A question we often receive is if you can use acrylic paint on polymer clay. The short answer is yes. You can apply acrylic paints to polymer clay and after baking. In fact, acrylic paints are the most popular choice for painting clay that’s already been cured in the oven.
Do You Paint on Polymer Clay Before or After Baking?
Your choice of using acrylic paints on your clay will depend on your project and desired effect. There are several ways to use acrylic paints with polymer clay, including:
Paint polymer clay after baking: This is an excellent way to put the finishing touches on various clay creations, and works exceptionally well if using Super Sculpey® or another single-color clay.
- Antique sections of cured polymer clay: For a transparent effect, thin the paint with water. You can also brush on the color and wipe away the excess.
- Use as a highlight: Use acrylic paints to highlight the texture of a polymer clay bead. To do this, dip a towel into a bit of acrylic paint and swipe it across the elevated surfaces of a polymer clay bead.
- Get creative with accents and dots: Add decorative accents on your polymer clay creations by using dots, swirls or filigree. Using a dotting tool, ball stylus or a paint pen works best for this technique — and you don’t have to cover the accented results with varnish.
- Create artistic surface effects: Many decorative processes require paint on polymer clay creations, including silkscreen printing, crackle effects, sponge painting through a stencil, acrylic paint pours and more.
Tips for Using Acrylic Paint on Polymer Clay
If you choose to use polymer paint on your clay project after baking, sometimes the oil on the fresh-baked clay can repel the water in the paint. To remedy this, you can always start over by scrubbing the clay gently with an old brush and some rubbing alcohol.
Although decent quality craft acrylic paints work just fine, look for artists’ acrylic paints when you want to paint directly on polymer clay as these paints are high-quality and will help you achieve your desired effect. Plus, you only need to heat certain heat-set brands such as “Genesis.”
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While we’re talking about paint, we want to add that there are a variety of products you can safely use on polymer clay, including metals, chalks, chalk pastels, mica powders, inks, stamps and stencils.