How to Bake Polymer Clay
One of the great things about polymer clay is that it is so easy to make at home. When it comes to how to bake polymer clay, there are not that many steps. However, there are a few crucial pieces of information you must first know.
If you've ever wondered how to bake polymer clay, you probably just checked the instructions on your clay. The instructions usually tell you to set your oven for a specific temperature and then to bake it for a specific amount of time.
However, the instructions do not tell you that your oven is lying! The instructions also don't provide any good pointers, tips, or tricks to make sure that your polymer clay pieces come out the exact way you want them to.
Tip #1 Use an oven thermometer
We are sorry to inform you, but your oven is lying to you. It never really maintains a consistent temperature and certain spots get hotter than others. Even though your oven tells you it has reached a certain temperature, it probably is not even close.
The most important tip on how to bake polymer clay is to use an oven thermometer to know exactly how hot (or cold) your oven really is. Polymer clay needs very specific temperatures to make the required chemical reactions which solidify your clay. If those temperatures are not reached, the reactions do not occur, and your clay is not baked.
An oven thermometer, even a really cheap one, will help you better understand the true temperature of your oven. For example, our oven displayed 265 degrees Fahrenheit, but the actual temperature was only 200 degrees. We know that we need to set our oven to 286 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes to be the correct temperature. Make sure to put your thermometer in the same spot that you'll be baking your clay so you know the temperature in the correct spot.
Tip #2 Make a tent
Your oven heats up, then it cools down. Then it heats up, then it cools down. Your oven repeats this process over and over again. Sometimes it gets hotter than you want it to, and sometimes you have to put your clay closer to the heat source than you'd like.
Turns out, there is an easy solution to help maintain a consistent baking temperature and to protect your clay from direct heat sources. If you want to properly know how to bake polymer clay, then you need to know how to make a tent for it. Just put a little tent over it. You can use foil paper or other foil baking sheets. Just make sure the top of your tent is about an inch or two above your clay, and your clay will be protected. No more burn spots!
Tip #3 bake on top of paper for flat pieces
When people bake pieces of polymer clay, the part of the clay that touched the baking surface often comes out "shiny." If you know how to bake polymer clay, then you probably know that you need to protect the bottom of your clay too.
This tip is another super simple tip, because all you need is to put your clay on top of a piece of paper. This will help your clay maintain its matte finish on the bottom because it no longer is impacted by the smooth surface of a baking tile, sheet, or glass.
Tip #4 support your clay
This how to bake polymer clay tip is crucial to prevent pieces from breaking off or changing shape while baking. When your clay is super hot, it becomes a bit more structurally weak. Super thin and delicate pieces have a tendency to droop in the oven. When clay droops, it can pretty easily break off too or change shape while baking.
You can use all sorts of mediums to create support for your polymer clay pieces. We prefer to use strategically placed pieces of foil to help support our polymer clay while we're baking it. Add in foil for support wherever you are worried about the thinness of your clay or wherever you think there might be a problem.
Tip #5 use baking soda or cornstarch
Our final tip will be a massive help for baking small and detailed pieces of polymer clay. If you've ever had an irregularly shaped piece of clay roll around and get damaged during baking, then this step will save your art! Or, if you don't want your clay sticking to your baking surface this step will help you too.
Our final must-know tip is to bake your creations on top of a layer of baking soda or cornstarch. Depending on the shape that you are trying to cook, you can also bake your pieces on top of or in a bed of the powder. Either way, your clay will be protected, it's shape will be protected, and it won't stick or deform to a flat surface.
Check out our video for our guided walk through: