How to Make Polymer Clay Shiny

how to make polymer clay shiny

Polymer clay is a popular medium for creative, unique and colorful jewelry pieces, including earrings, rings, beaded necklaces and bracelets. Its versatility, malleability and lightweight nature can be attributed to its popularity among beginner and pro crafters. Polymer clay jewelry and accessories can also last for years and may be reshaped many times without deteriorating.

When baked to completion, polymer clay typically has a matte finish that's water-resistant, smooth and devoid of distracting imperfections. For some people, a shiny finish is desirable and adds an extra layer of protection from dirt and wear. Adding a glassy finish can also help conceal tiny imperfections on the clay surface. 

Below are some practical tips on how to shine polymer clay for a final product you can be proud of.

1. Sanding and Buffing 

You can sand and buff polymer clay to give it a smooth, glass-like shine. Sanding and buffing work great with translucent, pearl and metallic clays, as they help enhance their natural shine and sparkle. Hand-buffing produces a light, desirable shine, while a buffing wheel gives your polymer clay accessories a high-gloss shine.

Wet and dry sandpaper grits are the best to make polymer clay earrings and beads shiny without coating them. Dry sanding with 400- or 600-grit sandpaper helps to remove any large clay chunks and imperfections quickly. It produces quite a bit of dust that you should wipe off using a soft cloth. 

Wet sanding involves sanding your clay pieces with a high-grit 800 or 1,000 wet sandpaper to produce a smooth finish with a subtle shine and warm glow. You can also add dishwashing soap to the water for an easier way to remove the dust from your sanded polymer clay piece. 

Soft polishing cloths, like muslin or white denim, are great for buffing polymer clay project pieces. Rub the polishing cloth fast and vigorously against the object to create friction and heat that produce a polished surface.

2. Applying Glazes or Sealants

Glazing is the most popular way of creating a glossy shine on your polymer clay pieces. In addition to the glassy sheen, glazing helps prevent UV yellowing, hardens the clay further and adds an extra water-proof protective layer. Glazing a sanded and buffed polymer clay piece produces the best results because it gives you a smooth surface with minimal imperfections.

Here are some top glaze and sealant options when working with polymer clay.

Liquid Polymer Clay

Liquid polymer clay is a unique polymer liquid form that creates a variety of finishes, including clear, pearly, metallic and translucent. It's a versatile alternative to resin, typically used to create a glossy coating on polymer clay pieces. Liquid polymer clay also softens stiff polymer clay pieces and hides imperfections such as bumps, tool marks and fingerprints.

There are various options of liquid polymer clay to choose from as you look for how to make your polymer clay earrings shiny. You can use the Liquid Sculpey® Clear  a crystal clear compound that gives a glossy finish when fully baked and produces a glossy finish when you hit it with a heat gun for a few minutes after it's baked.  

To achieve the best results when using liquid polymer clay, take note of the following tips:

  • Stir the mixture thoroughly using a metal or plastic stir stick, and be careful not to add air bubbles when mixing.
  • Apply the liquid clay on your baked polymer clay pieces using a paintbrush. It is self-leveling and will spread .
  • Bake it in the oven fully for about 15 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees. We suggest using an oven thermometer for best results.
  • Hit the baked piece with a heat gun to produce a glassy, high-gloss finish.

Liquid Sculpey clay pendant


Resins are the most commonly used glazes for creating a shiny finish on polymer clay products. It's a liquid-like material that cures to produce a dimensional, glassy finish on polymer clay. There are two types of resin you can use with polymer clay:

  • Epoxy enamel resin: It's a type of resin that comes in two parts — hardener and resin material. Mix the two parts well before applying them to your polymer clay products. Leave it to dry for 12 to 36 hours for a glass-like finish with a subtle dome-like effect. 
  • UV resin: It's more expensive than epoxy resin, but UV resin is often the better option with a shorter drying time and does not require mixing before use. To achieve a shiny effect on your polymer clay earrings or beads, simply pour UV resin over them, spread it and allow 5 to 30 minutes to dry under a UV lamp or direct sunlight. Eliminate air bubbles by hitting your piece with a heat gun before curing it.

When using resin, you must avoid direct contact by wearing protective clothing, like gloves, aprons, masks and respirators. You must also ensure proper ventilation because it may produce toxic fumes. Remember to wash your hands with soap after working with resin, and follow all the safety instructions on the package.

Acrylic, Water-Based Sealants

Acrylic sealers produce a shiny surface on your polymer clay crafts while making them stronger and more moisture-resistant. They're easy to work with but are prone to bubbling when you stir them vigorously. There are several types of water-based acrylic sealants you can use to make your polymer clay beads shiny:

  • Polycrylic: Polycrylic is a fast-drying clear sealant typically used on wood, but it also works well with polymer clay. It gives a crystal-clear finish that doesn't yellow over time or produce the toxic odor common with many polyurethane products.
  • Brush on glazes: These provide a satin or glossy seal on baked clay items when applied in thin layers using a makeup sponge, paintbrush or cotton swab and let to air dry for about 24 hours.
  • Floor finishes: Water-based floor sealants are low-odor alternatives that dry quickly, don't react with clay and produce a glass-like finish on your polymer-clay crafts.

Shop Quality Polymer Clays and Gloss Finishes at Sculpey

At Sculpey, we aim to make working with clay easy. We offer the best-quality polymer clay on the market with a beautiful color palette, strength and flexibility. 

Our clients also love our incredibly clear Liquid Sculpey® for adding a smooth, glossy glaze to their polymer clay jewelry, home decor accessories, figurines and holiday ornamentals. We also sell other types of glazes that cure into a matte finish, enhance the color of painted or unpainted clay and create a good foundation for painting your clay creations.

Our ever-growing blog and how-to pages offer valuable tips to help you unleash your creativity and guide you as you work with polymer clay. Shop our huge selection of polymer clay products online today, or contact us to speak to a representative who'll help you narrow down the best products for your next clay project.

shop our polymer clay products

Back to blog