Polymer Clay Enthusiasts Protective sealer advice please

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Original Post

aschwer says

OK, I need any advice/recommendations you all have. I make clay hanging sculptures and recently sent one to Turkey. Well, unfortunately my piece didn't make it intact. My customer said he had about 10 casualties, which he plans to glue. I include a note with each piece on handling and care, along with how to fix in case of a break, but I just feel awful about this and need to make sure the next piece he orders (my other succulent sculpture) makes it there without breakage.

Is there a great strong protective coating I can use to strengthen the pieces? Thanks for any advice!

Posted at 11:11 am Jun 9, 2011 EDT


bigbouvier says

Hi, your pieces are so exquisitely beautiful and intricate! I take they're made from regular clay and not polymer clay? My pieces are made from polymer clay and I use TriArt Top Coat Hard, which is a glossy glaze, dries quickly, but is glossy. I'm sure you would prefer to get a matte glaze for your pieces and I'm not sure if they make one in matte, though they probably do. I've tried Sculpey glazes, but find them too thick, so not sure if they'd be good for your purposes. You might try Googling matte glazes for clay pieces. I'm not sure how you pack your pieces, but it may have something to do with the breakage. If this is the first time this has happened, then it's more than likelly the fault of the postal employees. Also, keep in mind that this piece had a long way to travel and was in many hands along the way. All it takes is one person who isn't as careful as they might be, to lead to destruction. I hope I've been of some help and good luck :-)! Once again, your pieces are incredibly beautiful!!! Cathy

Posted at 2:21 pm Jun 9, 2011 EDT

aschwer says

Thank you Cathy! I do actually use Sculpey polymer clay. So far, I've only used an aerosol matte/gloss finishing spray, but this doesn't seem to make it much stronger. Hmmm..I'll have to do more research. The TriArt topcoat that you use actually does make the piece more sturdy for you? Thanks for your help Cathy!!

Posted at 4:50 pm Jun 9, 2011 EDT

The first step I would consider is using a different brand of clay... Sculpey is really brittle and prone to breakage in larger pieces. You might have better luck with Fimo. I use Varathane, but unless you do something like an epoxy or resin coating, I doubt it will make a difference in how sturdy your pieces are. What kind of packaging do you use? I used to use bubble wrap and packing peanuts, but since I switched to packing paper instead of peanuts, I've only had one casualty!

Posted at 5:02 pm Jun 9, 2011 EDT

AiClay says

I also had problems with Sculpey clay when I used that alone for making bigger sculptures. Now, I mix both Sculpey and Premo clay together, or solely Premo in my sculptures.

I don't think a sealer will make your sculpture more sturdy, I guess they'll only work in preventing external elements in wearing off colours . Bluebutterflydesign also has a good point in making sure you have good packaging, so that our painstakingly made products survive the long trip around the world! :)

Hope this helps! :)

Posted at 11:05 am Jun 10, 2011 EDT

If you go to our teams blog page, you will see some ratings on polymer clay.

Sculpey is by far the weakest polymer clay. However, if you MIX IT with Cernit, Premo, or Kato clay you'll find that it will hold up much better.

I use FIMO glaze on most of my pieces. I used to use Sculpey glaze, but I like the look of the Fimo better, it's thinner & looks fantastic. Not to mention that it is readily available. I am not aware of a varnish that will also strengthen pieces....but there may be one!!!

Let us know what you decide to do/try!

Posted at 3:09 pm Jun 11, 2011 EDT

I use a clear satin polyurethane most of the time. I have smaller pieces but it holds up well when I drop things lol

Posted at 2:38 pm Jun 13, 2011 EDT

aschwer says

Wow, thank you all for the advice. I received two posts from customers yesterday about petal breakage, and now I'm sold on moving on from Sculpey! Clear satin polyurethane huh? That's sounds worth a try! Thank you again!

Posted at 10:48 pm Jun 13, 2011 EDT

I haven't used it yet cause I'm still trying to find it locally. But the Varathane sounds promising with over 10 years of testing by clay artists. The 1st link is to the Polymer Clay Web's info on finishes. The 2nd link is also from her page but gets into much more detail regarding the Varathane Polyurethane

For now I have been using Kato Liquid Polyclay along with a heat gun on baked items. However, sometimes the pieces will feel, not sticky exactly but 'grippy'. I don't know if its a case of my not being consistant with the amount of time spent with the heat gun or not. Still experimenting.

Posted at 11:59 pm Jun 16, 2011 EDT

I agree with the review of Sculpey - they should really take it off the market because it does not pass QC (see I do not think there is a coating that will strengthen a piece. The clay itself must be of good quality for the final piece to hold its shape.

For a matte finish, I use CI Superseal or PYMII found here
For a glossy finish, I use Varathane.

Posted at 1:34 am Jun 18, 2011 EDT

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