You must have noticed that sometimes when you are about to bake polymer clay or are baking the pieces you made out of it, a few air bubbles show up. You need to be attentive that you don’t end up having a baked polymer clay piece that has bubbles in it (that is kind of the best moment to deal with them).
Now the question is, how will you fix them?
The best way out to fix air bubbles in polymer clay is by conditioning it to remove all the air bubbles from it. Conditioning of polymer clay can be done in two ways: by hand and by pasta machine. We will discuss both in this article.
Here are some ways you can prevent your clay from bubbling up,
Conditioning polymer clay means making it ready to work with. It removes the air that may be trapped inside. When you cut out new clay you may often see open spaces between them. If you don’t condition the clay properly, you can trap air in the open pockets.
Cut out one-forth of the clay and begin to roll it back and forth. This will warm up the clay making it soft. When you feel it is warm enough make a ball out of it and roll it into a snake. Do this until the snake can bend in the middle without cracking up.
Cut some portion of the clay. Make sure to cut them narrow enough to fit through the pasta machine. Insert the polymer clay through the pasta machine gently.
When the clay comes out from the other side, fold it in half and insert it in the pasta machine again, folded side facing down. Inserting the folding side up causes air pockets to form inside the clay.
Continue doing this until you are assured that the clay is conditioned. You’ll know it’s conditioned when it doesn’t have any rough edges and has a slight sheen.
2. Reconstituting Scraps Of Clay Together Properly
In most cases, air bubbles occur and when different scraps of clay are put together to form one large clay. When you are working with scraps, gather them and insert them through the largest setting of the pasta machine. The rollers of the pasta machine force the air out. Fold the scrap sheet and insert it through the pasta machine (Folded side down).
Repeat the process until a solid clay sheet forms.
When embossed clay is reconstituted in the blank sheet, air bubbles can form. Always fold the clay on the outside if you need to re-roll it or have stamped up the texture.
3. Piercing Air Bubbles
Before baking the items you see air bubbles, you can pierce them with just a needle tool or a crafting knife. This will smooth out the air.
Piercing air bubbles won’t be the best idea if there are a dozen air bubbles. It can be pretty time-consuming. Instead, roll the clay to the medium thickness of the pasta machine. Stretch the sheet gently. The clay will start to appear lighter in the areas where the air bubble is. The stretching of the clay sheets causes the air bubbles to burst.
Repeat the process until all air bubbles are gone.
If you see air bubbles after you had baked your accessories, you can do the following things based on their conditions,
- Sanding them
- Adding a new layer of clay
Sand baked clay pieces that have air bubbles in them using automotive-grade sandpaper. Start with 400 or 600 grit. I once found a great deal on amazon which consisted of 90 pieces of automotive-grade wet sandpaper which had 400 to 6000 grits.
Sand until you have fully sanded through the air pockets. After you have sanded them, there will be indentations in place of the bubbles. Continue sanding them until the indentations disappear and it becomes flat.
Now use 800 grit to smoothen it out and hand buff to a matte finish. Increase the grit number (1000, 2000) and as the final step, buff it with a piece of denim or muslin wheel to get a glass-like shine.
If the polymer clay is thin then sanding down can be difficult and can cause it to break. You can add a new air-free layer of clay over the previous one and re-bake it, adding a new layer of polymer clay.
Re-texturing with tools to hide the air bubbles is another great alternative. You can use any type of shaped tool to texture it. When I get in this type of jiffy I use Ejiubas Sculpting Polymer Clay Tools for texturing. The diamond-shaped tool suits most of the sculpting pieces.
You can paint the texture with acrylic paint or leave it as it is.
Here are some tips which you can use to avoid having to deal with air bubbles,
- Don’t fold. Tear the clay apart instead.
- Put fold in rollers first. If you choose to fold the clay, first put it in the roller of the pasta machine. It will help make the air escape.
- Pop/cut the air bubbles. If you notice any air bubbles before baking, pop them with a needle or cut them with a crafting knife. If you ignore them then they might sneak up on you later.
- Stretch the sheet. Stretching the sheet will help release the air.
If baked and hardened, these pesky little things can annoy a clay crafter, especially a perfectionist clay crafter. Air bubbles on polymer clay accessories especially, jewelry can be a sore to the eye. The best way to avoid is not to get them in the first place by either popping them when you see them on your unbaked jewelry.
Going further back, another way you can avoid them is to tear the clay instead of folding it during conditioning. But if it is too late and you have baked the bubbled clay jewelry then you can try sanding them if it is thick enough or adding another layer of smooth bubble-free layer of polymer clay.
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