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Topic: Getting Started With Polymer Clay (Check here before asking questions)  (Read 54600 times)
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ShiningStar
« on: January 14, 2006 11:19:51 AM »

Hi,
I have a few questions about polymer clay.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2007 08:39:25 PM by something_wierd » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are  --John Wooden
ShiningStar
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2006 02:14:19 PM »

I have a toaster oven and since I've never used anything from the oven's manufacter before I baked the clay on 250 degress for 10 mintues instead of 275 degress for 15 mintues. Then let the clay harden in the oven until it cool down and then took it out of the oven. Meanwhile I opened the windows.

My question is when you aren't sure if a manufacter's temperture controls are standard is it O.K to bake for less time at a lower temperature?  I've read that polymer clay giving off an odor while baking is normal is this true?  Is in normal for steam to come out of the vents of a toaster oven near the end of the baking process?
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Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are  --John Wooden
Diane B.
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GlassAttic --polymer clay "encyclopedia"


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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2006 04:12:27 PM »

Hi, and Welcome to polymer clay!

There are several things you asked about.

(First, the "steam" you saw probably isn't normal... it may be something like oil burning of of the new oven parts though... I'd test it alone first!).  You'd know you had a problem from the clay if it were smoke you were seeing, not steam... and the clay would be starting to get black and bubbly.

As for baking clay, it is okay to bake it at a lower temp but you'll have to increase the length of baking considerably for each 10 degrees lower you bake.  This is important because polymer clay that's not completely cured all the way to the center can be weaker than it should, or even leave oily stains on porous items over time. 

It's essential to have an oven thermometer when baking polymer clay (even a $5 one from the grocery is fine).  Many ovens (including more expensive ones) don't actually create the temp you see on the dial inside the oven, or they may fluctuate a lot or have hot spots, etc.

Btw, if you're using Sculpey clays (plain boxed white or terracotta, SuperSculpey, or Sculpey III), baking can be a little more of a tricky issue because that brand darkens more eaisly than others ... but since it's the weakest clay, you'll also want to cure it as thoroughly as possible.

There is loads of info about how to bake polymer clay, various toaster and other ovens, etc., on this page of my website if you want to check it out:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/baking.htm

About the odor, some odor is normal (stronger with certain brands), but it's not the same as "fumes" which aren't healthy and result from clay being baked too hot and actually burning.  There's all kinds of info on the safety of baking or using clay on another page at my site, if you want to reassure yourself:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/safety_health_cleaning.htm

There are also ways to keep down any odor at all, etc., if you want, on the Baking page I linked to above.

Have fun! ... (what kinds of things do you want to do with your clay?)


Diane B.
GlassAttic ...polymer clay "encyclopedia"
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
« Last Edit: February 20, 2009 09:55:11 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
ShiningStar
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2006 06:09:11 PM »

What should bake the clay on?
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Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are  --John Wooden
pcockey
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2006 11:33:24 PM »

What should bake the clay on?

I put mine in a glass baking dish with a piece of brown paper bag on the bottom. The bag keeps the clay from having those shiny flat spots from sitting on the dish.
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Diane B.
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GlassAttic --polymer clay "encyclopedia"


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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2006 01:35:24 PM »

Basically, you can bake on anything which won't be affected badly by the 265-275 degree heat required to cure most polymer clay, and which will be okay for the polymer shape that you're baking. 

For most items, you'll generally bake on anything that's completely flat (and will stay flat --including metal baking trays, glass baking dishes, ceramic or terracotta tiles, and some kinds of paper-based things which won't eventually warp). 

As mentioned, it's always a good idea to put a piece of paper or other non-printed, uncoated paper, between the clay and any really smooth baking surface (like metal, glass or ceramic) to avoid getting a shiny spot when the clay softens slightly in the heat (it will take on the texture of whatever it's it contact with) --paper or terracotta pretty much have the same texture as clay baked without touching anything.

You can also bake on other heat-safe materials, particularly if you're baking a non-flat polymer object, and/or if the item needs to be supported or propped. 
These might include materials like polyester batting or stuffing, a nest of tissues or cotton cloth, and even various piles of powders like cornstarch or baking soda  (the batting will not melt or burn unless extremely close to the heating elements.... ditto for paper-based materials). 

There's a lot of info on these issues and other baking issues on this page, if you want to check it out:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/baking.htm


HTH and have fun!

Diane B.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
ShiningStar
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2006 02:53:05 PM »

Thanks both of you.  I'm going to put the clay on a baking pan with white printer paper on it and see how it works.
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Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are  --John Wooden
elevencupcakes
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2006 04:13:22 PM »

I'm glad I popped online to read up before starting. (very helpful stuff here) But then...
I opened up my packages of clay and they just crumbled. I probably bought the stuff 10 years ago (literally TEN years). I tried like crazy to knead it together but it just crumbled more. (I did ceramics for years and I don't really think it's me but Huh)      Is it just too old?
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Diane B.
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GlassAttic --polymer clay "encyclopedia"


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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2006 12:01:21 PM »

First, the longer polymer clay sits on the shelf or at home, the stiffer it becomes (the plasticizer or oily stuff in it will settlle, for example) ...some of that stiffness can show up as crumbling when trying to condition it. 

However, it can also partially begin to "cure" if it's been sitting in a too-warm place or under UV light (sunshine, fluorescents, etc.).  But basically, polymer clay never "dries out" and becomes truly unsuable as air-dry clays and earth clays do.

So, no matter how old or how hard it is, polymer clays CAN be reconstituted, but whether you want to go to the trouble involved for a particular batch is another issue. 
If the clay has any give when you squeeze it side to side, then it should be relatively easy to re-"condition" though using the right techniques (this is also something to notice when you buy a new package).

You can read much more on how to condition clay on this page of my site, including ways to condition really old, hard clays... but in a nutshell what you'll do is warm it and/or stretch it and/or add softeners to it, until it's smoothly pliable and a log of it won't crack at the top if its bent into a U shape.
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/Conditioning.htm
(...especially the subcategory called "Old, Hard Clay"...)

Also, some clay brands are stiffer to begin with than others, and some recondition more easily too.  The Sculpeys (Orig.Sculpey, SuperSculpey, Sculpey III) stay pretty soft forever, but they sacrifice strength after baking for that trait (in thin or projecting areas anyway), and they're harder to shape detailwise because they are so soft.  Stronger clays are Premo, Fimo, Kato and Cernit.

Btw, you don't say if you have a pasta machine, so some parts of the conditioning techniques can be a bit different and/or harder, but you can even begin by banging the stuff with a hammer (in a plastic bag or something) to get it compacted and going  Grin



HTH,

Diane B.
--- polymer clay "encyclopedia"
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm




.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2007 12:12:22 PM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
elevencupcakes
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2006 10:59:36 AM »

Diane B, Thank you so much. Your insight was a huge help! Now I just need to find another free day so I can get cracking! I'm going to take some of the characters I've drawn and bring them into the third dimension. (There are a couple here: www.jennastahl.com/Sketchbook/aliens/index.html.) It just seems like polymer is the perfect medium for them and I can't wait!! THANKS AGAIN!
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