Prep for Success: 5 Essential Polymer Clay Jewellery Pre-oven Tips

Polymer clay Joy slab design in 3D by Gracie Face

Wait - are you ready to bake?!

You're getting've finished making the polymer clay earring components for your next masterpiece & you're about to turn on the oven. But hold your horses for a second! - Before you even think about turning your oven on, are you absolutely sure that your pieces are fully prepared for baking/ curing? 

I'm going to share some considerations & processes with you, which I follow in my own claying practise while my polymer clay is still in its raw state; by doing a little extra work on your quality control before the oven, you will save yourself time afterwards as well as avoiding any unwanted mistakes! 

PLUS as a bonus, I'm giving you the opportunity to try 3 fabulous Gracie Face polymer clay colour recipes for FREE!

Let's jump in!

1. What surface are you baking your polymer clay jewellery on?

I'd recommend trying a few methods before you settle on one.

I began using baking paper on a metal baking tray but wasn't 100% happy with the finish because the tray didn't always stay completely flat as the oven heated up.

I tried baking my polymer clay pieces directly onto a smooth white ceramic tile - I could work with the clay on the same tile and then put straight in the oven once I'd finished. Baked pieces were harder to remove though & it left a shine underneath but this wasn't an issue for me because I sand the underside of my earrings too - this is a useful way to bake if you're working with a softer clay like Cernit; you avoid distorting your clay as a result of not needing to transfer to a different surface.

I've settled on baking paper on a ceramic tile. I always use this method & rarely have issues. You can also try A4 copy paper or parchment paper.

12 colourful raw 3d polymer clay earring components laid out on a sheet of baking paper on a ceramic tile. A double ended dotting tool is in the shot.
Gracie Face​​

2. Check the edges of your components

For block colour designs - if you have a shape with a donut hole or very narrow crevices like a flower shaped cutter, use either your little finger or a round ended silicone tool to smooth these difficult to sand areas.

I find this method easier when I am gently holding the polymer clay component. It helps if you moisturise your hands so you don't leave marks.

For patterned/ 3D designs - to remove shape cutter drag marks from places that are hard to reach (e.g.narrow gaps in U shaped cutters or indents in scalloped shapes), make sure your polymer clay earring component is firmly clinging to your work surface. With a small piece of baking/ parchment paper over your components, press evenly with an acrylic pressing tool or similar. 

Then using a tissue blade/ craft knife, carefully trim the very edge of the area in question so that you have a neat clean edge. It takes a bit of practise but you'll get the hang of it!

A hand is in shot holding a craft knive towards the inside of a raw polymer clay wavy U shaped component. The mirror to this shapes is alongside it with the cutter and main patterned slab in shot that the shapes were cut from.
Gracie Face​​

3. Remove any visible lint & dust with isopropyl

Using a cotton buds/ Q-Tip dipped in isopropyl (rubbing alcohol), very gently remove any visible lint & dust from the surface of your polymer clay components. 

Be careful not to contaminate colours in stripes etc. to the wrong area or distort your piece, since the isopropyl will dissolve the polymer clay a little. 

This step is the most important if the surface of your clay component is going to be tricky to sand after baking.

If your design is smooth & doesn't have acrylic paint or transfers on, you can sand away any stray lint you've missed after you've baked your polymer clay pieces. 

A hand is in the edge of the shot holding a cotton tip to demonstrate removing lint and dut fibres from raw polymer clay components before baking. There are 4 mountain shapes cut in an abstract pattern. Also visible is the remaining polymer clay cane used for the earrings, 3 cotton tips and a clear bottle of isopropyl.
Gracie Face​​

4. Do your components all work well when paired up?

Once you've finished designing your polymer clay slab & you're ready to cut it up, you need to think about whether the pattern in each shape will work well once you put everything into pairs. 

Is your pattern consistent? Is there too much of a particular colour in one of your components so the balance is off when you pair up? Have you cut too close to the edge of your slab & the depth is thinner in any of your pieces?

Are all of your polymer clay components matching in their depth? For a flat single layer design, the ideal depth is around 3mm. If you're resin coating after baking, then reduce the depth to around 2mm. 

Are your pieces all level? To ensure my components bake as flat as possible, I use an acrylic shaping tool & carefully press through a sheet of baking paper with an even pressure to help get a perfect finish after baking.

Ariel image of a stone coloured polymer clay slab. The slab has a wavy design through it in a mix of colours. The polymer clay slab has been rolled down smoothly to 3mm and has been cut already but the components are still sitting within the slab so you can see the indents of the cutters.
Gracie Face​​

5. Add guide drill holes to your raw polymer clay components

This hack was a gamechanger for me & it's so simple! 

It will help you to drill your baked polymer clay components much more accurately & neatly, whether you use an electric drill or a manual drill.

If you're making polymer clay earrings, once you've been through all of the above quality control, using a metal dotting toolneedle tool or skewer you can carefully make an indent in your components for your jumprings. 

To help you even further, the clever team over at Blackbird & Violet Creative Supplies have recently developed an Acrylic Grid Tool so that you can create your guide holes in the exact same spot on each earring in your pair.

Blackbird & Violet Creative Supplies are my absolute go-to for my supplies. They're makers themselves so they understand how a maker thinks & what they need. Plus they ship international. Good times!

A rectangular piece of acrylic with a grid design etched into it showing markings every 5mm. A pair of patterned circular polymer clay earrings with stud tops sit on the acrylic grid. Guide hole indents have been made by pushing a needle tool into these raw clay components using the grid for accuracy.
Blackbird & Violet Creative ​​Supplies

FREE Gracie Face Polymer Clay Colour Recipe Trio!

I love to use a heap of vibrant colours in my work & now's your chance to play with 3 of my current favourite Gracie Face colour recipes for FREE!

To get your hands on this adorable pack of 3 polymer clay colour recipes, simply click on the white button below, pop your details in the form & I'll send you the pdf with your new colour recipes!

Don't forget to tag @graciefaceau in your creations! x

Read more

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