Monday, 23 April 2012

Fimo Soft and Halogen Ovens

As previously mentioned, have been working on some polymer clay Jewellery.

I started out with just some ideas of what I wanted to make, but was a complete novice to polymer clay. Didn't have a clue what brand to buy, so ended up just buying some off eBay's.  Fimo Soft is what landed on my door mat.

I've been experimenting with it for about a week now, and we've had our ups and downs, with a fair bit of help from the lovely people over at the Crafts Forum and the Clay Forum.
As I have been using the Soft variety of Fimo I have had my issues with the clay becoming very sticky, sticking to my tools, though this, lucky, has only happened on one of my sessions.
The biggest issue I have had have been while curing the clay, and even now I am still mastering what needs to be done.

Basically I have been curing my pieces in a halogen oven rather than a conventional oven, for 2 reasons.
The first being that my gas oven is next to dead. Why we still have it is beyond me it is so unreliable.
The second being the halogen oven is a lot smaller, therefore takes a lot less time to warm up and is able to maintain a fairly constant temperature, I think.
I say I think, because I am not 100% sure of this, I am going on advice I have found or been given regarding halogens, but I have ordered an oven thermometer just so I can be sure.

The thermometer has been order though because I have been experiencing problems curing my pieces. The packaging state 110 degrees C for 30 mins to bake the Fimo Soft.
Before baking anything I did my research on the 'net, especially since I was using a halogen.
So the first lot of pieces I made were baked firstly for 20 mins at 110 C (according to my halogen dial), but the clay when cooled was brittle.
I then baked my next pieces for 30 mins at 110 C, but again my pieces were brittle.
My third set of pieces were baked for 30 mins at around 120 C, and though these pieces came out a little harder, they were still flexible with a rubber sort of feel to them.
My last test pieces were bake for 40 mins at around 120 C with some surprising results.  Here I should say that I have been baking my pieces flat on a ceramic tile. On this experiment I had a test piece which lifted from the clay, and another that was double the thickness of anything I had previously tested.  The piece the lifted up from the tile had cured where it was lifted, but still had a rubber feel where it was flat to the tile.  The thicker piece was pretty much completely cured, which has told me that I either need to bake on a rack or put something between the clay and the tile.

Advice from the forums have been to put either normal or baking paper between the tile and the clay.  I am also going to try baking in a 'tent' of tin foil to protect the pieces from the halogen bulb, due to the size of the oven.  Am going to wait though now until I get my oven thermometer just to be sure my oven is at the temperature it is stating and this isn't my problem.

Will keep you updated as always, so for now Happy Crafting

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