Interested in Cameos?
See tips for making cameos here.
How do you keep clay castings from sticking to the mold?
Clay can stick to the mold and distort the design when you pull the clay free. Remembering to use a release agent
makes life much easier.
Water - This is the cheapest alternative and a favorite, because it won't build up in crevices like other agents do.
Water works especially well for detailed molds. Water is a good release for Premo and Sculpey, but isn't generally
recommended for Fimo and Cernit, which absorb moisture.
Glycerin-- This can be useful for casting detailed items. Another benefit of using glycerin is that it doesn't affect
surface treatments on the clay (like paint or Pearl-Ex).
Armor-all-- This product is silicone-based. Nothing will stick to it. While this makes it a good mold release, it can
complicate things if you want to add surface treatments (including Future or Varathane) to the clay, afterwards.
Petroleum-based release agents-- Vaseline or mineral oil (baby oil) are sometimes used. Don't use these
products with latex molds, however, because they will react with the mold and destroy it.
Cornstarch is our personal favorite choice. It usually washes right off with cool water, though you may want to let
the piece cool before rinsing it.
Baby or Talcum powder is another alternative. However, some people think that this leaves a residue, even after
washing. Residue, if there is any, can be sanded or buffed away. Brushes off the clay piece before or after baking.
Baking soda may help control odors during curing.
Mica powders, metal pulvers, embossing powders, and powdered chalk can be used, too, though they generally
cost more than the other alternatives. Do double duty as a mold release and a decorative effect.
Potato starch, rice flour, and arrowroot powder and other powdered food products may serve as release agents,
Apply the mold release to your ball of clay before pushing it into the mold. If your clay still distorts when you pull it free
of the mold, you can also try freezing the clay and mold for a few minutes before you separate them: this will make the
clay firmer and help avoid distortion.
To ensure that your mold will be long-lasting, always use your molds on a flat surface only. Pressing clay or other
substance into your mold in your hand instead of on a hard surface will make your mold weak and shorten the life of
TIP: Be careful not to overdo the corn starch and cover up the design. A light dusting is all you need. Also using well
conditioned clay insures longevity of your molds.
What causes clay to stick to the molds?
There are several factors that can cause your clay to stick, including clay residue, too little mold release, too soft clay
and warm temperatures, all of which are discussed below.
Clay Residue - Molds can be cleaned with waterless hand cleaner or rubbing alcohol and a soft brush. Make sure
the mold is thoroughly dry before using it again.
Not enough mold release - It is easy to use too much cornstarch. Use a clean, soft brush to remove any excess
powder from molds, or rinse them under running water and allow to air dry. The water will dissolve the cornstarch.
Soft Clay - Mushy or sticky clay can be leached to remove excess plasticizer before molding.
Warm days - More problems with sticking occur on hot, humid days during the summer months. The simplest
solution is to pop the filled mold into the freezer for a few minutes to make the clay firmer and more easily removed.
Warm hands will also contribute to sticky clay.
Okay, now what sort of surface should I work on?
Marble, glass, and ceramic tile are great work surfaces. Marble also helps to keep them at their best working
temperature. Lucite is also a terrific surface to work on. The clay doesn't stick to either surface. Some polymer clay
people use baker's parchment paper.
What type of surfaces should I bake clay on?
A variety of firing surfaces can be used depending on your need. Some possibilities include: Bristol board, parchment,
printer paper, glass, ceramic tile, non-stick baking sheet, cornstarch bed, polyester fiberfill bed, and polymer clay
armatures for holding needles.
How do you bake clay castings?
Always remove the clay from the molds before baking. Never put the molds themselves in the oven. Follow the clay
manufacturer's recommendations for baking your clay castings.
What types of paints work well on baked polymer clay?
You can use acrylic craft paints on fired clay. (Don't use oils - they may react with the plasticizer in the clay, like some
glazes.) Unlike many surface treatments, paint doesn't require you to glaze the piece afterward to avoid having the
surface rub off. You can also use chalk or artists' pencils for special effects. Try using light colors on dark clay, dark
colors on light clay. Textured molds hold the paint in the crevices allowing many painting techniques to try.
More Mold Tips:
Once your finished piece has been baked and cooled, there are so many finishing techniques to be used to make your
project complete, try using colored chalks, a light dusting of various colors adds depth. You can also paint your piece
with acrylic paints, or try using "Rub-n-Buffs". You may also seal your finished piece with a clay glaze.
If you would like to send a picture of your finished work, we would be happy to feature it on our site.
Do you have a catalog? This web site is our storefront and the only catalog we have. Since our
inventory changes so often, a print catalog would not be feasible at this time. If you would like to
subscribe to our newsletter, we will let you know when we have them available.
What would you suggest to be the best way to get a good casting from molds that are detailed
or have with little openings in the design. You have several options when using molds with holes or
ones that are very detailed.
Options for molds that show holes in the casted piece.
You cut them out with a craft knife (if you are using clay) before it is baked. It is easier to do this if
you put it in the freezer for about 15 to 30 minutes first. This also helps cut down on fingerprints.
Your casting will often look just as nice if the holes are left closed, but it depends on which mold you
Another option is to sand the back of the mold(flat side) after it is baked, until the holes through.
You can do this by rubbing the flat side of the mold face-up over a sheet of sand-paper on a flat
Options for molds that have very detailed edges.
You cut them out with a craft knife as well, before it is baked. You can freeze first cut down on finger
Your casting will often look just as nice with the edges left on the casting, depending on which mold
you are using.
Another option is to sand the back of the mold(flat side) after it is baked, until the edges are sanded
off. You can do this by rubbing the flat side of the mold face-up over a sheet of sand-paper on a flat
7 Solutions to Clay Molding Problems
1. THE PROBLEM: the clay isn't picking up the fine detail in the mold.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING: the clay is very firm and cannot get into the small parts of the mold.
SOLUTION: condition the clay thoroughly and then use more pressure when you press it into the mold. Press firmly
with your fingers so that the clays gets into even the minutest pattern. If it still doesn't work then try mixing some
translucent with your clay to soften it up a bit.
2. THE PROBLEM: the image distorts when you pull it out of the mold.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING: your clay is very soft and this is why it is distorting.
SOLUTION: fill the mold as usual and put it aside, or place it in the fridge for a while. Please read our complete
instructions to learn more about this technique.
3. THE PROBLEM: the clay keeps lifting out of the mold as you are pressing it in.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING: this generally happens only with very shallow molds as there is not enough depth to "grip"
SOLUTION: wipe your fingers on a damp cloth before you press the clay each time. This forms a barrier between the
clay and your fingertips and stops it sticking to you.
4. THE PROBLEM: creases and lines on the pressed image.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING: the clay isn't smooth before you press it into the mold.
SOLUTION: condition your clay well and roll it into a ball - this will smooth out any lines and creases. Make a pancake
shape or spread the clay so that it is almost the size and shape of the image and fill the mold.
5. THE PROBLEM: back of pressed image is not flat.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING: your fingertips aren't flat so the back will not be either.
SOLUTION: if you want a perfectly flat back place a piece of glass over the filled mold and press until you can see that
it is flat. You may have to trim any "overspread" with a craft knife. Note - if you place a stiff piece of clear release sheet
(sold on our tools page) you can pull it out easier. Please read our complete instructions to learn more about this
6. THE PROBLEM: some parts of the mold are tricky to fill.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING: some molds have thin areas or parts that are close together.
SOLUTION: overfill the mold and then trim the unmolded piece with a craft knife before you use or bake the piece.
7. THE PROBLEM: the mold is getting dirty
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING: well, this will happen when it is being used!
SOLUTION: wipe the mold out with a wet wipe or use dishwashing liquid and a soft cloth. Or try cleaning your molds
with isopropyl alcohol after each use. This will make them last longer, and it will also make the next use easier-- no
sticky residue to contend with.
Can I make beads from these molds?
Yes, you can! If you are using clay just run a needle through it where you want the hole to be. If it is difficult to handle
without distorting the image, just partially freeze it for awhile before making the hole to keep it's shape a little bit better.
Molded shapes make great focal or centerpiece beads, or dangles for earrings and charms. The possibilities are
endless! Bead rollers are available to make perfect fingerprint free beads.
Why does my Original Sculpey turn color when baked?
Some crafters have experienced that their white Original Sculpey will turn gray or lilac after baking. (when baked at
regular baking temps) This is a characteristic of original white Sculpey. To be sure you are not over baking your clay
recheck your oven thermometer. To prevent this you can baking it at a lower temperature (around 225) to reduce this
effect, but the clay will be very weak. This is one reason why people who started with that clay tended to paint
everything. A coat of acrylic gesso will cover a multitude of sins, and prime it for other colors. A convection oven may
also improve your results. A convection oven don't have exposed heating elements and have a fan that blows the heat
created by the hidden elements around the inside of the baking area.
How To Fix Moonies And Other Imperfections In Cured Polymer Clay
Moonies in polymer clay are like a course. They are white spots on the clay and they're shaped as a half moon, a circle,
or even a bump. Moonies are just bubbles of air trapped inside the sculpture. These ugly marks can be fixed even
though when the clay has been baked or cured.
If you have a moonie or moonies in your polymer clay sculpture, don't throw away your piece. It might be a good one. I
used to throw away all my pieces with moonies until I learned how to fix them. It's easy and it doesn't show.
When your cured piece is cold, look closely at the piece that has a moonie. Take a needle or a pointy knife and poke on
the moonie. Just on the moonie.
You'll see how easy is to make a little hole. That's because it has a pocket of air underneath.
Once you have made a little hole, clean it and make sure there is no debris in there like cured clay. Brush the hole with
liquid polymer clay and add a
little piece of clay. Fill the hole and smooth. Make sure the seams are perfect and you don't see a bump or a crease
Bake your piece again, but make sure to cover it all on paper towels. Bake it at the same temperature you always do for
at least 30 minutes.
When you're finished baking, let it cool. When it has cooled, sand and polish all your sculpture. You are ready to paint
and your moonie has disappeared.
If you see that the place where you filled in the moonie has a slighter color that the rest of your clay, just add a dab of a
darker flesh color on top of the fixed moonie and put it back in the oven to cure when you have finished painting or if
you can, put a little bit of red blush, like a skin mark.
Do you have any storage tips for molds or clay?
Keeping molds in order makes it much easier to select just the right one for each particular project. Select shadow
boxes, drawers or trays that will hold one layer of molds. Place them by category in each storage unit and label the front
in bold, easy to read letters. Here are some suggestions for storage units: pizza boxes, loaf cake pans, cookie sheets
with sides, Rubbermaid type plastic trays or a metal tool chest or tackle box that has drawers. Some tool chests are
stackable and it is also possible to find plastic trays that stock as your collections grows. Some people also like to
attach a picture of the molded object to the back side of the mold. Feel free to use our pictures for this use "only."
Never store cured clay with uncured clay. The plasticizers will leach back into the cured clay and cause it to weaken
and possibly break.
As long as raw clay is completely wrapped, it is safe to store in any type of container.
Unwrapped clay won't dry out, but wrapping keeps airborne particles from sticking to the clay, which seems to act
as a dust magnet. If you like, you can leave uncured clay on your work surface with just a sheet of plastic wrap
draped over it to keep it clean.
Wrapping raw clay makes it easier to store in a compact place without the different colors of clays touching. (This
can lead to color transfer between blocks of clay.)
Some people find that certain tackle boxes, in particular, don't react to clay, which makes it possible to store
unwrapped clay or canes very easily.
Glass or metal containers are fine for storing raw polymer clay.
How do I give my clay an antiqued look?
You can apply a patina with a dark color of acrylic craft paint. Try black, dark browns such as burnt umber, or charcoal
Paint the piece with a stiff brush, making sure to get paint into the crevices.
Wipe it lightly with a paper towel. You don't have to get all the paint off the surface; make sure not to wipe so hard
that you remove paint from the crevices.
After the paint dries completely, rub the piece with fine steel wool to remove it from the high surfaces.
Buff the piece lightly to restore the high surfaces.
An antique patina is particularly effective on faux stones such as ivory, and on embossed or formed pieces with high
and low areas; the dark patina remains in the areas after you rub it off the high ones, bringing the pattern into sharp
relief. For a "just-dug-out-of-the-ground" look, carve scratches and gaps into the clay, before or after firing, and then use
a dark patina to bring out these imperfections.
How do I give my clay a metallic look?
Chrome-colored Paint on Clay: Polymer clay doesn't react well with most finishes that are petroleum based. The finish
will remain tacky due to a chemical reaction between the plasticizers in the clay and the solvent in the varnish or paint.
There are a number of products you can use to "metallicize" clay, including metallic powders, leaf, and rubbing
Sheets of gold, silver, or colored leaf can be layered between thin sheets of translucent clay, used to wrap a cane, or
placed on a sheet of clay which is run through the pasta machine to fragment the leaf. You can use composition
(aluminium-based) leaf, which is much less expensive than leaf made of precious metals.
Metallic rubbing compounds are wax-based. You can use your fingertip to highlight raised areas of an embossed clay
piece (use just a little, with a very light touch), or coat an entire piece in metallic colors for a different look. You need to
glaze the piece afterword, or the metallic layer may rub off.
How do I use metallic powders with polymer clay?
Eberhard-Faber (Fimo) and Amaco (Friendly Clay) make loose powders for use with the clay, in gold, silver, and
metallic colors. You can use these powders in all sorts of ways:
Mix with the clay for a glittery effect
Use as a mold release to coat the surface of a molded shape lightly with the powder
Dip an embossing tool into powder, then press it into the clay
Sprinkle onto a piece
Coat a cane with powder to create a metallic outer layer
Rub onto the surface of a fired piece to put powder only on the raised surfaces
Put powder on the whole surface of an embossed piece, then (after firing) sand or rub it lightly with steel wool to
remove the powder from the raised surfaces and leave it in the crevices
You must glaze the piece after firing to prevent the powder from rubbing off.
The powder is messy; be careful with it and don't use it in a breezy area, or it will get all over everything. To avoid this,
work with very small amounts; you can dip a Q-tip into the powder, or put your finger over the end of the jar and upend
it to obtain just a bit to rub onto the clay. It's made of aluminum, not a good thing to breathe; if you're working with
metallic powder, it's a good idea to wear a face mask.
What kind of glue do you recommend for polymer clay?
Silicone glues such as E-6000 manufactured by Eclectic Products are good for larger objects and to attach cured clay
items to metal or wood. Super Glue Gel or Zap A Gap can be used to glue metal findings to finished pieces. The
strongest clay to clay bond is formed with Victory 1990 by Bond Adhesives. FPC Corporation makes Surebonder FPC
9000. Use it in a well ventilated area as the fumes could be harmful. Recently we have had excellent luck with using
Crafter's Pick "The Ultimate!" water based white glue to adhere baked polymer clay pieces to paper and scrapbook
pages. It dries clear and provides a very strong bond. For an excellent clay to clay bond (whether raw to raw, raw to
baked, baked to baked), use Translucent Liquid Sculpey. It is not an adhesive until baked. Apply carefully as it becomes
slightly opaque after baking.
If you're looking for the ultimate surface-to-surface glue advice, check out This To That. Select "plastic" for polymer
clay, then select whatever other surface your using. It's not perfect - polymer clay doesn't always work by plastic's rules.
But it might give you some ideas.
How do you care for jewelry and sculpture made of polymer clay?
Polymer clay creations are quite sturdy in a bulky state such as large sculpture. Thin, small items, especially those
made from Sculpey, Sculpey III, and Super Sculpey can be fragile and prone to breakage. Premo Sculpey's formulation,
is however, stronger and more resilient, especially in thin applications. Polymer clay, if exposed to direct sunlight, will
fade somewhat over time. Large sculptures, such as those used in gardens, should be sealed with Flecto Varathane to
prevent deterioration. Jewelry and beads do not require specific precautions. They can be sanded and polished or
sealed with an acrylic glaze. Many beadmakers dip a skewerful of beads into Future floor wax (found on our Molding
Tools Page) and then let the beads drip dry while suspended on the skewer. This prevents bubbles or flat, dull spots if
placed on a surface for drying.
What is the most durable, compatible glaze that won't turn sticky on the clay?
Polymer clay doesn't react well with most finishes that are petroleum based. Water-based varnishes cause no
interaction with the clay. There are two spray brands that will work on polymer clay, too. They are Carnival Arts
Ultraglaze and Krylon's Matte Spray Coating. Both need to be sprayed on in a very light single coat. Even some nail
polishes stay sticky on polymer clay, so always test before you coat a finished piece of clay work.
Polyform bottles an acrylic glaze in two finishes (Gloss and Satin) that is compatible with all polymer clays. Do not apply
too thickly, however, as it can peel. Thin slightly with water. Apply 2-3 thin coats rather than one thick one. Do not use
most spray glazes as they can ultimately turn sticky due to interaction between the propellant and the clay. Blair brand
Spray Glaze is compatible if used thinly. Flecto Varathan is the best glaze by a consensus vote among polymer clay
artists. The name brand is "Varathane Diamond Wood Finish--Interior". The product number for gloss is #2000. It is
available in pints and quarts. It was formerly marketed under the brand name of Flecto Diamond Varatane. This glaze
does not peel and does not turn sticky over time as many other glazes and sprays do! Future Floor Wax (applied with a
Q-Tip or brush) is another economical option for a medium shine that also dries quickly and is compatible with polymer
clay because it is an acrylic product.
The easiest way to varnish a piece is to dip it in a container filled with Future Floor Finish (found on our Molding Tools
Page) You can bake the piece after the "varnish" has dried. There are other great varnishes on the market. Use only
acrylic or alcohol-based varnish on baked polymer clays. Do not use polyurethane, enamel or oil based varnishes which
will never dry properly. Baked polymer clay does not need varnishing unless you want a shiny surface (use gloss
varnish) or to protect paints or powders applied to the clay.
What types of faux finishes are possible with polymer clays?
The types of faux finishes are increasing constantly. Marbling is possible, wood like finishes, mokume gane, stone,
turquoise, metallics, etc. Recent experimentation with Liquid Sculpey (available only through cottage distributors has
enabled marbling by floating pigments and then dipping polymer clay sheets into the mixture. Imitation turquoise can
easily be created by mixing an appropriate turquoise color with two or more other colors. Create a bead shape, carve it
slightly, then roll it in dirt -- yes dirt. After baking the bead will bear a very close resemblance to native turquoise,
especially when strung on silver wire. There are books and tapes written by prominent artists who detail many faux
finishes. Check out the Mindstorm Artisan series from Mindstorm Productions.
How do I get a marbled effect?
When two colors of clay are thoroughly mixed, the distinction between them disappears. However, if you stop the
mixing partway, you'll get a streaked effect similar to marble. (Make sure not to stop mixing in time to preserve the
marbled grain you want; continued handling of the clay will mix it further.)
Different color combinations can give you the effect of various semi-precious stones: for example, marbling several
shades of green with white produces a clay that looks like malachite. Marbling earth tones and translucent gives the
effect of agate. Pearl white with small amounts of dark gray and translucent makes a good marble.
You can vary the marble effect by mixing the clay in different ways. Roll the partially-mixed clay out into a thin snake, or
pull it, to obtain narrow streaks. Running it through a pasta machine one or more times produces a different sort of
streaking. Repeatedly twisting and folding the partially-mixed clay strands can make an effect like natural amber. Once
you learn how to marble the clay, try different techniques at different points in the mixing for subtly different effects.
Experiment with using marbled clay balls into molds. They offer many variations that are beautiful with no painting
Frequently Asked Questions & Molding Information