Polymer clay is an excellent art medium known for its flexibility, versatility, and simplicity when being used. However, the challenge in using this medium is removing imperfections and smoothing the surface of your projects. With that said, if you want to know how to smooth polymer clay quickly, please read the different methods of doing it below.
Method No. 1: Smoothening Unbaked Polymer Clay
Imperfections such as fingerprints can easily be removed if the clay is still not baked. It is easier to learn how to smooth polymer clay before baking compared to when it is already baked. However, if you want a smoother workflow, you must learn not to leave any imprints on the surface.
When removing fingerprints for the clay that has not been baked, you will need alcohol and cotton bud as the primary materials. A container is optional, but it can be used to accommodate the alcohol once you start working to prevent you from being messy.
Another key is to use alcohol with higher concentrations, preferably isopropyl alcohol. It is more effective when you use alcohol with higher concentrations. Another thing to remember is to use this method if you are working with single-color clay. If you apply this method to multi-colored clays, it may cause some stains on the surface.
Removing the fingerprints is very easy. Just submerged a cotton bud to the alcohol while wiping the fingerprints and other imperfections on the clay. Once the finger\prints have been removed, the next step is to remove the other imperfections as you try to smoothen the surface of the clay.
When smoothing the surface of the clay, you can dip your finger into baby oil or cornstarch. Then, rub the clay in circular motions until you achieve the smoothness you are looking for on the surface of the polymer clay.
Method No. 2: Smoothening a Baked Polymer Clay Using Acetone
If the polymer clay has already been baked, you can easily remove the fingerprints and other imperfections. You will still use cotton buds in this method, but its new partner is acetone. The acetone will melt the clay to allow you to smooth the surface.
But when it comes to using acetone, it is essential to take the necessary precautions since it is actually a strong chemical. This substance emits strong fumes and is highly flammable. For your safety, you must make sure to work in a well-ventilated space while wearing safety glasses to prevent the chemical from contacting your skin.
It will be better to put the acetone in a container for you to moisten the cotton bud quickly. Do not drip the cotton too much, only moisten it because the chemical is so strong. After wetting, you can slowly wipe it on the surface area of the clay where you want to smoothen or remove any imperfections.
When applying the acetone, do use extensive force or try to press down the surface of the polymer clay. If you do so, you might unnecessarily damage the surface and face the risk of losing some finer details of your project. In addition, acetone is also used for single-colored polymer clay.
Method No 3: Smoothening a Baked Polymer Clay Using a Sandpaper
If you do not like chemicals in smoothening baked polymer clay, another option uses a material that does not contain harsh chemicals. This material is sandpaper which can also smoothen the surface of polymer clay.
You can try to sand all the visible prints on the surface of baked polymer clay. There are different grits of sandpaper that can be used to smoothen the surface of this medium. Also, a polisher can be used to combine with sandpaper to enhance the surface’s smoothness.
I used to have a polishing compound paired with a rotary buffer such as a Dremel polishing kit to do the job. Pairing these two can successfully create a glass-like surface smooth surface of the polymer clay.
Also, using an Exacto knife or a scalper can be used to peel the surface if the fingerprints are too deep and cannot be removed by using the cotton buds.
Additional Tips to Smooth a Polymer Clay
To prevent leaving marks and fingerprints on the surface of polymer clay, there are things that you can do. A pair of well-fit gloves will not only prevent leaving an unnecessary print but also remove dust and help smoothen the surface.
Also, in working on your project, using a rotating base can help in preventing you from touching parts that you are not working on. Unnecessary contact with these parts can leave imprints and fingerprints without you noticing it.
Using harder clay can also lessen the chances of having fingerprints and other imperfections on the surface. Meanwhile, a softer clay is more prone to fingerprints and dents because they are susceptible even with the lightest contact.
The way you touch the polymer can also contribute to the imperfections and the imprints on the surface. Learn how to lighten your hands every time you feel the surface. If you are a heavy-handed person, keep practicing the basic form to lessen the imprints you leave on the surface while working on the project.
Moistening your palm with water or putting cornstarch when sculpting your projects can lessen the impact of your heavy-handed hands. You can also dampen your tools as you start doing your project to prevent leaving any form of imprints on the surface.
Learning how to smooth a polymer clay is essential if you want to maximize the glass-like properties of this medium. Spending some time to smoothen the surface of your project will make a significant difference in its appearance and the overall result of the finished product.