Polymer Clay and Stemware

Yesterday I had a question posted on one of my Polymer Clay Basics pages of my old website.  The reader wrote:

“I am placing canes and/or sheets of polymer clay on wine glasses and bar ware. Do I need to sand these items? I just did a test sand, and a few of the dots and triangle embellishments came off. Horrors!!!  Did I not bake the glass long enough or was I too rough? I’m using Sculpey III. Bake 275 15-30 min. I baked the glass for about 20 minutes. The canes were about 1/4 thick.”

I had written a pretty long reply to her, and thought it might be something that other fimo fanatics have had questions about.  So I’m reposting my reply here:

“That’s a great question! You’re wondering why the cane slices sanded right off. Okay, here are some possible solutions for you:

1. Sculpey III might be the problem. This particular kind of polymer clay is known for it’s brittleness and tendency toward breakage. I would recommend using Fimo Soft or Premo for decorating your stemware and barware.

2. Using liquid clay to “glue” your cane slices on will help. Liquid clay bonds two clay items together. Brand names are Liquid Sculpey, Kato Liquid Clay, and Fimo Decorating Gel. Or, you could use Poly Bonder, which is a super-glue like substance that can be baked. All three kinds of “glue” would be baked at 275 degrees for 30 minutes to seal the bond between your cane slices and your clay base.

3. If you are attaching the cane slices directly to the stemware glass, then you will want a 2-part epoxy to adhere the baked cane slices to the glass. Nothing works better than a good, strong epoxy like Gorilla Glue’s 5-minute epoxy. It dries to a translucent yellow, and if you are sparing in how you use it, the yellow isn’t obvious. It will provide a permanent, water-resistant bond between the baked clay and the glass.

4. Baking times may need to be lengthened if you are placing raw clay onto the stemware. I highly recommend a minimum of 30 minutes in the oven, at 275 degrees. with aluminum foil tented over the glass while it bakes (to prevent browning of the cane slices.)

5. Sanding is a good idea, but only if you are embedding the cane slices into a sheet of clay to create a pattern sheet.  Pattern sheets benefit from sanding and polishing, whereas dimensional cane slices used in a 3D applique technique don’t necessitate sanding. It can be done, and nothing wrong with it – sanding will smooth the surface of the clay and even out the thickness. Ii would use an 800-grit sandpaper for this purpose.”

Does anyone have any advice to add to this polymer clay newbie?  Please post a comment if you do.  And this has sparked a question, don’t hesitate to ask.  If I don’t know the answer, I will have a pretty good idea where I can get it answered.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trina
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 11:17:09

    It looks like you covered all the bases. Even though glassattic.com is no longer building there are still good answers there for a lot of questions. When we were “growing up” in clay it was common knowledge that Sculpey III was not a
    strong clay or good for canes. Today with so many into advanced techniques, metal clays and mixed media the newbies sometimes get left in the dust.


  2. Charlene
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 09:53:49

    I totally agree, Trina, about Glassattic, though it’s hard for newbies to know what information on there is accurate, and what isn’t (for example, NOT microwaving your clay). I think Diane did an amazing job with it, though, in spite of the occasional inaccuracies. I started with Sculpey III just like a lot of folks do: it was cheaper and there was a wider range of colors to choose from, and it was soft. All points in it’s favor until you tried to do something delicate with it. But even still… mixing it with any of the other brands will strengthen it considerably and maybe be enough to offset the brittleness, depending on how it’s being used.


  3. Judith Ghander
    Jan 02, 2015 @ 02:14:59

    I have decorated stemware with glass acrylic paints and also used polymer clay. The clay says the piece should be baked at a lower temp than the paint maker calls for to cure in an oven. What do I do? What baking ins t ructions are to be followed, the clay or the paint? Help!


    • Charlene Therien
      Jan 02, 2015 @ 11:57:51

      Hi Judith, Great question!

      I would answer: it depends. Here’s why: different brands of polymer clay can be baked at different temperatures. 275 degrees is kindof the industry standard; but Fimo Soft, for example will do better at 250 than at 275 (light colors may darken). Whereas with Kato Polyclay, you can cure between 275 and 300 degrees without affecting the clay at all. Now if your paints need to cure at much higher temps, then I’d recommend doing your glass painting first and completely curing that BEFORE adding any raw polymer clay to it. Another idea would be to form your raw clay shapes over a different glass with the same diameter and curvature to it, and then when the clay is done curing, you can use resin or super glue to attach the baked clay items to your painted stemware.


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