Should you apply mica powder before or after baking polymer clay?

Mica powder is a shimmery, sparkly powder that’s used to create a metallic or pearlescent effect in art media, household products, and makeup. It’s also great fun to use on polymer clay. But should you apply mica powder to polymer clay before or after baking? Is it best used on raw or baked polymer clay?

You should always apply it to unbaked, raw polymer clay. Unbaked polymer clay is slightly sticky, and the mica powder sticks to the polymer clay naturally, without any glue. Because baked polymer clay is no longer sticky, the mica powder will no longer stick to it. You can see what I mean in this video.

If you’ve already baked your clay, can you add mica powder to your polymer clay creation? Is there any way to do it with glue or something? Well…kinda. You can use glue or a thin layer of liquid clay. But the application of the powder will not be as smooth as you see in the video. It will be gloppy and uneven.

You could also add mica powder to some clay safe varnish to make a paint. But it takes a lot of mica powder to create good coverage. You’ll have brush strokes. The mica will not have a smooth effect.

So bottom line, if you want to create a metallic or pearlescent surface on your polymer clay using mica powder, you’ll need to apply it to unbaked, raw polymer clay.

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These pendants were made with the Mica Leaf Tutorial by Ginger Davis Allman.

Nature, enhanced

Use leaves or flowers from your garden.

Mica Leaf Tutorial

Learn to form polymer clay into these crisp, bright, and fun pendants. Decorate them  with mica powders or eye shadow. What a fun project. You won’t stop with one.

Learn to make these colorful Mica Leaf Pendants with the free tutorial by The Blue Bottle Tree

Nature, Enhanced

Use leaves or flowers from your garden.

Mica Leaf Tutorial

Learn to form polymer clay into these crisp, bright, and fun pendants. Decorate them  with mica powders or eye shadow. What a fun project. You won’t stop with one.

8 thoughts on “Should you apply mica powder before or after baking polymer clay?”

  1. I recently made a gecko which I used eyeshadow to add all of the pigment and then baked. He will go onto a coffee mug as a decoration however I’m worried about the powder coming off when it’s washed. I did a test piece and just water isn’t too bad but dish soap removed it all. What can I use to seal the pigment on that would be safe on a coffee mug and that won’t provide a shine? I want him to just look how he already looks and don’t want all of his coloring to wash off!

    1. Do a search for varnish on this website and learn about using varnish on polymer clay. Choose a clay-safe varnish and you’ll be good to go. It won’t be dishwasher safe, but you can certainly hand-wash it.

  2. Newbie clay maker here and so I’m exploring your site, articles, and videos. Thank you so much for sharing this info with beginners like myself. In the start of this mica powder video, you showed a pair of white and orange earrings (there are on the left). Those white and orange pieces looked like they have a gloss to them – did you seal those earrings?
    Thanks!!

    1. Yes, I always coat mica powder (after baking) with a light coating of a varnish to act as a fixative. My favorite is Swellegant Sealer by Christi Friesen. It’s very light-bodied and gives just the perfect neutral finish.

  3. Well, not ALWAYS. For 2 reasons, I usually apply mica powder to cured clay. First, I can better see what the finished effect is going to be. Second, if I make a mistake or don’t like what I’ve done, it’s easy to fix: just wipe it off with a soft cloth and start over. However, this does require treating with a sealer after finishing with the mica powder. I purchased a bunch of PYM II before the company went out of business, so that’s what I use to fix the mica powder in place. Two light coats, and the mica won’t budge even with vigorous rubbing — which I always do just to be sure I haven’t missed a spot. I haven’t tried any other sealers, so if you don’t have something that works well on polymer clay, applying it before baking may be the best option.

    1. I think that inexperienced clayers would be very frustrated trying to get an even coat of mica powder on baked clay. This approach will work when you merely need to add a highlight or small glimmer of shine. It won’t work to create the solid metallic appearance that’s illustrated in the video.

    2. Hayley Hamilton

      I can’t wait to start adding my mica powders to my Fimo, So excited tbh, I actually bought a Candle Making kit and everything I needed, including Mica (which I totally Love!)
      Then I kinda ditched that project and went back to my Fimo Models, So now knowing that I can use the 2 together has totally made my day, So Thank You for passing on your knowledge xx

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