There is truly nothing that makes me more sad and angry than spending hours making something gorgeous only for it to burn & or crack. This is horribly frustrating for every polymer clay artist. Today I’m going to give you my best hints, tips, & tricks to preventing this. We’re going to go back to basics and learn how to bake polymer clay.
In my opinion, cracking objects is often worse than burning objects. Objects that are burned can often be covered or disguised by antiquing, covering in a paint medium, using Perfect Pearls, or even Swellegant‘s line of products by Christi Friesen. However, when a project cracks, there is not a lot that you can do.
OH NO! It cracked!
When my new studio was finished, I upgraded to a new oven. This new oven was not as reliable as my old oven, but it also changed temperature so dramatically that my pieces were cracking all over the place. After watching 24 hours of labor intensive work go down the drain, I decided that I had to do something about my clay that was cracking.
Don’t Let it Crack
There’s a couple of important steps in keeping your precious creation from cracking. Cracks can appear as hairline, tiny fine cracks in just the surface of the clay to huge fissures that run along the majority of a piece. A basic how to bake polymer clay instruction guide is below. 90% of the time, it is one of these reasons that your clay has cracked while baking.
- The first and most important is to make sure that your clay is fully conditioned. Clay that is not proper or fully conditioned has a better chance of cracking while baking.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles in your clay. Trapping air bubbles while conditioning clay are another top source of cracking in your clay. Air bubbles will also cause cracking in undesireable places if you are not careful.
- Keep your oven at a constant temperature. Most countertop ovens do not have good seals. This means that the temperature inside the oven will vary by as much as 50 degrees. This will cause your oven lose temperature drastically and spike as well. Both of these things cause your pieces to crack. Use an oven thermometer to be sure that your oven stays at a constant temperature.
- Use ceramic tiles to help hold your oven’s temperature. I placed 4 ceramic 4×4 tiles in the bottom of my oven as well as two 12×12 tiles on top of my oven. This helps hold the temperature of the oven steady. It’s a cheap fix and it will help your clay so that won’t crack anymore. (Tip from The Polymer Clay Tutor)
Don’t Let it Burn
There are really only two reasons that your clay will burn. The first is that you are baking your clay above the recommended temperature. Always read the package for the particular brand of clay you are using to make sure that you are baking it at the right temperature. It is better to bake your clay longer at the recommended temperature than higher for shorter amounts of time. The second reason your clay will burn is because it is too close to the heating elements. There’s a simple solution to this too. Move your piece away from the heating elements into the center of your oven and tent your piece with foil. It works, every time!
Thanks for joining me today,