Baking Beads on a Bed of Cornstarch

Baking Polymer Clay Beads on Cornstarch

Don’t Have a Bead Rack Yet? Or… Are Your Beads Too Big To Fit in a Standard Baking Rack? Then Head to the Kitchen for Some Cornstarch:

Although using a bead rack is my favorite way to bake polymer clay beads, sometimes it just won’t work! What do you do if your beads are too large and touch the bottom of the bead rack? Or they are sculptural and need more support while baking? What if you want to make a few beads first before investing in a commercial bead rack for your oven?

You go to your kitchen, grab an oven-proof dish and a box of cornstarch to bake your beads!

Make your beads as you normally would. Pierce them with a bead wire or skewer and lay them in a bed of cornstarch to bake. If your beads are sculptural, push the cornstarch up and around the bead to support it while baking, even completely burying it if you wish.

In fact, a covering of cornstarch over light colored beads can be a great protection for light colored clays to prevent scorching or discoloration!

Add extra time to the baking process if burying your beads. I often bake my beads for 1 hour at the recommended temperature for the clay to ensure strength and durability.

Once the beads are fully baked, wash off the cornstarch from them and sand, buff and polish as usual. If you are not going to sand your beads you may have to scrub them a bit with a toothbrush before applying a finish, to remove any residual residue from the cornstarch.

But of course you will be sanding unless your beads have some special finish that can’t be sanded (i.e.. gold leaf or mica powder). You wouldn’t want to be a lazy beader, would you? :-)

You can use this dish of cornstarch to bake your polymer clay beads over and over again for as long as your heart desires!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 15 May, 2008

    Once you have used the cornstarch for baking your polymer clay beads, never use it for food use again. You never want to cross-contaminate your food or your polymer clay!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Cool Substitute Tool for Making Lentil Beads

  2. Cindy Erickson, 20 July, 2008

    Cindy…you are sooooo clever! Thanks for yet ANOTHER great help :)

    You rock my Polymer Clay world!!!

    Cindy Erickson

  3. Cindy Lietz, 22 July, 2008

    Wow, Thanks! *blushing*

    Cindy’s last blog post..Faux Amber Jewellery – Polymer Clay Books – Victoria Hughes

  4. Marianne Huber, 24 July, 2008

    When I first looked at the title my mind’s eye saw
    cornMEAL. I thought I can cook my supper at the same time. :)
    I thought it was funny.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 25 July, 2008

    LOL! You better go eat Marianne, before you start snacking on your beads!

    Cindy’s last post..Making Beads with a Mod Polymer Clay Cane for Cool Jewelry Projects

  6. Lisa Gatz, 20 December, 2008

    Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for the tip. I had used cornstarch to smooth some ornaments that I made this week…it kind of dulled the finish. The ornaments were glass balls covered with clay. Does the cornstarch embed into the clay?


  7. Cindy Lietz, 21 December, 2008

    It can if you really press it in Lisa, but it can easily be removed during sanding which I always recommend you do any way. To learn more about sanding polymer clay, Click the link by my name.

  8. tereasa brooks, 04 January, 2009

    i bury any beads made with transluscent clay and put them in ice water out of the oven. haven’t had any burn yet!

  9. Cindy Lietz, 05 January, 2009

    Great tip Thereasa! Thanks for sharing it!

  10. lynn watts, 25 February, 2009

    Have you did your test to see if the cornstarch makes the polymer clay weak? I am just curious. I seem to have a problem with my translucent getting an amber tint to it after baking. I had high hopes that it would be so clear it would look like glass, even when I plunged it in ice water it still didn’t clear up. The cornstarch I used alot to powder my molds/moulds until I read that it would make your clay weak. If you find out anything about the cornstarch making the clay weak let us know. As always thank-you. Lynn Watts

  11. Cindy Lietz, 28 February, 2009

    Hi Lynn! I have not yet done a comparison test but have not found any of the pieces I’ve baked in cornstarch to be weaker in any way. I feel very comfortable recommending cornstarch for mold release and baking in. Hope that helps.

    The amber color you are getting with your translucent clay, is the normal color of Premo translucent, when it is baked. Although Fimo translucent or Premo frost are a little ‘whiter’ when baked, none of the translucent clays are actually clear like glass.

    Some of the liquid polymer clay are clearer than the clays but still not quite like glass. Two part epoxy resin is the closest you can get to clear glass and works well with polymer clay. I hope to do a demo on that sometime, when I can get to it.

    Click the link by my name for more info on translucent clay.

  12. sally, 14 July, 2009

    Hi Cindy
    I switched to baking on a bed of cornstarch a while ago, and found it so much better/easier than on pins/tiles etc. However, later on I started to notice my pieces were getting kind of strange cracks on them – different to the kind you get when the clay isn’t conditioned properly. These were like fine cracks, as if the bit of clay had kind of ‘lifted off’ in areas of the bead. You could feel them protruding when you ran your finger over the bead and although sanding smoothed them out, you were left with marks in the patterning.

    Any ideas why this started to happen? It’s a real shame as I was loving this way of baking and have now had to revert to other ways which I find more fiddly!

  13. Cindy Lietz, 14 July, 2009

    The only thing that I can think that went wrong Sally is that your beads possibly sat on the cornstarch for too long before baking and some of the plasticizer got absorbed.

    Unless it is actually a problem with the clay (water or air trapped inside) and the switch over to baking on cornstarch was a coincidence?

    Was the problem solved by baking on pins/tiles instead?

  14. sally, 15 July, 2009

    Yes, the problem was solved by baking on pins/tiles, so that’s why I don’t think it’s my clay. However, I always seem to have more accidents baking on pins/tiles so would like to revert to cornstarch/flour if I can.

    I did actually on one occasion leave the beads in the cornstarch over night, which I now realise would have caused them to leach. But, it then seemed to happen with beads that I didn’t leave in the cornstarch. I wonder if changing the cornstarch and starting again, but ony putting them in just before baking might help. Seems like no-one else has had this problem!
    Thanks Cindy

  15. Cindy Lietz, 18 July, 2009

    Hopefully Sally the things you suggested work for you. Let me know if you need any more help!

  16. Srdjan, 26 August, 2009

    Dear Cindy,
    First time posting here, I must say, you are incredible, professional and very friendly. I already bought some programs from you, as I am very new in Polymer Clay, and I have funny problem. Whole day I was looking for cornstarch, and everyone was looking at me, as I arrived from another planet(I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am sure it is called differently over here, and “impossible” question will be, can you, or someone else help me, with some description or some way, to find cornstarch. Another unbelievable thing is I could not find copper wire, like one you used in volume 12, but I can live without the wire, I think, cornstarch has much more uses in polymer clay craft.

    Best regards

  17. Brenda Anthony, 28 August, 2009

    Dear Srdjan: I looked up Cornstarch on Wikipedia and have pasted it here:
    Cornstarch, or cornflour, is the starch of the corn (maize) grain. It is also grown from the endosperm of the corn kernel. It has a distinctive appearance and feel when mixed raw with water or milk, giving easily to gentle pressure but resisting sudden pressure (see Dilatant and Non-Newtonian fluid). It is usually included as an anti-caking agent in powdered sugar (10X or confectioner’s sugar).
    There was more, but this might be enough to help you. I looked on my box of corn starch and it just said it was 100% corn starch.
    Does this help at all? Maybe check the rest of the Wikopedia article for more information that you can take to the local grocer.

  18. Srdjan, 29 August, 2009

    Dear Brenda,

    thank you very much for your email :)

    You mentioned word maize; there is an article from one of our manufacturers, please if you can confirm if I am on the right way:

    When generations of Moms have looked for the perfect ingredient to help them make the smoothest sauces, thick, meaty stews and light fluffy cakes, they’ve always trusted Maizena.

    Maizena is part of a shared South African childhood memory – from Grandma, adding a cup or two into her homemade shortbread, to Mom’s secret: making every omelet super light and every sauce successful. For generations South African Mom’s trusted Maizena to give a rich consistency to gravies and stock, the perfect ingredient to thicken stews and sauces and for baking lighter pies and cakes.

    Maizena corn Flour is a thick boiling maize starch. It is a fine, white, odorless powder with a slight characteristic taste. It is derived from the wet milling of maize, and it receives special refining treatment to ensure the maximum purity and quality.

    I also heard, that instead of Cornstarch you can make a bed for beads using baking soda, again this is an American term, will you also be kind to advise me if they are talking about “baking powder” or “bicarbonate of soda”?

    Best regards

  19. Srdjan, 29 August, 2009

    P.S. I said email, I really meant post :)

  20. Cindy Lietz, 31 August, 2009

    Thank you Srdjan for your questions and Brenda for your helpful answer! This was excellent for you two to help each other while I was away!

    @Srdjan, Baking Soda is also known as Bicarbonate of Soda and you can use that instead of corn starch if you like though it is not quite as smooth. Rice Flour or Tapioca Starch could work too.

    Sounds like Maizena will work fine for you.

    You may be able to find copper wire in the electrical department of a hardware store. You may need to strip the plastic off the wire. There is a short video on how to do that, in Hammered Copper Findings post I wrote awhile ago. Just click the link by my name and scroll down into the comments to see the video.

    I am so glad you are enjoying the videos. If you need any more help just ask!

    @Brenda: Thank you so much for going out of your way to help Srdjan! I appreciate that more than you can ever know! :-)

  21. Srdjan, 01 September, 2009

    Dear Cindy,

    thank you very much for the nice answers. About the wire, in electrical installation nowadays they are using many wires bunched up together, so they are not making it, as they use to, in the single core. I know that wire is also useful in the armature, while making bangles, cuffs and dolls, I must do more research on that, maybe scrapyards.

    Many thanks, regards

  22. Jo Smedstad, 17 February, 2010

    Cindy, for Christmas I received gifts for making polymer clay beads. What fun!!! Well, today I decided to try making some beads. I used a light blue clay, followed instructions for making some nice round beads. I had received baking rack from my daughter. I baked the beads in a toaster oven at 275 degree heat (recommended for Sculpey clay) for 30 minutes. Everything went well except that my nice light blue beads are now black beads. What happened? If I try again burying them in cornstarch, what kind of a dish or bowl do I use to contain the cornstarch? HELP!

  23. Phaedrakat, 18 February, 2010

    @Jo Smedstad: Hi Jo, you really did get a fun gift! Don’t worry — burnt “black” beads are a common occurrence when starting out. Polymer clay bead making can be a lot to figure out at the beginning, but you’ll get there. What probably happened is that your oven was a lot hotter than 275F.

    The main thing you need to learn about curing polymer clay is that the temperature is critical. You can bake for really long periods of time. It won’t burn your clay, but a too-high temperature will. So, you’ll find it’s really important to use an oven thermometer (buy one cheap at a dollar or grocery store) to make sure that you’re curing at the right temperature. Monitor & keep the temperature at or slightly below what the pkg. directions say. (Between 265F & 275F is usually best for most clays.) Ovens can be way off, so monitoring the temp is crucial.

    Ovens can also have hot-spots & temperature spikes, which can cause burning. Because metal heats up quickly, your bead rack can overheat your beads if your oven “spikes.” You can set your bead rack on a ceramic tile to help prevent this. The tile helps to regulate the temperature and keep it steady. Another thing you can do is tent your beads with something like foil or cardstock (placed over the bead rack.) And, of course, you can also use the corn starch technique on this page. Just like Cindy says: fill an oven-safe container (like glass, ceramic, metal, etc.) with cornstarch and bury your beads. The corn starch can be re-used multiple times, but do not use it or the container again for food. After you make sure your oven is the correct temperature, you’ll want to cure your beads for about an hour. Even though many packages recommend the “30 min. per 1/4″ thick” rule, the polymer clay is much stronger and cures better when baked for longer periods of time at the correct (not too high) temperature.

    There are lots of great articles here about baking polymer clay as well as links to even more informative articles on baking and related topics. There are hundreds of articles, tons of information here at this website. To find them, just use the search box at the top of the page on the left-hand side. Type in a keyword or two, (like “burnt” or “corn starch”) or use the “Topic Categories”, and you’ll get a list of articles on the subject you’re looking for. Don’t forget to read the comments under the articles, as there’s often even more information there left by Cindy and/or other members. There are also tags at the end of each article. Click on one of them and it will lead you to other articles with the same subject matter.

    Cindy makes fantastic tutorial videos. If you are not already a member, you should think about becoming one. Join the guest list if you haven’t already, and you’ll get 3 free videos and weekly color recipes. Finally, think about getting Cindy’s Polymer Clay Fundamentals Course, which will teach you everything you need to know when starting to make polymer clay beads. It will really help you so you don’t have to go through all the mistakes most beginners make. She has tips and tricks that make all the difference. So, take a look around and read the baking articles. Learn about the importance of conditioning your clay, and choosing the the right types for your purposes. Try your beads again. And if you need help or have additional questions, just ask…

    Good luck with your beads, and Happy Claying!

  24. maggiew, 16 June, 2010

    Thanks for all the information on here! I am just now starting to make beads-first batch in the oven as I type. I appreciate you sharing all these tips. :)

  25. Phaedrakat, 18 June, 2010

    @maggiew: How exciting, just starting out with polymer clay beads. How did your first batch come out? I hope they turned out great! Make sure you let someone know if you need any help. There’s lots of information, as you’ve noticed, here at the site. You can use the search box at the top left to find it. Type something like “how to sand beads” or “best finish for clay” or whatever subject you need. You’ll get a list of articles to choose from. Be sure to read the comments under the articles, as sometimes there’s even more info, tips, and tricks in the comments than in the original post! Don’t forget — have fun!
    ~Kat Riverside, CA US
    PS: Where are you from?

  26. Sunny G, 20 April, 2014

    Hi Cindy,

    I made a load of faux black and white African trade beads. It took me forever to apply all the tiny white dots of clay. When I went to take them from the oven, they were brown. I was so disappointed.

    You mentioned cornstarch? Will this keep them white? I sure hope so.

    Thank you for the tip. I’ll try it again using your idea.

    Best Regards,

  27. Cindy Lietz, 22 April, 2014

    Hi Sunny, baking in cornstarch should help, but your white should not be turning brown… are you using Sculpey III? If you are, switch to Premo and your White will stay White after baking, as long as you are baking at the right temp (use an oven thermometer) and that you are tenting your pieces. Use the search box to find out more about those subjects. Good luck!

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