Artist's E-Books to Support and Inspire Creativity
*All images and words copyright of Diane Dobson-Barton dba as Barton Studio 2002-2007
Curing Polymer Clay
The temperature to cure polymer clays varies according to the manufacturer, so be sure to read the instructions included with your brand of polymer clay. You can use the oven in your kitchen but it is in question as to whether this is safe to use again for food preparation.
I prefer to err on the side of caution and recommend you use a toaster oven dedicated to your baking of polymer clay. You can purchase one new at most department stores, locally or online. If you want to keep cost down, find one at a garage sale or flea market for a fraction of the cost.
If you are anxious to get started, and only have a kitchen oven there is something you can do. Use two aluminum pans, the same size, one flipped on top of the other as a lid. This creates its own sealed oven of sorts for the clay to cure. Fumes are contained and will not come in contact with the home oven.
Another option is to create a tent with aluminum foil; this keeps an even heating area. Even toaster ovens tend to cycle on and off, causing spikes in the temperature resulting in burned clay. This can be a problem particularly if you are using translucent clay or Super Sculpey.
If you bake large pieces bake it a section at a time, and re-cure it as you add to the piece. Bake the entire piece once done to ensure all of it cured properly.
When polymer clay gets warm it becomes soft, so while it is baking it can sag. If you are doing a figure that is standing upright in the oven, be sure to have something in place to use as a support to prevent it from leaning in a direction you did not intend. You can use a folded piece of paper, cardboard or aluminum foil.
If you are baking on a smooth piece of glass or metal, where the clay comes in contact with the baking surface it will be smooth and shiny. To prevent this slip from occurring place a piece of paper, cardboard, or mat board beneath the clay.
Use an independent thermometer to verify the temp of your oven. If you under bake your clay you run the risk of not having a stable item, and over-curing risk burning your item and releasing toxic fumes into the air.
Allow your work to cool completely before touching it. It will still be pliable until completely cool and in danger of being altered.
There can arise a time when you will need to use glue in your sculpting. Glue most often recommended is SOBO, because it is heat and UV resistant.
Other glues such as Super glue or E6000 come highly recommended. Cyanoacrylate glues (super glue) and epoxies are best for adhering baked clay to glass or metal. Be sure to take the necessary safety precautions.
(Information taken from our publication "Polymer People: An Artist's Method of Sculpting the Adult Head in Polymer Clay")