I see lots of conversations in many of the polymer clay groups regarding earrings! What cutters are best? what should I use to drill holes? how do I sand them? how do I get a neat surface?…the list goes on.
In my opinion, there are lots of different ways to achieve a beautiful, finished look to your pieces but what works for one may not work for another. The information I’m going to share with you here is what works for ME!! I feel it’s incredibly important to stress whenever sharing any tips or tricks is to let everyone know “this is the way I do it”.
We all have different ovens, different cutters and tools, we might be using different clay and that’s okay. So the best advice I could ever give anyone creating with polymer clay is to work out what is best for you. I am always open to learning new things and will never profess to be an expert that’s for sure.
In saying all of that, I wanted to share some pics of a few little things I do to make the process easier for myself and more importantly to create a highly professional finished piece.
Here’s How I Do It
I started with Premo clay rolled onto a number 4 setting on my Atlas pasta machine (#1 is the thickest). This was sandwiched between a folded sheet of baking paper and pressed down over the surface to smooth. The top layer of paper was removed and circle shapes were cut out. Because the clay has been burnished to the paper it’s highly unlikely the clay will remain in the cutter – it should pull out quite easily.
The excess clay was then removed carefully.
In the first image you’ll note I’ve used a variety of tools to create holes in my pieces. I love to do this prior to the curing process. There are a number of ways you can create a thread hole. I find the micro cutters work beautifully for earrings, the tiniest one is my favourite and creates a perfect size thread hole. You’ll note I’ve also used a handmade cutter (top right) from a cocktrail straw and a skewer which works incredibly well.
Baking paper was then popped on top and burnished well. Burnishing means to smooth over the surface with slight pressure – don’t press down too heavily as you’ll distort your shapes. The burnishing process will remove any air bubbles between your clay and your paper which will create a lovely matt finish to your pieces.
Keep your clay inside the baking paper and pop between two tiles to cure. I normally cure slightly higher because I have my clay “inside” two tiles but I always make sure to use my oven thermometer.
Of course we all know, polymer clay is at it’s weakest while it’s still warm so I make sure to let them cool completely. I then use 600 grit sandpaper to sand the sides only. In my opinion, it’s overkill to sand with 3 or 4 different grades of sandpaper on the sides, unless of course you want your sides to be nice and shiny. I simply want to achieve a nice, smooth surface and the 600 grit sandpaper works perfectly for this job.
One piece literally took me 60 seconds then I buffed on a soft cloth to remove excess dust and polish the edges.
It’s important to note this is only relevant for pieces which are flat. If you have any type of raised texture, raised cane work etc this process is not the one for you.
You’ll note the image on the right shows one of the pieces being bent in half. This piece has an incredible amount of flexibility to it. If you’re curing Premo clay at the proper temperatures this should always be the case.
I hope you’ve managed to find some of this post helpful. There are so many other important things to consider when creating and many tips and tricks I haven’t suggested here. I may save them for another time!!
Take care and happy creating.