How to Bake Polymer Clay the Right way. Tips For Beginners
Polymer clay is often baked at the right temperature and time frame to avoid it from being brittle and breaking. Baking of polymer clay is essential, unlike air-dried clay which can be dried simply by exposing it to air, polymer clay cannot be dried without baking. Therefore, proper baking of polymer clay is fundamental. In this article, we’ll be discussing how to achieve a perfectly baked sculpture and how to bake polymer clay properly.
Bake using a regular oven at the recommended temperature for the brand of polymer you are using. To achieve a sturdy piece you have to bake for a long time for about 60minutes since the longer you bake the stronger your piece becomes and then check doneness using a clay chip. If you don’t have an oven to bake your polymer clay, use your microwave following the instructions that were provided.
How To Bake Polymer Clay In The Oven
When baking the polymer clay in the oven, always ensure the oven temperature remains constant. To avoid temperature changes, place your polymer piece on a tile and put it inside the oven. The following are the steps to take for baking polymer clay in the oven perfectly.
- Get your baking pan, line with foil paper or parchment paper, and place the clay inside
- Cover the clay with parchment paper or make a tent with the parchment paper over it
- Preheat your oven to the desired temperature as stated on the polymer clay
- Using an oven thermometer, check the temperature of the oven until it reaches the desired temperature. This is because most times, the temperature reading in the oven compared with that of a thermometer is usually not accurate.
- Ensure you are baking the polymer clay in a well-ventilated space
- Always have a fire extinguisher handy in case of fire
- Place the pan on the baking tray and position it in the middle of the oven for even distribution of heat
- Place the oven thermometer close to the polymer clay to ensure proper reading of the temperature
- Allow the clay to stay till it’s completely baked and avoid removing it too early. This is to avoid brittle and breaking.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool down on its own to avoid temperature shock.
Can You Bake Polymer Clay In A Regular Oven?
Polymer clay can be baked in a regular oven either gas or electric and will work just fine. It is recommended you use an electric oven because it retains heat longer than a gas oven. To avoid temperature spikes when baking polymer clay, place your clay on a ceramic tile and put them together in the oven. This helps to retain heat and make the temperature even. Even though a regular oven is perfect for baking polymer clay, if you bake polymer clay often, it is recommended you get a specific oven for baking your clay. But if you rarely bake polymer clay, then your home oven will work fine.
One thing to note when baking polymer clay is that polymer clay on its own is not harmful but when baked it releases harmful substances into the oven and these gases can fall on food when used to make food. Therefore a separate oven is advisable. But when you don’t have a specialized oven for baking polymer clay, you can wash the oven after every use and ventilate it very well or you put your clay in a non-flammable container with a lid, to prevent the toxic gases from getting into the oven.
How Long Do You Bake Polymer Clay?
You might have come across articles or tutorials starting to bake for 10 or 15 minutes, even though it takes 15 minutes for the clay to cure, its strength increases as the baking time increases. Baking clay for 15 minutes decreases the strength therefore when subjected to force or pressure it breaks almost effortlessly. I’ll recommend you bake your polymer clay for a full 60 minutes. Starting with the first 15 minutes and then a 5-minute interval. Although the duration is also determined by the size of the clay.
It is better to bake a ¼ inch thick clay for 15 minutes, a ½ inch clay for 30 minutes, and so on. You can continue to add the time at intervals of fifteen minutes based on the thickness. You can test if it’s done by using your fingernail tip to press under the piece after cooling, though it might leave a mark. If we bake it for a bit shorter than we should the piece won’t be baked properly, and it will result in brittle and break while staying for a long period of time at high temperature gets it burned.
At the right temperature, the piece can stay as long as possible just make sure that the oven temperature doesn’t spike resulting in a sturdy piece. The temperature change can burn your clay when placed in the oven for a long period. Therefore, you have to be careful when you decide to leave it in the oven.
What Temperature Do You Bake Polymer Clay?
Most polymer clay bakes at an average of 265-275 ° F (130 – 135 °C). The hotter the temperature the faster it takes to cure even though with low temperature it will be cured but at a slower rate. The best practice is to follow the temperature given for the brand of clay bought since it differs according to the brand. If you combine different brands of polymer clay, you are to take the average of both temperatures and bake with it. One thing to note is that you should never bake your clay using the temperature knob on the oven because it is almost always unreliable.
I’ll recommend you use an oven thermometer to check if it’s at the recommended temperature. Polymer clay burns at a temperature of 390°F (200°C). Under no circumstance, don’t let the temperature get this high? At a temperature of 390°F (200°C), the clay gets burnt, and you’ll get a thick smoke and bad smell in your kitchen. If this happens, turn off the oven and ventilate the area, leave the area as harmful gas is released.
Do You Need To Cover Polymer Clay When Baking?
As previously explained, you don’t have to cover your polymer clay when baking, if you have a separate oven for baking your polymer clay. But you can make a tent over your clay by folding a baking paper into two and using it over the upper part at about an Inch from the element heating from above. The tent helps protect the clay from direct heat. Also, it will prevent your light color clay from browning because of the heat from above.
How Do You Know Polymer Clay Is Done Baking?
Polymer clay is plastic and therefore flexible even when it is baked. When you remove the clay from the oven it doesn’t become strong immediately until it cools down. Most polymer clay doesn’t get super strong except for some new clays that are designed just for this. You can check if your clay is done using the fingernail tip method:
- After your clay is cool, use your fingernail tip to touch the clay and see if you are leaving mark on it
How Do You Keep Polymer Clay Flat When Baking?
For your polymer clay to remain flat when baking, take the following steps using the following materials
- We’ll need two unglazed or terracotta tiles and plain paper
- Place the paper on the unglazed terracotta on the tile
- Place the clay on the plain paper
- Cover the clay with the paper and then place the second tile on it
- Place in the oven and bake at the recommended temperature and for about 30-60 minutes to get the better strength
- Remove along with the ceramic tile from the oven and allow to cool down in that position
How To Bake Polymer Clay Without An Oven
To bake polymer clay without an oven, it important you get the following materials:
- A pan
- A metal plate of two inches high
- Another small flat metal plate
- A metal bowl
After getting these materials, you need to set them up to bake. The following are the steps involved.
- Place the pan on low flame fire
- Turn the two inches high metal plate over and place it in the pan
- Place the small flat metal plate at the center of the other plate
- Place your polymer clay on this small plate
- Cover the polymer clay with the metal bowl
- Leave until it’s baked
Alternatively, you can also bake polymer clay using a pot. You need materials such as a pot, a metal bowl that can be turned upside down to raise the pot, a small flat metal plate to put the clay, parchment paper, and another bowl for covering.
- Place the metal bowl for raising the clay inside the pot
- Preheat the pot on low heat on the fire
- Line the flat metal plate with parchment paper
- Place the polymer clay to be baked on the parchment paper
- Cover with another metal bowl and cover the entire pot
- Check the clay frequently at 15minutes intervals to avoid burning
How To Bake Polymer Clay Rings
Polymer clay can be crafted into any object or form based on your level of creativity so the ring is a very popular shape for DIY. If you would like a ring made from polymer clay follow these given steps.
- Get a polymer clay of desired color suitable for the ring
- Roll the clay into your desired thickness using a rolling pin
- Roll the clay around your finger to measure the right size
- Transfer the clay to a metal rod of similar size and wrap around it
- Smoothen the clay and blend it further until you are satisfied with the result
- Bake the ring at the temperature prescribed by the manufacturer on the original package for about thirty minutes to one hour to get the best result
- Carefully remove the ring from the metal
- Smoothen it properly using sandpaper and the ring is ready
How To Bake Polymer Clay In The Microwave
Polymer clay has no water but oil droplet in it. When placed in the microwave it replicates the same action using the oil present in polymer to generate heat but since there are not enough components like in food to make the heat generated circulate, in clay it causes uneven distribution of heat making some part of the clay hard and others soft, as a result. Also, your clay can easily melt in the microwave.
Certain microwaves such as those with a grill and oven can be used for baking polymer clay. To use a microwave for baking clay, you must ensure the water covers the piece completely and do constant checks to make sure there is water in it, to avoid burning the clay. But as a final result, don’t expect your piece will be hard after baking because of oily characteristics.
The highest temperature of the water is 100°C which is lower than the required temperature needed for proper baking of polymer clay but if you decide to use a microwave ensure it is not an oil-based clay because it contains wax as an additional component of the oil, and it is better you use a water-based clay.
There are newly improved specialized clay designed more suitable for microwave baking, allowing even baking of the clay inside out and can be air-dried to become hardened. Fimo air microwave clay and Staedtler Fimo Efaplast clay. To bake your clay microwave, you can follow the steps given below.
- Using a mug cup, fill it up with water and place the polymer clay in it
- Put the cup containing the clay in the microwave until it is done baking
- Remove the cup using a kitchen towel to avoid burning your hand
- Use a spoon to remove the clay onto the countertop or a plate
- Allow to cool down before touching it
How To Bake Terracotta Clay In The Microwave
Terracotta is clay that is fired at low temperatures. It is also known as earthenware clay, the name terracotta is a Latin word with terra meaning earth and cotta meaning burnt, cook, etc. It contains lots of impurities making it highly porous when fired and it resistant to resist heat and easily absorbs water. Firing terracotta clay without a kiln requires preheating it in the microwave.
Can You Bake Polymer Clay With Metal In It?
You can bake polymer clay with metal in it as long as it can withstand the heat required for the clay to bake completely. When there is no fear of spiking, which makes the temperature of the oven fluctuates, causing uneven baking of the clay. Metal doesn’t stick to clay when baked in the oven so it would be completely safe.