From Kathy Mancuso
Tip: "I am just starting working with clay. It can quickly get expensive. I am trying to get as many items as I think I will need, but the Silpat Silicone baking mat is about $25. I read up on this and you can actually substitute parchment paper on a cookie sheet in place of the mat. Just make sure that if you use a cookie sheet for your clay, do not use it for food."
From Barbara Hanson
Tip: "When baking polymer clay it is best to cook on parchment paper (from grocery store). This keeps contact spot clean and prevents problems if over cooked. Remember to let your polymer clay cool outside. You never want to smell it."
From Judie Yamamoto
Tip: "Something to remember: Fahrenheit 451 (as in the Ray Bradbury story and movie) is the temperature at which paper burns. So we can use paper and paper products for not only baking surfaces, but as armature for our polymer clay items."
Tip: "I have been using a silicone baking sheet (Brand name is Sil-pat) No Shiny spots, easy to transport small stuff to to oven. Cools very quickly so I don't need to worry about pot holders or oven mitts."
From Sunni Bergeron
Tip: "GET AN OVEN THERMOMETER!!! Whether you're using your home kitchen conventional oven, convection oven or toaster oven, you must know your oven's moods. They do not go to the setting on the dial and hold that temperature. They fluctuate up and down giving you an average of that temperature and some ovens are off by 50f degrees! Place the thermometer in your oven where you plan to put your clay and turn your oven on to the temperature recommended on the packaging of your clay. Once your preheat light goes out, sit down in front of your oven and watch it. *Yawn* make a note how high your oven spikes and how low it drops. You do not want it to spike over 300f degrees or below 210f degrees. Adjust your dial accordingly until you get a good average then mark your dial for that spot. If you bake too high, your clay will scorch and give off toxic fumes. If you bake too low, your clay will not accomplish the necessary chemical reaction for a complete cure and will fall apart about 9-18 months down the road. I also cheat with my conventional and toaster ovens. I have red bricks in the bottom of both (chunks in the toaster oven) plus I have a terra cotta slab on the lower rack of my conventional oven. In the toaster oven, I have a dedicated ceramic tile on the rack. These absorb and reflect the heat from the oven reducing the fluctuations, stretching out the time between the spike and the drop. I've found it so effective I leave them in the conventional oven for regular baking. It has reduced our electric bill a tad because the oven isn't kicking on as much! you can use red brick, terra cotta pots or pot shards, cement stepping stones or rocks. I find the red brick and terra cotta to be the most effective, but all the others do just fine!"
From Denise Dowling
Tip: "When I bake a flat piece of clay, I expect it to be flat after it cools. Well, that may or may not be the case. Now, after I remove the cookie sheet from the oven, I place a piece of white paper over the clay, and a nice fat book. With that little trick, I always have great flat pieces."
Tip: "Buy an Oven Thermometer (Usually sold in the household items at Wal-Mart and other similar stores). Place it in the oven alone, make sure you can read it when you open the door. Heat the oven up to the temp your clay calls for. Check the thermometer and adjust the dial if needed. Let it heat another 15 minutes and check again, until the thermometer reads the right temp for your clay. No more burning your work! :)"
Tip: "For no shiny spots on your projects while baking:
I bake on Parchment Paper (not freezer paper, as it's usually waxed slightly on one side.) Parchment paper comes in rolls, like aluminum foil comes. "Reynolds" is one of the brands I found recently. Lay a section of the parchment paper on your ceramic tile for flat items. Fold the paper accordian/fan style for things like beads, pens and other items that scoot around if the tile is bumped.
Another tip for no shinies:
Fill a pan (I use a disposable aluminum roast pan) with poly fil. It's that white fluffy stuff sold in crafts for making stuffed toys. Don't put too much, just enough to keep your items from touching the pan. It does not melt or burn at the 275 degrees for Premo. Not even after an hour or more in the oven.
One more tip for no shine:
If you don't have either of the items above, you can also use plain, non-waxed lunch sacks. Cut or rip them open along the side. Spread it flat over your ceramic tile and bake on it. It also will not catch fire or burn at the 275 for Premo.
Be very careful that none of your papers or poly fil touch any of the oven coils or the sides of the oven."
From Ginger Caudill
Tip: "When I bake my PC-covered pens, I put the shaft of each pen on an aluminum baked potato skewer thingey (the kind that holds four potatoes). This prevents any shine on any surface of the clay and allows for ease in transporting the pens, as well."
From Jeanna Carroll
Tip: "To avoid the shine on items you can bake small items on an index card or even a paper plate. I've done this without a cookie sheet at all. To get a great shine on both sides of a flat object, bake it sandwiched between the smooth sides of two tiles. Wait until it's cool to remove the tiles. Bake beads on a bamboo skewer with its ends resting on the sides of the baking dish. After baking translucents, remove from hot oven and plunge into ice water for best results.When baking glass, remember that it expands, so use a prep glue, like sobo, to help minimize cracks during baking. When baking larger items with extended extremities or long unsupported areas, always support them with something. PC gets softer before it gets hard and those precious parts may fall right off! Always bake at the highest temp for the maximum time to avoid a weak piece. If project requires multiple trips to the oven, bake it for shorter increments each time to avoid scorching.
From Darlene Kulczycki
Tip: "When I bake my items, beads, pendants, etc., I make sure my aluminum cookie sheet is covered with a layer of foil, and one sheet of paper toweling. Since it is baked on such a low temperature 265 degrees, it only needs to be replaced after a few times in the oven. This arrangement eliminates the shine you get on one side of a bead or item, and the paper towel may help absorb some of the odor from the polymer clay."
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