside view!

      2. Hi Ginger,
        I’ve just bought the loctite glue and I’m wondering if I should to scratch up the back of the earring post and the clay where the post will go, before I glue, to help it stick?

  7. Super great info as always! Thanks so much. I’ve tried several of these methods myself but it’s been a long while since I’ve used super glue. Many years ago when I tried, it didn’t work so well but I’m going to give it another go. With adding a thin piece of clay on top, I noticed I had issues with the length getting too short to fit through the ear and attach the back properly. I would do it on the thinnest settings on my machine and still had a bit of trouble but maybe it’s time to try it again too. As for E6000, strange that you say not to use it. I’ve been using it for years and have never had problems with it. I have earrings that I’ve been wearing regularly for a few years now with backs attached with E6000 and nothing else and they’re totally fine. I’ve also been selling my work for years using E6000. What are the issues you’ve seen with it? And I wonder if the type of clay has anything to do with it? I use Fimo mainly Pro but also effect and soft sometimes.

    1. The type of clay may very well matter, also the climate. It never has worked for me, it stays goopy and never dries. But it’s not just me. Community consensus agrees. It’s one of the most despised products. It’s always a hilarious thread when I ask people for their unloved products. This one always wins.

  8. Thank you so much Ginger for another helpful resource for beginners. Can I clarify about embedding posts method, will it be OK to use E6000, apply a small circle of clay and then bake? And can this method be used for baked products too i.e can I apply E6000 on my baked products, place a small circle of clay and rebake?

  9. Deborah E Goodrow

    Yet again, EXCELLENT information. Thank you! I even appreciate that you talk about the various ways you can do this, depending on your personal level of concern. Although I kinda wish everyone would get on board with the polymer clay physical bond, so nobody makes earrings thinking “oh, they’ll last at least a few years, that’s good enough.” Because when -that- earring falls apart, that person (and anyone they talk to!) will think that polymer clay made art is not quality art. Just sayin’

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