Polymer Clay Tutorials: Transfer Photos to Polymer Clay

With a few simple polymer clay tutorials, you will be creating fun and unique crafts in no time. Polymer clay is a popular form of sculpting clay. Because it can be fired at temperatures of only about 265 to 275 degrees, specialized kilns are not necessary. Polymer clay can be used to create just about any craft item and you can easily add personalized touches like transferring photos to a polymer clay tile or button.

How to Transfer Photos to Polymer Clay
One easy method used for transferring photos to polymer clay is to use your computer and printer and make your own iron-on transfers. Many companies make iron-on transfer paper, so check around and make sure you purchase the type that's compatible with your printer.

Either scan a photo into your computer or use digital photos. Choose a photo that is clear and uncomplicated. If you are a beginner to the world of photo transfers, it's best to choose photos with one main character. Place the transfer paper into the printer and print the photo. Then place the photo (image side down) on the polymer tile or button and burnish it with the back of a spoon. Press firmly, but not hard enough to indent or press holes into the clay. Do this several times to make sure the image sticks or adheres to the clay.

The most difficult part about transferring a photo to clay will occur during the burnishing of the image and the removal of the paper. Some crafters like to use Q-tips soaked in alcohol to remove the paper, while others like to use the back of a dry spoon with no alcohol added or use their finger and plain water.

Put the object-with the paper still attached-into a preheated oven for about ten minutes. (Watch oven temperatures closely. Temperatures higher than 275 degrees can cause harmful fumes). When you remove the object from the oven, very carefully remove the paper. This procedure works well once you get the hang of it, but it's always wise to make a few photos so you're prepared for any mistakes. If the transfer doesn't work, try again.

After you have removed the transfer paper-if the photo is to your liking-pop it back into the oven for another 15 minutes to set the ink.

Dangers of Polymer Clay
While polymer clay is labeled as non-toxic, it does have some properties that are toxic in high enough concentrations. Using your home stove to bake polymer clay is said to be safe as long as you thoroughly clean the stove after each use, but err on the side of caution. If polymer clay is baked at temperatures higher than 275 degrees, it creates toxic fumes. Because just about any food source baked in the oven is baked at a degree higher than 275, the chances that a bit of clay left behind will contaminate food later placed in the oven is very real.

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