How To Guide

How to Stick Polymer Clay Together – A Comprehensive Guide

Polymer clay is a versatile and highly popular medium for crafting projects, from jewelry to figurines and home decor. One of the challenges many crafters face when working with polymer clay is figuring out how to stick pieces together securely.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to join polymer clay pieces effectively, ensuring the durability and longevity of your creations.

What is Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is a synthetic modeling material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plasticizers, and pigments. It is soft and pliable at room temperature, allowing it to be easily shaped and molded. Polymer clay hardens and becomes permanent when baked at low temperatures, typically between 230-275 degrees Fahrenheit (110-130 degrees Celsius).

Characteristics of Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is non-toxic, water-resistant, and available in a wide variety of colors. It can be easily mixed to create custom colors and blends and retains its shape well during baking. Polymer clay is also compatible with various finishes and adhesives, making it a popular choice for both beginner and experienced crafters.

Techniques for Sticking Polymer Clay Together

Scoring and Slip

Scoring and slip is a traditional method used in pottery to combine two pieces of clay. To use this technique with polymer clay, follow these steps:

  1. Roughen the surface of both pieces you want to join by using a needle tool or toothpick to create a series of small scratches. This process is known as scoring.
  2. Apply a small amount of liquid polymer clay, also known as “slip,” to the scored surfaces.
  3. Press the two pieces together firmly, ensuring the slip is evenly distributed between the scored surfaces.
  4. Smooth the joint area with a clay tool or your fingers to remove any excess slip and create a seamless connection.
  5. Bake the joined pieces according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to use Liquid Polymer Clay

Liquid polymer clay, also known as polymer clay adhesive, is an excellent choice for sticking polymer clay pieces together. It creates a strong bond between the pieces when baked and is available in various brands, such as Sculpey Bake & Bond and Fimo Liquid Decorating Gel. To use liquid polymer clay as an adhesive, follow these steps:

  1. Apply a thin layer of liquid polymer clay to the areas you want to join.
  2. Press the pieces together firmly, ensuring the adhesive is evenly distributed between the surfaces.
  3. Remove any excess adhesive with a clay tool or your fingers.
  4. Bake the joined pieces according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Baking and Bonding

Another effective method to join polymer clay pieces is by partially baking them separately and then bonding them together. This technique works well for larger or more complex projects that might be challenging to assemble before baking. Follow these steps:

  1. Shape and form your individual polymer clay pieces.
  2. Bake each piece according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but shorten the baking time by 5-10 minutes.
  3. Allow the pieces to cool completely.
  4. Apply liquid polymer clay or another suitable adhesive to the areas you want to join.
  5. Press the pieces together firmly, ensuring the adhesive is evenly distributed between the surfaces.
  6. Bake the assembled piece for an additional 5-10 minutes to fully cure the adhesive and clay.
  7. Additional Tips for Sticking Polymer Clay Together

Preparing the Clay

Properly conditioning your polymer clay before use is essential for achieving strong bonds between pieces. Conditioning ensures the clay is pliable and evenly mixed, making it easier to work with and increasing its adhesive properties. To condition polymer clay, knead it with your hands or use a clay conditioning machine until it becomes soft and pliable.

Surface Cleanliness

Ensure the surfaces you want to join are clean and free of dust, dirt, and oils from your hands. You can use rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to clean the surfaces before joining them. A clean surface will help create a stronger bond between the clay pieces.

Reinforcing Joints

For added strength, you can reinforce the joints of your polymer clay creations using armature wire or toothpicks. Insert the wire or toothpick into one piece and apply adhesive to the area where the pieces will connect. Then, carefully slide the second piece onto the wire or toothpick, pressing the pieces together firmly.

Cooling and Handling

Allow your polymer clay pieces to cool completely after baking before handling them. The clay will be more fragile when hot, and handling it too soon can cause damage to the joints.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Weak Joints

If you find that your polymer clay pieces are not sticking together well, it could be due to several factors:

  • The clay may not be properly conditioned.
  • The surfaces of the pieces may not be clean.
  • The adhesive used may not be suitable for polymer clay or may not be applied evenly.
  • The pieces may not have been pressed together firmly enough.

Review your process and make any necessary adjustments to address these issues.

Cracking

Cracking can occur if the clay is not properly conditioned or if it is overworked. Ensure you are conditioning your clay adequately and avoid excessive handling, which can cause the clay to dry out and become brittle.

Conclusion

Sticking polymer clay pieces together can be crucial in creating durable and long-lasting art projects. By understanding the properties of polymer clay and using appropriate adhesives and techniques, you can ensure your creations will withstand the test of time. Remember to condition your clay, clean the surfaces before joining, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for baking. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to successfully sticking polymer clay together in your next project.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use regular glue to stick polymer clay together?

While some crafters have had success using regular glue to stick polymer clay pieces together, it is generally recommended to use liquid polymer clay or other adhesives specifically designed for polymer clay. These adhesives are formulated to work well with polymer clay and create a strong bond when baked.

Can I use water to stick polymer clay together?

Polymer clay is not water-soluble, so using water to stick pieces together is not recommended. Instead, use a suitable adhesive, such as liquid polymer clay or another polymer clay-specific adhesive.

Can I join unbaked and baked polymer clay pieces?

Yes, you can join unbaked and baked polymer clay pieces. Apply liquid polymer clay or another suitable adhesive to the area where the pieces connect, press them together firmly, and then bake the entire piece according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The unbaked clay will harden, and the adhesive will cure during baking, creating a secure bond between the pieces.

What is the best glue for polymer clay?

The best glue for polymer clay is typically a polymer clay-specific adhesive, such as liquid polymer clay or a cyanoacrylate-based glue (super glue). These adhesives are designed to work well with polymer clay and create a strong bond when used correctly. However, it is essential to read the manufacturer’s instructions and test a small area before applying the glue to your project to ensure compatibility and desired results.

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