What is best reccomended to use when clay has paint detail on it that you dont want to run? For instance brush strokes might disturb it? Or should you use a spray version? Or perhaps poor varnish into a pool and dunk the item into it?
That depends a bit on what kind of paint you use, and why you'd be using a finish.
Paints that are water-soluble after drying
would require some kind of finish to keep from running if they got wet later, but acrylic paints and oil paints wouldn't (...though you might want to give those a full week or more to become as totally waterproof as they could be if you were unsure).
If you used something like water-colors or tempera or something that could rub off like colored pencil or chalk perhaps, you'd want to seal them for more permanence though.
You could use a gloss liquid finish if you want a glossy surface, or use a matte finish (or use gloss, then sand with steel wool, e.g. to get matte).
For things that might smear really easily when they get wet, it can be a good idea to apply one of the safe spray clear acrylics (or use an atomizer) lightly first just to set them a bit before applying the finish with a brush or dipping.
(As far as brushstrokes showing when using sealers, there are things you can do doing application or afterward to avoid them --see pg below.)
It might be best if you could say what type of paint you used for these details though, and what type of finish you eventually want on those areas or on the whole item... as well as what the item is.
Meanwhile, there's a load of info on all kinds of finishes that are safe and not-safe to use with polymer clay, and ways to apply them, on this page:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/finishes.htm
Also with decorated cutlery in mind, which can be washed?
Here's a previous thread about covering handles of silverware, etc, and washing them:http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=145468.msg1434225#msg1434225
And some of the info I wrote the other day about washing and drying polymer clay buttons
would apply to the water and heat of a dishwasher:. . . (You can definitely wash --but *NOT* DRY CLEAN -- buttons made from polymer clay.)
In other words, water and soap are fine; dry cleaning solution is not (...baked polymer clay can also be washed in a dishwasher when it's been used to cover silverware handles, etc.).
Bare baked polymer clay is waterproof all by itself (it's just plastic, after all) and it requires no sealer --unless perhaps you just want a sealer to give the item a glossy finish (and don't want to sand-and-buff for that glossy finish), or you're trying to seal something onto the clay that might otherwise come off or tarnish, etc.
The heat created in a washer or dryer isn't close to the 230-273 degrees that's used to cure polymer clay. .
. .. . but there's also *strength* of the buttons to consider. Some brands of polymer clay are stronger after baking than others though that's mostly noticeable in things which are not rounded and thick:
...the weaker brands are Sculpey, and FimoSoft to a lesser extent
... the strong brands are Premo, FimoClassic, Kato Polyclay, and Cernit (...for US clays)."
If you have any more questions about covering and washing clay handles after reading the message above plus the info and examples it links to at my site:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/covering.htm
(click on Various Other Objects
, under Metal
just ask away!
I believe the British version of Future is Klear? And i think that comes off with much contact with water. . . .. . . So what would folks reccomend? And where can i get it?
Future is more vulnerable to long soaks
in water than Varathane and other acrylic finishes for bare wood, etc. are (and a little more sensitive to humidity too), but it could be fine in the washer anyway especially if it's been "hardened" by baking for 10 min or so at 250 F.
Be aware that most all clear finishes can get tiny scratches though if they're banged against other things or rubbed with abrasive surfaces, which will result in their looking less clear and glossy. It's possible that the really heavy duty detegents could do a bit of that too if you decide to use a finish (baked clay can also be made sheeny or glossy by wet sanding then buffing too).
(The "Covering" page I just listed also gives suppliers
for various types of finishes.)