My second attempt at using polymer clay was the above Christmas ornament.  (My first attempt was a head I made out of Sculpey in art school.)  My first craft show had been in September 2015, I had another one coming up in November and I wanted something cheaper to sell.

So I bought a how-to book, some white Kato, a pasta machine and a cheap toaster oven to put in the garage.  I thought, “I’ll just whip these out. How hard could it be?”  So naive I was.

I transferred one of one of my illustrations, cut out the clay, put it directly onto a metal baking sheet and into the oven.  No aluminum foil tenting. I didn’t think I needed to buy a thermometer to test the oven temperature.

My ornament was a warped, blistered, cracked, ugly mess.  The back of it was maybe worse. (See photo below.)  Plus, it was about 5″ wide.  I don’t know why I made it so big.


I decided my cheap toaster oven probably had spikes in temperature.  I read the reviews on Amazon and bought a Breville oven and an oven thermometer.  I like both.  The oven has quartz healing elements and it gradually warms up (no spikes in temperature).  It also has a large baking space. I can set the time and temperature I want and it remembers. Unless I’m baking a lot, I put clay in a cold oven and wait until it’s cool to remove it.

Oven set on bricks in the garage to keep the smell of baking polymer clay out of the house. Note the oven thermometer and aluminum foil for tenting.  I also keep card stock, ceramic tiles and a tin can full of rocks to layer on top of warped clay to flatten it while it’s still hot. This workspace is where I use glue that needs good ventilation, too.

The only thing I don’t like about this oven is that the dial has only 10˚ increments for lower temperatures.

Below is my Christmas ornament attempt #2. This one isn’t as big and I remembered to cut the hole for the string before baking. I was happier with this, even though it still bubbled and warped slightly. I tried to flatten it after it was cool and it cracked.



What I learned from this:

  1. Don’t make ornaments so huge.
  2. Cut holes before baking.
  3. Use an oven thermometer.
  4. Buy the best oven you can afford.
  5. Bake on paper or card stock, not metal.
  6. Tent with aluminum foil to prevent clay from yellowing.
  7. Don’t try to flatten cold baked clay because it may break.
  8. Flatten clay when it’s hot from the oven by first covering it with a piece of card stock, then a ceramic tile and then something heavy.