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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesVisual ArtsSculpture · 8 years ago

Can you bake polymer clay with a printed image on it?

I want to make a polymer clay charm with a printed image from a computer glued on it. Online I saw that you have to bake it first, then glue the image on it with a special glaze. I accidentally bought the glue instead of the glaze. I guess you bake the item, then apply the glue to it, then bake it again. I don't want to burn the house down, but I was wondering if it is safe to glue the image on to the item, then bake it again? Please help ASAP!!!

3 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favourite answer

    There are actually lots of ways to get printed images onto polymer clay, and I'm not sure exactly which you saw or are trying.

    It *sounds* like perhaps you're just doing a version of decoupage using the actual image-on-paper you printed out, but decoupaging it onto hardened polymer clay instead of another surface.

    ...You can do decoupage on polymer clay, but you may need to seal the image first if you used a regular inkjet printer to create the image since that ink is not permanent. The colorant used in a photocopier or laser printer, however, is "toner," not ink, and it is permanent (it's a heat-set powder).

    To seal the image, you can just brush on a coat of "permanent white glue" (a PVA glue like Elmer's GlueAll, etc, or a "decoupage medium" like ModPodge, etc), lightly...maybe even two coats. If you're afraid the ink will run even if you don't "scrub" with brush, you can mist it lightly first with artsits fixative spray (or perhaps polyurethane spray), then add the glue coat.

    ...To stick the paper image onto the baked clay, a white glue or ModPodge is usually used; let dry.

    ...Then at least one coat of clear finish is usually used over the top to give the image a glossy appearance and to stick all the edges down. More than one coat is often necessary if you want the edges of the paper to be the same leve as the surface.

    ...Many people use a clear polyurethane for a final coat since it's tougher than white glues, etc, but not necessary. In fact, polyurethane can be used as the glue/decoupage medium too.

    I'm not sure though why you're thinking that you have to bake the clay, apply glue to the clay, then bake again. That generally wouldn't be done, unless at some point you were using liquid polymer clay as your glue (Translucent Liquid Sculpey and other brands); it must be heated to harden just like solid polymer clay.

    You can bake white glues though at the low temps we use for curing polymer clay, but they will usually be under the clay rather than on top of it. Baking white glues too long or too hot will cause them to brown a bit sometimes or even cause bubbling (but I can't think of anything that would "catch on fire" being exposed to only 275 F --however, sometimes ovens have hot spots which get higher, or you may accidentally put the clay/glue/whatever too close to the coils or walls, etc, which would be much higher temps).

    Check out the Glues page at my polymer clay "encyclopedia" page for more info on "decoupaging" on hardened polymer clay (though as I said, it would be the same as for any other surface generally): > Misc Re All Glues >> DECOUPAGE

    And the Finishes page has info about polyurethanes and other clear finishes including permanent white glues:

    On the other hand, as I mentioned there are many ways to get images onto polymer clay, plus various supplies and equipment that can be used, and to get various kinds of results, etc. The most common way is "transferring" rather than decoupaging.

    Transferring an image means moving only the ink or toner of the printed image onto the clay (usually raw clay, but sometimes hardened clay), not the paper with it.

    That can be done as a "direct" transfer with only the ink/toner being moved, or the ink/toner can be encapsulated in liquid polymer clay (or other materials) as a thin transparent "decal" and that can be placed on the clay.

    Often "t-shirt transfer papers" are used for both methods since they capture and release the ink/toner fairly easily, but there are also other ways.

    There's more info on transfers of all kinds on this page of my site if you're interested in that:


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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Sorry my Transfers page at GlassAttic didn't help. It actually does have a load of good info from many clayers who have done transfers successfully over the years (with many different techiques/equipment/materials), as well as troubleshooting what the problems can be, but there is almost too much info there. (And, doing transfers successfully are one of the hardest things to do in polymer clay, unless you just happen upon a right combination of materials/equipment/technique right from the beginning--which does happen to some people-- or you use one of the "easier" methods, using magazine-page images for example). I'm not sure where you've seen articles that say an inkjet printer should work (well) when used with regular paper, but in general to make a nice saturated transfer you'll need: ...either a toner-based image (created on a laser printer, a photocopier, or an inkjet printer that uses *permanent* ink) onto regular paper (or onto other slick papers like parchment, etc) ...or you'll need an inkjet image printed onto one of the special kinds of paper that are clay-coated including some photo papers (or very slick) and function as "transfer papers." Otherwise, you'll get a pale image, or none at all. You don't say specifically whether you're using the liquid clay just as a helper and transferring "directly" onto clay, or using it to create an intermediary "decal" transfer which you can later put onto clay, so I'm not sure what else to say about that. (When a decal is made --which is reversible since it's transparent-- the liquid clay is usually poured onto a sheet of glass, so if that's what you're doing the main problem you may be having is the type of paper you're using, *in combination with* the type of ink or toner you're using. Or it could be a technique factor like how long you're letting the image sit, how well you're burnishing, whether you're using a helper like heat or a solvent, etc.) HTH, Diane B.

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  • 8 years ago

    You won't burn the house down baking at 275F but there is no good reason to bake it again with glue - the glaze might soak the image into the clay or something, but the glue is unlikely to.

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