How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Polymer Clay?

Sealing acrylic paint on polymer clay is a very important step in the crafting process.

It helps to protect your creation from chipping and fading, and it gives it a nice finished look.

There are many different ways to seal acrylic paint, but some methods work better than others. In this article, we will explore the most effective sealing technique for acrylic paint on polymer clay.

sealed polymer clay ear rings

Gather Essential Materials

To get started, you need the following materials:

  • Polymer clay
  • Acrylic paints
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic rolling pin
  • Paper towel
  • Sealer
  • Paintbrushes

Once you’ve got the materials above, follow these steps to seal your acrylic paint on polymer clay:

1. Prepare the Polymer Clay

The first thing to do to seal acrylic paint on polymer clay is to prepare the polymer clay and here are a few steps to prepare it:

Bake the Polymer Clay to Cure it

To bake the polymer clay, knead it into a smooth dough and place it on a flat non-stick surface.

Using an acrylic rolling pin, roll the dough out to your preferred layer of thickness. Once you’ve achieved your preferred thickness – a quarter inch of thickness is better, cut the polymer clay into your desired shapes or patterns.

Preheat your oven to a temperature of about 230°F to 275°F. Place the shapes or patterns in the oven and bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes. The thinner the polymer clay, the less time it requires to stay in the oven.

Bake until the polymer clay hardens up but ensure that it doesn’t get burnt. Remove the cured polymer clay from the oven and set it somewhere safe.

Before going ahead to paint, make sure you leave the cured polymer clay to cool completely. Leaving it to cool overnight is the best idea.

Sand the Surface of the Baked Polymer Clay

With fine-grit sandpaper (500 grit sandpaper is fine), give the surface of your baked polymer clay a very light sanding.

Don’t exert much pressure as the sanding is just to smoothen down the surface. Sanding the surface gives the acrylic paint a good smoothened surface to stick to for a smooth finish.

After sanding, use a paper towel to wipe off any dust on the surface of the polymer clay.

You can slightly dampen the paper towel with lacquer thinner to remove the dust.

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If you have created complex designs with your polymer clay, be careful not to tamper with the design while sanding.

Seal the Surface of the Polymer Clay

Finally in this step, seal the surface of the polymer clay with acrylic gesso, flat spray paint, or any other sealer.

Sealing the surface prevents the polymer clay from quickly absorbing the acrylic paint. It’ll also ensure that the acrylic paint on the polymer clay doesn’t chip or peel later.

Please Note:

Baking your polymer clay before applying acrylic paint is not a necessity as acrylic paints can be used on either baked or unbaked clay. That is, you can decide to apply the acrylic paint on unbaked clay and bake the material after.

There are varying opinions on this idea. While some painters prefer to paint on baked polymer clay, some prefer to bake the clay after painting on it.

It all depends on your choice and the kind of project you’re working on.

Most painters who apply acrylic paint before baking their clay believe that baking painted polymer clay makes the paint bonds better. However, some paints tend to change their color when heated.

2. Select the Best Acrylic Paint for Your Polymer Clay

Make sure that you choose the right acrylic paint for your polymer clay to achieve the best result.

Most times, the brand of polymer clay you’re working with will determine the brand of acrylic paint you should purchase.

Polymer clay contains a plasticizer, which may react with the acrylic paint to be painted on it, especially if the paint contains plastic.

The plasticizer can soften the paint and make it sticky.

Another consideration is the thickness of the paint. It’s important to note that some acrylic paints are opaque while others are more translucent. This is due to the density of pigment present in them.

Opaque paints will cover the surface of the clay in one coat while the more translucent paints will require more coats to cover the surface.

Either of them is good but you have to pick the best for your kind of design.

3. Use the Right Types of Paintbrushes

You need several paintbrushes and can’t use just any type of paintbrushes for painting on polymer clay. Using the right paintbrushes will give you the best result.

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The type of paintbrushes you use per time will depend on the area you want to paint and what you’re creating.

Fine-tipped bristle paintbrushes are required when working on small creations or more defined details. Larger paintbrushes are required when working on a larger surface.

Make use of the right paintbrushes suitable for your painting.

Also, to achieve the best result, get yourself high-quality paintbrushes. High-quality paintbrushes won’t shed their bristles while working.

3. Apply the Acrylic Paint

Before applying the acrylic paint, dilute the paint in a container to achieve the required consistency.

If you’re using a secondary color, mix the primary colors in a disposable container meant only for acrylic paints.

Apply the first coat of paint on your polymer clay using a suitable high-quality paintbrush.

It’s better to use a thin layer of paint applied in more coats. A thick layer of paint applied at once may crack and peel.

Apply a thin layer of acrylic paint to the surface of the clay with a soft brush.

It is very important to let the paint dry before adding the next coat even if it requires leaving it for hours.

This is to prevent the paint from having bubbles or running. After the first coat is dry, sand it lightly again to have a smoother surface and remove light brush strokes, if any.

Ensure not to peel off the paint while sanding. After this, remove the dust and apply a second coat of paint.

Once the second coat of paint is dry, apply the third coat of acrylic paint. Distribute the paint evenly and pay attention to every detail.

Using a fine-tipped bristle paintbrush, apply the details to your design and allow it to dry.

Note that when working with acrylic paint, keep a bowl of water always beside you. Frequently dip the bristles of your brush in water.

This keeps the brush wet and prevents it from drying.

4. Apply a Thin Layer of Gel

After drying the paint properly, apply a thin layer of gel (or glue) over the entire surface of the polymer clay.

The essence of applying the gel is to fix the paint and make the artwork waterproof.

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Then leave the gel coat on the polymer clay to dry for several hours or overnight to ensure no tackiness is left.

5. Apply a Thin Layer of Wax

Next, mix modeling wax with some drops of colorant that matches your original paint.

Apply this mix in a thin coat over the entire artwork.

When it’s dry, use a small amount of extra-fine steel wool to lightly polish the surface of the artwork.

6. Seal the Acrylic Paint on Your Polymer Clay

Now apply a coat or two of sealant to the polymer clay. This gives the artwork a smooth glossy finish, seals the paint, and makes it permanent. It also protects the paint from external elements and keeps it from cracking or peeling off.

However, if you choose to bake your polymer clay after painting it, you can skip this step.

Instead, here’s what to do to seal the acrylic paint:

  • Preheat your oven to about 300°F.
  • Gently place the painted polymer clay in the oven.
  • Close the oven and let the clay bake for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the clay from the oven and set it somewhere safe.
  • Leave for several hours to allow it to cool down.

These steps will seal the acrylic paint and make the paint permanent on the clay.

7. Give Your Artwork a Slight Polishing

Leave the painted polymer clay for some days to properly dry. Now you have a sealed, water-resistant artwork. Give your artwork a slight polishing to perfect it now.

If you notice any area with discoloration or that’s not properly sealed, fix this area and you’re good to go.

To Conclude

These are the steps to follow to seal acrylic paint on polymer clay. The process is not difficult but requires time and patience to achieve the best result. With a little practice, you can create beautiful, long-lasting artworks using polymer clay and acrylic paint.

Thank you for reading! We hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

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