Can You Paint Over Polymer Clay? 

Image of Polymer clay. But Can You Paint Over Polymer Clay? Polymer clay is an art medium illustriously known for its unwavering versatility, simplicity, and flexibility to work with. Most artists favor this medium, considering it remains soft, retains its color, and you can bake it in a regular home oven. Even better, you can use polymer clay to cover items that won’t burn like frames, wood, mirrors, and pens. Besides, there exist other ideas and projects to choose from when working with this medium. But can you paint over polymer clay?

Yes, you can paint over polymer clay to add color and details to your project. However, the paint you choose determines the outcomes. It’s wise to opt for quality paints with strong opacity. Such paints offer good coverage and pigmentation to your project. Also, you may want to consider heavy-duty paints to assist your creations last a lifetime. 

Let’s now weigh up on more details encircling paint and polymer clay. 

How Do You Paint on Top of Polymer Clay? 

Polymer clay is easy to manipulate as it only needs a typical home oven to bake your desired creations. This artificial clay integrates resin pigments, possible colorants, polymers, and fillers. But how about painting this medium?

It’s wise to paint polymer clay using quality paints. A good example is acrylic golden high viscosity paint. This paint option brags a smooth, even texture and even coverage. It is also rich in pigments, applies easily, and dries fast. 

Let’s now delve into the steps involved in painting on top of your polymer clay. 

Step 1 

First, ensure you mold your preferred piece from the polymer clay. After that, set your oven to heat to a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. You can confer with the baking time recommendations on the polymer clay packaging to ensure you don’t go out of the ordinary. The recommendations vary depending on the clay’s brand. After programming your oven, you can bake your clay. 

Once the baking time is due, remove the clay from the oven and cool before using it. You do this because the paint won’t stick to the hot clay. After the clay cools, use your desired paintbrush to coat the clay with one or two thin applications of glaze. Allow the glaze to cure for at least one hour per application. Then wait for an additional three hours following this to allow the sealant to dry to the touch before painting. 

Next, use medium-grit sandpaper to sand the clay. Doing this roughens up the surface slightly to promote better paint adherence. But ensure you sand the clay sparingly to avoid sanding away the coat of glaze.

After sanding, use a wet cloth and wipe down the sanding particles produced in the process. Ensure you don’t overlook even the tiniest particles as it’s likely to interfere with paint adherence. 

After the surface dries, mix your acrylic paint to combine its molecules, then use a quality synthetic brush to administer a thin coat on your clay. The essence of doing thin coats is to ensure you don’t leave any brush marks.

Also, ensure you don’t introduce any impact on the clay before the drying time is due. Just as glaze eats up two hours of drying time between coats, the same holds true for polymer clay. 

How Do You Seal Paint on Polymer Clay? 

It’s unlikely that your painted polymer clay will withstand the test of time with the many deteriorating elements in place. For this reason, you will want to seal your polymer clay creations to protect them against damaging elements. After sealing your painted polymer clay, it becomes a durable material that’s shock-resistant, waterproof, and fairly tough. 

There are many ways to seal your polymer clay and leave it with a subtle sheen. Find out more in this guide. 

  • Sealing polymer clay with wax 

The most rewarding way of sealing your polymer clay is by employing high-quality renaissance wax. Using this product is relatively easy: allow your polymer clay to dry enough, then brush the wax onto the clay creations. Doing this deepens the polymer’s colors, leaving them to appear more saturated. After that, bypass the sanding and buffing stage. Instead, add a second coat of wax if necessary, then let the surface dry according to the product’s recommendations. 

  • Sealing polymer clay with a matte varnish.

Using Matte varnish graces your polymer clay creations with a natural-looking finish. It applies softly, making your project retain its original look.

First, shake the can well to balance the particles that might have settled at the bottom before using this product. Then, take a soft paintbrush, start applying multiple even coats, and permit sufficient dry times between coats. Also, avoid overlapping the coats to prevent highlighting the surface deformities after application.

  • Sealing polymer clay with resin

A resin sealant gives your polymer clay a glass-like finish, and it also allows you to add inventive touches to your project. The only downside of this option is it consumes plenty of time to cure.

Applying this sealer is similar to the aforementioned methods, but you need to be careful of the drying times. I say this because the user’s guide doesn’t stress enough the drying duration. So it’s upon you to watch out and proceed with multiple coats if necessary. 

What Can You Use to Color Polymer Clay? 

There are many ways to color polymer clay and avoid the nasty bubbles that emerge when baking your polymer clay. The most suitable formula to opt for is an alcohol-based color, fabric dyes, or coloring pigments. If you opt for water-based colors, you will want to place your clay in an open space for about 24 hours. This way, the water in the clay will have ample time to evaporate before baking. 

Note: if too much water is left in the polymer clay, it will introduce bubbles on the surface after baking it. Also, the clay may appear too brittle. So make sure all water comes off your polymer clay. That said, the most preferred means of adding color to your polymer clay is using color in powder form or alcohol-based colors.  

  • Using Alcohol-Based Colors to Color the Clay

Even though alcohol-based colors are quite expensive, they are easy to come by. The steps below should educate you on how to color polymer clay with alcohol-based color.

First, you will need enough alcohol ink. You can make your alcohol ink by mixing fabric dye with a high percent of rubbing alcohol. Or, you can purchase premixed ink from a crafts store. 

Once you acquire the alcohol ink, use around 5 to 6 drops on your polymer clay. Then knead the surface until the color spreads evenly throughout the polymer clay. After that, pull back and examine the outcome. If the clay isn’t colored intensely enough for your demands, add a few drops of alcohol ink and repeat kneading the clay. 

Be persistent in the process until the clay attains your desired color. After that, allow the alcohol to evaporate before baking your clay. You do this because the alcohol entrapped within the polymer clay might cause issues while baking. 

Note; as the clay air dries, don’t cover it to effortlessly allow the alcohol to come off. You may also want to knead the clay intermittently as it dries to allow the alcohol in its escape. 

Method 2

  • Using Acrylic or Water-based colors

Another way of adding color to your polymer clay is by adding a few drops of pure water-based color. You can achieve this by adding the water-based color to your polymer clay and stroke it to attain an even coverage.

Avoid adding too much of this formula to your clay, considering the more water gets captured within the clay, the harder it becomes to prevent it. 

If you’re pleased with the color, place the clay outside to air dry, so the water comes off. Water takes longer to come off the clay than alcohol. So it’s wise to allow your clay to dry for at least two to three days. 

One way to help you determine if there is still some water in the clay is by placing your arms on the surface. If the clay feels colder than its encircling perimeters, the water is still present. That’s because as water evaporates, it cools down the clay’s surface. 

Can You Color Polymer Clay With Food Coloring? 

It’s possible to color your polymer clay with food coloring, but you will want to factor in the type of polymer clay you use. Most food colors encompass water, sugar, and other impurities that can mess with the hardening process of polymer clay while baking. So it’s best to employ other safer methods such as using colored pigments etc. 

Can You Color Polymer Clay with Mica Powder?

Mica powder sticks readily to polymer clay to add more details and metallic color to it. However, you need to mix it with your preferred clear coat for the best results. To apply it, use a soft sponge or a wet paintbrush for a more precise application. 

Can I Use Mod Podge on Polymer Clay?

Mod podge is arguably the cheapest way to seal your polymer clay. It dries clear to form a protective topcoat. However, it comes with a few mishaps, such as leaving brush strokes after application. It also stays sticky in high humid applications. Using this medium requires utmost care because it yellows with time, especially if it regularly exposes harsh UV rays.

Can You Seal Polymer Clay with Clear Nail Polish? 

Most crafters use clear nail polish to accent polymer clay creations. However, this practice is not advisable. If you use this formula, the solvent will start to soften and break up your polymer clay. If this happens, your polymer clay will become sticky and deteriorate with time. 

How Do You Get Rid of Air Bubbles In Polymer Clay After Baking? 

Bubbles in polymer clay occur during the conditioning process as the air gets trapped within. This is a common failure that almost goes without saying, but I have the perfect solution for this issue once it occurs. Check out these quick tips. 

  • During The conditioning and mixing process, it’s likely that bubbles will occur. If you spot any bubbles, flatten them up with a sharp tool, then smooth the surface with a finger. 
  • Also, it’s worth using acetone that is 100% pure. This formula solves four issues: mattifying the clay, removing dust particles and visible fingerprints, sanding, and flattening the bubbles. Before using it, ensure you test it on a piece of clay. I say this because sometimes it leaves white marks on your clay. To remove the bubbles, scrub it gently on your surface with a clean cotton bud while alternating the directions you’re kneading in. Avoid scrubbing in the same direction as the acetone will dissolve the clay, leaving a groove. 

If the method above fails to work as expected, try wedging. This method is used to rub the clay to make it more homogenous. It’s also useful in breaking down bubbles in homemade clay considering commercial clay comes already compressed, meaning it lacks bubbles. This method requires an even surface like a wooden board.

Cut a small piece of clay, place it on the wooden board, then press it firmly using your heels in a circular movement. After that, cut your clay halfway to check for bubbles. If any, redo the wedging process.

Given that manually wedging the clay is overly tiresome, you can decide to opt for automatic wedging. This option is identical to manual wedging, but it compresses a large amount of clay at once. With this option, you will need a pug mill to mix the clay and push it out while it’s bubble-free. 

How Do You Know When Your Polymer Clay is Done Baking?

Baking your polymer clay helps to harden it for you to craft different items with it. You can use your home oven for baking the polymer clay, but you ought to factor in three things while baking.

  • Temperature, Time, and Baking Surfaces.

You need to balance these three aspects for your polymer clay to come out perfect and free from scorching, burning, and brittleness. You can achieve that by setting the oven from 230 degrees F to 275 degrees F. Also, remember to set the baking time to 15-30 minutes. 

Suppose you overcook your polymer clay; the best way to fix it is by sanding it off. You can also conceal the brown spot by adding another layer then rebake. 

But how will you tell if your polymer clay is done baking? 

You can tell if your clay is done baking by pressing a fingernail into it. If it sinks in easily, it is not done baking. But if the fingernails have a rough time paving through the clay, it’s done baking. 

Can Polymer Clay Harden Without Baking?

If you discover that utilizing an oven to harden your clay isn’t an ideal choice for you, there are many other options to settle for. For instance, consider purchasing an air-dry clay. However, the results you get with this option are not as perfect as they would be in the oven. 

After molding your clay, place it on a warm shelf with even temp. Your air-dry clay should take at least 24 hours to dry fully. After that, you can coat it with acrylic paint or craft paints. 

Can You Bake Painted Polymer Clay?

Yes, you can bake painted polymer clay. But doing so may bring about problems, especially if the water in the paint fails to evaporate completely. With that in mind, the secure way to paint your polymer clay is after baking it when it has completely hardened and cooled down.

How Do You Get Paint To Stick to Polymer Clay?

Painting polymer clay is a great way of adding color and details to your creations. But some clay and paint varieties fail to adhere well after curing the clay. So if you notice that your project’s surface is relatively smooth after baking, consider sanding the surface to improve adhesion. 

Ideally, it’s best to use 400 grit sandpaper as it will roughen up the texture to offer the new paint something to grip onto. Be sure to work with light strokes, so you don’t manipulate any details you put into your clay. 

After sanding, clean up any lingering particles before breaking out the paint. The essence of doing this is to avoid creating unwanted texture as the dust blends with your paint.

Tip

If you have tricky details, focus on testing various parts and types of clay to discover the perfect combination rather than sanding. 

Why Is My Polymer Clay Cracking After Baking?

Many artists use polymer clay to craft beautiful designs to sell. But what if your piece of polymer clay breaks? Can you fix it? 

Ideally, polymer clay breaks because it has not cured completely. That’s because you programmed your oven temperature too low, or the clay didn’t cure long enough. So if that occurs, don’t worry, as I have the right solutions to the problem. 

First, don’t add new clay to your broken pieces and rebake them. Even adding new clay won’t embrace each other as expected, causing burning or browning. Also, the new clay might promote serious problems as the cracks might expand while baking.

So as an alternative to adding new clay, create clay dust to fill in the tiny hairlines. Making the clay dust is relatively simple: shave fine pieces of clay that resemble the color block you established from your design.

After that, add glue to your clay dust and blend it well to create a paste of your liking. You then take a soft paintbrush and apply the paste to your cracked spots.

The other option is to use plumbers putty on the cracks, then sand down ahead of painting. Use high-quality sandpaper over the cracks to flatten any jagged Edges formed by the putty. Ensure you wait for the putty to harden for about 10 to 30 minutes naturally (no need to bake) before sanding.

Tip

As you do your touch-ups, use acrylic paint pens to get precise outcomes. 

How to Avoid Cracking in Your Polymer Clay

Keeping your polymer clay from surface failures such as cracking isn’t that complicated. You can employ a few straightforward techniques and bypass this nuisance part of your baking. Find out more details in this guide. 

  • Condition your clay completely

Unconditioned clay will possibly crack once inserted in the oven at high temperatures. That occurs because the clay won’t have gained sufficient temperature to tolerate the oven’s condition. 

Ideally, conditioning integrates kneading and warming the polymer clay to keep it ready for baking. Alternatively, you can do the conditioning process manually using a clay conditioning machine. But the curing time will depend on the clay’s brand and viscosity. 

  • Watch out for air bubbles.

Once you’re through conditioning the clay, you should assess it for trapped air bubbles that can introduce cracks to your clay. Usually, the air bubbles form in the conditioning stage, so it’s upon you to take the necessary steps to dissuade them from appearing. 

Among the rewarding ways to deter bubbles is by tearing the clay instead of crumpling it. This way, the clay won’t hide air within. But if you notice any bubbles on the surface, pop them immediately with a sharp tool. You may also want to stretch your polymer clay to the maximum to release the air in it. 

  • Maintain a constant temperature. 

Maintaining your oven temperature is the best way to prevent cracks in your polymer clay. Some ovens lack the adequate seals that serve to ensure a consistent temp. As such, the absence of these mediums can make your oven temp swing wildly. You will notice that without the seals, your temperature will run low then spike up while baking. If this happens, you will have uneven and cracked clay. 

So for your oven to keep up that consistent temperature, it’s best to purchase an oven thermometer. This way, you will enjoy a more accurate reading than your display.

Tip

Besides maintaining a constant temperature, it’s also good practice not to exceed the recommended temp to avoid your clay from burning. You can prevent burning by placing your clay at the center of the oven, away from the heating elements. 

Baking Polymer Clay Tips

These few tips can help you bake your polymer clay without constraints. 

  • What’s the best temp to bake clay?

Ideally, there is no accurate temperature set for the many versions of clay available on sale. Even proper research doesn’t stress enough the temp requirements. So it’s best to bake your clay at the temp recommended by your manufacturer on the package details. If you don’t stick to the product’s specs, cracking won’t be a surprise.

  • Is it possible to bake clay in a microwave? 

It’s not advisable to bake your clay in a microwave considering the difficulty of setting the temperature in it. Microwaves also have hot spots meaning baking your clay inside it can result in a thermal breakdown which eventually leads to charring and fumes. 

  • What temperature is safe for two different brands of polymer clay

When baking different clay brands, setting a high temperature and prolong the hardening duration is advisable. 

How Long Do You Have to Wait Before Painting Polymer Clay? 

Polymer clay needs to cool until the moisture disappears before applying a coat of paint over it. This should take 24 hours for the clay to be safe to accept paint. If not, you’ll run the risk of damaging your clay and encountering adherence issues. 

How Long Does it Take for Acrylic Paint to Dry on Polymer Clay? 

Clay is a perfect surface to paint on, especially with water-based paints like acrylic. It’s an absorbent and smooth surface meaning the drying duration is fairly short. Usually, acrylic paint takes about 10 to 20 minutes to dry completely on polymer clay. But always remember to allow ample time between coats if you will use multiple layers. 

Final Thoughts

Polymer is presently very trendy. This medium has become commonplace for most artists as you can create any item with it, and after a quick bake, sell it or display it in your home. But how about modifying its overall appearance? This is a common argument with most clay devotees that calls into question…

Can You Paint Over Polymer Clay?

Yes, painting over polymer clay is an acceptable and common trend with today’s artists. But you don’t just use any paint on this art medium. I recommend using high-quality paints such as acrylic for your creations to endure the test of time. High-quality paints will add elegance and pigmentation to your polymer clay. 

Thanks for reading through this resourceful guide. Please let’s converse in the comment section in case of any concerns. In the meantime, enjoy your painting project.

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