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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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