Just a little more info on baking/curing polymer clays. We had a few unfortunate mishaps yesterday, and I’d hate for them to happen to you!
First of all, OF COURSE you must follow the manufacturer’s directions for curing the clay. However, as I explained yesterday to my class, there are some important variables. We had a new toaster oven, and it was it’s first use out of the box. I could have sent smoke signals with all of the smoke and stench that thing was putting out! Hopefully that won’t last too much longer, but we did find that there were a few “hot spots” in the oven and some of the pieces began to bubble and buckle…not so pretty! So make sure you know your oven, and investing in an oven thermometer wouldn’t hurt.
What to bake on is another consideration. Small ceramic tiles work nicely, because you can work right on the tile, and then pop the whole thing into the oven. However, it will leave a shiny spot where the tile comes in contact with the clay…. and for some pieces that may be undesirable. I like to use heavy watercolor paper- it’s stiff enough to handle and support the weight of the clay, and won’t leave shiny spots. We used cardboard yesterday, and it had a glossy coat on one side. I forgot to mention that you should NEVER used the coated side, and disaster struck. Some of the glossy coating melted into the polymer clay. (Should be able to lightly sand that off, but better to avoid it!)
For beads or other roly-poly items, you can do a couple of things. Take a small oven-safe dish (I like to use the saucer from a terra cotta pot) and put a small layer of polyester fiberfill. The beads or other curvy items nestle in and won’t roll…and no shiny spots. (No, the fiberfill won’t melt, at least not at 275 degrees.) Alternatively, you could accordion-fold a piece of cardstock , and place your beads onto the “valleys.” That also helps eliminate too much rolling around.
When your pieces come out of the oven, they will still be flexible (and hot!) so be careful about moving them too quickly. You could distort the shape before it cools. Yesterday, we were in a bit of a rush to get to the next step, so I had a small pot of ice water handy… and as pieces came out of the oven, I carefully scooped them up with a spatula and dipped them into the water to cool them quickly. This generally doesn’t affect the clay at all, but you do have to be careful handling a hot item and not distorting the shape as you put it into the water. I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but we wanted to get to other fun techniques!
For other great tips on baking clay, check out this link to Polymer Clay Central, and happy baking!
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