finishing polymer clay - techniques and resources

Finishing polymer clay
Finishing polymer clay

Finishing polymer clay correctly can make or break your piece. In these articles and tutorials, find out how to get the best professional finish all the way from baking to sealing.

Finishing polymer clay basically involves six steps:

The articles and tutorials on this page will address all of these issues. You will find answers to the most frequently asked questions around finishing polymer clay. I have also included lists of the materials and supplies I recommend for the best results.


baking polymer clay

How to bake polymer clay

how to bake polymer clay

How to bake polymer clay

How to bake polymer clay is one of the first basic things you will need to know when you begin your polymer clay journey.

In this article I’ll be covering this question from start to finish, showing you how to get the best results out of your baking.


Baking polymer clay with cornstarch or baking soda

baking polymer clay in cornstarch or baking soda

Baking polymer clay with cornstarch or baking soda

Baking polymer clay in cornstarch or baking soda has long been recommended. These products protect the shape of your bead and prevent flat spots, stop your beads from rolling around, and, most importantly, help prevent burning.

In this article I’ll talk about the ins and outs of using cornstarch and baking soda and things to look out for. I’ll also show you a few alternatives that achieve the same results without as many hassles.


Baking polymer clay Q&A

baking polymer clay - questions and answers

Baking polymer clay Q&A

Baking polymer clay is without doubt the single topic that generates the most questions across polymer clay communities and forums around the globe. It just isn't that simple. In fact it's downright finicky. And annoying.

In this question and answer article I hope to put most of your questions about baking polymer clay to rest.


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Finishing your edges

Finishing the edges of polymer clay pendants

The jessama smear

Finishing the edges of polymer clay pendants

Finishing polymer clay edges neatly and professionally, can take your work to a whole new level, and it's so easy to do.

Using the Jessama Smear Technique, you can finish off and sand your edges to hide any irregularities or seams that might still be there after baking.


Finishing the edges of polymer clay pieces using liquid clay

The Sammy Smudge

Finishing the edges of polymer clay pieces using liquid clay

The Sammy Smudge finishing technique is another way of finishing polymer clay edges so that they look neat and tidy.

This technique uses liquid clay and gives the edges a more glossy appearance than the Jessama Smear. It's a bit less tricky, and doesn't need to be sanded afterwards so it's worth giving it a try.


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Sanding and Buffing polymer clay

Sanding and Buffing polymer clay

finishing polymer clay the right way - sanding and buffing

Sanding and Buffing polymer clay

So you’ve baked your bead and managed to avoid all the twists and turns involved. Who knew finishing polymer clay could be so taxing? The next step is to sand and buff your bead. 

In this article I’ll give you a run down on sanding and buffing, including the most popular sanding materials and what they're best used for, as well as how to get a good shine from your buffing.


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all about sealing polymer clay

Sealing polymer clay

Overview of polymer clay sealers

Sealing polymer clay

Varnishing and sealing polymer clay has to be the most discussed problem in the polymer clay community next to baking. Which one should I use? Which one does what? Where can I buy them? How do I know if my surface effect is going to work with the sealer I’ve chosen? It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out.

In this article, I'll be going through each of the different types of polymer clay sealers and what they are best used for.


sealing polymer clay with resin

Recommended polymer clay resins

which polymer clay resin should i use?

Recommended polymer clay resins

Polymer clay resins are a safe way to finish your polymer clay, as many of them are formulated to be used with mixed media like alcohol ink and gilders paste. This reduces the likelihood of them reacting with your polymer clay or something you applied to the surface, the way many varnishes and sealers do.

In this article I'll discuss my favorite polymer clay resins and I'll compare the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Polymer clay resins Q&A

how to seal polymer clay with resin - questions and answers

Polymer clay resins Q&A

Resin can be a bit tricky to use, but once you get over the quirks of your particular polymer clay resin, it is a really wonderful way of finishing polymer clay jewelry. With a bit of patience you can achieve the most wonderful professional finishes.

In this article I'll address the most common questions around how to seal polymer clay with resin, some of the problems people have, and how to fix them.


sealing polymer clay with varnish

Recommended Polymer clay varnishes

which polymer clay varnish should i use?

Recommended Polymer clay varnishes

There are plenty of varnishes available through hardware stores the world over, but you have to be very careful which one you use. Many varnishes react with polymer clay and mixed media.

You will find that I have recommended a fairly limited range of polymer clay varnishes, but these are the ones that have been tried and tested. Because it can be so unpredictable it really pays to stick to the varnishes recommended by experienced polymer clayers.


Polymer clay varnishes Q&A

how to seal polymer clay With varnish - questions and answers

Polymer clay varnishes Q&A

As mentioned above, many varnishes react with polymer clay and mixed media. They also hate moisture and dust. Unfortunately, this can cause quite a few problems when you are finishing your polymer clay.

In this article, I'll show you how to seal polymer clay with varnish without all the hassles. I'll address some of the most common varnishing problems polymer clayers run into, the likely causes and what you can do about them.


sealing polymer clay with wax

Recommended Polymer clay waxes

Which Polymer Clay Wax Should I Use?

Recommended Polymer clay waxes

Polymer clay wax is another great way of finishing polymer clay. It's inexpensive and easy to use. If you wish to keep the texture of your bead, this is the best way to seal it. It's a great way to preserve the special matte texture of Souffle clay. The wax will also enrich and deepen your colors and give your work a beautiful sheen.

In this article I'll discuss my favorite polymer clay waxes and I'll compare the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Polymer clay waxes Q&A

How to Seal Polymer Clay With Wax - Questions and Answers

Polymer clay waxes Q&A

Polymer clay wax doesn't really require too much practice to get the application just right. However, there are a few things that are useful to know.

In this article I'll address the most common questions around how to seal polymer clay with wax, some of the problems people have, and how to fix them.


sealing polymer clay with liquid clay

Recommended Liquid Polymer clays

Which Liquid Polymer Clay Sealer Should I Use?

Recommended Liquid Polymer clays

Liquid clays are a great way to seal the surface effects on your polymer clay. Since they’re basically polymer clay in liquid form, you don’t have to worry about chemical reactions with any mixed media you have used. They don't produce the best finish though, so you will probably want to add a layer of varnish or wax after sealing.

In this article I'll discuss the different translucent liquid clays on the market and compare them to one another.


Liquid Polymer clays Q&A

How to Seal Polymer Clay With Liquid Clay - Questions and Answers

Liquid Polymer clays Q&A

Unfortunately figuring out how to seal and finish polymer clay with liquid clay can be a bit fiddly. It can burn, under-bake, go cloudy, bubble and more.

In this article I'll be discussing some of the problems that crop up when sealing with liquid clay and what to do about them.


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all about Drilling polymer clay

Drilling holes in polymer clay

Drilling polymer clay beads: Video

Drilling holes in polymer clay

In this tutorial I'll be comparing how to make holes in your polymer clay beads using  a push drill when your clay is baked and a piercing pin when your clay is raw.

Many polymer clay beginners are intimidated by the thought of using a drill, I know I was. But I hope to show you how easy it is to use the manual drill and the far superior results it delivers. Drilling polymer clay is a huge step towards finishing polymer clay professionally.


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Do you have a question around finishing polymer clay that I haven't addressed? Let me know in the comments, and I'll be glad to add it in.

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