View Full Version : Covering wood w/polymer clay
07-23-2006, 11:35 AM
I would like to get some information re covering wooden boxes & other items with polymer clay: is the clay baked w/the box? or is it baked first and glued on? After searching about on the web, I read something about putting glue on the wood first & letting it dry, then covering w/clay & baking. Unfortunately, the box swelled & split & the clay broke apart & fell off. (I baked in a toaster oven)
Any suggestions would be welcome!
07-23-2006, 09:54 PM
You can dry the box out and then coat with glue or another sealant, but you will always run the risk of having the wood swell (or shrink) and have that effect the clay.
07-24-2006, 10:04 AM
Dry out the wood in the oven first?
Is covering wood, in general, not usually done?
I wonder about the furniture that I've seen covered w/clay. Obviously they're not baking the chair or whatever.
One more question: would you recommend a basic and comprehensive must-have book on working w/clay?
Thx VERY much
07-25-2006, 03:39 PM
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/covering.htm is a good resource for covering objects.
Furniture that has clay covering it is usually furniture to which baked clay is applied OR if raw clay applied, the clay is cured using a heat tool, similar to those used for embossing powders.
For books, see this post (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4782001#post4782001).
07-25-2006, 04:45 PM
Here's my 2 cents worth, too! I've found that in my 12 years of being a polyclay frEAK that toaster ovens are often in need of an exorcism. I have one that's probably 10 years old; it works like a charm. My brand new one? Evil; pure evil. They are very unreliable as far as heat regulation goes, and you are much better off baking a project that's say, bigger than a golf ball, in a regular oven. If possible, try to use an accurate oven thermometer!! It really helps. I've found that drying the wood in a 200 degree oven for about an hour then leaving it in overnight while the oven cools is a great help. Also, make sure there aren't smudges or oils on the wood. Oils can really spoil a project. You can also check out polymerclaycentral.com; it's one of the best polyclay sites out there. As for books, my favorite authors are Sue Heaser and Maureen Carlson. But then again, I'm really into miniatures and sculpture. My other fave is Irene Semanchuk-Dean. She's not only a very nice person, but she has a great book on weekend projects called "The Weekend Crafter - Polymer Clay". Here's the link for that: http://www.good-night-irene.com/thebook.html#firstbook
Good luck, and have LOADS of fun!http://www.polymerclaycentral.com
07-25-2006, 10:07 PM
Thanks so much to you both!
I will RUN w/this information. and check out the sites & books.
07-25-2006, 10:49 PM
Try using Magic-Sculpt it requires no heating to cure, can be applied directly to the box, and dries hard as a rock, with minimal or no shrinking. It can be carved, sanded, painted and lacquered.
07-26-2006, 09:35 AM
The issue isn't the clay shrinking or expanding - the issue is that the BOX does.
07-26-2006, 10:07 PM
Barbara, once a box is covered in Magic-sculpt, it will not shrink or expand at all.
08-10-2006, 07:09 PM
Hi! This is my first post. I am a new Polymer clay freak! I love that Google brought me directly to this posting. I'm making an all polymer clay box, but also want to cover some small boxes with clay. Thanks
08-11-2006, 06:58 PM
Let me (us) know how it works out. I'm feeling a little shy about trying the wood thing again.
08-12-2006, 01:52 AM
I have covered paper mache and baked it in my oven designated for polymer clay - why wouldn't covered wood work just as well?
08-14-2006, 11:47 AM
Well, perhaps the wood boxes I am using are too cheap. When I put the clay covered box into the oven, it swelled and split (even tho I primed it w/glue as I'd heard you must do) and the piece was ruined. Therefore, I'm shy about trying it again. Maybe I'm giving up too easily.
08-14-2006, 11:51 AM
You need to dry it in the oven before you coat with glue.
From http://www.glassattic.com (click Covering in the TOC):
(+ gourds, sticks, cork, nuts. . . + knobs, figures, & veneers)
NOTE: do not do ice water plunges (to increase clarity of translucent clays) with polymer-covered wood items unless they are completely sealed first (the wood may swell and crack the clay) ... may be okay though if the plunge is very brief?
When covering unfinished or raw wood items, you must heat the wood for about 15 min. at 250-275 degrees (soft woods?) to dry them ou t completely. . . this will help prevent the moisture present in unfinished wood from expanding during the later baking and causing bubbling or cracking in the clay covering.
...this might also depend on the size of the wood object --or natural material like a gourd, nut shell or piece of bark-- and how "dried out" it is already... it's probably fine to dry most anything at 150-200 degrees, for a lot longer too
.... Jon Anderson uses armatures under his clay coverings from scrap clay or hand carved wood...after applying slices, he bakes "for a period of hours "further reducing the images (?) and tightening the spaces (?) between the individual tiles... process may create crazing or tiny fissures in the clay"... (wood not completely dried out, or ?) ... http://www.fimocreations.com
Then coat it with one of several things:
...a layer of white-type glue (like regular Elmer's or Sobo) . . .let the glue dry completely before adding any clay (or moisture in the glue can bubble up because it has no way to escape) ...may also help to let rest at least a while before baking, and bake and cool as gradually as possible ..even tenting or enclosed baking can moderate the temp too
...I coat my wood eggs with Sobo glue before baking (let dry completely). ...then your clay "base" layer should stick quite well to the surface. ...I usually bake again at this point(??), before I apply the cane slices, or whatever. Jaynemarie
....I cover my wood with Elmers 'wood' glue first. Let completely dry, then apply clay. The only time I have incountered cracks in my clay is when the clay is uneven in thickness.
One more solution to take care of moisture in unfinished wood... Donna Kato decorated a frame with polyclay on HGTV recently. She painted the frame with acrylic paint first, no other treatment necessary before applying the clay.
….painting with acrylic seals the moisture in the wood (all wood contains moisture no matter how long you try to dry it).
. . . someone said this smells when baked?
...I ended up putting a layer of gesso on the wood before covering with clay. Then it did not crack later. Jeanne
Anything water based which is applied to wood will 'raise the grain', making the wood a bit fuzzy as the wood fibres absorb the water... but once dry, the primer paint would really seal the wood preventing it from absorbing any moisture. ....If applied while the wood was still warm from the oven, I think you'd get a near perfect moisture seal that way.
.....for later painting or varnishing, raised grain is bad news and must be sanded smooth ...but for using with clay, but I'm curious to know whether the fuzzy fibres might not mesh with the clay, thus creating a good mechanical bond? ...And does the glue provide a mechanical or a chemical bond, or both, with clay ? Karen G.
Sunni did an experiment on using translucent liquid clay instead of glue (on eggs...would work as well for wood?)... she tried both baking the TLS beforre adding her clay (cane slices) and also adding clay over the still-wet TLS . . both worked well and there were no bubbles in the clay slices covering ...so she will use unbaked TLS under her clay covering from now on
......I queried a friend of mine though and she recommend using TLS, and doing a couple of bakes since the first application of TLS may get too soaked into the wood to effectively adhere to the clay. Desiree
Probably Flecto's Varathane would work too? ...and also Future?
...(more on adhesives and primers in Glues, and in Liquid Clay > "As Glue")
Karen Rhodes covers her unfinished wood turnings pieces with floral tape before adding a base layer of clay (see figures made over wood shapes just below) ...she sells the wood pieces at http://www.clayalley.com (click on Wood)
for his little people, Jack Schwend uses a small wood form (a piece you can usually find with the small wood turnings at a craft or hardware store which is round at the top for a "head," has an indented area for the "neck)" and a solid cylinder at the bottom which acts as the torso... he cuts and tapers the bottom of the torso a bit so he can add legs from the upper hip area
... his Little Guys fly/hang or stand, Santas too...all coated with several layers of gloss Varathane so they look almost like high-glaze ceramic
I make large, polymer covered hardwood balls. ...mine are totally smooth with no extra embelishments on them. I cover a hardwood sphere with a coat of wood glue (which is a kind of white glue). Let it dry. Bake the heck out of it; several hours at about 300 F, to make sure it is dry, then I let it cool and cover it with polymer.
. . . It's fairly common to have the clay blow off the surface here and there (in a convection oven?), so I patch those areas and bake again.
.... once the clay is on there the way I like it, I polish the sphere by wet sanding (grit order: 180, 320, 400, 600, 1000, 1500, 2000.) James L
....One substance that comes to mind that might work for hardwoods, though it isn't considered a glue, would be Flecto's Varathane....we know it bonds well to polymer clay even though it's a wood finish. . .
...hardwood epoxies, however, would seem to be the ideal, as least from the wood's standpoint....given wood's tendency to shrink and expand, you'd probably want something optimized for hardwood characteristics. . . .
....I use the wooden beads from car seat covers that "help your back"---taxidrivers have 'em a lot, and people throw them out when the plastic thread breaks and there's a bead loose....there are enough to fill 2 gallon-baggies.... brand new at Target, they are usually around $6 (pay a kid a dollar to cut them free of the plastic they are strung onto)
........they need NO preparation at all (dont sand, dont soak, dont glue---just wrap with clay and bake). Sarajane
... when done mine looked great! ...but I went to finish them, and (re-)heated them at 200 for 10 mins just to warm them to put future on, and they all cracked severely!!! Jan C
... had you put these in water at ANY point??? ...also you must thoroughly dry them out in the oven before putting clay on (in MI)
... yeah, I guess I did give them an ice water dunk after curing... I might try some more, but seal first and no ice water dunk. Thanks! Jan C.
...to get a smooth solid clay covering on round wood beads, you can extrude snakes of clay through the clay gun and wrap the beads like wrapping twine around a ball lining up the snakes evenly as you go... then roll in your hands and smooth (this works much easier than trying to cut a piece of clay and getting it to go the same thickness over the bead). Jeanne
...to get beautiful metallic colors that have depth with a sheen on my wood beads, I useed several layers of Future and Pearl Ex...(coated with Future, painting on by finger...after drying, I applied streaks of Pearl-Ex (using different colors)... repeated (I had put these on skewers to hold them while painting and drying; standing them in a vase or container to dry.) ...don't remember how many layers. Liz
...if wood beads have been painted with acrylic paint, they won't need drying out before adding clay
...I've got some wood beads that are stained and I used them as bases for beads. All was fine til I dipped them in Future ...the stain ran and dyed the Future and I can see it around the holes of the beads....so I soaked them in water with bleach and most of the stain came out.... then baked them at 200 overnight to dry them. Dystini
I made some polymer pointers this way for one of my clients who kept getting ink on projects by using a ball point pen to point out certain areas....build it over a piece of steel music wire from the hobby store. Without the wire, it might flex too much. The other consideration would be weight. Covering wood might be lighter (maybe a chopstick?). Jody
handles of wooden spoons, etc..... use wood covering techniques, but see above in Metal above for photos and info on covering the handles of various pieces of silverware, measuring spoons, etc. in the same way... and possibly in Tools > Handles as well.
I covered a wood plaque (used as a base), a candle cup (for pen holder), and some wood spools with quilt canes once as a gift for a quilter...I painted it with acrylic paint which nicely finished the areas which weren't covered... on the spools, I put a strip of striped clay cut from a stack made from two shades of the same color (a light and a darker) so it would resemble "thread"
...Julie's lesson on covering mini wood spools with strips of patterned clay for beads
Omodtart's covered cars (I've seen wood cars and trucks at Michaels)
bare wood needlecases with slip caps can usually be purchased at quilt shops, etc.. and are great for covering with clay
Suzanne's recipe card file box covered with "tiles" over a base cover
Flo's hinged boxes with clasps (inexpensive ones, from Michaels, etc.) covered with clay, and fancy wood added to bottom, to become mini old-fashioned chests
NOTE: the smaller, cheaper unfinished (basswood?) boxes (from Walmart, Michaels for 99 cents) are often just glued together
... and the glue will degrade when heated (and can come apart later)...and where the box had already started coming apart, sometimes the clay would crack there
... for those types of boxes, I use those tiny nails to reinforce the construction before I dry them and cover with a layer of white glue... then they seem to stay together. Carla
more than one wood piece (or other material) can be joined together to create more complex shapes, or larger shapes
....before covering, can attach with masking tape, glue, screws, etc.,
...or after covering each, can join with clay, glues, armature wire, etc.
...or even after baking each unit, can join with screws, etc., or add more clay then bake again
artfulblogger (saffronwoman) stacked 2 large wood items together to create a large tower clock .... round wood box with lid, placed on edge atop a tall thick wood candlestick
(....box holds clock face .. dimensional sun rays around face, & more onlays ... plain Sculpey, painted)
look also for flat wood cutout shapes (sometimes called Woodles) available in smaller or larger versions (for embellishment, ornaments, etc.)
...and dimensional wood turnings (eggs, balls, knobs, candle cups, spindles, flower pots,buttons, vehicles, etc.) ... even strips of wood molding
..look at craft or hobby stores, as well as some older hardware type stores
unfinished wood pieces
unfinished wood shapes unfinished wood bottles, goblets, plates, nesting tall dome shapes, etc. (Minnesota Crafted)
unfinished wood boxes, shapes, plaques, etc. (Suzi's Wood Crafts)
unfinished wood bottles, goblets, plates, nesting tall dome shapes, etc. (Minnesota Crafted)
unfinished wood boxes, shapes, plaques, etc. (Suzi's Wood Crafts)
chipboard and fiberboard are particles of wood mixed with glue and shaped into boards
...chipboard is large chips glued together ....fiberboard is very small particles of wood (almost sawdust)
see Veneers below for flat sheets of baked clay to glue onto surfaces, like wood tables ...(or any material and item)
for covering wood knobs, see Misc Items to Cover > Knobs below
*Karen's lesson on face-and-body wood egg figure (Santa, etc.)
~my little guys are made from a wood egg, covered with floral tape (it makes the clay adhere better to the wood). Karen http://www.sculpey.com/Projects/projects_WoodenEggSanta.htm
...Lynda's Santa lesson, based on Karen's lesson
Karen's dinosaur & frog with wood eggs/apples/pears underneath (may later include a ghost, carpenter, bird lover, faerie, wizard, etc?)
One of the reasons that I use wood turnings is because of the weight of them. They give more heft to the sculptures and I find people like to feel the weight. The frog was done with a wood egg and a wood apple (for the head). The dinosuar (who is reading Jurassic Park) uses a wood pear and wood egg connected by 22 gauge wire (for the neck). And a wood bowl is the rock under the dino. Karen http://www.clayalley.com/turnings.htm
...Karen's other figures: http://www.clayalley.com/turnings.htm (click on Galleries at bottom)
...Karen's lesson on covering a wooden egg (using wire armature for legs) to make a figure & head (a covered acorn)
Karen's website (Clay Alley) where she now sells wood turnings . . .
lesson on a partly-covered clothes pin as note holder by Mark Sawicki
......he takes a clothespin apart ...embeds one half in clay which he sculpts to resemble an alligator with teeth
......removes the half clothespin...bakes... then glues a whole clothes pin back into the depression (after drawing bottom teeth on the bottom half of the new clothespin) .....could add a magnet or two to the back also?
I made a 2-storey dollhouse for my daughter primarily using popscicle sticks (for much of the furniture too)
...I used toenail clippers to cut the ends off of the sticks. Budster2023
08-14-2006, 09:27 PM
just use Magic-sculpt and avoid all these problems. No baking required.
08-14-2006, 10:38 PM
Except you can't do CANEWORK with Magic-sculpt and not everyone is a painter. Gads, leave off already.
08-17-2006, 09:00 AM
Thx for the info on Magic-sculpt. As I have so much polyclay, I'd like to continue working w/ and exploring that. But you never know when you'll need another medium for a project.
After much more careful prep, I succeeded in covering my first box (thx to all the help from y'all)... and it looks pretty good, if i do say so meself.
08-17-2006, 10:11 AM
That's beautiful! I'd love to see a closeup of the lid, too.
08-17-2006, 11:45 AM
Thank you Barbara!
I'm pleased to oblige.
08-17-2006, 01:50 PM
VERY nice...great job with faux stone.
08-17-2006, 04:52 PM
It was quite fun. I will polish & gloss & paint the inside a blazing gold.
Cain't wait to start the next one.
Thx again for your help—info & encouragement.
08-17-2006, 10:18 PM
GREAT job, pearliegirlie! I'm very impressed.
Great little box you created there. I'm glad that it all worked out for you! Nothing like a happy ending.
11-10-2011, 11:05 AM
I just made a handle for my microwave oven out of wood and polymer clay. It fell off years ago. I've been pulling it open with the screws that remained in the oven door where the handle used to be. My next door neighbor came over for a visit last night, and the timer for my curing handle went off. She said, "Baking something?" I said, "I'm making a handle for my microwave oven." As I was going into the kitchen to rescue it, she said, "Did I hear you say you were baking a handle for your microwave?" Yes, it is strange but I'm sure you guys have done some strange things.
The handle base was made from a scrap of ash wood that the contractor left who repaired my front door left. I cut it to shape, sort of, with a circular saw I haven't used in years--I'm terrified of big power tools. It didn't come out as I expected (straight, uniform shape) but I still have all my fingers. Then I drilled holes for the screws. I sprayed the wooden handle twice with Krylon black paint, let it dry between coats, then covered the wood with Polyclay Liquid Medium, and black Premo polymer clay, capturing the entire piece of wood. I smoothed, smoothed, smoothed until I got a fairly uniform surface. Finally, I cut slices of cane and laid them down in a row the length of the handle, using Liquid Medium to ensure the bind. To be on the safe side, I used a fairly high oven temperature--280 F-- to cure the handle. The higher temp. browned some of the lighter colored canes, but I'm calling it a "design feature." The handle is an improvement over the pair of screws that I have been using to open the microwave door. Polymer clay can fix anything.
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