Polymer clay is certainly a useful material in various arts and hobbies such as pottery and sculpting. Working with polymer clay is easy, which is why many opt for this type over natural clay. However, the common question with this type of clay is whether it air dries or does it need to be baked?
You cannot air dry polymer clay as you need to bake it at a particular temperature in order for it to harden properly. Polymer clay is made out of plastic and can be used for many years before you bake it. Furthermore, it is quite practical because you can bake it in your kitchen oven without making a mess!
I will discuss how to dry polymer clay well and whether there are other ways to dry it apart from baking or not. I will also give you some tips on how to dry polymer clay faster. Make sure to stick around until the end to learn more about this topic.
Does Polymer Clay Dry Out In Air?
Polymer clay does not air dry, but that is more of a reason why many favor it. If you are using polymer clay to create something, you can easily take a break for a few hours before you get back to your work. Your project will not dry out at room temperature, and you can continue whenever you want.
The fact that polymer clay does not air dry also means that your sculpture will endure for years after baking. It will also not shrink in the oven, as it often happens with air-dry clay. The chances of polymer clay objects falling apart or decaying soon after you make them are very slim.
Another benefit of polymer clay is that if your children are playing with it and get bored, you do not have to worry about the material being dry the next morning. It is made of plastic and comes in many colors, which makes it even more appealing to children. The components of polymer clay are not toxic either, so you do not have to worry about that.
Polymer clay contains oil which helps prevent the material from drying out. It also makes it waterproof as the material will not get damaged when wet. However, this does not mean that it should be in touch with water for too long.
Can Polymer Clay Dry Without Baking?
Polymer clay cannot properly dry unless you bake it. You have to put your sculpture in the oven at a particular temperature, or else your creation will not be sturdy and durable. Baking is the essential part of the process when using polymer clay, and it is the most commonly discussed topic regarding this material.
Many suggest baking polymer clay at around 130C, but there is no standard temperature for this. It depends on the type of clay and where you buy it. There is also no set time limit on how long to bake it, but you will generally get instructions that you need to follow.
The advised time for baking polymer clay is around 30 minutes. Some even recommend baking it for half an hour per one inch. The least amount of time you need to spend baking polymer clay is 15-20 minutes; otherwise, it will not cure properly.
Make sure you do not overbake the clay because, if you are not cautious, it can burn and ruin your creation. However, this material does not burn easily, so you should not worry if you follow the guidelines on the package. Once your clay hardens in the oven, you will have beautiful, long-lasting objects such as jewelry and similar accessories!
Even though there are other suggested ways to cure polymer clay, none are confirmed. Methods other than baking might save you some time, but they are not as efficient as baking your object in the oven. This is also the least harmful and the safest way to dry your sculpture.
With that said, keep in mind that you cannot use a microwave instead of an oven. Every package indicates that you should not bake polymer clay in a microwave because it will not only burn your creation but release toxic fumes. Furthermore, the smell of burnt clay is certainly not the most pleasant.
How Do You Make Polymer Clay Dry Faster?
The most efficient and fastest way to dry polymer clay is by baking it. However, there are a couple of other suggested methods to try without an oven. For example, some people suggest a heat gun or a hairdryer.
When curing polymer clay with a heat gun, you need to place it on a non-sticking surface. However, this is not the most supported method, and you need to be careful when trying it. Make sure you do not use a hairdryer or a heat gun for too long because the clay will start to burn and release toxic fumes.
Polymer clay contains phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastic long-lasting, and it is used in numerous other products. These chemicals are also used to soften plastic, which is convenient for modeling clay. However, this is why you need to be extra cautious when curing your polymer clay without baking!
If you are not using an oven, you are at risk of ruining your creation if you do not have enough patience. You need to move the hairdryer so that everything is covered evenly. However, it still might not be completely cured this way, so I certainly recommend using an oven.
Another way of curing polymer clay is boiling. Many have tried hardening small objects by putting them in hot water, and they were not disappointed with the results. Keep in mind that boiling will only be successful for thin pieces and sculptures.
Many have tried this method because it better prevents potential cracks in the future. However, you have to be more careful with any other method than baking. Even when you bake polymer clay in the oven, if the temperature is not high enough, your clay will be prone to breakage. Make sure to prioritize the quality of your creation over time spent working on your project!