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.
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:
- Don’t make ornaments so huge.
- Cut holes before baking.
- Use an oven thermometer.
- Buy the best oven you can afford.
- Bake on paper or card stock, not metal.
- Tent with aluminum foil to prevent clay from yellowing.
- Don’t try to flatten cold baked clay because it may break.
- 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.