- Never ever be tempted to bake your clay at a higher temperature than the
manufacturer recommends. Oven bake clays give off toxic fumes when
overheated. You can safely leave the item in the oven for as long as you need to
as long as the heat does not rise, and you can rebake anything which turns out
not to be completely hard after cooling. If using a heat gun to melt embossing
powder, be careful not to overheat. If you can smell something bad you are
- Rolling the clay out on a flexible surface, such as a sheet of paper, allows you
to peel the surface off the clay, rather than vice-versa. This means that you can
support the whole of the clay, and not pull on it, so that the image is not distorted.
Of course you may want a distorted image - do try it!
- You can varnish your finished items with any of the varnishes sold to go with
oven baked clay - I've used the Fimo varnish to good effect on the Sculpey - but if
you plan to use another varnish do try it out first. I spray-varnished an item two
years ago with my favourite spray-on, used for years on wood, paper and
plastic, and the surface is still sticky. Fimo varnish dries in about 15 minutes.
- If your clay is very hard to work (e.g. Fimo), it can often be softened a little by
warming it on a radiator or in your pocket (still wrapped up!) but do be careful
not to start it baking, as once it has hardened, nothing can be done with it. If you
have an old pasta-rolling machine which is not used anymore, running the clay
through it several times once you've gotten it soft enough to do so, will save your
hands. Do not use a machine which will be wanted again for pasta, as
oven-bake clays are not food-safe.
- Speciality scissors with scalloped, zigzag and other pattern blades are very
useful for cutting a shape around an image which is too complex to cut out by
itself. You are left with the image inside a fancy-edged shape - very attractive.
- Practice stamping each image into the clay without ink first. Try different
pressures and clay thicknesses. Each stamp is slightly different in how it will
give the best impression, and you can keep trying as long as you don't use
ink. Once you ink the stamp, the first impression is the one you will have to
accept or waste the clay, as the ink won't come off properly even if it is
water-based. You can knead the clay until the ink is totally distributed, but that
tends to cause bubbles and cracks in the surface of the clay when baking.
- Another good use for stamped items of oven bake clay is refrigerator
magnets - just add a small magnet to the back instead of a brooch pin.
- Where the clay is sold, you will often find fancy brooch and earring mounts with
space for the clay to fit. Use these by putting in the clay and then stamping,
perhaps using small shapes such as stars or hearts all over, with some
overlapping the edge.
- You can mix a little embossing powder into your clay, to add sparkle or glitter,
but don't overdo it or the clay will bubble.
- To make a candle holder (votive) you can cover a glass with clay, then
stamp into it - the image will be thinner than the main areas of clay, so the
candle-light glows through the lines.
Text and Pictures © 1998 by Elise Mann
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