Thursday, September 12, 2013

How do you Seal your Polymer Clay Beads?

by Staci L. Smith
updated June 3, 2016

I have had a lot of emails asking me about how I seal my polymer clay beads. 

I paint my polymer beads, so I seal them to make them last.  I will share my personal experience, and some of the things I learned while searching and reading and experimenting.
In forums and through reading, I have heard answers such as Modge Podge or Pledge Furniture polish.  I do not use either of these, nor have I ever.
First, lets talk Modge Podge.  It's glue, and it's sticky.  It is not made for long term wear and tear.  I have a feeling it gets sticky with humitdity and such (from what I have read it does, and from my kids little art projects they use it on, it seems to).
While furniture polish may give it a nice fnish, who wants to wear furniture polish against their skin?  And just like on your furniture, it will wear off eventually.
Before I tell you what I prefer, let me tell you what I did not.
I did not like the Sculpey glazes.  Tried satin and gloss.

First of all, they look cheap to me after they dry, they make your polymer look very plastic.  (and even though it IS plastic, it doesn't have to look that way).  It also feels like it may get gummy down the road.  AND its not cheap either.  So thumbs down, I don't trust it. Does not seem long term durable.

I used Liquitex for awhile, but have found that people who live in more humid climates report it stays sticky or tacky, and that NOT GOOD.

My go to sealers NOW- after years of making beads are:


Water Based Varathane
http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/products/embellishments/Glazes/flecto-varathane-4oz-satin


and PYMii (preserve your memories II)
http://www.pymii.com/

If you are new to polymer clay, or always looking to learn more, I highly reccomend The Blue Bottle Tree.  Ginger does research and runs experiments to bring you the most up to date and accurate information on things such as baking and sealing polymer, what is the most translucent brand, ect......

https://thebluebottletree.com/

Using a proper sealer is NOT something to skip, especially when making painted beads.  (if there is no paint, polymer doesn't need to be sealed).

I always use 2-3 coats, sometimes more.  I allow proper drying time in between coats, and a couple days for the sealer to set up.  

I hope this information helps!!!!


26 comments:

Shirley Moore said...

Thanks so much for that very valuable info. Since I love the finish on your beads, it makes me confident in the product already.

Karen McGovern said...

Thanks for the info, Staci! These critical details are the difference between a finished work and a train-wreck. My experiences with Sculpy glazes have also been very mixed, never really "perfect". Thanks for sharing!

Claire Maunsell said...

All good!

I use PYM 11, then Ren Wax. Speeds up the process a little :), but a bit too shiny for my liking...

For years I used Flecto Varathane - a mix of the matte finish and the Satin finish worked best (50/50). I would thin it a little, then brush it on to components which I had preheated to around 230-240. Brush the thinned Varathane on with a smooth brush - gives the most beautiful, natural looking smooth rubbed looking low shine...(if you know what I mean..) Then Ren wax, cause I love it! I always wish Ren wax was durable enough on it's own, but no, not for stuff that will be worn and loved...

I usually do a couple of thin coats of the Varathane....will probably go back to it, very reasonable price, but a little more time consuming!

Gale said...

I've disliked other poly clay beads I've bought because of their stickiness--but not yours! They look AND feel great! Thanks for using what works and for sharing that info.

stacilouise said...

Claire, thanks for that information! I too like that earthy look. Can't wait to try the Flecto Varathane. I have also been experimenting with a thick paste like acrylic medium by Liquitex in matte. It is super matte and I love the finish, but not a sealer. I am currently trying it over the sealer to see if it dulls it even more. so far it looks good, I am durability testing it now!

Almost Precious said...

Good review, thank you for the information. I am familiar with Liquitex acrylic paints as I've used them in the past, so it is a trusted brand name.
The Flecto Varathane does sound promising, hope to see your review on it once you've tested it.

TesoriTrovati said...

Great info all around! I only use Ren Wax and now you are making me think I need to do something else. I don't want shiny, so I would gravitate to the matte first, but a mix might work. I will be interested to know what you think of this, Staci. Thanks! Enjoy the day. Erin

Yolanda M. said...

Great post and review, as I was looking for a product like this for a clay class. Much appreciated the input you gave me on FB too. :) Thank you!

Mª Reyes said...

Muchas gracias por la información, lo tendré en cuenta. Besos

KayzKreationz said...

Thanks for this post. I ordered some beads and I've had them for about a year. But they want to stick to everything. Do you think I could recoat them with the Liquitex to stop the stickiness?
Thanks.

stacilouise said...

Erin- with yours mostly in bezels, you are not WEARING the clay against you, I am sure the ren wax is good. however, I am all about overkill. I am hard on things myself, so I make things to last. I will let you know how my matte and satin experiments work out

sandi m said...

I don't make polymer beads but when purchasing I prefer those with a matte finish. I don't know what she uses, but I love those made my Heather Powers. They have a perfect matte finish, never sticky.
I've used Liquitex products and they are the best.
Thanks Staci for sharing.

Diane (Dewdrop Designs) said...

Thank you for this information. I have been thinking of trying out polymer clay and just started my research so this is very timely for me.

Ginger Davis Allman (The Blue Bottle Tree) said...

Even better than brushing on Varathane or Acrylic medium/varnish is dipping. No brush marks or bubbles. Both can be thinned with water. And multiple coats is always a good idea. And then when all done, you can heat set in a 200°F oven for 15 minutes or so to make sure it's good and cured.

Polymer doesn't actually need to be sealed unless there's a paint or powder used. Polymer clay, sanded smooth and left unfinished, gives a wonderful, warm, and very touchable feeling.

Sharyl said...

Thanks to Staci for sharing and to all who commented! I have my supplies lined up but haven't yet made a bead. Looks like I need to go exchange some sealer though! I bought the Sculpy brand. And sticky is not my style! Glad to find out before I opened it!

I've also heard of people using all kinds of waxes and products for sealing things lately. Like you, I wonder how safe this is for sensitive skin?

Again, many thanks go all!

Skylar Bre'z said...

Thanks, Staci. I've been experimenting with different finishes but have only ended up with sticky messes. Frustrating after putting time and effort into a polymer piece.

Rochelle Brisson said...

Thank you for sharing this valuable information Staci! I have been so unsure of how to seal the beads I've made and have been researching like crazy!

Jules Madden said...

Thanks so much for a great article, I am also researching finishes for polymer clay. Just wondering, what sort of acrylics do you use and do you paint them and then bake them, or are they pretty durable just painting after baking? My acrylics are not that durable, I can scratch them off.. have been using jo sonja's paints.

stacilouise said...

I use liquitex and some other high grade acrylics. you can bake them at about 200 degrees F for 10 minutes after they dry to help cure them to the clay. it also helps to rough up your clay surface a little before painting and make sure to seal them with many layers, letting each dry thoroughly before adding the next

Andrea said...

I'm so excited! I found some Liquitex Satin varnish. Now maybe I can feel more confident and actually make something to wear! I've been so hesitant. I used to make a lot of canes and cover pens, I think I used a lot of Future floor polish. But I really want to make beads, paint them, etc. So very excited to get busy!

Pat Huntet said...

HELP, I have made almost 100 pendents and bracelets for a fundraiser and I was told to use modge podge on them and then clear acrylic which I did. They were tacky after the modge podge but figure the acrylic would take care of it. Well it didn't. I need to fix these within 5 days, any suggestions to help me out? Thank you
Sincerely first timer!!! :)

stacilouise said...

Pat- I am just seeing this now. I am so sorry that happened. Modge podge is NOT a sealer. I would try to wash it all off with soap and water, you may need to scrub them. Then allow them to dry. I highly recommend using either Varathane (found at lowes) or Preserve Your Memories II- which can be bought online. otherwise, liquitex usually works good for me as well. try to get all the old sealer off if you can. I wish you luck!

Miffy said...

Do the glaze dries off solid? I have tried various brands like Sculpey & some other Japan brands but after drying, if I were to use my nails to "scratch" or "press" on it, there will be an mark on the glaze.

Will this happen to Varathane Glaze too? Or does it happens to all sort of glaze?

stacilouise said...

Varathane is hands down wonderful. it does NOT flake off. if you use it on clean ungreasy surface, and you apply and let fully dry between thin coats, it will last! I love it.

Anonymous said...

beginner here! so i used varathane on some clay keychain charms i made and after only couple weeks of the keychain being used and kept in my purse, the varathane had mostly peeled off resulting in peely, dirty looking charms :( any ideas on what went wrong? i want to sell my charms but not if they are going to look tacky and not last.

Sarah said...

Hi,
Thanks for this info, I'm new to polymer clay, wanted to add it to my jewellery making stash!
Could you tell me how you use the liduitex? Do you thin it or just apply as is?
Thanks

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