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!
Any oven, whether your home oven or toaster oven is unreliable and has massive temperature fluctuations. I know even as I type this, you don’t believe me…but it’s true. But don’t worry or fret because there are some easy and quick solutions that you can do to solve this problem on your own that are cheap, cost-effective, and will make a drastic difference in how your clay is baked and will keep it from cracking and burning.
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.
- Point of note: Sometimes poor clay quality (cheap clay) will do this regardless and there isn’t much that you can do about it except change to a higher quality of clay with a better manufacturer. Read this post here for more info.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles in your clay. Trapping air bubbles while conditioning clay is another top source of cracking in your clay. Air bubbles will also cause cracking in undesirable 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 to lose its temperature drastically and spike as well. Both of these things cause your pieces to crack.
- PRO TIP: Use an oven thermometer to be sure that your oven stays at a constant temperature. I like this magnetic one and put it on the inside back of my oven. There are made for stovepipes and are perfectly safe for your toaster oven and polymer clay.
- 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 larger 12×14 tiles on the top and back of my oven to cover the vents. 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 by acting as an insulator for your oven holding the temperature more steady and constant.
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 that 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!
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