In this edition of the pcPolyzine Beginner's Corner, we'll share some tips and tricks for baking your polymer clay creations!
Tip #1: Ensure a Proper Seal.
One of the key elements of baking polymer clay in your oven is to make sure it properly seals. This means no air escapes in the baking process. Properly sealed ovens help ensure your clay bakes correctly.
Tip #2: Know Your Oven's Temp.
When ovens maintain a certain temperature, they continue to cycle on and off to ensure it doesn't get too hot (or too cold). But, that slight fluctuation in temperature can play a major role in how your polymer clay piece comes out. To be sure you're finishing your work at the proper temperature, we recommend investing in an oven thermometer.
Tip #3: Bake at the Proper Temp.
Each brand of clay requires slightly different baking temperatures. Be sure to read the package before you bake. Once you're familiar with that brand and your oven, you can adjust accordingly to what works best for your art.
Tip #4: Bake Long Enough.
In addition to baking your clay at the correct temperature, it is also important to bake your clay for the proper amount of time. This information can be found on the package, but the general rule of thumb is 30 minutes in the oven for each 1/4 inch of thickness.
Tip #5: Prevent Discoloration.
Sometimes clay becomes discolored during baking. If you're encountering this, there are a few things you can do to help. One tip is to cover your work. Tenting (creating a tent over your work with aluminum foil or a pan) will allow for your piece to bake without browning. Another trick—especially helpful for beads—is to bury them in baking soda or cornstarch. You'll need to wash off any remaining residue after your piece has cooled. Some artists report that cornstarch is more difficult to wash off than baking soda—just use whatever works best for you.
Tip #6: Support Delicate Areas.
Many times our polymer clay works have delicate pieces. When this happens, it is important to support those areas during the baking process. To do this, you can bake your piece on top of fiberfil. This also helps support pieces with bends and curves (any area that isn't flat). You can also bake on cornstarch to help reinforce the delicate areas. Just like using cornstarch to protect from discoloration, you'll need to wash off any residue once your piece has cooled. Some artists even suggest baking on toilet paper.
Tip #7: Pre-heat!
Polymer clay bakes best when the temperature of your oven is consistent. Allow your oven to pre-heat and reach the optimal temperature before placing your art in to bake.
Tip #8: Eliminate Shiny Spots.
To ensure your polymer clay art doesn't have unwanted shiny areas—usually on the backs—place your clay on a piece of white card stock or a manila folder.