How do you harden polymer clay?

Polymer clay is a versatile and popular medium used by artists and crafters to create a wide range of projects, from intricate jewelry to detailed sculptures. Baking polymer clay is a crucial step in the crafting process, as it transforms the clay from a pliable form to a durable and hardened material. In this article, we’ll explore various methods and techniques to effectively harden polymer clay and achieve the desired results for your creative endeavors.

1. Baking in a Conventional Oven

Traditional Baking:

Using a home oven:

The most common method for hardening polymer clay is baking it in a conventional home oven. Preheat the oven to the temperature specified on the clay’s packaging and place your creations on a baking sheet or tile. Bake the clay for the recommended duration, typically around 15 to 30 minutes per 1/4 inch (6mm) of thickness. Allow the clay to cool completely before handling.

2. Toaster Oven Baking

Compact Baking Alternative:

Using a toaster oven:

If you prefer a smaller and more controlled baking environment, a toaster oven can be used to harden polymer clay. Follow the same preheating and baking temperature guidelines as with a conventional oven. Place your creations on a baking surface and monitor the baking process closely to ensure even heating.

3. Steam Baking

Steam Curing Method:

Using steam to harden clay:

For certain types of polymer clay, steam baking can be an effective method to achieve hardness. Create a steam chamber by placing your clay creations in a heatproof container and suspending it above simmering water. Cover the container with a lid to trap the steam. Steam the clay for the recommended duration, as specified by the manufacturer.

4. Cold Porcelain Mix

Hybrid Clay Method:

Using a mixture of materials:

Cold porcelain is a mixture that can be combined with polymer clay to achieve additional hardness and durability. Mix cold porcelain powder with liquid ingredients as directed and knead it into the polymer clay. Shape your creations and allow them to air-dry or follow any specific curing instructions provided.

5. Hardeners and Sealers

Specialized Products:

Exploring polymer clay additives:

There are commercial products available, such as polymer clay hardeners or sealers, that are designed to enhance the hardness and durability of polymer clay. These additives can be mixed into the clay before shaping or applied as a sealer after baking to further enhance hardness.


Hardening polymer clay is a crucial step to ensure the durability and longevity of your creative projects. Whether you choose to bake in a conventional oven, use a toaster oven, experiment with steam baking, incorporate cold porcelain mix, or explore specialized additives, there are various methods and techniques at your disposal. By following the recommended guidelines, monitoring the baking process, and allowing for proper cooling, you can successfully harden polymer clay and create stunning and enduring pieces that showcase your artistic talents.

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