Polymer Clay Talk -  Supplies (390 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
From: BrickleBears1/9/17 9:26 AM 
To: All  (1 of 8) 

I need to buy a mat, and a baking sheet. Would someone please tell me what kind of mat to buy? I am considering a self-healing mat, but I think that the clay might stick to it. Also, I am concerned that a metal baking sheet may not be the best choice. I don't want my clay to burn in the oven. Would this be more likely to happen on a metal sheet? If so, what would be the best type to get?






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From: Debbie G / Twinkle (debtwinkle)1/9/17 5:38 PM 
To: BrickleBears  (2 of 8) 
 71374.2 in reply to 71374.1 

I use very cheap kitchen cutting mats often as my workstation mat. You can often get them for 2 in a package for a dollar or so. I get the non-colored translucent ones, so I can put a paper ruler under it, which I use to help keep lines straight and measure stuff right on the mat. I run a line of masking-type tape down the right and left edges, half on the mat and half on the table so the mat does not skid around under me when rolling and such. I cut right on them - although I try not to cut with the tip of something like an exacto knife on it, it will leave faint marks that your 'flat clay' pieces will pick up. Cutting straight down with a blade like it's a guillotine does not seem to mar it noticeably.

Sometimes I use a tile - you can get anything from 1 inch square to 12 inches square - one at a time at the big hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot. Look for something shiny: tilt the tile so you see the light reflection off it, you want it as smooth as a piece of glass so it won't leave marks in your clay. I have found though that cutting on the glass tiles in motions like an Exacto knife can leave marks in the surface. You can also use ordinary typing-type paper or cardstock (with no lines, which might transfer to your clay) on top of your tile if you need to cut something. I prefer pure while tiles, so it doesn't influence my perception of the color of my clay as I work on it.

Tiles are handy to have if you are creating something that will become misshapen if you try to move it to cure it. Create right on the tile, just put the tile and all right in the oven, no problem. Be aware that the side of the piece touching the tile will have shiny spots - this happens when curing on anything shiny, curved or flat. Tiles, glass, light bulbs, metal frameworks, etc. If that part is going to be covered later, no problem. If it's in a place where you can sand it lightly later, no problem. You can TRY to USE it to your advantage to MAKE shiny areas on your clay, but it's nearly impossible to get the entire surface of the clay against the metal or glass - little pockets of air will be between the pieces and leave matte places. YMMV.

You can use a piece of glass, too: just be sure it's tempered and safe! We tend to put considerable pressure on our clay when working with it! Formica can be worked on, but I would not cut down into it, only run the blade flat against it to lift up a sheet of clay. Marble is nice, but be aware that marble is porous - if you leave clay sitting on it for any amount of time, the marble leaches the clay. And your marble will forevermore have an 'oily' spot on it. (.... ask me how I know...)

There are some wonderful more expensive glass type matts that are used in sewing and scrapbooking and card making with rulers marked under them, lines, and diagonal lines, etc. I have discovered that having a surface with perfectly measured lines on it already (or under it) can be amazingly helpful, but that's a whole 'nother story. 

So it kind of depends on if you want to start out with high end stuff, or try some more inexpensive stuff until you get a sense of what works best for YOU. Even then, I suspect you'll move between a glass-surface type tile and a cutting mat type surface often. 

--- Metal trays won't make it more likely to burn your clay while curing, that is dependent on the oven temps and if pieces are in direct line of sight to elements. Metal trays WILL leave shiny spots on your pieces, even round ones. And easy fix for that is to just line your metal tray with paper - typing paper, brown shopping bags (do they exist anymore?!?), cardstock. Paper does not burn at the temps you're using. The nice thing about metal trays is they usually have a lip on them, so it's harder for pieces to fall or roll off. 

I apologize for my inability to be less wordy. Hope you got your questions answered. Hopefully more people will chime in!


From: BrickleBears1/9/17 8:02 PM 
To: Debbie G / Twinkle (debtwinkle)  (3 of 8) 
 71374.3 in reply to 71374.2 

You're reply may be wordy, but you have given me so much valuable information. I can't afford the high end stuff, but considering your reply I can probably use a ceramic dish. Cutting my clay on it might be a problem so when I cut it, I could put it on an old plastic plate - or what about melamine? Think of the possibilities. I won't have to buy anything!


From: amyfb1/10/17 3:21 PM 
To: BrickleBears  (4 of 8) 
 71374.4 in reply to 71374.1 

my favorite surface is glass.

i bought two of those self-healing cutting mats but was unhappy with the way the clay stuck to it.

my solution was to get tempered glass cut to size and lay it on top of the cutting mat. this lets me use the grid lines AND have a clean easy surface to work on.

I'm really pleased with this combination. It wasn't cheap because I went for the big size 22 x 35" mats so I probably dropped $200 by the time i bought the mats and the glass. (2 of each, I have a large work table)


From: amyfb1/10/17 3:24 PM 
To: BrickleBears  (5 of 8) 
 71374.5 in reply to 71374.1 

for baking, 

my best success has been with the shallow aluminum foil trays that are about 5" x 8" and usually come 2 or 3 to apack in the foil/wraps aisle at the grocery. Dollar store is even better.

i use one tray to hold the object and another tray as a lid. this prevents scorching and helps with maintaining temperature wihile vbaking.

really large items i would bake in small pieces and glue together afterwards.  i've used tacky glue from the craft store, also sometimes epoxy and other times superglue. tacky and epoxy seem to work best.


From: Claylady43 (Penni_Jo)1/10/17 11:39 PM 
To: BrickleBears  (6 of 8) 
 71374.6 in reply to 71374.1 


Thanks everyone for all the great ideas!

My personal favs:

Work Surface: A dark glass sheet. If traveling, a 12 inch smooth floor or wall tile or larger if available.

Baking and Working: Ceramic or porcelain tiles of every size on which to sculpt, create and bake. I use these under every project as handling unbaked clay can distort it so I use a tile about the size of the base of my project. The smaller the project, the smaller the tile. Since the tile can go right into the oven my work is not damaged by moving it from one surface to another.

Exception: If shiny spots are to be avoided, cut white card stock slightly smaller than the tile and place the clay project or pieces on the card stock on the tile.

Light: A very good light with bright white bulbs to keep the colors clean. Mixing a bright purple when using a standard incandescent bulb is nearly impossible as the yellow light from incandescent bulbs will wipe out the purple color rendering it into brown. I'm always reminded that color is best when mixed in light as white as the light from the sun. I keep the light low and over my hands. I often have people fret that they can't see the project well and are amazed how well they can see when I move a light over their hands. Ceiling lights are not usually good lighting for small clay projects.

Most important, start with what you have and know and get comfortable with the clay. In 1982 I had some Fimo, several old ceramic tiles, an old toaster oven, a safety razor blade and a round toothpick. As I learned how to work with the clay, and what I most enjoyed making I added different 'tools' as needed. For seven years I made doll house scale miniatures and a line of tiny bears in my home and was able to sell enough to be able to continue to be a stay at home mom.

So, let your heart lead you, start small and have fun!


From: Claylady43 (Penni_Jo)2/15/17 3:33 PM 
To: BrickleBears unread  (7 of 8) 
 71374.7 in reply to 71374.1 

I use ceramic or porcelain tiles on which to bake my clay. Most importantly, have an oven thermometer to be sure your oven is accurate. Small ovens like toaster ovens can be up to 35 degrees either too cool or too hot. Always be sure you know how hot the oven is.

If I want no shine on the bottom I bake on card stock, like an index card with no lines on it. Or, if one makes something like an unusually shaped piece or beads they can put them in a bowl of corn starch or Baking Powder. I bury any beads and rinse them after they bake and are cooled. By burying the beads completely the heat will evenly bake the pieces and prevent scorching.

Sometimes I bake on a piece of Cardboard.  At 275° F, paper, cardboard, card stock and baking powder or corn starch, or even Poly-Fil® will not burn.

I never bake on metal as it conducts heat and can, but not always will, brown the bottoms of my clay items.

As for a work surface, Walmart sewing centers have Fiskar® work surfaces, 12 inches square made of Acrylic. They also have grid lines and inch lines. I have one I take to guild meeting for a mobile work surface. Love it. BTW, clay works well with any acrylic.


From: Debbie G / Twinkle (debtwinkle)2/16/17 7:21 AM 
To: BrickleBears unread  (8 of 8) 
 71374.8 in reply to 71374.3 

Sorry for the great delay in replying! I would not use a plastic plate or melamine in the oven. If you're using a ceramic dish or plate to work on, that itself can go right into the oven. 

I understand the need to keep things inexpensive; been there, done that, STILL do that! That said, the kitchen cutting mats at the dollar store are two to a package, so it's pretty good deal at 50 cents each. If you can get to a large home improvement store or something similar, you can probably get a tile anywhere from 3 inches by 3 inches to 12 inches by 12 inches for only a buck or two each. Or less. And those will go right into the oven when baking your creations. I suggest you choose one that's 'white' (so the color doesn't interfere with the look of your clay colors while you're working on your clay) and smooth glass - pick it up and tilt it to the lights, you'll see if the surface is glass smooth (preferable) or matt, or rippled in any way. And make sure you measure the inside of your oven before choosing a tile, so it will fit inside the oven!

Happy Claying!



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