Why won’t my clay harden?

Failure of clay to harden or cure properly can be attributed to various factors related to the type of clay, preparation, and curing process. Here are some common reasons why your clay may not be hardening as expected:

Insufficient Baking

If you are working with oven bake clay (polymer clay), inadequate baking can lead to soft or undercured results:

  • Ensure that you have followed the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended baking temperature and time.
  • Check the accuracy of your oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer.
  • Avoid underbaking or overbaking, as both can affect the clay’s hardness and durability.

Poor Conditioning

Inadequate conditioning of the clay can lead to uneven curing:

  • Knead and manipulate the clay thoroughly until it becomes soft, pliable, and free of air bubbles.
  • Avoid using clay that is too dry or too old, as these factors can impact the curing process.

Thick Sections

Thick sections of clay may not cure properly, resulting in soft or flexible areas:

  • For larger or thicker projects, consider using an armature or internal support structure to prevent distortion during baking.
  • Adjust the baking time and temperature to ensure even curing throughout the entire piece.

Contaminated Clay or Surface

Contaminants on the clay or work surface can affect curing:

  • Make sure your work area and tools are clean and free of debris that could transfer to the clay.
  • Avoid using baking surfaces or tools that have been in contact with food or other substances.

By addressing these potential issues and practicing proper clay preparation and baking techniques, you can troubleshoot and improve the hardening results of your clay projects.

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