Polymer Clay Tip: Using a Heat Embossing Tool
Posted on November 13, 2012 in Hints, Tips, & Tricks by Katie Oskin
On Tuesdays, I love to bring you a little polymer clay tidbit, tip, or trick. Today is no different. I’m going to be sharing with you how to use a Heat Embossing Tool with polymer clay. This versatile tool finds its home in scrapbookers & card makers closets. But as clayers, we share with a variety of arts, crafts, and mediums…and therefore…we stole this tool and claimed it as our own too.
HEAT EMBOSSING TOOL:
A heat embossing tool is one of the most overlooked and underused polymer clay tools around. The tool is underused because it actually heats hotter than the recommended temperature for polymer clay. This being said, you can still use this tool for quick work with polymer clay. You just have to pay attention, keep it moving, and don’t get too close to the clay.
WHAT KIND TO BUY:
My heat embossing tool is a standard tool pictured at the left. There are literally hundreds of models to choose from. But let me tell you a little secret, for your purposes, they are virtually all the same. My tool is identical to the one above, feel free to purchase this tool from Amazon through my referral. Don’t bother getting a super expensive tool unless you feel that you will use it a lot.
WHAT TO DO WITH IT:
So now that you have bought this super awesome tool, what are you going to do with it. There are literally hundreds of uses for a heat tool. Here’s several that I can give you just for working with clay, this list is certainly not extensive, but is great for beginning to work with this unique tool.
- Use it to put a “gloss coat” of Liquid Polymer Clay on beads for a quick set finish and shine.
- Use it to solidify liquid polymer clay between two wires to make wings for a fairy, dragon, or angel.
- Use it to set embossing powder on the top of a finished piece of jewelry for a crystal clear & sparkling look.
- Use it to quick set items that you don’t want to lose their shape while working on other component parts to your masterpiece.
- Use it to join two clay objects with liquid polymer clay in between for a quick set.
HOW TO DO IT:
Now that you know how you might use it, here’s how to do it properly with a few safety precautions and notes from my “trial and error” processes of using this tool.
Keep the heat tool moving.
Do NOT let the heat tool sit idle. Your polymer clay oven bakes your clay at approximately 230-285 degrees depending on your brand of clay. Your heat tool is approximately 400-700 degrees depending on make, brand, & size. What does this mean? If you stop over your clay at any one point, it will burn! And as all good clayers know, burned clay leaves behind toxic fumes. My advice…don’t burn your clay…keep that tool moving!
Hold It Up
Perhaps the most difficult part is to remember NOT to get too close. Keep the tool moving and approximately 3-6 inches away from your clay at all times. This will also help to prevent burning of your clay.
Quick Set Like a Pro
My favorite feature of the heat embossing tool is that you can use it to quick set a piece before baking it in the oven. Quick setting allows you to “pre-bake” a piece with the heat tool, allowing it to solidify and the polymers to align so that you don’t inadvertently squish a part of your sculpture that was perfect. To do this, follow the instructions above. If you are quick setting miniatures, please keep the tool moving for no more than 20 seconds. Pull to tool away and let your piece sit for 20-30 seconds. Then do it again. Why do you have to do this? Because if you do not do this your piece might burn as it’s so small the heat will distribute throughout the miniature and cause burning due to the extreme temperature.
If you have never used a heat tool, you will need practice. How would you like to spend hours on a piece only to ruin it with a heat tool? Not my idea of a good time, but if you don’t practice first, you just might end up doing that. So please, practice with scrap clay first.
Thanks for joining me today,