Can Polymer Clay […]? 10 Popular Polymer Clay Questions


Can polymer clay be baked? Is polymer clay waterproof? How is polymer clay made? Insert your polymer clay question here. We did a bit of research to find out what other crafters like you have been asking. Read on for 10 of the most frequently asked questions about polymer clay and their answers, in no particular order.

  • Can Polymer Clay be Toxic?

    Polymer clay is non-toxic and even food safe once baked or cured. Although there used to be polymer manufactured using toxic plasticizers, today’s products are made with safer alternatives. Most crafting polymer clay is certified non-toxic. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eHowever, when it burns at high temperatures, polymer clay can give off irritating and potentially harmful vapors. This requires temperatures much higher than those reached during normal use and baking, however.

  • Can Polymer Clay Jewelry be Worn Safely?

    There is no evidence that polymer clay jewelry is unsafe. Polymer clay is a non-toxic, safe material that has been used for many years in a variety of applications, including jewelry making.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIt is made from plastic resins and contains no lead, mercury, or other harmful metals that could cause problems when coming into contact with skin. The only real potential danger is presented when it is subjected to very high temperatures and begins to burn.

  • Can Polymer Clay Slices be Submerged Into a Liquid?

    Uncured polymer clay is water resistant, meaning that it is difficult for water to penetrate it and water won’t immediately dissolve it. However, it is not water repellent nor waterproof until it is cured.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eBaked polymer clay is waterproof and can withstand exposure to humidity and other sources of moisture. You do not need a sealant once your polymer clay is cured if your sole concern is water damage. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThat said, some claim that certain brands of clay are more brittle after prolonged submersion in water. Clean water won’t damage raw polymer clay as long as it gets a chance to dry off before being worked with. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThere are people that even make aquarium decorations out of some formulations. u003cbru003eOne liquid you definitely do not want to expose your clay to, cured or otherwise, is alcohol. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAlcohol effectively dissolves polymer clay, so avoid it at all costs. Mineral or unscented baby oil can be added for conditioning purposes.

  • Are Polymer Clay Earrings Durable?

    Yes, polymer clay jewelry is durable under normal conditions. Once it is cured, polymer clay is resistant to environmental factors like humidity, moisture, and temperature.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThat said, some polymer clay has a reputation of being extremely brittle once cured or exposed to moisture for long periods of time. We won’t get into the specific name brands, but reviews online can help when determining whether a particular clay will be suitable for your specific application.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIt is generally best to avoid long periods of exposure to water, things like shampoo or other cleaners or solvents, and aerosols in order to keep your earrings in great shape for as long as possible.

  • Can Polymer Clay Air Dry?

    Polymer clay must be heated to a particular temperature for a specific minimum amount of time before it will begin to cure. It hardens as the result of a chemical reaction that requires heat to occur.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eEven after it’s opened, you don’t have to keep your clay in an airtight container for it to maintain its workability for any realistic length of time. That said, it can be stored improperly. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eExposure to to heat or UV rays can cause a partial cure, which will make it hard to work with later and could prevent it from ever being fully cured. Store your clay in a container with a lid at room temperature away from direct sunlight, like in a cabinet, drawer, or closet.

  • Can Polymer Clay Be Painted?

    Yes, but it is difficult to get good results. Polymer clay isn’t porous like paper, wood, or cloth, so it does not absorb paint the way those materials so. It sits on top, which can cause chipping or flaking.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eOne way to avoid this is to sand your piece down before painting so the paint has a better chance at sticking. Another way is to paint before the baking process as paint adheres better to clay in its raw state. A layer of varnish can be used to seal and protect once the paint dries.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eNot all types of paints are effective for this task. Watercolors, for example, are nearly impossible to use. On the other had, artist’s acrylics and acrylic inks work well for polymer clay crafts.

  • Can Polymer Clay Burn?

    It is important for a couple of important reasons for you to follow the directions that come with your specific product when it comes to temperature and length of baking. At 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes per 1/4u0022 of thickness is around your average recommendation.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf in doubt, it is better to err on the side of lower temperatures and longer bake times. Cooking your clay at too high of a temperature can cause it to burn and this can not only destroy your piece but could also have health implications.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe fumes produced by burning polymer clay can be irritating to the respiratory system and mucous membranes in the nasal cavity. If you burn you item, you should properly ventilate the area before hanging out in it.

  • How is Polymer Clay Made?

    Polymer clay is the combination of a polymer, colorant, plasticizer, lubricant, and filler. The polymer used is most commonly polyvinyl chloride (PVC).u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe filler is added to provide strength and durability and could be anything inert from talc to cornstarch. In fact, some homemade polymer clay is nothing more than cornstarch and Elmer’s glue!u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIn commercial products, colors are added by machines and vats of colorants. DIYers can color their clay with mica powder or alcohol inks. Check out more u003ca href=u0022 data-type=u0022postu0022 data-id=u00225520u0022u003efacts about polymer clay here.u003c/au003e

  • How do you Tell When Polymer Clay is Done Baking?

    Your best bet is to read the directions on your polymer clay package. Take a good look at the thickest parts of your piece and note that cooking time will need to be increased the thicker that is.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eOne major manufacturer’s instructions advise baking at 275 degrees F for 15-30 minutes per 1/4u0022 of thickness. You can always break off a small chunk of clay, mold it to a thickness of 1/4u0022 inch, and run a cooking test to see how long your specific oven will require.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf you bake it too long or at too high of a temperature, you will notice dark areas across your project, especially in the thinner areas. Remember, it is better to cook at lower temperatures for longer periods.

  • Can Polymer Clay be Sanded?

    Yes, polymer clay can certainly be sanded. In fact, it’s a great way of smoothing out things like scratches, indents, or fingerprints. It can also take care of corners or sharp edges.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eSanding with fine grit paper combined with a great high-gloss finishing glaze is the ultimate way to achieve a mirror-like finish. Some people use traditional sandpaper and others use water to wet sand their pieces.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe benefit to wet sanding is it contains the dust particles, which is better for cleanup as well as for your lungs. For color uniformity, you will usually want to coat your piece in a glaze, wax, or other finish if you sand areas. See tutorial video u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ehereu003c/au003e.

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