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Posted on January 22, 2013 in Hints, Tips, & Tricks by Katie Oskin
All you have to do is search the internet for help on how to bake polymer clay. You will see a lot of wrong and incorrect instructions on how to do this. But let’s be honest: every artist does this differently and every artist has their own system that works for them. What works for me, may not work for you. And the biggest thing with polymer clay … the baking times are different for almost every brand of clay and oven. Today I’m going to give you a few tips on how to bake polymer clay items at home in your own toaster oven.
The first step is the most important, you must read the instructions on your package! Every brand of polymer clay is different and has different specifications. Every single bar of clay will have different baking instructions on the package. Baking instructions vary per brand and per type of clay. What works for one brand and type of clay will not work for another brand and type of clay.
TIP: As a general rule of thumb it is always best to bake your clay for a longer amount of time than your package recommends but not a higher temperature than your package recommends to avoid scorching your clay.
Because every clay is different, you will also find that the same brand of clay can vary in baking times across colors. What I mean by this is that many colors of clay (especially in the Premo! brand) will darken after baking; especially when baked at too high of a temperature. And again, I can not stress this enough, follow the recommended time & temperatures for each package and brand of clay. Some clay colors will do much better to be covered when baking to prevent the colors from darkening.
TIP: Everything I bake in my home studio is baked ceramic tile lined metal pan and covered with a metal baking pan. This keeps my colors as true as possible, even my reds (which darken) and whites (which yellow) when baking.
I mix my clays and brands all the time. I mix Sculpey III, Fimo, or Super Sculpey with Premo! every day in my studio. There’s no “magic formula” to finding what works for baking times as every oven, craft oven, and toaster oven is different. As for me and all my sculptures, I bake all my pieces at 275 degrees for 45-60 minutes. If my piece goes through several baking steps, I still bake my item at 275 degrees, but only for about 25-30 minutes for the first bake, just to “firm up” the clay. Then I continue working on the piece and continue baking at 20-30 minute increments. However, for the final bake (when my piece has had multiple bakes) I bake the piece for no less than an additional 45-90 minutes depending on its size.
One of the most common problems with polymer clay is the burning of the piece. (I have written another article on this here, feel free to read it too). I have on several occasions in the past, burned my sculpture … and it has not made me happy. How and why did that happen? Because I let it in too long, or it was too close to the side walls / top of the oven and portions on the sculpture burned. To keep this from happening, use foil sheets (or foil pans) to cover your work. These are the foil sheets that I have in my studio. You can use them to cover most objects or attach two sheets together to cover a large object. They can also be reused hundreds of times. I still have one sheet that I reuse over and over and over again, it’s about a year old now. This one box should last you at least a year, if not longer. In addition and as a side note, I cover everything! There is nothing that goes into my polymer clay oven that isn’t covered. I work too long and too hard on my pieces to have accidental burning!
If you use a toaster oven, the oven is most likely highly unstable and prone to spikes in temperature. When this happens, it will cause your polymer clay piece to crack or burn. And this is sad, very sad. There’s an easy way to prevent this from happening. At left is a picture of my toaster oven. Take a look at what I’ve done to the inside of my oven, not only does it have an oven thermometer inside, but you will also see several varying sizes of ceramic tiles. I purchased ceramic tiles at my local hardware store and bought them to fit the inside of my oven. This helps to act as an insulator to keep the oven at a more stable temperature. I also have a 12×12 ceramic tile block (also from my local hardware store) sitting on the top vent of my oven, again to help insulate and keep the temperature stable.
Please take note, this is not my idea to use ceramic tiles in your oven. I have seen this on several websites, blogs, and even floating around Pinterest. I have no idea where this idea originated or who to give credit to, but, alas … it is not me. But thank you for thinking that I’m actually that smart!
Thanks for joining me today,