Baking Clay

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silverfan:
I have worked with clay only a couple of times due to the smell that comes from my toaster oven while baking.  Is this the best way to bake clay and if so, how can I prevent the odor from overtaking in my home?

I have a oven ceiling fan and windows open while doing this but it does not seem to help.  Is there a better way to bake clay?

Thanks
Sherri

penguintrax:
It sounds to me as if your clay is getting overheated in the toaster oven - what brand of clay are you using? On what surface are you baking? Are you using an oven thermometer to make sure the curing temperature is correct?

While a convection oven is often an ideal place to cure clay, a toaster oven can work. Here's what I do to make sure I don't scorch my clay:

Line the rack of the toaster oven with a tile. It helps keep the temperature even.
Use an oven thermometer and thoroughly preheat the oven before adding clay.
Make sure the clay is as far away from the heating element as possible.
Watch thin pieces of clay carefully - they can scorch very easily in a toaster oven.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

silverfan:
I use Fimo clay and lay wax paper on the bottom of my baking tray.  I also have a 4x4 piece of tile that I lay in the baking tray and than I lay my pieces on the tile.  I only preheat my oven a few minutes but I do not use a thermometer.

Where do you place the thermometer?

I set the temp of my toaster oven at 360 degrees.  Can you tell me from that what I may be doing wrong.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks

Luann Udell:
Well, 360 degrees is about 100 too hot for almost any brand of polymer clay you're using.  Recommended temp is around 265 degrees.  You are probably just starting to scorch the clay at that higher temperature.  Be careful--the fumes from BURNING polymer clay are not good for your lungs!!

Also, your toaster oven thermostat might be off.  Invest in a good quality oven thermometer--a good kitchen store should be able to recommend one for you, and it should cost around $15 for a really accurate one.  Put it in your oven right where you'd put your clay, and heat to the recommended temperature for your clay BY THE OVEN THERMOMETER.  Then see what temperature that really is on your temperature DIAL and mark it for future use.

Also, toaster ovens tend to heat by cycling between high and low temperatures--heating a little hot, then cooling off, then heating up again.  Some ovens are worse than others.  And opening the oven door to check will exacerbate this (letting hot air out & making the unit have to heat up again.) 

I just realized I've repeated everything penquintrax said!   :Oo:

Some ovens get really hot when they preheat, then level off when they hit the right temperature.  It's possible that some spots of your clay are heating more than others & scorching a little--like rolls that burn if you put them in an oven that's in "preheat" mode.

Some famous polymer clay artists used toaster ovens for years with no ill effects, but they made sure they were setting the temperature accurately.  Me, as soon as I started doing a lot of baking, I invested in a small convection oven.  Fast heat, even heat, no temperature fluctuations or hot spots, preheats steadily and evenly.  I love it! 

Oh, be careful using wax paper or any paper that can fly up at the corners.  The only time I ever saw a toaster oven fire, someone was teaching a little workshop and used a sheet of paper that wasn't completely weighted down, with only a tiny piece in the middle.  The corners flew up and hit the top element--and caught on fire.  Set off all the smoke alarms in the building (a nursing home...)  That was an exciting class!  Since then, I use sheets of double-faced corrugated cardboard cut to fit my baking pan.  Works like paper, but it's stiff and doesn't flex or fly up....  Plus I think the corrugation acts like an insulated baking sheet, helps the clay bake more evenly.

Hope this helps,
Luann

smhvt:
I have also found that putting a layer of tin foil above what I am baking (I have a 2 tray oven but you could make a tent) helps keep the clay from browning while it bakes.
Susan


Owner of Forgetmenotscreations.com

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