Prepared by Arlene Thayer
How do I make simple beads?
Let your imagination work for you. Simple beads can be made by taking a piece of preconditioned polyclay and rolling it between your palms until it is a round ball. Pierce the ball with a needle or piercing tool, being careful to just break the surface on the opposite side, then complete the piercing through the bead in the opposite direction, thread onto florist wire or a wooden skewer for larger holes
and bake at the recommended temperature previously mentioned.
Make a marbled bead by taking two or three complimenting colors. Either blend by hand or use the pasta machine, blending until you have a neat marbled effect that appeals to you. Then, proceed to roll into balls, pierce, thread and bake.
To make all your beads the exact size, roll a snake with an amount of conditioned polyclay to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Measure a 1/2 inch length and cut. If this makes a bead the size that you have in mind, continue to use 1/2 inch slices for the remainder.
Another simple bead is made from a bull's eye cane. Start with a center of any color you wish. Roll it into a snake shape, about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Roll out a thin sheet of polyclay of another color to cover the center
piece. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick by 2 inches wide by 2 inches long. Make certain the sheet is long enough to cover the snake shape. Place the centerpiece snake along the 2 inch wide end of the strip and roll to cover. The cover strip will wrap around and just meet at the joint. Roll another thin sheet of
another color to the same thickness as the first, only the strip must be 1/2 inch longer. Apply in the same manner. Next, roll a bead of a color to compliment the
bull's eye cane and slicing thin sheets of the cane, apply them to the bead in an attractive pattern. Roll the bead between your palms until the joint lines disappear. Pierce, thread and bake.
Other simple beads can be made from jelly roll cane. A jelly roll cane is produced by rolling two thin sheets of polyclay together. The cane is then sliced and applied to a bead as demonstrated above.
For variation, apply 5, 1/2 inch thick by 2 inch long bull's eye canes around a center bull's eye or jelly roll cane. Wrap these with a complimentary colored sheet of polyclay and then proceed to roll the cane applying gentle pressure until the length reaches about 10-12 inches. Stop sooner for larger cane slices or
later for smaller slices. Roll a bead from a complimentary color and apply thin cane slices. Roll the bead between your palms until the seams disappear, pierce, thread and bake.
How do I attach "clay" to glass?
Most things will stick better if they are glued on, but most things will fit better if they are baked on - so combine the two. Almost everything but some plastics will stand the oven temperatures needed for Fimo - even with baking for an hour at 275 as City Zen Cane has recommended. Paper burns at 451 F and glass at several thousand degrees. Apply the canes to the glass, but make sure that you can get them off again without breaking - either separate sections if the glass is odd-shaped, or by slipping it off if it is a round and smooth. Bake - cool completely - then use "Zap-a-Gap", "Goop" or a similar glue to fasten the pieces down permanently. Glass will hold in the heat, so you may want to bake at a lower temperature.
A hint for ease in baking odd shaped glass objects is to place in a bed
of fiberfill. It will not burn at low temperatures and the fiberfill holds the item in place.
How is it cured?
All clays bake at 260-275 F (Fluorescent and Glow in Dark usually lower,
Formello higher). Read labels - Formulations of FIMO are changing, don't make
any assumptions. Use an oven thermometer. Don't trust your oven to be
accurate. Most ovens are off 25-50 degrees.
The thicker the item, the longer it must be baked. Small beads may need only
20 minutes. When indoubt, bake longer. The clay gains strength up to 2
hours. Because the clay has no water in it, it can bebaked for over 24 hours
without being harmed if the temperature is not too hot.
Clay baked too hot will discolor, brown or burn. Burned clay (300+ degrees
will burn) creates toxic fumes. Air out the room immediately. Use caution,
stay safe, and you will have success.
What are the different finishes?
Baked polymer clay has an attractive finish as is, but if you wish to give it a shine there are several things you can do. Simply buffing with a soft cloth will enhance the shine. There are acrylic lacquer products available that can be brushed on the surface and allowed to dry thoroughly before handling. The most common ones are varnishes offered under the brand names, of Fimo and Sculpey, available in both a glossy or matte finish.
Another simple way to enhance the shine is by using a polymer floor wax, such as "Future". The wax can be applied with a Q-tip, sponge brush or dipped. After drying, another coat can be applied. Coating your finished work with polymer floor wax will give it a "plastic-look".
Sanding the item is a preferred method of finishing the clay. Using progressively finer "wet/dry" sandpaper will result in a harder appearing stone-like finish. Holding the item under a trickling stream of water or dipping it into a container of water using , for example, 320 grit to 600 grit and ending with the highest possible, a 1500 grit or better will yield attractive results. Polymer clay powder resulting from dry sanding should not be inhaled. Always sand the clay under water. "Wet/dry" sandpaper is available at hardware stores. Finest grit may
be available at automotive stores.
There are other commercial products available, such as acrylic spray lacquers and plastic varnishes. Experiment with caution. Many of the products can dissolve polymer clay.