Baking Polymer Clay on Corn Starch or Baking Soda

Baking Polymer Clay on Corn Starch or Baking SodaVideo #463: A baking technique that works great with sculptural polymer clay items.

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • A few years ago I posted about Baking Beads on a Bed of Cornstarch. It has been getting a lot of pins and re-pins on Pinterest.
  • Today’s video post is an update on this popular topic.
  • I mostly make polymer clay beads and jewelry projects, so I mostly bake on a ceramic tile or on a bead baking rack. But there are times when it makes a little more sense to bake either on a bed of cornstarch or a bed of baking soda.
  • It is a good idea to place sculptural pieces like polymer clay flowers, dolls and other beads that have a lot of detail or curved areas that may droop or get damaged somehow in the oven, onto a bed of baking soda or cornstarch while they are baking. It helps to support and protect the pieces.
  • You use either cornstarch or baking soda, depending on the brand of polymer clay that you are have.
  • I use Premo Polymer Clay and prefer to use cornstarch. It is ultra smooth. Won’t leave a texture on the clay. Rinses clean off after baking. Won’t leave a residue on the clay. And it doesn’t adversely effect the strength of the clay after baking.
  • However for Kato Polyclay users, I have heard that cornstarch will weaken the clay when baked in it, so they prefer to use baking soda instead. It is a grittier powder than the cornstarch and can leave a slight texture on the clay. I have also found that it can leave salt stain’s on the surface which can be difficult to remove.
  • Don’t leave raw polymer clay in your cornstarch or baking soda for very long before baking. Both powders are very absorbent and will leach out the polymers, plasticizers and oils from your polymer clay, making it more brittle after baking. Once you place your piece in the powder, make sure to bake right away, and you won’t have any issues.
  • I forgot to mention in this video, to not put pieces that have liquid polymer clay on them, into the cornstarch or baking powder. The powder will bake right into the liquid clay and stay white! Thank you to Tammy Kennedy for mentioning this tip.
  • Use aluminum rectangular cake pans 20cm x 14cm x 3cm (7-7/8 in x 5-1/2 in x 1-1/8 in) which fit perfectly in my toaster oven. There are many sizes available which you can look for in your local grocery or general merchandise stores. Another advantage of these tin pans, is that you can use two of them together… one as a base and the other as a lid. It makes a nice little mini-oven to bake your pieces in. They can be clipped together with metal binder or bulldog clips from a office supply store.
  • Bake your pieces in the cornstarch/baking powder at the correct temperature for your brand of polymer clay, but bake for at least one hour or longer. I usually bake for 75 to 90 min just to be sure. It takes the heat longer to reach the buried polymer clay, so it is important to bake for a slightly longer period of time.
  • I do plan to do a PcT Test Lab Video in the future to see which brands do better in which medium…. so I can give you a bit more scientific proof on which one will be best for you to use. But that will need to be another day.


Question of the Day:

Have you ever used cornstarch or baking soda for baking your polymer clay? Which brand of clay did you use? And what were your results? Please leave your answers in the comment section below?

By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
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  1. Rose Mary Abbott, 13 December, 2013

    Dear Cindy,

    I know you did a tutorial on faux Jasper but I cannot find a video tutorial anywhere on faux Malachite. Would you be willing to cover this and maybe Opal too. All the faux Opal videos in polymer clay don’t really look right. But I bet you have a Jim Dandy sure fire opal technique. I am interested in making faux focal beads big enough for wire wrapping as pendants. The Pardo Translucent clay is an interesting thought for opal. What do you think?

    Thank you,
    Rose Mary Abbott

  2. Dixie Ann S, 13 December, 2013

    I am so glad I learned this tip from Cindy. Since I use strictly Premo clay the cornstarch is perfect for my sculptures but also I have used it a lot for my oversized beads simple because if I hang them on a bead rack they tend to elongate the holes while baking and who wants wonky holes! I purchased the square and loaf size aluminum pans and use one for the bottom and one for the tops. I also use a set of them for fiberfil to bake some items on when called for. Thanks Cindy for ALL your great tips you have been so generous to share with us.

  3. Polymer Clay Tutor Cindy Lietz, 13 December, 2013

    Thanks for saying that Dixie Ann! I am very glad this tip has been helpful for you. Love the new profile picture btw… You look so cute! Looking forward to the day I get to actually meet you in person.

  4. Andrea Paradiso, 14 December, 2013

    Hi, All!

    No, I have never cured with either. But I love the great tip with the clips on the aluminum pans! Thank you!

  5. Polymer Clay Tutor Cindy Lietz, 15 December, 2013

    Hi Rose, I should put Faux Malachite on the list. There have been a few others who have requested it also. As far as Faux Opals go, I do have a tutorial on that a long time ago: Faux Opal Bake and Bond Technique

    It is one of my more tricky tutorials but the effect is worth the work. It is done using liquid clay, so the Pardo clay may not make much difference in this particular case. Though it would most definitely be a good choice for other opal techniques.

    Thanks for your suggestion!

  6. Polymer Clay Tutor Cindy Lietz, 15 December, 2013

    Hi Andrea, with all the sculptures you do, you may find the cornstarch to be very handy in supporting and/or protecting delicate pieces in the baking process. Let us know if you do end up trying it.

    Glad that you liked the mini-oven idea. You could make one in any size you like. Would just depend on the size of your oven.

  7. Cynthia Ryan, 22 December, 2013

    Hi, I decided to see what the clay looks like when baked in baking soda. So I half filled a glass bowl and put it in my clay oven. It was a disaster. I had forgot that my oven is the fan forced kind. It blew the baking soda everywhere. I just wasn’t thinking. It was so funny.

  8. Cindy Lietz, 23 December, 2013

    Oh my Cynthia that does sound like a disaster! Too funny! I will have to keep that in mind, since I will be getting a new convection oven for Christmas! Have a wonderful holiday! If you do decide to bake in baking soda again, maybe clip on a lid… :)

  9. Laurie W, 05 January, 2014

    Hi Cindy,

    I am just getting into working with polymer clay and found your website. Thanks for the wealth of info and help you provide for us out here. It has been very helpful for me.

    I had a couple questions. First, if I bake my creation on a ceramic tile, which has already been fired and glazed itself, will the piece be adhered to the tile?

    Second, what is the best way to attach a piece to a journal cover?

    Thanks so much for all your guidance.
    Laurie

  10. Dixie Ann, 05 January, 2014

    Hi Laurie, one of the clan here, if baking on a ceramic tile you should put a piece of light colored cardstock, white paper or parchment paper on your tile first. If you don,’t your piece will stick to the tile but more often it will have a partial glaze where it sat on the tile and I
    ‘m sure you don’t want that. If you use the search function at the top of the blog you will find most answers to your questions. If you are attaching pieces to your journal cover Cindy recommends several different glues, one of which is Lisa Pavelka’s Super Glue so be sure and check out the search function and I’m sure you’ll find all the help you need. Good Luck, nice meeting you, Dixie Ann

  11. Alexis H, 06 December, 2014

    The piece should not adhere to the piece because that tile and its glaze fire at thousands of degrees and you shouldnt be firing your clay at thousands of degrees so it wont adhere to the tile unless you melt your piece.

  12. Bhavani U, 04 March, 2015

    Hi Cindy, I have a question re cornstarch residue on polymer clay beads. After shaping a round bead, I then dust my gloved hands with cornstarch and ‘reshape’ the round bead to make it ‘perfectly’ round (So the cornflour is only on the surface). But I noticed after baking, the cornflour residue still remains on the PC bead even after washing them. The only way to remove them is to polish them, which I am not keen to do (esp for hundreds of them). I like using the cornflour because it makes the bead look ‘really round’ but am not too keen on the residue. Any tips?

  13. Cindy Lietz, 24 March, 2015

    Try using water in your palm instead Bhavani, that might work for you… as long as you’re using Premo and not Fimo. Fimo gets sticky with water.

  14. Bhavani U, 01 April, 2015

    Thanks Cindy for the tip, unfortunately I like to use Fimo (I find Premo sometimes is too soft, I just cant stand that). If I do find a solution to it, I will let you know.

  15. Marcy W, 13 April, 2015

    Hi Cindy!
    Great info on baking with cornstarch/baking soda. I use Kato for my
    tiny hand and feet sculptures on my needle felted mice. The package says
    to bake for 10 mins but your video says to bake at least an hour since
    the clay is buried. Will that work for Kato?
    Thanks!
    Marcy

  16. Doreen N, 15 April, 2015

    Hello, Cynthia,
    I know that you have probably worked this out since your post was a while ago, but just in case it might help you or someone else:

    I bake in baking soda all the time. I have come up with a way of making a “collar” of cardstock from old boxes (rather like baking a souffle, not that I have ever bothered trying that!!) that fits inside the rim of my tinfoil baking pans. This raises the height of my pan, so that I can fit more pieces in at once. I cut other pieces of heavy box board (cereal boxes, file folder boxes, etc) into smaller pieces, which I set my raw polymer clay pieces on. I do a lot of sculptural, shaped pieces rather than as many beads, so a bead rake often doesn’t work for me. I baked a clay encrusted glass votive and about 8 or 9 flattish sculptural pieces plus a couple of dozen beads (rounds, tubes, shaped leaves) in one go in a table top convection oven that is fairly small. I put a layer of baking soda in the bottom of the baking dish, which I always set on the little metal tray that came with the oven, for extra support. Then I put a ceramic tile that happens to fit the tray quite closely on top of the baking soda, after I swish the soda back and forth to level it. Another thin layer of baking soda. Then I start adding my box board pieces with the clay pieces on them, arranging them to fit as many as I can. Once I have a layer arranged, I sieve more baking soda over top until that layer is buried. Sometimes I need to move the baking soda around a bit to get it into the corners. A very light hand and a a soft brush or the edge of a piece of box board works for me as a whisk. Another layer of clay pieces on box board, a final layer of baking soda. When I did the votive, I even buried more pieces inside the votive, to maximize what I was baking at once.

    Also, I can nestle shaped pieces into the loose baking soda. I haven’t had a problem with supporting any of my pieces since I started doing this, and I make some that would be hard to support any other way, for example thin leaf beads that curve in 2 different directions.

    Then the containment, to stop the problem that you had the first time you tried baking soda – thank heavens that I saw a hint about this before I ever tried the convection oven! :) I wrap aluminum foil one way and then the other over the top of the lot, and hug it down around the side.

    There are times when I have to really work to lift the pan into the oven. But I can bake a lot of pieces at once, or a fairly large sculptural piece.

    Because I need to let the baking soda cool down, I can’t get over-impatient and pull the pieces out and get fingerprints into the hot clay.

    I have reused the baking soda a number of times. I have two sieves; a metal one and a larger grid plastic one. When I am decanting the pieces, I spoon the baking soda out of the pan through the metal sieve into an ice cream bucket. That way I am getting rid of any lumps. The sieve catches the clay pieces, which I transfer into the plastic sieve. I use the plastic sieve because I once lost a small leaf bead down the sink when I was washing them by hand. GRRR! Now everything goes into the plastic sieve and I run the water through that, and always hold anything that I am washing individually over the sieve. Nothing I make is THAT small that it can disappear through the holes in the sieve.

    It’s a bit more work than baking on cardstock with a tent, but I scorched a couple of pieces when I started out and found the information about baking in baking soda before I ran into Cindy’s informaiton about tenting and lids, and I have just never changed how I do it. I am comfortable with it.

    The big thing is probably the layer of aluminum foil over the top. Otherwise I, also, would have a horrible mess! I can SOOOO see myself doing that if I hadn’t read the tip about NOT before I baked my first batch in soda! LOL

  17. Cindy Lietz, 17 April, 2015

    Wow Doreen, thanks so much for sharing your detailed ideas here! I am sure your tips will be helpful for a lot of people. I like the sieve idea. Bet that works well. It is good to see that you have found a method of baking that works well for you. Thanks for commenting!

  18. Cindy Lietz, 17 April, 2015

    Hi Marcy, your little mice sound cute! Yes, I would bake the Kato for much longer as well. On something so delicate, it will be important for the clay to be as strong as possible, and the longer baking will definitely help! Thanks for commenting!

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