Article Links | Instructions For Baking Polymer Clay Beads Properly

Baking Polymer Clay Properly

Do You Know How To Prevent Polymer Clay From Burning?

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of mis-information on other sites, about how to bake polymer clay beads and pendants. Now in most cases, it really isn’t the fault of the site owner, because they are simply passing on information from someone else, who they believe to be correct. But unfortunately, this can end up playing out like that “pass-it-on” word game where the message can get very twisted and turned along the way.

As well, many crafters do the same things they would do for baking cookies, when they are baking their polymer clay.  This often leads to unexpected and disappointing results.

For example, it is often suggested that polymer clay gets burnt from being left in the oven too long. But in reality, burning polymer clay is caused when the temperature goes too high.

This burning clay problem can be easily solved by using an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature stays between 265F and 275F for most clay brands.

For other valuable polymer clay baking tips, here is an article reference list. You can trust this information because I test everything personally. Remember, “I learned by making the mistakes… so you don’t have to.” :-)

I hope these articles are of great help for you. Read through them carefully and make sure to ask any questions you may have about how to bake polymer clay beads in the comment section here, and in the various other article posts listed above. I’m hear to help.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Anna Sabina, 01 February, 2009

    This is a very timely article for me because I have just began using a toaster oven. Even though it is a new oven the first beads got over cooked pretty quickly. A little voice reminded me about tenting and now I use that technique, keeping it way from the heating elements. I also place my baking tile inside the broiler tray and this makes tenting much easier. Your article Baking Sculpey, Premo and Fimo Polymer Clay Toaster Oven is a very good resource.
    I also bought an oven thermometer and found this brand new Black and Decker Toaster oven runs 75 degrees higher than set.

  2. Cindy Lietz, 01 February, 2009

    I know Anna my home oven is 50 degrees too hot! I couldn’t figure out why I was burning my cookies and things, so I brought down my oven thermometer from the studio and checked it. What’s with those things anyways?

  3. Lindsay Weirich, 01 February, 2009

    OK I am going to get an oven thermometer tomorrow! I use an OLD toaster oven for clay (my parents received it for a wedding present 35 years ago!) I’m sure the temp. is off, thanks for the articles!

  4. Anna Sabina, 02 February, 2009

    I just started using a toaster oven. I bought a mine during a huge Day After Thanksgiving sale. So the price was low plus there was a rebate. I am surprised that a Black and Decker brand would be so off. The one from 35 years ago probably will work great because it is probably made with fewer parts made by slave labor in China.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 02 February, 2009

    @Lindsay: You’re welcome! Getting an oven thermometer will definitely put you in more control and give you better results. And you know what… I bet that old oven works better than the most new ones do!

    @Anna: I think it’s more about the companies wanting you to buy repeat items, than who actually puts it together. No appliances seem to last anymore. That is why it’s fine to buy them in trendy colors, since they will never outlast the trend!

  6. cara Letho, 27 March, 2009

    I look forward to your weekly members video. I am so glad to be a member- my beads have become so much better and I have the confidence to experiment now, which is important in skill development.

    Speaking of which, I tried boiling the beads for 15 minutes before baking for 30-40 minutes. The premo beads looked beautiful and were hard. with sanding, buffing and future floor polish they looked amazing. The fimo soft were a disaster- they cracked and were brittle – they do much better baking in cornflour for an hour. I now bake all my beads in cornflour and double the recommended time. This method is very successful and the beads are enhanced by using the cornflour and no way degraded. When boiling the beads I put them on pins and then place on the bead rack. I then place the rack in the pot. That way the beads are not flying everywhere.

    Again thank you for the great teaching- the courses are a great investment and I am anxiously waiting to purchase the cane tutorial when it comes out. All the best- Cara

  7. Cindy Lietz, 28 March, 2009

    I agree with you Cara… about how experimenting is an important part of learning. I am so glad you have gained the confidence to try new stuff.

    And thanks a bunch for sharing the results of your tests. I absolutely love posts like this. They add so much value for everyone that comes to visit and learn. Do keep them coming! You are such a delight to have as part of the community.

  8. Joyce, 24 April, 2009

    How do I know if my beads have baked long enough?

  9. Cindy Lietz, 25 April, 2009

    The answer to your question Joyce comes down to how your beads “feel” after you have taken them out of the oven and they have cooled down.

    Try this experiment… make two beads or pendants the same size and bake one for 20 min and the other for an hour. Then feel them. Bend them (if you can). Sand them. Tap them on a piece of glass. You should be able to tell the difference.

    The one that was baked for an hour will be harder, sand easier and will make a higher clinking sound when tapped on the glass compared to the other.

    If it is a flat pendant, the longer cured one will also be stronger and will be harder to crack or break.

    Make sure to read the articles I have written about baking beads listed above. It will make a big difference in the quality of your beads!

  10. Anna Sabina, 26 April, 2009

    I have been coating my fingers with cornstarch and using my fingers to smooth all raw clay surfaces before boiling or baking. I do this to smooth out any previous finger print and reduce any bumps, lumps or uneven areas. I rinse them with water after they are cured They come out with a matte finish which is pretty cool and take less time to sand. I will do ANYTHING to reduce sanding.
    I have recently been boiling my beads for 30 minutes before baking for an additional 30 to 40 minutes. They end up really hard and seem to sand easiler.

  11. Cindy Lietz, 27 April, 2009

    Hey Anna, thanks for the tip! I tried it today and it works pretty good! I was surprised how well the beads cured in the water.

    Since water boils at only 100C and 212F, you were right to continue curing your beads in your oven.

    I’m not really seeing a big benefit to boiling it first though. It seem like they get just as hard if you bake them for an hour. Also for people who live in places that have hard water, it might leave a chalk residue on the beads.

    Why do you prefer to boil them first? Is there something that I am missing?

  12. Anna Sabina, 29 April, 2009

    I saw the tip from a reader on your site and so I tried it. I always worry that larger beads will not get cooked all the way through, even after baking them for an hour. i use an oven thermometer but I do not know the tempeture is even all through out the cooking chamber. I have also found that if I boil them first the outside gets hard and I can cook more beads in the toaster oven. It will not matter if the beads are touching each other, can even do 2 layers in a pan. I will do an experiment here in a couple days and make a comaprison.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 30 April, 2009

    That makes sense Anna. Especially with being able to get more beads in the oven when their hard! I would love to hear what your findings are. Thanks so much for sharing everything you do here. I really appreciate it!

  14. Pam Queen, 10 August, 2009

    I just have a real fast question. I just started working with clay and so far I like it, my question is after you bake the clay does it feel rubbery? Or am I doing something wrong? I have enjoyed your tutoring!

  15. Cindy Lietz, 10 August, 2009

    Hi Pam – There are many several variables that can cause your clay to feel rubbery, even after baking. Variables such as temperature, baking time and the brand of clay you are using. There is lots of free information about baking polymer clay here at the blog. You can start with the info and the links provided on this page. Then use ‘baking’ / ‘bake’ / ‘toaster oven’ / etc as keywords in the search box. There is a search box at the top left of every page for easy access. If you still have specific questions after reading the articles and follow up responses, post a comment and myself or someone else will help you out further.

  16. Dean Andrews, 26 October, 2009

    I have baked quite a few clay items and they turn out a hard rubber. Am I not mixing the clay properly, or cooking it wrong? Could someone give me some suggestions?
    Thank you.
    Dean Andrews

  17. Cindy Lietz, 30 October, 2009

    Hi Dean – I addressed your question at the other blog post where you asked this. The link by my name will take you to my response.

  18. Ida Rogers, 29 July, 2019

    I use a “convection” oven for baking Polymer Clay (purchased this on the recommendation of a very prominent polymer artist).

    I only have settings on the oven in 25 degree increments, example 250, 275, 300 degrees. There is no way to set a temperature between these temperatures.

    I watch my clay and am noticing the temp when set at 275 degrees climbs to 300 or more degrees during the baking. If I set the temp down to 250 degrees the oven does not reach 275 degrees so my clay is under baking.

    I have purchased 2 ovens and have the same problem with both of them. Is there any advice you can give me to get my clay baked properly? I panic when I see the oven climbing or declining in temperature and do not know what to do.

    I cannot afford to continually buy ovens to see if they will work or not so I am open to any advice you can give since you are so good at clay work; I watch your videos all the time and need to get this figured out.

    Thanks so much for your help.

  19. Cindy Lietz, 30 July, 2019

    I am assuming the oven is digital and that is why you can only set the dial in 25 degree increments? What I would test first is baking at the higher temp but with a lot of insulation under and above the piece to protect from scorching. A couple of ceramic tiles underneath would help and make sure to cover with a tinfoil pan or maybe even an overturned glass pan or something? You could even try burying your piece in cornstarch to protect it. (I have videos on all these things in my channel that you may want to watch.) Grab some scrap clay and keep testing different baking situations and temperature to find your ideal. Good luck!

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