Creating polymer clay sculptures is a great way to engage your child's imagination — and yours, too! The clay starts out soft and moldable, but once you bake it, the polymers fuse and harden. Magic!
If you've never worked with polymer clay before, you might have some questions about the process of baking it. That's why we created this "how to bake polymer clay" guide. Keep reading to learn more about how to — and how not to — bake your clay creations.
How to Bake Polymer Clay
As with all baking adventures, you will need to use an oven. Luckily, it's incredibly easy to bake your works of art in your home oven appliances — no need to go out and buy a special kiln!
There are different options when it comes to baking your polymer clay. From your toaster oven to the same everyday oven you use to bake muffins, you'll find the right oven match for your creative needs.
Can You Bake Polymer Clay in a Toaster Oven?
Why, yes — you can! Toaster ovens are an excellent choice for baking polymer clay:
- Pros: You most likely already have one, and they are easy to control and monitor. Toaster ovens are also very similar to official clay-bake ovens. So, if you have a toaster oven close by, that's your best bet.
- Cons: Small ovens can overheat, so using an oven thermometer is a must — especially with toaster ovens, which are known for random temperature spikes. Be sure to check on your clay creation every few minutes to ensure it's not burning.
Can You Oven-Bake Polymer Clay?
Yes! You can bake your polymer clay in your home oven. Here are the pros and cons of baking polymer clay in your everyday oven:
- Pros: Your polymer clay is perfectly safe to bake in the same oven you cook your food — just be sure to clean your oven periodically and use good ventilation. As long as you don't burn your clay, it won't give off toxic chemicals during its curing. And since you already have your oven at home, it won't cost you anything extra!
- Cons: If you do burn the clay, some noxious fumes may linger in your kitchen for some time before clearing from the air. These fumes aren't acutely toxic, but they may irritate the eyes, mouth and nose. It's also possible that individual family members would prefer clay and food to be kept separate in the baking process. Whether you're by yourself or with your family, these are important factors to consider for the well-being of everyone.
No matter what oven you choose to use, it's crucial to stick to the specific baking temperatures specified on your clay's package.
Do NOT Bake in a Microwave
Why? The short answer is that it won't work and it's not safe. Microwaves usually have hot spots, so setting an exact temperature is difficult. If you place your clay creation in one of these hot spots, it could break down quickly and emit fumes.
Your health and safety — and the success of your polymer clay masterpiece — matter to us. Here is a more detailed breakdown to help you understand the risks of using a microwave to bake your polymer clay:
- Microwaves do not heat items evenly: This results in some parts of the clay hardening and others remaining soft. Since microwaves heat the inside and outside of the clay at the same time, inconsistencies in heating and temperature lead to clay complications.
- Polymers melt in the microwave: When polymer clay overheats, it begins to bubble, ooze and melt.
- Burning polymer creates harmful gases: When melted polymer interacts with the air, it begins to burn, blackening and producing smoke. Burning polymer clay means one thing — harmful chemicals. Dangerous hydrogen chloride gas will enter your kitchen and your lungs. No one should breathe air like that!
- You risk burning yourself: Polymer clay gets too hot in the microwave. When it becomes oozy, you run the risk of burning yourself as you start the cleanup process. This is another main reason we recommend staying away from microwave-baking your clay altogether.
- Microwaves ruin clay: Once you put your clay creation in the microwave, all will be lost, and you'll have to start again from scratch. A gooey inside leads to a weak and crumbly outside — and that's no good for your finished product.
The bottom line is this — no baking polymer clay in microwaves! Also, always remember to read the baking instructions on the clay packaging.
Start Baking Your Polymer Clay Today!
Anyone can be a clayer for life! It doesn't matter how old or young you are. At Sculpey®, our motto is, "We supply the tools, you supply the creativity!"
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We're always here to help you in any way we can. In the meantime, happy baking!