Gen. Info. ... summary of finishes
Finishes made specifically for polymer clay
Varathane (by Rustoleum... was Flecto)
...how to find it ....gen info ....other uses
...peeling-stickiness-etc.
...application-brushes-bubbles-brushmarks;
........PearlEx+pump sprayer
....... dipping, etc
Future
...sources
...gen info & uses
...coloring, inclusions, etc.
...removing .... misc.
Other acrylic/water-based finishes
....other brands
....fingernail polish
....white glues ...acrylic mediums + more
........dimensional finishes (Diamond Glaze, etc.)
... UTEE, clear & tinted embossing powders
More liquid finishes
....2-pt. epoxy resins (Liquid Glass, etc.) & 2-pt epoxy glues (Devcon,etc)
....Armorall...shellac...HighDesert Polyglaze
....finishes for Du-Kit brand clay
Liquid clays
Crackle finishes & crackling
Sprays
Testing finishes
Misc. for all finishes
Other ways to get shine or sheen without liquid finish
....heat...buffing while hot... Diluent, etc.
...Paste waxes ...Vaseline... more

FINISHES-SEALERS

(see Buffing > Misc. for putting Varathane or Diluent on a piece after sanding and buffing it
... to avoid scratching and dulling, and also improve transparency and glassiness)

Gen. Info.

SUMMARY:
For a finish on polymer clay, there are several choices
... you can leave clay items without a finish (they don't *need* to be finished as long as they're just clay), or give them a sheen, or give them a high glassy shine.
........there are 2 basic ways of getting a sheen or glassy shine ...one is applying a liquid or wax, and the other is wet-sanding then buffing.
1. the LIQUID finishes we generally use for clay are:
---Rustoleum's Diamond Interior Varathane (used to be called Flecto) (at hardware store with wood finishes), or any other acrylic interior polyurethane
---Future floor polish, or any other acrylic floor polish like Mop 'N Glo, Johnson's Klir, etc.
---finishes put out specifically for polymer clay (like Fimo's or Sculpey's)
---acrylic-based clear nail polish... but not enamel-based!)
---clear liquid clays (Fimo's or KatoPolyclay's... or apply TLS in thin layers)
---Liquid Glass (by Aristocrat) --2 pt.
---diluted white glue
---dimensional glues/adhesives (PolyGlaze, etc.)...easily scratched if not sealed
---UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Powder)... easily scratched if not covered sealed
Finishes can be applied with a brush, or fingers, or dipped, or puddled (then drip), or some with a cloth (particularly Future)'
Can be applied in single thick layers or several thin layers, depending on their inherent clarity of the medium used
...can be applied on plain finished surface, then excess allowed to drip off sides (place on narrow pedastal or hang, then dab at drips)
...can be dammed in with raw clay, wire, or anything else that will work
...if using liquid clay, baked (or unbaked?) polymer piece can be placed face down on puddle of liquid clay in a very smooth "mold," then baked (can later add layer of Varathane and rebake for max. hardness and shine)

Can be applied after baking (the usual way), or some even before baking (especially if left to sit overnight before baking)
Some can be rebaked for around 10 min. at 250 to further "harden" (Varathane, Future)
Can be bought, or applied, in different ways to achieve diff. degrees of shine/gloss.
. . .for example, Varathane comes in matte, semi-gloss & gloss; Fimo's comes in matte & gloss.. applying Future several times will bring up higher & higher gloss
...a higher smoothness and beauty can often be created by applying a finish and letting dry, then sanding and buffing (and maybe heating)... some clayers repeat this process several times
.......if you want to sand the Varathaned surface and give it a wonderful satin surface, it's best to use 2-3 coats of Varathane... then use 400 and 600 grit wet sandpaper... finally go over the piece with 0000 steel wool. DottyinCA (see more below in Varathane > Gen Info)

PASTE WAXES can give only a sheen to baked polymer...won't give a glassy shine
(clear wax shoe polish, carnauba waxes like Mother's Car Wax--not containing cleaners, saddle soap, even partly melted wax, etc.)

2. SANDING and BUFFING
To get the best shine from buffing, the baked clay needs to be as smooth as possible, so we generally wet-sand first with wet-dry sandpaper (at least 400 then 600 grit --doesn't take long)
......smoothing before baking helps a lot too, and can give a high gloss shine with little actual sanding after baking
(roll in hands with cornstarch, Bon Ami, water, etc, or pet with fingers, etc.)... see Sanding > Smoothing Before Sanding for much more
...To "buff" the smoothed-sanded clay, either rub against a pair of jeans or another fabric, or use an electric buffer (jewelry buffer with muslin wheel, bench grinder with muslin wheel, Dremel with muslin wheel... there are other things we've used too that are more "creative" and sometimes other materials besides muslin work well too (like felt).
Generally, the longer you buff, the higher the shine (though I'm not sure anything non-electric will ever give a glassy finish)
(...there are separate pages here on Sanding and Buffing ... buffing with a Dremel is in Tools > Dremels)

I tilt my work towards the sun (or light source) over a white background then rotate it to find any uneven spots and imperfections in the finish. doololly

Hand or machine buffing will bring back the shine of objects which have been previously buffed or sealed.

I have had great results toning down a too glossy finish by gently rubbing with fine pumice stone. Much better than going over the piece with matte glaze which can look cloudy and thick. Hardware stores have the pumice (it's a powder). I dampen a soft cloth, old terry cloth is good, pick up some pumice on the cloth and rub gently in a circular motion. Let it dry and the powder brushes off easily then a quick wipe with a damp cloth and you're done.
...or use 0000 steel wool

removing acrylic finishes
...You can try to sand off all the previous acrylic finish (though if you'd baked the finish, it will be more difficult to do), then start over. You may have to play around with the best grits to use though because you want to get through the acrylic fairly quickly but not take off too much of the clay surface (though that may not matter if you haven't used powder, or leaf, etc., or thin decorative clay on top of core clay, etc.).
..... Once you've gotten the sealer off, then using progressively finer grits, sand your way back up to 600 before buffing or doing another finish.
.....Depending on how smooth and flat your original acrylic finish was, you can also just sand it down thinner, then do the rest.
(if you used Future, it can be easier to remove than Varathane, etc.... see below under Future for using ammonia, etc.) Diane B.

Plastisizers (from raw clay or incompletely cured clay) live on your hands also and they love to eat the shine off of beautiful shiny finishes on finished pieces, so you shouldn't pick up anything with a beautiful finish on it without washing your hands eather!! leigh (see more in Baking > Gen.Info)
...(raw) clay is full of plastisizers, they keep the clay soft... when you bake, you bake them off... but if you don't bake it long enough, you don't kill off all of the plastisizors....then when you take it out of the oven, and the piece cools down, the plastisizors start to recover, and they go back to work starting to soften the clay... because there are only a few of them left, it takes a lot longer, but eventually some of the clay gets soft and the piece will now get brittle and fragile... if it is dropped it might just fracture and crack and the least little pressure will brewak it apart!!!...

TERMINOLOGY for "finishes":
...These days, people tend to use words like varnish, finish and sealer/sealant rather broadly to refer to a variety of things... and the lines between acrylic (water-based), and alkyd and oil based are getting blurry too.
...It used to be that varnish meant an oil-based, protective clear coating for wood that was tougher and more moisture resistant when dry than the older products it was designed to replace like shellac. It needed paint thinner to clean up or dilute it. . .
sealants, on the other hand, are more similar to a primer coat, like you'd put on drywall or other porous surfaces, either to stop them soaking up too much of the final coating used, or to provide a barrier between them and the final coats of whatever will be used, paint, etc..(wood sealants are generally used on wood that will have a transparent type of finish).
finish can mean almost anything from varnish to wax, polish, paint to a galaxy of faux treatments... literally it's what is used to 'finish' the piece (it can also refer to the process used to achieve a certain end look).
....Just to add to the confusion, anything you use to coat something which renders it water resistant has 'sealed ' it.... so varnish is not only varnish, it's also a finish and a sealant ...and if you need a durable, long lasting finish on your rocking chair, by all means, use floor varnish! See what I'm getting at?
.....Nowadays, shelves are stocked with a welter of varying products, and it's getting downright confusing trying to keep track.

....So for the sake of clarity where polymer clay is concerned, we can divide things we use to 'coat' or to 'finish' our pieces into two main categories:
water-based and petroleum solvent-based.
...(there are also alcohol-based products, but alcohol and water mix so usually the two are reasonably compatible)
Petroleum-based finishes or coatings, [alkyd, oil, some lacquers], don't work on our clays because of the kind of solvents they use.
.....Fortunately now we have water-based "varnish," which works beautifully on clay....
(re Future, it makes sense that it's compatible since it is acrylic [plastic] based, and can be washed up with water.)
....(alcohol-based inks work with clay, but not some other kinds of inks). Ke

(see below in Varathane and Future for possible substitute finishes which may be available in other countries)

Finishes manufactured specifically for polymer clay

Some manufacturers make finishes (varnishes) specificallly for polymer clay.
But since they're more expensive than any of the other things which will work well (which aren't specifically manufactured for polymer clay), they may be saved for certain applications, or not used at all.

Fimo ("laquers')
Eberhard Faber makes sealers for polymer clay in two basic categories:
... water-based and non-water based (aka alcohol-spirit-mineral) versions, each of which also comes in gloss and matte (for a total of 4)
....
they come in tiny bottles (10 ml) with brushes attached inside the caps, and are sometimes found near the top of the Fimo display stand in retail stores (or by mail order.... where larger bottles, without brushes, can be ordered as well).
...the non-water-based version is also referred to by some as mineral-based or spirit (alcohol) based.... most people like it a lot (and much more than the water-based version)... extremely durable...but very pricey for the quantity
..... I once coated a piece with the water-based Fimo glaze and it was accidentally dropped into a cup of hot coffee.. it became sticky and stayed pretty much that way ever after.. .the mineral based Fimo glaze however, won't do this. Dotty in CA
...the water-based version is available only by mail order? The size of the container (no brush inside these caps) is larger (35 ml) so they're cheaper and they're better for your lungs, but some people have said they don't look as good as the non-water-based.

(Be sure and completely shake up the matte one of either version, as the white substance that settles in the bottom is what makes the finish matte instead of glossy!)

I use the "mineral" (or "spirit") -based Fimo Varnish exclusively since it dries to a very hard coating, and is unaffected by weather or wear.
.... I live in a rainy climate (Oregon) and when I tried Fimo's water-based varnish, it never really felt cured, even though I oven-dried it.
....I only apply it under my kitchen stove-hood fan (to keep the vapors contained)
...by the way, you can also heat-set the solvent-based varnish- it's a good precaution. I just put things back into the oven for about 20 minutes.

The Fimo waterbased Varnish can be baked....in fact, on the bottle it even suggests baking the varnished piece at "100 degrees C" (that's 212 degrees F....) for about 10 minutes to make the varnish more 'resistant to humidity'......

Can I put it back in the oven WITH this varnish on??? well, I did this, and some spots turned white, and on this piece the effect was unpleasing- (using their water-based or regular one?)

Fimo laquer. . . its surface isn't always absolutely smooth sometimes if it's getting a little thick. I learned at Arrowmont that you can always apply the varnish and then sand and buff it to get a shiney surface again. I've been planning on doing that to some of my gold-leafed and real silver-leafed beads

I get one of the tiny bottles of the mineral based glaze with the brush, and also one of the larger bottles without. I keep my brush in the tiny one, but use the glaze from the larger bottle. I've had the same brush for about three years. I do use a lot of the glaze... but don't have to order the one with the brush again. . .
... keeping it in the bottle means the brush never dries out and never needs cleaning. Dotty
....
I rigged up an artichoke heart jar w/ one of those useless small brushes that come in blush. I used e-6000 to glue the brush to the lid of the jar. ....Now, not only do I have a jar that will keep the brush suspended in the future, meaning I don't have to clean the brush in between glazing sessions, but I have a brush that is much easier on the hands to use. I can grasp the whole lid, making for less pain in my hands. Laurel

I coloured them with Pearl-ex or Fimo mica powders, pre-baked, then varnished with diluted Fimo spirit gloss varnish...
....I find the (Fimo gloss) varnish easier to use when it's thinned with nitro - less likelyhood of brushmarks and bubbles etc. I contacted Eberhardt re the best thinning agent to use, and they told me that Nitrocellulose paint thinners would be most suitable - It works beautifully.....Also it tones the glossiness down just a little and, as you say, allows the mica (powders) sparkle to 'get through' a little better. Alan

Sculpey (Polyform) also makes finishes for polymer clay.
Sculpey Glaze is fairly thick and gloppy (maybe even thicker with age?) and not too popular with most clayers
......can be good for some thick shines though just with one coat (rather than several coats of Varathane or others)
.....can thin it with water, if desired
...some people have occasionally had a problem with Sculpey Glaze peeling off the surface. ...re-baking solves the problem (doesn't matter whether there was Krylon on the piece or not btw)... if you haven't had any problem with peeling though, don't re-bake and don't worry about it. Patti
...Sculpey's glaze globbed up on my baked pins... DragunnTiss
.......there's an easy fix for that problem...there can be an oily residue left on the clay surface after baking, which can sometimes act like a resist on your pieces, so you'll need to clean those with rubbing alcohol to remove it (since you're making a lot of pieces, just fill a bowl with the alcohol and swish them around in it. That should do the trick.) Jody B.
.......or somehow you could have gotten too much oil from your hands or from somewhere else on the clay before applying the finish.
......also, if you've used ArmorAll (which is silicone) as a mold release for the piece, it can often repel all kinds of later finishes, especially if not applied very lightly. Diane B.
(also see Application below, under Varathane, for ways to apply even Sculpey glaze without brushmarks, etc.)
(also see Peeling below for other variables like underbaking the clay, not letting a first coat dry thoroughly --could be moisture still underneath, residue from grouting, sanding the surface lightly before applying finish, etc.)
Studio by Sculpey Glossy Glaze and Studio By Sculpey Satin Glaze (clear acrylic finishes)... no info yet on characteristics
....they also sell acrylic finishes pre-tinted (brown or white) for antiquing with a bit of gloss (Studio by Sculpey Antiquing Medium)

(for High Desert Polyglaze ...by cre8it... a matte glaze pre-tinted in several colors, see below in More Liquid Finishes)

(for
Poly-Glaze...a dimensional acrylic medium finish by Lisa Pavelka, see below in Dimensional Finishes)
(for more on clear & flexible substances to use as flat or dimensional finishes...see also PVA glues, below in "White Glues")

VARATHANE (was "FLECTO")
Diamond Polyurethane (Interior, Water Based)

ALERT ...this product used to be produced by the Flecto company, so some clayers still refer to it as "Flecto"
(... HOWEVER... Rustoleum is now making it... and Flecto is no longer involved)
...unfortunately, you will still see the term Flecto (or Flecto's Varathane) used for this product all over GlassAttic ...so just remember that it's the same as Rustoleum's Varathane!

It comes in Gloss, Semi-Gloss (fairly matte), and Satin (extremely matte)
... but the Gloss is best quality for us because of its excellent adhesion properties
(.. Gloss can be made non-glossy after drying by sanding with 0000 steel wool, then lightly buffing)

How to find it!

June 2004: Rustoleum now manufactures Varathane (see alert just above)
Mar 4, 2000: Flecto Varathane has changed their packaging & name. They have changed the label of the product that WE want to read:

Varathane Diamond Polyurethane Interior Water Based" ... not their Diamond Floor Finish, etc.

We want for clay the one which features a blue-black SkinnerBlend sort of label with a wood chest of drawers in the center
(......... we DON'T want the tan to black--it's oil based). http://www.polyclay.com/flecto.htm Sarajane
....T
here is a product number to look for --the Gloss is #2000 (and #2000-41 in the quart size.... they also now have it in pints 'cause I bugged them about it so often!).... the formula is unchanged--just the packaging. Sarajane
(.....you may still run across an old can at the stores?)
(.....Varathane is also not the Flecto product called "Liquid Plastic" .... don' t know yet how it would do on clay)

Cans of Diamond Flecto can be purchased at many local hardware stores.
...Be careful though! because the salesperson is very likely to say they don't have it. They often do have it, but it's in a different place than the salesperson expects, i.e., with the wood finishes. Diane B.
....I found Flecto in (a local hardware store) in the "Finishes" section, in a whole different aisle from the wood varnishes and thinners section. In fact, they had a whole half an aisle dedicated to Flecto brand products. Desiree
...June 2004: the marketing folks at Rustoleum are working on getting into lots more stores, so it should get easier to find. Sarajane

I have found it in the smaller, quart size at Sears Hardware Stores.. not the Sears with clothing, just hardware. Emily N & Bonnie
...I actually got my quart of Flecto at the local Walmart
... a "True Value" or other little-guy hardware store more likely has it? ...Strosneiders, our local "true value" store, carries the whole line in small sizes. Laurel
.... find an Ace Hardware. I've found the quart sizes in gloss, semi-gloss and satin ....I'm out in the boonies and the town has a population of about 4,000 but mine had it. Patty B..
...I've also found it at Regal Paint Stores. Laurel
...I have tried Lowe's in the past and was told they carry the gallon size.
...Home Depot ....
in quarts (946 ml) for $14.00, in with the stains and finishes (may no longer have it...).

There is a retail source finder section coming to the official Varathane website
http://www.varathane.com/brand.asp?frm_brand_id=21&SBL=1..... and also at http://www.woodanswers.com
....you can also contact the Rust-Oleum Corporation at 1-800-635-3286 ...THEY can tell you where to find it. Sarajane

If you don't want the gallon size, you might have to just buy it on-line (though sometimes it can be found smaller--see just above)
...if you buy more than you want, it keeps well (just make sure it's well closed)... many clayers prefer to pour out a small amount to work with anyway, for example, in a glass baby food jar

ONLINE:... may have to order it online though if you can't find it locally
....Polymer Clay Express ...http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/finish.html has Flecto Varathane Diamond Elite in gloss, semi-gloss (or satin) and matte finishes, and I believe they're in the 4 oz.. size, which will last a dedicated clayer for a long time. ...(I bought a pint can - 16oz. - almost two years ago, and I'm about halfway through it.) ... Elizabeth

I found a can with the blue and black label it doesn't have the word 'polyurathane' on it . . .
....The word "polyurethane" is not important.... "Varathane" is just a brand name and means nothing really about what is actually in the can. Water base varnishes can have acrylic in them too. The resins used are not as important as the carrier or solvent they are dissolved in.
.... The most important thing is what the label says about how you wash up or clean up after using it. So long as it says you can wash the brushes or applicators with soap and water, you have the right product.
...The water-washup one also looks and smells very different from the oil based product. ... it's a milky whitish color in the can, is often thinner in consistency, and is a bit cloudy looking when applied (until it is fully dry when it goes crystal clear).
...Manufacturers so often use different brand names that have 'thane' or 'poly' as part of the name... and often employees in departments that sell this stuff don't know a lot about them...
...
there are SOOO many products out there now too... very similar things have such a variety of names for the same thing, like alkyd instead of oil. Oil can be vegetable now too, instead of petroleum. ..... The chemistry has changed so much over the past decades. Then there's lacquer, which needs lacquer thinner, and stuff like shellac that uses alcohol aka methylated spirits as thinner and cleaner too, along with all the various acrylic or something-'thane' products.
.... It pays big to read labels, and read the whole label, to save oneself grief later on. Which is why I always say to look first for the washing up instructions. Ke

OTHER BRANDS:
A paint dealer told me most of the acrylic finishes have an "IPN" additive and are similar to Varathane. Katherine?
.....Kelly Moore Paint ( in the western half of the US) makes a product called "Kelthane" that comes in flat, semi-gloss, and gloss.. . . It is very like Flecto Varathane but in tests has proven to be harder/more durable. I use it a lot and have liked it very much. It does not seem to get as "goopy" as Varathane. Gillian

No one imports (Flecto) Diamond Elite in Australia or New Zealand, and its not bottled under another name either. Petra
...You should be able to use any acrylic, water-washup finish for wood though. . .
...for those in Australia & Australasia (and other places?), Tania recommended a product called Cabot Crystal Clear - which is a water based floor varnish very similar to Varathane I suspect. Well, I bit the bullet and bought some - and it is WONDERFUL. It is milky in appearance whilst wet, but dries clear, hard and doesn't peel or flake like the Fimo and Sculpey brand glazes. Sera
...but there are pitfalls ....don't let it accumulate drippies...they will discolour, probably from a combo of slight clay dust in the dipping accumulating, and perhaps some oxidisation. Tania (though Varathane will do this as well)

General Info (re Varathane)

Flecto Varathane Diamond Elite (must be the water-washup one) is a high-quality sealant used by many clayers as a finishing/sealing coat for their work.
......it comes in 3 versions (Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin) though clayers generally use only the Gloss
...The clear Gloss is super-shiny and beautifully ... use it whenever you want a glass-like finish on anything (bare clay, paints, anything.)
.......it also brings out the depth in items that use translucent clays (like many fauxs, etc.)
...... excellent for creating enameling effects
.......also good over metallic leaf, foils, powders, paints, to give them snap and shine (and can be a sealer when necessary)
.......works well as a carrier(a clear medium) for powders like PearlEx (for painting with powders, etc.)
...The Semi-Gloss is actually fairly matte.
...The Satin is very matte
.
.... Satin will tend to dull your contrast and your colors
......the satin sample was too matte for my taste, actually, so I got semi-gloss instead. Helen
..... I really like the satin for a natural-"clay" finish though.... I put it on in very thin layers
......I sometimes use it on top of powders, or stampings with inks, and also in making stains when I want a more matte finish since it seals without adding shine. Actually, I use both (gloss and satin?) in making stains--depends on if you want any shine or not. Sarajane

Making GLOSS Varathane NOT-SHINY:
If you want to
give the Gloss Varathane a wonderful satin surface (non-glossy), sand it with 0000 steel wool, then lightly buff
....I like to use 2-3 coats of Varathane, letting it dry in between coats
.... then I lightly sand with 400 and 600 grit wet-dry sandpaper
.....and finally then go over the piece with 0000 steel wool, working in circles all over the piece (check to see if there are any really shiny spots and go over those). This really doesn't take much time and if you like the results, it's worth the effort. DottyinCA
.....I have had great results toning down a too glossy finish by gently rubbing with fine pumice stone. Much better than going over the piece with matte glaze which can look cloudy and thick. ...hardware stores have the pumice (it's a powder)
...... I dampen a soft cloth, old terry cloth is good, pick up some pumice on the cloth and rub gently in a circular motion. Let it dry and the powder brushes off easily then a quick wipe with a damp cloth and you're done.

...other abrasives should work too? (like scrubbing pads and cloths, etc).
..
I found out a little trick the other day from my hardware store that if you wanted a non-shiny polyurethane, you can add one tablespoon of mineral spirits to a quart of polyurethane and it will take away the shine....I tried it and it really works. Ilysa
........the polyurethane + mineral spirits sounds great, but wont this make the clay sticky eventually though? kellie
............probably !? ... would alcohol work instead?

'INTERPENETRATING NETWORK"... (IPN):
When I first starting claying 14 years ago, there was NO info available about glazes, coverings, etc., so I learned to TEST the reactions over months and years before committing.
.... For the last 8 years or so, I have been very very happy with a product called Indoor "Flecto Varathane Diamond Elite" with IPN (this stand for Inter Penetrating Network). . . IPN means to us that it goes INTO the clay (not just on top of it like many other finishes)
.......To really know how important this is, I demonstrate the difference in class....a flat bandaid size piece of clay, about a 2 on the pasta machine, is painted with FIMO laquer, another with Liquitex Acrylic Medim, and another with Varathane (all are dry). Try bending the pieces-- the bent FIMO laquer will flake away, the Liquitex peels off in a "skin" but the Varathane is fine. Sarajane
.....this property is much stronger in the Gloss version than in the Semi-Gloss or Satin
....When I first got into PC, all I had on hand was the Outdoor Diamond Elite Varathane and I didn't even know there was an indoor . . .all of my first glazed pieces were done with it. . .. It worked just fine and the pieces also look fine after one year . . . no yellowing or clouding.
. . .none of the pieces have been exposed to outdoor's weather or any water though, so don't know what diff that would make.
....... being a bit picky though, I did go buy the indoor variety ...I liked what Sarajane said about it BONDING with the clay and I don't know if the outdoor variety does that (it does). I do know that none of the finish on the cracked eggs separated or peeled though. Patti S.
... I was recently able to confirm that the outdoor Flecto Diamond Varathane also has IPN . Patti S.
..."Varathane® premium polyurethanes are available in application-specific formulas for interior, outdoor, and floor. Recognized by professionals for its exceptional durability, clarity, and hardness, Varathane polyurethanes outperform national brands." Flecto website

other good things about Varathane:
....
doesn't smell bad ... is water-wash up for brushes, etc
.... has a UV protectant and does not yellow, even after 8 years (like Future can)
....much cheaper than using finishes "made for polymer clay" and usually is as good or better (Fimo's "mineral" (alcohol based) laquer is very good, but it costs at least $2.00 for a tiny 2ml bottle)

I usually pour some in a babyfood jar, and work from there, so as to minimize contamination and also evaporation.
... A quart lasts me about a year, and I'm a heavy user.
............I like the small 4 oz. jars which contained pimientos too
. . . they're shorter and wider --good for dipping smaller things too (see below for more on dipping)

Use a good quality, soft hair brush, (mine's about 1/4 wide) and always wait for an item to cool completely--coating a warm item makes the Varathane dry immediately and it streaks. (see below for more on Application, Brushmarks, Brushes, Bubbles, etc.)
...use a GOOD brush and cooled clay, and you won't get streaks.
...don't stir Varathane vigorously since it will stir up bubbles which will dry in the (fast-drying) coat applied
......however, if it is not stirred really well from the bottom, that it dries at a different rate and seems to be a bit stickier.(??) Jeanne R.

Varathane can be used on clay before baking as well as after baking (....or doing both can give a really glossy look)
....Z Kripke uses Varathane on her composition metal leaf before baking......she says it keeps the leaf from changing colorin the heat (and also tarnishing?) .... after baking she puts on another coat.... It looked really great, and she says it worked well ..... I tried it and was pleased with how it kept the leaf looking like bright gold. Dotty
(....can use Future in the same way). Dotty

I've also applied it by pouring a tiny amount into the palm of my hand then coating the entire object with the varnish in my hands.
... then I let it dry on a painting board (see below in Misc. for all Finishes, for details on painting boards). Patty B.

As it ages in the can, Varathane gets thicker and gluier.
.....This is great for adhesion, but can be a problem when applying for the shine. . . then the coating does not self-level right, as it does with a fresher batch
...for shine, the consistency you ideally want is a bit thicker than milk, but not as thick as condensed milk. Sarajane
... can thin with water (or just make sure to keep the lid on tightly)
....Having just gotten my yearly new quart of Varathane, I notice that my old stuff showed WAY more brushmarks, likely having to do with the fact that it had thickened up quite a bit. By comparison, the old was like the consistancy of sweetened condensed milk, the new is more like milk, but a tich thicker. I think I should have gotten a new quart sooner, and used the last half a cup for other things. The new sure goes on easier!! Sarajane

It dries fast (compared to other types of finish).
....The varnish dries in 30 minute. . . but depending on humidity, can take a week or so to fully cure...Katherine Dewey

I rub a bit of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the rim of my jar of Varathane to keep it from sticking and getting crusty ( I also do this for paint and glue containers). Jeanette

You can bake or rebake Varathane...and it doesn't hurt the shine (and it can be applied to raw or baked clay... see below)
...in fact it seems to sometimes "set" the coating (200 degrees, for 5-10 min.), espeically thicker coatings from dipping, etc.
...I put the beads back in the oven at 200 degrees for 5-10 minutes after putting the Varathane on them. I just like the hardened look (& feel) better... also takes away any slight tackiness. Dianne C.
....this also makes really tiny brushmarks disappear!
....sometimes reheating is the only way to get my beads off the skewers too....
....Varathane is "safe" for rebaking)...the Material Safety Data sheet for Flecto Varathane says it's non-flammable. When evaporated in an oven --the whole can-- it may release some ammonia fumes, but it will not catch fire. ...the lowest flame point for any of its ingredients is 410 degrees F.... of course have reasonable ventilation. Sarajane
(for even more info, see Safety > Sealers)

Awhile back I covered a silverware (handle) and coated with Varathane.... I've been using the sample piece of silverware ever since and sending it through the dishwasher on the bottom rack and it is still in great shape.. and that was back when I was still using a allot of SculpeyIII...Dave

WARNINGS
...look for the Diamond Elite IPN part, as they have other kinds that don't work (like the oil-based ones).. must say "water-washup". Sarajane
......the IPN also doesn't work as well in the Semi-Gloss and Satin versions

(see Buffing > Misc. for putting Varathane or Diluent on a piece after sanding and buffing it
... to avoid scratching and dulling, and also improve transparency and glassiness even more )

My finish is just one coat of Varathane.. . but before I used that I did rub a little Vaseline on and then buffed it off. I don't know if that made a difference or not. Gwen (effect?)

(Varathane?) helps keep clay waterproof too--I'm testing some pieces in my bathroom and its been two years with no "bloom" on the clay, in spite of high humidity and actual water contact (covered my perfume bottles, the lids to baby oil and shampoo containers etc.) Sarajane

(see Mixing Media > Dried Flowers for more info on using dried flowers and plant material with Varathane)

I've made lots of 'bead stands' (to hold beads while drying or baking) by putting t-pins upside down (so points are up) into scrap clay and bake them for 1 - 2 hours at 260 degrees... then I place my beads on top of them. Dianne C

for a shiny enamel look, there are some cool recipes for stuff that looks like cold enamel in "Frames with Flair," by Suzanne McNeill
.... the author
mixes 1/2 water-based polyurethane (like Varathane) with 1/2 acrylic paint
.... for a dimensional look that can be applied with squeeze bottles for raised designs, mix 6 tsp. baking soda to 3-1/2 to 4 tsp paint. MJ

Kato Polyclay does not take Varathane finish well because of it's extremely smooth, dense, and slightly shiny finish
...... it may bead up during application, and/or peel off after drying.
...for a workaround. to use so Varathane can be used with Kato, see below in "Peeling"
(...or just use Future, or sand and buff instead if a high-gloss finish is desired on Kato clay)

large expanses of some other clays or colors may be a bit too smooth for Varathane to adhere well too
...large expanses of glow-in-the-dark clay (Premo only?), Cernit, and some Sculpey colors. Sarajane

The particles in the semi-gloss and satin versions of Varathane can also interfere with excellent adhesion of the gloss Varathane to some extent. Sarajane

(the spray version of Varathane is now shown not to react with polymer clay, so it's fine to use)

Other Uses

You can mix it with acrylic paints or Pearlex powders to make stains and antiquing finishes (for faux stones, ivory, etc... and also for faux cloisonne).

It works as glue in mosaics (and other ways)....Bryan tiled a radio flyer wagon and a guitar this way, using cane slices. Sarajane
...and for decoupage

Varathane as a transfer medium:
....
my most favorite method of transferring an image to clay uses plain ol' Varathane as the medium
.....this method does NOT make a decal like liquid clay can though... it is a "direct" transfer onto clay (or other surfaces)
.... it is permanent on the clay (unless you scratch it off)
......this technique was described in Polymer Cafe last year where it was described as a Raku Effect, but you can just skip the chalks and transfer the image
....It's an easy method, you just need to be careful in two steps of the way:
......don't move the image as you apply it to the varathaned raw clay (so there won't be any smearing
..... you have to rub the paper off the baked clay after wetting (or soaking?)...and while you need to take it off to the point that the image no longer looks milky, you want to be careful not to rub the image completely off
....I do a lot of pendants this way and will be doing some boxes embellished with these (I transfer the image of a particular dog on to a piece of raw clay, bake it and then glue that to the top of the wooden box). Barbe

Peeling-cracking... Stickiness... beading up. . .also Flecto vs.Future?

PEELING ....most people haven't had trouble with Varathane peeling (although a few people had reported it had)
There are some variables that might lead to those infrequent cases of peeling though:
...the Semi-gloss and Satin versions may not stick quite as well as the regular Gloss version (so be sure to re-bake)
...be sure that the Varathane is left to cure completely (not to just dry) before subjecting it to scratching or stress ...(Varathane dries in 30 min., but depending on humidity, it can take a week or so to fully cure...Katherine Dewey) (..just like latex wall paint which isn't really durable for a week after you paint. Patti K.)
......I also qucikly sand my baked clay first (400 grit) . . this removes the surface tension and helps the glazes bond with the clay better.
....... I also keep brushes that are only used with the Varathane (so no water or other contaminants are present in the bristles).
.......this is a long shot, but are you sure it is thoroughly mixed? some particles may sink to the bottom of the can . Alcina (...stir, don't shake)
...rebaking at 200 for 5-10 min. is a good idea anyway to give a really hard surface ...let your Varathane-coated piece sit for a few hours at least... then bake it for about ten minutes and let cool.
........if the layer of finish is very thick (as with dipping), it's best to rebake the finish to attach it super well
...........rebaking really bonds the Varathane to the clay.. (even for older items which peel later)
....I've been using the semi gloss Varathane with no problem with later peeling at all, and I don't always rebake it
.
...best results for not peeling are gotten with brushed-on applications, not dipping. The thicker coat that forms from dipping can result in the finish peeling away, particularly in humid climates. But baking again at 200 degrees 10 min. can help "set" a finish and prevent that.
......I've never had a problem with peeling my dipped items

There is an oily residue left on the clay surface after baking, and it can act like a resist sometimes
... in that case, you need to clean it with rubbing alcohol to remove it. (since you're making a lot of pieces, just fill a bowl with the alcohol and swish them around in it. That should do the trick.) Jody B.
...or somehow you could have gotten too much oil from your hands or somewhere else on the pins before applying the finish
..The first question to answer is, was the clay totally cured? ...if not, the oily plasticizer will leach up to the surface over time.
... If the clay was baked fully, there still could have been some oiliness on the surface that settled there in the oven.
(this is why it's always a good idea to clean the clay with rubbing alcohol before putting a finish on it).

It also occurs to me, after reading everyone's advice, that there may have been a slight residue left on the clay from the grouting process on my mosaic, which prevented the varnish from adhering completely. ....I will clean the next sample carefully with alcohol first AND bake it again. Candace

The only other thing that might cause this kind of trouble is if you had used a lot of Armorall as a mold release. Jody B.

I discovered that Diluent does cause peeling if applied over Varathane when I was trying to determine if you could add more clay to pieces after they'd been varnished ... since Diluent is essentially a solvent, it did break down the Varathane/clay bond.
....perhaps, underbaking has had the same effect as free plasticisers (resins that aren't inert because they haven't been fused) caused the Varathane to break down and peel.

In your case, it sounds as if there may have been too much loose Pearlex left when you finished them
.... I usually give things a little wash with running water to be sure the loose Pearlex is gone before doing the Flecto. Jody B

Kato Polyclay may not take Varathane finish well (without other steps) because it has a very smooth and slightly shiny natural finish
... the Varathane may bead up during application, and/or peel off after drying after some days.
WORKAROUNDS for Varathane problem:
....if you are using Kato clays you may need to apply the thinnest little layer of the liquid clay first, to give the piece some "tooth" for the Varathane to hold onto
........I apply it with a makeup sponge, or a drop or two then smear with a finger, bake for 10 min... then Varathane. Sarajane
...Kato Polyclay has water-repellent properties (even more than other polymer clays) ...since some waterbase finishes could contain in excess of 50% water in the formulation, those finishes could bead up, puddle, or peel off later when used with it. The key to making those finishes work with Kato Polyclay is surface preparation, though it involves an extra step. There are two ways to do this:
---1. rub a very small amount of Kato liquid clay into the surface of the cured clay (as if you were waxing it), then remove all excess with a paper towel or soft cloth (do not cure)...then just brush on or dip into the Varathane
..........if you want, for extra toughness in the finish, bake again after the Varathane has dried
---2. or paint a thin coat of Kato liquid clay onto the cured clay surface, then cure. ...after it has cooled, brush on or dip into the Varathane (and cure again for extra toughness if desired).
......What causes the liquid polyclay to bond or join these two products? Does it not also have the same water-repellent properties as solid Kato Polyclay? The Kato Liquid Polyclay does repel water but it is not pigmented in the same manner therefore increasing its acceptability." (We know it has excellent adhesion to the polyclay because it is a liquid version)...I believe that the compatibility lies in the polymer and plasticizer. The Varathane, besides its water content, also contains a polymer and plasticizer in its formulation. It is unknown to me which ones they are but they bond and are compatible to the liquid polyclay.
......at this time I do not know about the other Rustoleum/Varathane finishes.
......I do know that many artists use Future floor wax on Kato Polycay with good results (Lisa Pavelka, a rep for Kato clay, uses Future).
......By the way, there is a plan to upgrade the Kato Polyclay website and hopefully it will contain the answers to frequently asked questions. Tony
...Ah ha! That's why it worked for me on the last batch of beads. I used my VERY old indoor (water-washup) Varathane on them, and it's water content is probably very much lower than the new outdoor stuff I have, which caused me problems awhile back. Patti
... A new finish may also be developed for Kato Polyclay by Van Aken.

Translucent clay or Glow-In-The-Dark clays may also require the workaround just mentioned for Kato Polyclay.

On flexible clay items, it may be best to use Varathane as a finish (rather than Future) since it bends and flexes with the item (Varathane penetrates into the clay) ... Future will crack as the clay is bent! (try it on a scrap sheet of clay to prove it to yourself.)
HOWEVER, others say NOT TRUE –maybe was due to other factors?
....test: ...OK, I did a test.... I applied one coat of Future on a piece of Fimo fresh from the oven (which may have caused it to behave differently and penetrate more than if applied to a cool item though)... . Let it cool for a few hours - so far after much bending and twisting, I see no evidence of flaking or shattering. It appears fairly well bonded to the polymer clay. Desiree

Instead of using Varathane, I would suggest you try using Fimo's mineral-based glaze. It isn't a water based glaze but it IS compatible with the clay. It is my favorite glaze when you want a good shine and I've never had it peel. Dotty

stickiness: Several times I have received items in swaps that were finished with some substance (Flecto or something else?) I never asked what) that was sticky and didn't dry with several weeks' waiting..... I rebaked them, and they dried out fine and have never been sticky since (more than 6 months later). LynnDel
...I had one disastrous experience with sticky beads that rebaking wouldn't cure- so I soaked them in nail polish remover (acetone), wiping them down with old socks-- the crap all came off and I was then able to buff them. I've avoided glazes most oof the time since then. Jeannine
....I scrubbed the sticky pieces w/ mineral spirits and a toothbrush to get the old flecto finish off. Today they all look fine...not sure how they'll fare down the road. I hope there is no residue left on them (none that I could see). Sharon
....Some clay stuff had gotten almost sticky after they'd been varnished with Delta Ceramcoat acrylic, plus the shine dulled, so I put a couple of coats of Flecto Gloss over the sticky stuff, and so far, everything seems terrific... beautiful shine, hard coat, no stickiness. (some of the items, I had attempted to rebake, some not. Elizabeth
...
some of my finished Flecto pieces have gotten tacky after awhile . . . anyone know why? Dave
.....humidity: I've had the same experience--but it was in an outdoor show and it rained off and on all day. Only had three pieces left when I got home and after one day indoors, they were okay again. I am still concerned about this. Have never had a problem with anything which was kept indoors in air conditioning. I think the items that I had sold were not reheated after applying the flecto-varathane and now I routinely put items back in the oven just for a few minutes at 180 degrees and I "think" this helps. Jeanne R.
...I do know that if the Flecto is not stirred really well from the bottom, that it dries at a different rate and seems to be a bit stickier.(??) Jeanne R.

Application, Brushes ...Brushmarks... Bubbles

Varathane can be applied to raw clay or baked clay... then baked or re-baked.

Z Kripke, a great poly-clay artist, often coats her cane slices before baking and pieces with the Flecto Varathane, and lets them sit until she needs them (she turns out tons of beautiful ethnic style necklaces for museums)
....Then, she just pops them into the oven and bakes. No problem at all. The sitting doesn't seem to hurt or affect the piece.

....She tried the Varathane because she didn't like the way that the (composite) gold foil changed color if it was on the surface of the clay when it was baked. She put the varathane on before baking and viola, no color change. Dotty
...I also do this when I'm doing something with bas relief in white and will be handling the item a lot before baking. kelly KLK

if you are getting bubbles when brushing on Varathane, try using a smaller brush--and as Jami said, a soft one. I've been using a fairly small watercolor brush (ie good quality, cost around $6.00) with good results . . .
....By using a smaller brush, you also won't get too much on the brush at once when dipping it.
... Use a light touch, rather than "scrubbing.
...Also DO NOT wipe the brush on the edge of the container when loading the varathane to the brush---this makes for lots of bubbles
...just dip, pull up, and apply.
. Sarajane
....If you see bubbles, especially with the dip method, just give them a quick blow and they disappear! Jean S.
......... or use the
torn edge of a paper towel to wick off any drips before they dry
...I wipe the Varathane I've already applied with a soft brush with a DRY sponge brush ... that cleans up the few stray bubbles nicely. . Helen

...after baking, Varathane can be sanded in case you get fuzzies or air bubbles, etc., on your work --I use 2000 or 2500 grit ... then buff.

more on brushstrokes:
....
soft hair brushes are best, but you don't necessarily have to use an expensive brush (I had some really cheap brushes that worked great for small things)
....I also try for long strokes .
....and I hold the brush at an angle to the surface. Sarajane
....also, it is important not to overbrush an item because this causes small bubbles in the finish that can also feel gritty
.
...use a light touch, rather than "scrubbing." Heather

...There is also a "just right" amount of varathane on the brush that works best (hard to describe but it's wet enough to flow well, but not so wet that it runs.
... also don't use too little Varathane...get it on there and spread around in quantity so it won't dry too soon ....I was surprised to find that I got worse brushstrokes when I used too little. Sarajane

...the baked clay item can also be dipped into Varathane, etc., to avoid brushstrokes, and often bubbles (see below in Dipping)

baking the Varathane (rebaking finish with clay) can make minute brushmarks disappear! (as well as setting and hardening it)

also use the right consistency of Varathane (not thickened)
.... fresh Varathane is the consistency of milk and it self levels, so you should never have runnels or grooves if it hasn't thickened. Sarajane
..I keep a small jar of Flecto that I get from the gallon can... having the jar open while applying finish will let it thicken a bit too much.
.....you can use clean water to thin the Varathane, if needed. James
.... I notice that my old Varathane had thickened up quite a bit, and also showed more brushmarks
........ the old Varathane was like the consistency of
sweetened condensed milk, the new Varathane is more like milk, but a tich thicker. I think I should have gotten a new quart sooner, and used the last half a cup for other things. The new sure goes on easier!! Sarajane

Varathane was originally made for wood and is designed to be sanded in between coats
...so you also could try light sanding between coats to make it smoother. Heather

James, how do you get that very smooth finish on your bowls?
....Varathane!.......use the softest synthetic brush you can find.
....get a few widths, 1/2", 1", 2", etc.... then use the biggest brush that will still follow the contours of your piece
....and move as fast as you can
....I wet sand with 2000 grit between several coats.
..to clean the brush, use really cold water and ordinary bar soap. (warm water will cook the polymers into the brush and ruin it.)...point the wet brush and let it dry... riffle the dried brush, and shake all of the dust out of it..... use a bright desk lamp to see the dust. James

If the brush strokes are not too bad, rebaking can help. Sarajane
.....Both Flecto and Future can be put back into the oven for a few minutes after they dry.... this "melts" the finish some and often gets rid of brush marks. Heather
....I re-bake my dried items for about 10 minutes at 250°.. Sarajane says 200
(.......Material Safety Data sheet: Flecto Varathane is non-flammable. When evaporated in an oven --the whole can-- it may release some ammonia fumes, but it will not catch fire. ...the lowest flame point for any of its ingredients is 410 degrees F. That's VERY very different from --some other finishes and paints which are not safe in the oven). Sarajane
....Hey, I know people have sworn that baking polymer clay that has been finished with Flecto makes the finish really tough, but have you noticed also that the brush marks melt away? I thought I had a bit of sanding to do, though the brush strokes weren't terrible, but when it came out of the oven it was much smoother..... this was over Transparent Liquid Sculpey ...does that work on the regular clay? Jody Bishel
..Yeah, they do dissipate somewhat . . . (I have a piece) with Flecto protecting the Pearlex finish. I tinted part of the varnish with Alizarin Crimson and had a hellavu time with brush strokes because of the pigment load. I had settled on "attractive" brush strokes, but after baking the strokes were gone and I had the finish I initially sought. .Katherine Dewey

Pearl Ex & Pump sprayers (& Flecto)

You can mix Varathane with Pearlex powders or acrylic paints to make stains and antiquing finishes for baked items .... (for faux stones, ivory, etc, also for faux cloisonne, etc. ).

I also use a little more Pearl-X than I think I need since the (Flecto) Varathane can soak some of it up.

Silver pearlex is kinda on the dull side... but re-applying Pearl Ex over Flecto followed by a light, light buffing (I was desperate) and reapplying Flecto made it shine. Naturally, I baked it again. Katherine(?)

It's sometimes hard to brush on Flecto without disturbing the applied PearlEx, so for my leaves I diluted some Flecto with about 20-30% water in a little pump sprayer... I misted the leaves. ....waited half and hour ... then misted them, again.
....This won't give you the really shiny look that brushing it on will, so if you want the high shine, brush it on, the third time (it will be set enough that the powder won't come off).
.... test the sprayer first, to make sure that it mists, and doesn't spray in big gobs
... after you're done, pump clear water through the sprayer part before you put it back in the bottle. PyroPatty gave me the courage to give this method a shot, and it works really well, so far. Bet it would work with Future, too. Elizabeth
....Patty said: "I found some cheap 4 oz. pump spray bottles at Michaels…. work really well for me."

Dipping

Dip and drip, and you'll get no bubbles. Its the wiping on the side that does the bubbles. May sound silly... Sarajane

I would love to know how you dip with the varathane. I have always had a problem with it pooling at the point where it drips off the piece.
It shouldn't be too big a problem with the Flecto Varathane, because it's thinner than the "Varathane" that we used to dip bread dough ornaments into. The Flecto dries much faster than the other kind of Varathane, too. When I make something where drips can be a problem, I just keep a flat sable artist's brush and a jar of water handy and I watch the drying rack... wherever I see a pool or a drip forming, I just dab it off with the damp brush, rinse the brush, squeeze out the bristles and look for the next one. You don't even have to touch the bristles to the piece, usually, just to the drip... the brush sucks it right up. Elizabeth

~I found an easy way to Future (or Varathane) (beads and pendants with holes all the way through). I strand the finished pendant on wire, bent it into a V-shape and dip the pendant into a waxed dixie cup filled enough to submerse the item. I dipped each pendant twice, then hung them on (wires strung across) my baking pan that was lined with a paper towel and a piece of aluminum foil underneath. After each item sat for a few minutes, before I bake them, I took a small natural bristle paint brush, and wiped off the drips on the bottom of each item to be baked. I repeated this procedure twice (baking on two layers) and found the results were pretty nice. Also, the remainder of the Future from the cup was poured back into the container. This is a great way to cover the entire item, and to really save on the amount of Future you use. Darlene
Darlene
's lesson on dipping on wire http://modernclay.homestead.com/dipping.html
Darlene says with this method if there is excess sealer left in the holes after drying, wait 24 hrs. then clean out with bead reamer, etc.

(I dip in Future). Using a toothpick (flat or round), dip the bead once and suspend from one of those wire dish racks I use those mini clothes pins, one on each side of the toothpick so the bead is suspended. Lightly dab the drop that accumulates at the bottom of the bead with a paper towel. Don't touch the bead, just let the drop fall onto the paper. Let dry. Dip a second time, dab, dry. Once dry, bake for about 10 or 12 minutes to set (still on the toothpick. FranL

Especially if dipping, it may be best to bake again (200 degrees F, 5-10 min) to set and harden the Varathane... otherwise, in a few cases, the Varathane could peel off later

Elissa's lesson on dipping large beads/pieces with embedded loops, etc., dab with folded paper every 10 minutes for a half-hour;
...also how to dip pins by using a Blue Tack-ed (very long) screw to use for holding while dipping, and drying at an angle pushed into foam sheet (...thus also retaining an unfinished area under the Blue Tack for gluing on a pin back later)
http://pcpolyzine.com/april2001/varathane2.html

Jack's sculpted ornaments are dipped multiple times in gloss Varathane to create his ultra-shiny (ceramic-looking) finishes.
....each of my figures is 5" inches tall, so they can be dipped right into the gallon can of Varathane I keep on a table in my work room... then they're hung over the can to catch the excess (drying in about 30 minutes).
....each ornament gets 5- 6 coats because I like a glassy smooth finish ...the idea is to make them look toy-like.
....oh, a hint for keeping the points where the drips are . . . . I use heavy construction paper,cut into strips bent slightly for strength, dipped in water. As the dripping slows down to a stop, tap the wet paper stips on the excess Flecto lightly. The moisture keeps the area moist and smooth, helps from leaving a bare, dry spot. Jack
http://jacksworkshoppe.homestead.com/page2.html

Oborochann dips her small baked clay figures (after adding details with pigment ink and stamped acrylic paint) into clear gloss finish (Sculpey Glaze, which is a thicker gloss finish than Varathane or Future, etc.), then removes the drip with a soft brush
http://oborochann.deviantart.com/art/Octopus-Charm-Tutorial-45828570 (last photos)

My lesson on dipping
( also in Polyzine, Dec.01--Tools, but photos are smaller)

Here is the dip & drip system I've set up for sealing and glossing my little Bottles of Hope (but could be used for any bottles or vases if they're not too heavy) using Flecto Varathane (or could use Future?). It's comprised of two parts and I used simple materials for each.
(smaller photos of my set-up are with the original Polyzine article, near the bottom of the page:
http://pcpolyzine.com/december2001/tools.html )
(website gone)
--First I made the "spring hooks" which fit down into the baked bottles; these allow me to dip and hang them without any disturbance to the outside surface.
.... I used a 5 1/2" length of 19 gauge, dark annealed steel wire, which is fairly sturdy, for these hooks which I wrapped twice around a needletool barrel (or crochet hook, pen,etc.).
.... After the second wrap I continued rotating it until it crossed over the first "leg" of wire yet again (pressing the legs together afterwards allows them to be inserted into the bottle but the legs are still stiff enough to keep the bottle from falling.)
....I cut the legs an even length, making some of the hooks short and some long (longer ones allow taller bottles to be dunked with more control).
(If your bottle or vase has no neck, try pressing a wad of raw clay or Blue Tac on the ends of the legs before inserting the springhooks to help grip on the inside walls of the bottle, then dip carefully!)

The smaller s-hooks for dipping and drying the bottle tops (stoppers, etc.) were made from large Christmas ornament hooks, unbent, then cut in half and re-bent. The smaller end should be a shallow hook; the larger end should be formed into a loop so it can be connected to the loop of a springhook.
I pressed a wad of raw clay around the larger loop end for each. The bottom part of the bottle top can then be pressed into the raw clay and the unit acts as a holder/hook.
(website gone)
For the drying setup, I bent two pieces of cardboard so they would support a rack laid on top; using two allows space to reach in and catch drips from either side. (I generally put aluminum foil in the bottom) (or use dowels, pencils, etc. across the top).
... I dipped each bottle slowly into the spice bottle I use for holding a small amount of Varathane; pressing down with the springhook and kind of rotating it around helps cover the complete rim of the bottle (I don't let any fall into my bottles).
... I held the wet bottle over the Varathane (tipped a bit) for maybe 30 seconds while it dripped, then hung it from the rack.
... They continue to drip slowly for awhile, so I use a wet sponge brush, which is parked in a presciption bottle with water until needed, and set a timer for 5 minutes; then I press the damp brush to the bottom of each bottle to soak up drips, set the timer again and repeat; sometimes twice.
(Make sure there is no excess finish on the bottle bottoms, or they will stick slightly to the baking surface**.)

Bubbles are minimized with this method, but someone from my guild said which appear can be popped by giving them a quick blow (works!).
Also, any excess sealer which collects in nooks or crannies can be soaked up with the torn edge of a paper towel.

I usually (re)bake the bottles to "harden" the finish even more (10 min. at 200º). Diane Black
````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

**(if there is too much finish on the bottom of the item,or a bit of finish still sliding slowly down the sides, the item can stick to the baking surface)

I have found the best paper to use when rebaking (Future) is Quilon Coated Baking Sheets/pan liners. I find them at Gordon Food Service. The pieces peel right off of this paper. Kimba

...you can incorporate a piece of thread into the item, leaving a piece of string hanging out. do all your painting, decorating, embellishing and futuring leaving this string on. hang your futured top to drip. when it's all cured and ready to go, snip off the string and then fire it with a match! *poof* gone. that's what i do with eggs. Sunni

adding color (paints & powders)

I use regular acrylic paints to tint Flecto for glazes and antiquing.. . . I'm sure you could use Pinata inks, too. Kathy W.

A great medium to do the same thing would be acrylic gel medium tinted with acrylic paint. This is what I use in my mixed media paintings sometimes, works great. MagicMoira

I wanted to see if there was a way to tint the Flecto varathane ...I wanted something ...more like an overall color wash (which I could use over (baked or raw?) basic two-color clay patterns like these translucent and opaque spirals. .so I thought I'd try using watercolor paints. (This made their colors look very different!) ...Using the varathane directly on the color to pick up the pigment, I cut it back into a small amount of varathane to get the desired color strength, then just sort of swirled it on (or could dip?). I had to hang my pendants upright (using wooden skewers and wire) so I could do both the back and the front at the same time....
...I used Crayola watercolor paints (in a "palette") that had some nice jewel tone colors. Since this was an experiment, I wasn't too worried about drips, but I did have to put it on a little bit heavier than normal. I had to work fast, because the varathane became slightly tacky. This could be because was using a small amount. The effect came out looking like an Easter egg or a tie dyed shirt. I was happy with the results, but it's still not quite what I had hoped for.. TRACY
...on one of these she used different color tints on different parts of the surface...

(see more in Paints > Antiquing & Patinas for glazes, etc.)

I coated the baked items with Pearlex by rubbing Diluent where I wanted the powder to adhere, till tacky. Popped it back into the oven for 20-30 minutes, then when cool, varnished them with Diamond Finish Varathane Satin with IPN varnish. . . . After a year of heavy wear, the piece looks as if it were made yesterday. The varnish dries in thirty minutes, but, depending on humidity, can take a week or so to cure...Katherine Dewey

Then after (the item with Fimo pulver is) baked, I'd seal it with something, probably Flecto, as Future sometimes makes the pulver powder come off as you're brushing it on. Dawndove

Miscellaneous (Varathane)

Z Kripke uses the Flecto on raw clay, over her pieces which have metal leaf on them.... says it keeps the leaf from changing color. Seems to work just fine for her.

When the shine is from varnish only, without sanding beforehand, every fingerprint and flaw seems to pop out.... I have not (to my knowledge) seen in person any pieces that have been sanded and buffed and then varnished, so I can't really comment on that. I know we polymer clayers like bright juicy colors and high shines, so subtle is not always easy for us to do. :) But sometimes the shine takes away from the beauty of a piece. Just my opinion; your mileage may vary, Irene in western NC

Remember to stir your matte, satin, or semi-gloss Flecto (or other brands of matte finishes). The opacifiers in them can settle out, leaving you with a plain gloss finish at the top. Helen

Flecto doesn't like to stick to items that were molded with Armor All as release when they're fresh from the oven, or even freshly cooled. If I'm very stingy with the Armor All, there's a chance I'll get glaze to stick and not bead up. . . Future won't stick to it, either.

 

FUTURE

This is the ordinary floor polish called Future ... it is a cyanoacrylate
....Future is made by the S.C. Johnson Co in the U.S ...many similar versions are sold outside the U.S.

Actually, any acrylic-acrylate floor polish can be used, not just Future (check the small print on the container)
. . . Mop 'N Glo brand works... Brite may work also?

Sources

RETAIL, USA:
....some grocery stores (like Giant, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Food Lion)
...Walmart .... Target .... K-Mart (grocery area?) ....some drug stores?
...ACE Hardware usually has it
...Home Depot ....very large containers, near the mops and janitorial supplies. Halla
...military: US Army/Air Forces Exchanges Services stores (AAFES), some larger commissaries

RETAIL, NON-USA ...(Future & similar products)
http://www.swannysmodels.com/TheCompleteFuture.html
(Matt Swan's page with info & photos of products)
...Canada ...Future or other name? (Loblaws, No-Frills, Sobeys, Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart, Valu-Mart)
...UK & Ireland.... Klear or Krystal Klear or Johnson's One and All ...(all by SC Johnson)
…..clear bottle with blue cap, red label, blue writing. ...most supermarkets where they keep the furniture polish and floor wax and dusters (Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Safeway)
.........comparing Future and Klear, Future has a sweet smell and is quite pleasant, whereas the Klear stinks of ammonia & needs some ventilation (see Pascoe's Long Life just below for small warnings).... otherwise they seem to be the same:. same consistency/colour, bakes fine the same, wears the same, just stinks differently!! Shelley
....Australia & New Zealand ....Klear.....Australia (Coles, Woolworth's, Supa Valu, Newmart, Bunnings)
.........(used to be called “Stride Right” or “Super Stride” ...“Shine Magic” or "Super Shine”....discontinued in 2002)
.....another product very similar to Future is calledPledge One Go
.... Australia ....“Pascoe’s Long Life
***(may also be called "Rekkit's")
........an ammonia-based product that behaves in a similar fashion to Future ...can cause acrylic paints to run if applied too heavily

........New Zealand ...(New Zealand – Woolworth’s, Pricecutter, 4Square, Pak-n-Save, The Warehouse, Countdown)
....Norway ...Clear
....Sweden ... Sidolux?
.
...Netherlands ... Pronto Wax for wooden floors” with a brown cap or "Parket Plus" (Edah, C-1000, Super de Boer)
....France and Belgium ... "Klir" --white plastic canister, sq.red cap (Auchan, Leclerc, Intermarche, Atac, Castorama, Carrefour, Monoprix)
.......Belgium now Johnson’s “Sols Plus”-- just new labeling (Delhaize Supermarkets, Colruyt)
....Germany ...substitute for Future "Erdal Glänzer" or "Aldi Stodil" (DroMarkt or Müller stores, Marktkauf)
........ Xtracolour is distributing a product marked as 'Acrylic Gloss Clear' that smells suspiciously like Future Floor Wax.
....Spain (not available)
...Japan and the Philippines it is known as "Johnson's Wipe and Shine".
....Argentina ... GloCot
...South Africa look for "Mr. Muscle" in a pink plastic bottle with the "Future" logo on the bottom of the label
.......or Johnsons "One Step" which is chemically identical to "Future".
...Singapore ... “Krystal Kleer” (Handifix DIY in Shaw Center)
......Malaysia (Ace Hardware)
...Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama (but NOT Mexico)...Klaro
...Taiwan .... "Bi-Fu-le" (must-rich-happy)" ("Geant" stores, Taichung and Taipei)
....China ... "Future"(Wal Mart)

ONLINE SOURCES:
...
a model distribution company has repackaged Future Floor Polish and sells it world wide
..... Great Models Web Store... .75 oz ... 3 oz and 4 oz bottles (the larger quantities come in airbrush ready bottles)
http://www.greatmodels.com/cgi/search.cgi?terms=gmwfuture or search for “Acrylic Wax” at site

General info (Future)

Future will give a slight sheen up to a high gloss depending on how it's applied, and how many coats are used.

In general, it dries to the touch fairly quickly after application (10-15 min or so, faster if applied while clay is hot), but will remain slightly tacky until fully dry which can take 12-24 hrs.
Drying can be hastened, and/or the Future "hardened," by rebaking for 10 min at 200-250°.

I want to repeat my warning that Future is actually not.truly permanent (compared to Varathane, e.g.)
...even after drying and rebaking, Future is soluble in water (if left in it long enough)
......water or even atmospheric humidity can penetrate the Future if in long contact with it, turning the Future cloudy & sticky.
....and immediate solvents for dried Future are ammonia or alcohol. Elizabeth
...Future comes off with alcohol or with some kinds of soap (plain soap?) and water
.....
and with any product containing ammonia (like some hair mousse, some other hair products, and some perfumes too). Sarajane

Future can be applied at different points:
....to raw clay (before baking), after baking while the clay is still hot, or well after baking when the clay is cooled.

I apply it with my fingers right out of the bottle in fact... no brushes to clean up. Joanie
......I watched someone the other day ...just slathering it all over the piece with their hands, then resting it on toothpick to dry. ....I tried it, feeling rather foolish, but it the piece looked just great. Dotty in CA (was this Kris Richards? -- Kim Korringa does this on raw beads too)
... I apply it with a small piece of Viva paper towel, because it's very smooth and lintless. Randi
....I think everyone has their favorite way to use Future. I often like to "mop" it on using a soft piece of T-shirt cotton cloth.... You don't want the cloth soaked and runny. You need just enough to be able to wipe over the piece, adding more liquid when you see you need it. . . . sometimes I use a brush for those hard to reach places. Dotty
....Hattie moistens her application cloth with water a bit before adding the Future and wiping it on an item –less sticky result?
....
Mammadonna puts her Future in a spray bottle and sprays it on the item to avoid drips.
....Elizabeth thinks a method she used with Flecto would work with Future too?: ... she diluted her Flecto (20-30% water) and misted it (several times, drying in-between) with a 4 oz pump sprayer over some applied Pearl Ex powder to avoid having to brush it on and disturb the surface of the powder (see details above in Flecto > Pearl Ex & Pump Sprayers)

Lots of people apply Future to their clay items still "hot from the oven."
... it seems to soak right into the clay (giving a thinner coat though, so may need more than one coat for a high shine)
....
You may like the look it gives! Apparently the polymers from the liquid merge with the polymers of the clay, and make the surface very strong, and also give what I can only describe as a "semi-matte" finish. Not as shiny as a cold application (unless, of course, you put another one over that), but not matte, either. More of a soft glow than anything else.
... I did this just yesterday -- wow, did that Future steam when applied to just-out-of-the-oven clay!
.......2 coats on hot clay, but I didn't wipe it off afterwards.( ....wiping it would probably make the difference between "sheen" and more of a "gloss"). LynnDel
...Once you start applying it to hot clay, you will be hooked. It's "internalized" and you'll have a finish that *won't* wear off.

I always put my Future on unbaked clay items ...then let them sit overnight before baking
....I put another light coating on after baking when the item is still warm (because the item comes out gleaming as it is, it seldom needs more than a "sealer" coat to fill in any micropores, but a heavier coat will crank the "gleam" up just a tiny notch higher).... you can really get a porcelain look this way. kelly
....
Z Kripke uses Varathane on her composition metal leaf before baking ......she says it keeps the leaf from changing colorin the heat (and also tarnishing?)
...... after baking she puts on another coat.... It looked really great, and she says it worked well ..... I tried it and was pleased with how it kept the leaf looking like bright gold. Dotty (....can use Future in the same way). Dotty

You have to put on several coats for a REALLY high gloss

Some feel it's best to dry thoroughly between coats.
....
If I'm applying many coats of Future for a higher shine, I put it in the oven to dry quickly between coats. Randi

I put on a couple of thin coats and then let it dry overnight.... I'm convinced that this makes the item stronger (or at least less prone to chipping) because there seems to be a blend of polymers that just curing then "Futuring" doesn't give it
....the sheen is a more gentle one, but buffs nicely to a higher one.
....I discovered this technique due to very hot hands and the need to hold a bead in one place for a long time to do inlays & bas reliefs
......so if I apply the bas reliefs & inlays the next morning, after the coating has set on the bead and before curing, I don't leave fingerprints either. Kelly

I sometimes use as many as 10 coats. . . . I apply it with a small piece of Viva paper towel, because it's very smooth and lintless
. . . . I know that the 10 coats that I mentioned is generally excessive. I do this mainly if the surface is sort of uneven (I generally have already sanded). Each coat of Future helps even out the surface, while adding shine. . . . .I've also seen many cases where something looks sort of blah, but as I add layers of Future to it, the shine that's added makes the piece look downright beautiful. Randi

The glossiness you get depends on how polished the surface was before applying the Future... so be sure and sand it well
...and/or smooth the surface well before sanding --for techniques, see Sanding > Smoothing Before Sanding

Future is a very thin glaze, so its shininess depends on how thick the coat applied is
....a thin coat on unsanded clay ends up matte or semi-matte in appearance
... on the other hand, Future on sanded and buffed clay is shinier than most "gloss" glazes get

Future WILL thicken up a bit if you leave it sitting out.
....I usually apply several coats over a couple of days so I leave it in an open bowl between coats, but cover loosely with paper or foil to keep our any airborne gunk. Joanie

(for putting Varathane or Future or Diluent on a piece after sanding and buffing it to avoid scratching and dulling, and also improve transparency and glassiness, see Buffing > Misc. )

Re-baking
... after Future is applied, the clay is often re-baked to "harden" it... this really sets the Future and also takes away any slightly stickiness there ever might be
......I have baked pieces with Future applied and if anything it came out smoother and shinier than it was when it went in the oven.... I noticed no odd smells or anything out of the ordinary about the clay or the oven or the atmosphere in my house
.....it didn't seem to run into other areas... so the parts I wanted plain stayed plain and the shiny parts stayed shiny...
... if you just want to set the finish, leave it in for 5-10 min. at 200 degrees
... after putting the Future on, place piece(s) in the oven at
250 (???) degrees for 15-20 minutes to harden the finish. Hmm, beautiful!!! Dianne C.
...when I apply Future on the hot clay right out of the oven, I then put it back in the oven again to harden it more. Randi
.
..I have found the best paper to use when rebaking (Future) is Quilon Coated Baking Sheets/pan liners. I find them at Gordon Food Service.... (there is no sticking and) the pieces peel right off of this paper. Kimba
....
to make Future durable as a rock. ....I *always* put it on unbaked finished items, and let them sit overnight before baking
.......I put another light coating on after baking when the item is still warm (because the item comes out gleaming as it is, it seldom needs more than a "sealer" coat to fill in any micropores, but a heavier coat will crank the "gleam" up just a tiny notch higher)
..... you can really get a porcelain look this way, and the Future has made the clay incredibly stronger because you've given it a chance to work with the polymers of the clay. kelly

...make sure the Future isn't too thick though when doing this because it may bubble
…...when re-baking Future onto clay, you should have the temp set at only 200F to 250F or it can bubble .... it doesn't need more heat than that & generally 10 min. is long enough - 20 minutes tops! Kimba
......
I baked a switchplate after putting on a rather thick coat of Future...it had thickened up & I also globbed it on. It usually works fine if I can keep from touching until the tackiness dries. Well, I put it in the oven at 250 and it bubbled up (& the bubbles actually hardened, which actually it would be great IF it were an underwater scene!) Dawn
....I did have a tin where at an edge the Future was too thick, and so it bubbled and also turned yellow (from too much heat)
....... I re-sanded the whole darn thing, and then it was okay. kellieAK
…...that has happened to me too. I scrubbed the messed up area with straight ammonia and then rinsed it well with water, dried it and then reapplied the Future. ...that worked for me. Miki

I put my Future in a film canister and dip the bead in it... I tap off any extra future that may be on the bead, then quickly place the other end of the toothpick in the hole on my board. Mia
...I always dip when I use Future and it works fine. I dip a whole skewer of beads at a time (Ibake on floral wire.)
.....to avoid having a bump on the bottom of your beads where the Future has dripped, just touch the drip on each bead with your finger a few minutes after dipping (the drop will come off on your finger and the remaining wet Future will self-level, leaving no fingerprints. I promise)
.... If you then want to heat-cure the Future, remove drips first and then put skewer of beads across a pan in the oven for about 5 min. at 200 degrees.
...... if you do about 3-4 coats like this you'll have an unbelievable shine. Suzanne
....I make beads, stroke them smooth, then dip them in Future...let dry a bit, then dip again.
..I leave mine to dry completely overnight (this seems to set the acrylic somehow), then bake as usual....
try it with mica shift.!!
.......It's best not to bake this way with white clay ; it tends to yellow a bit if you don't watch it like a hawk
for any change in color in heat.
......I would use this pre-bake procedure ONLY with finishes that are acrylic-based, though. I think the "glow" that items get are because of the time the polymers in each ( the clay and the Future) have to meld overnight. kelly

To get off the drips before I hang them to dry, I spin my beads after dip-coating them with acrylic floor polish I hold an end of the string in each hand and spin the string like a jump rope. This has to be done outside over over a lot of newspaper because floor polish spits out all over the place. ktellefsen
...Back in the house I held the beads by the unlooped end and used my much abused hair dryer to blow them dry. The advantage of this is that it is faster and you can continue to jiggle the strand of beads so that there is less chance of the polish causing them to stick together. . . . I found that I occasionally had a couple of beads stick together, but I put them aside and before I dunked the last string I washed them in ammonia (Phew!) to take the wax off and then re-waxed them. nokomis1

(...for more dipping technique, .see also above in Varathane > "Dipping" )

?? Future can also be polished with a non-volatile polishing compound, like Turtle Wax Polishing Compound (white container, green label). Matt Swan
....If you let it dry for a week, you can make it even shinier with polishing compound. finescale.com

Coloring, inclusions, etc.

to color Future, add a bit of acrylic paint
.....or use water-based inks, food coloring, etc, for very transparent effect
.....or use other inclusions like chalk powders and other powders, spices, dried herbs, etc.

can add talcum powder to make quick drying seam filler that is hard, but sands easily. Matt S.

Future can be thickened if I left out overnight or in an open container for a couple of days

see Faux-Many > Water, etc. for various ways to use Future as a substitute for resin
..
..to simulate ponds, waterfalls, etc.... or to make foods look wet and shiny ,etc.

you may like to try what Zig described for her pens. I do the technique for my small beads too.
.....After tumbling my beads (sanding) and washing/drying them off, I heat them up in my oven at 250, then pour some Future in a small bowl, put the warmed beads in. One by one I take them out and string them on some brass wire. I sop any extra Future off the strung beads with a bit of paper towel, then lay my wire across a foil pan that has been notched to hold the wires. Then just pop them back into the oven to dry the Future and harden it. Meanwhile the rest of beads are in the Future, ready for me to take them out and repeat the process. This tip may sound like a lot of work, but it is not. I do this like a production line after tumbling a load of beads. It works fast. If i want the beads extra glassy, I put them through this routine a day or so later. Just be sure that they are totally dry between layers of Future. Dianne C.

. .. & I touched them & yuckked up the Future (finish) . . . Do I let them dry then wet-sand the future off, or is there another way to clean them up??? Barbara

(for other ways to varnish and dry, see Flecto Application above).

Several times I have received items in swaps that were finished with some substance (Flecto or something else?)I never asked what) that was sticky and didn't dry with several weeks' waiting. I rebaked them, they dried out fine, and have never been sticky since (more than 6 months later). LynnDel
I had one disastrous experience with sticky beads that rebaking wouldn't cure- so I soaked them in nail polish remover, wiping them down with old socks-- the crap all came off and I was able to buff them. I've avoided glazes most oof the time since then. Jeannine

(I was) Attempting to eliminate brush strokes, I then "flooded" the piece with an additional coat of Future. Well, now I have "waves". Diane V.
With any coating, varnish, glaze; less is usually better. And remember, Future is designed to be a floor polish, which also means thin coats. Eight coats is definitely overkill, IMHO. Three is about the maximum you should consider with Future. If you do plan to apply many coats of most varnishes including Future, allow 24-48 hours between each coat. This may be overly cautious but it seems to result in the best outcome. You can shorten the curing time by baking the glazed item at a low temp. Desiree

. . .one thing we discovered with Future when we were at heathers house in nashvagas was you can't use it on bendable items...like bookmarks...it shatters and flakes right off! Molly
test, however . . . . OK. I applied one coat of Future on a piece of fimo fresh from the oven. Let it cool for a few hours - so far after much bending and twisting, I see no evidence of flaking or shattering. It appears fairly well bonded to the polymer clay. Desiree

Future water spots...I positively know that it did in the late seventies---please see my other posts in regards to humidity. I used it religiously and nearly went nuts until I figured out what the problem was. It only showed up really well on dark colors though....scratches in the Future showed on dark colors well, also. Savannah, GA had lots of sandy soil and small amounts of sand on the shoes would scratch the Future. ...We just don't notice it on light colored floors. Only on dark floors will you see noticeable white water spots. My experience...Jeanne.

I also know that Future does yellow. I have seen bottles in stores on the shelves which are no longer clear. I have had Future which yellowed with age. Since I have not waxed a vinyl floor in over five years, this too may not be case as the formula may have been changed. ...I will buy a new bottle and test it on the clay again and not reheat and then tests where the Future has been reheated. Jeanne

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.
I have to strip them of future and try again. I soaked them in water with bleach and most of the stain came out. Then I baked them at 200 overnight to dry them. Dystini

powders & metallic leaf... antiquing (& Future)

Have not tried it myself yet, but the thought of tinted Future washes for antiquing or adding a patina seems like an attractive one. Steve K.
...I do antiquing, upon occasion, with Pearl ex powders ( bronze, usually) mixed in Future. Flow it on, wipe with dampened paper towel, dry. Messy, but with cool results. pat

Then after (the item with Fimo metallic powder is) baked, I'd seal it with something, probably Varathane, as Future sometimes makes the pulver powder come off as you're brushing it on (only if powder not brushed in well??). Dawndove
....I like a high gloss on some of my pieces, and use a lot of Pearl Ex ... want to make sure the finish is permanent. Randi

When I use gold leaf and don't want to sand too much because of the risk of sanding off the leaf, I use multiple coats of Future. Usually a few coats are enough for my purposes, but sometimes I use up to 20 coats (generally those are the times when I don't want to sand too much, and enough coats of Future will eventually make the piece very smooth). Randi

If the piece is very well sanded and smooth, one coat should do it. If it looks a bit rumply, then try two, or even three. Dotty

Can color and/or thicken Future... add inclusions like chalk powders and other powders, spices, dried herbs, etc.

i have mixed Fimo metallic powders into Future (and into TLS) ...then store them in little 1/2 oz serum bottles
...Future makes a smoother line of "paint," where TLS liquid clay "paint" gives a grainy line (and must be rebaked to cure).
.. (i didn't use Varathane to make this "paint" only because it's a bit milky, and i like to see what i'm applying). sunni

...can add talcum powder (to also make quick drying seam filler that is hard, but sands easily). Matt S.

(for using Future and metallic powders to create a crackle effect, see below in Crackling)

Removing (Future)

If you haven't baked the Future on the beads yet, you can soak 'em in plain old water for a while, I'd guess a half hour to start, depending on how thick a coat is on there, then take 'em out and rub 'em with a cloth to see if it's all off. It will get white and gummy when soaking. Connie
...after baking? . . .I had good luck removing future just by soaking the piece in water for a day while I went to work. Peeled the future off like rubber cement when I got home.

To gently remove Future, use rubbing alcohol. . . .
...to dramatically remove Future, use fingernail polish remover (acetone). Desiree

Ammonia should take it off as it will strip wax on the floor....dilute it and watch your eyes as it is hard on the eyes!! Laura
...I've kept an old plastic bottle lid (like from prescriptions) filled with a bit of ammonia while I'm painting tinted Future to a piece. If I do make a mistake, I take care of it before it even dries. . .
. . .ammonia is also a great way to clean the brush or applicator you're using to apply the Future.
... if you find you don't like the high gloss of future for some reason, now you know that you can remove the high gloss with ease. Marcella

...other liquids contain ammonia as well, like (blue) Windex. Matt S.

If ammonia won't work for removing the Future remnants, try Armstrong Floor Cleaner.... It's really heavy-duty stuff. I buy it at the hardware store or Home Depot. I was reading the label once ...and I noticed it said to use it to remove Future. Makes sense--they're made by the same company
....ever since then, it's been my "secret" for cleaning up brushes, removing Future bubbles, dissolving drips, stripping future from a piece, etc. (Armstrong puts out more than one floor cleaner though, so be sure to read the back to make sure you're getting the right one.) Laurel

When I screw up, I use a Q-tip wet w/ hair spray to wipe both Future floor wax and acrylic paint off.

Soaking overnight in Future may remove hardened Future too (Matt S.)... might be especially good for getting it out of tiny crevices etc., if can't scrub

If you have put Future on buttons, or jewerlry, be careful of strong detergents!!! . . .
I tried washing them in dish detergent to get the soot off and it turned all the future covered beads to a milky cover!!! I eventually threw them all into a bowl of dishwasher detergent and it took all the future and the soot off and left me with my beautiful beads again!!! Leigh

Miscellaneous (Future)

For info on water resistance, see the Outdoor,Snowglobe,Fountains

Things that get a lot of skin contact (like beads) are a lot more likely to need a sealer than things that don't have skin contact, like pins, boxes, etc. Sarajane


OTHER Acrylic/Water-based
finishes
other brands of acrylic finish.... acrylic fingernail polish ... and white glues

other brands (besides Varathane & Future, Fimo, etc.)

Various other acrylic-based finishes can be found and art or craft stores ...or at hardware stores (usually for wood finishing)

any acrylic-based finish, (or varnish, or sealer, or protector, etc.) should work fine too
... but some may not be UV resistant (so may yellow over time with exposure to sunlight, etc.), or be as water-resistant, or be as scratch-resistant, or have IPN, etc. (comparied to Varathane)
.. they will also be adhesive, dry clear, and be at least somewhat water resistant
...may be glossy, satin, or matte
...these are generally "interior," but exterior okay as long as acrylic

...some brands might be Delta Ceramcoat, Plaid FolkArt Waterbased Varnish, Winsor-Newton acrylic varnishes, etc.

I have found a product called Beacon Liquid Laminate which is very clear, thin, water based ..... has not yellowed or peeled on my test pieces which are about a year old. Donna Kato

DuraClear made by "Deco" is not especially made for our clays, but also will "bond" everything together and will also waterproof your project. I've been working with their r&d department and I'm in love with it. It comes in gloss or matt. . . I had a long talk with the importer of Creall Therm (flesh-colored polymer clay) and he suggested using/trying the Dura Clear.
...It's a varnish that is basically used for wood, like finishing of folk art painting.
I contacted DecoArt in Kentucky at www.decoart.com ... told me that according to tests that were done in their lab it should be compatable with any polymer clay as long as the clay was baked first (that worked).... I've even used it on unbaked clay to paint something first and it was fine. I think it's similar to the Sculpey varnish and is also water soluble.
It's called DuraClear exterior/interior varnish #DS19 and is gloss. I know that it comes in matte as well.It comes in 2 sizes, 2 or 8 fl. oz. Robin

Mona Lisa brand (waterbase) Sealer ..gloss and satin
... BearingBeads (Beckah and John) working with Houston Art, has "developed a sealer which works with many materials, but works especially well with polymer clay" ...dries quickly, clear, and very hard ("Exterior Grade") ...can add dyes (and watercolors) and metallic powders for tinting when sealing
http://www.bearingbeads.com/Materials.htm

Thompson's Water Seal
... tends to make whatever it's coating pretty tough because it's made for outdoor use on decks, etc.
...I've used it (haven't tried on white or dramatically light items, though) and have not seen any change or shift in color.

Golden UVLS
...best stuff I have found after using all that are mentioned here is Golden products UVLS polymer varnishes. They come in matte, satin and glossy (the matte looks like it isn't even there). Best of all there is a UV filter protectant in them, (hence the UVLS), which keeps it from yellowing. It's nice to have the color protected. You can get it at most art supply stores that carry airbrush stuff, even Michael's carries it. Meredith
....
Golden says to be sure to use plenty of ventilation while applying this and letting it dry. It's not nontoxic. The label on mine warns not to get it on your skin, specifies to wear gloves while using, and that it can cause allergic reactions. Cathy
....did not know Golden varnish was polymer itself ... when I was hunting something to put on the "permanent" Pinata Inks, to be really sure they were sealed, I ran across the Golden Polymer Varnish in matte, satin and gloss.
........The Golden matte is the first truly matte finish product that I have ever found for use on polymer clay. It is sooooo matte that I cannot even describe it! (I don't thin it).
........I heatset mine with a heatgun while on the needle, but I think it should be fine to put in the oven for a few minutes on low heat just like I normally did with Varathane. Jeanne R..

..."Polymer varnishes must be thinned before use... they have been formulated thicker than the traditional application viscosity to maintain an even suspension of matting agents in the Satin and Matte finishes, which ensures more consistency in surface reflectance... then also able to release all foam before drying.... Distilled water is the preferred diluent for Golden Polymer Varnish. While tap water may be used, it may contain impurities such as minerals or bacteria."
...
I dunno what application Golden was thinking of when they put these directions on their UVLS varnish: "Dries in -3 hours, can be recoated in 3-6 hours, but should dry for 1-2 *weeks* before handling or storage." Oil paintings maybe?... For me, the stuff dries in 5 - 10 minutes and works great. I use two coats on copier transfer barrettes and anything else needing UV protection. I thin it with water as their directions say. you can. Linda
...I would recommend using a UV protection varnish on copier or laser print transfers as the toner will fade to an ugly gray eventually if exposed to a lot of sunlight. I heard this from Gwen Gibson. Linda
(Varathane also has a UV protectant in it--keeps it from yellowing too. Sarajane)
.......................................................more info on Goldens: http://www.goldenpaints.com/polvar.htm

When I lived in Germany, I found a waterbased acrylic sealer at a Baumarkt called Obi..... It comes in really small cans too, so perfect to try out.
....If you don't have an Obi where you are, then just be sure to look carefully for any "waterbased acrylic sealer".. NF

Minwax Polycrylic ... high gloss, smooth finish that isn't tacky. I have never found Varathane so I can't compare it. I am happy with the Minwax. It's a water clean up too. Sally
...I started a test of minwax polycrylic to see if it would work as well as Varathane .... I suggest you stay away. It does give a nice gloss finish but it is not as strong and scratches easily.... Bonnie
...I find that the Minwax product is a little shinier....even the Satin has a fairly high sheen unless it is applied very lightly.
.......II have bought small quantities (half pint containers) of Minwax at Sears and at Walmart. Lizzylady
...After baking it looks good - no blistering. I also dipped a heart - it looks great. The fine lines that were visible before have disappeared. The label on the can states that it may yellow, but this doesn't seem to be a problem so far. I didn't try it on white. Bonnie
.....I used Minwax Gloss Polycrylic and put the beads away in a drawer for 3 months. The temp in the room averaged 85 degrees. They all got sticky. When I finally got the Varathane, I did the same thing and put them in the drawer below them and they are still fine. Debbie (NM)
...I use Minwax Polycrylic to finish all my polymer clay. I can notice a difference in tackiness on humid days.... so I never, ever rush applying the coats & I always allow for the recommended time between coats, and usually allow even longer than recommended.
......the tackiness I have noticed has always gone away in time though , without any noticeable change in the finish. Sue

Jacquard's Pearl Ex Varnish
http://www.clayfactory.net/jacquard/index.html

fingernail polish

clear, acrylic fingernail polish does fine on polymer clay
.....however, "enamel" nail polish is usually a no no, and can turn sticky up to 6 months later
.........(whether a polish is acrylic is often indicated somewhere on the bottle, but also may not be)
...nail polish intended for use on fake acrylic fingernails should be fine, I assume (??)
...or, it should be possible, if necessary, to coat first with an acrylic liquid (even thinned white glue)
, and then apply enamel polish over the acrylic (only on those areas protected by the acrylic though)
...btw, Maybelline Wet Shine is an acrylic polish, so it's safe to use... I've been using it on clay and painted wood items for about a year. No stickiness, it doesn't peel off and it doesn't seem to change color. Connie
....... love the look of Wet Shine, very wet looking and glassy
....... I also want to use Wet Shine as a top coat, over Varathane (since large areas are easier to cover with the Varathane first) , and also over Poly-glaze because it requires a sealer to avoiding becoming cloudy from body oils or moisture (see above in Finishes Made Specif. for Clay)
........Wet Shine adds that wet look that really makes the piece and colors pop ...a dichroic glass look is helped by the additional glossiness. Nancy
...also, a "good" brand of fingernail polish won't yellow ...I use Revlon and have some pieces about 6 years old that are holding up a look great ...some polishes will turn yellow though, especially cheaper brands (prob. from too much exposure to ultraviolet light)

white glues

Actually... diluted PVA glue ("white" glue) is the best (and cheapest) sealant that I've used
....the beauty of this polymeric glue is that it is completely clear when dry
........it also doesn't react with clay plasticisers ...and it will withstand our baking temperatures
........since it's water based, one can dilute it with water to any consistency needed
....it's especially great as a sealant if you're worried that a surface may be disturbed by later treatments (bleeding, etc.) --works wonderfully well also after you've drawn or watercolored on clay. Alan V.
.........seals porous surfaces too... e.g., if a surface
to be covered with 2 pt resin is porous, first apply white glue (4:1 with water) as a sealer ....(wait 4 hrs.after application) to keep it from becoming translucent
...any brand of white glue should work, including those sold specifically for decoupaging like ModPodge, Royal Coat, etc. (for more on decoupaging itself, see Glues > Misc. re all glues
.....don't use washable "school" white glue though
.....some white glues like Sobo are also UV resistant ---don't yellow at all over time from sun or fluorescent lights like Elmer's and some other white glues do).

(also see Dimensional Finishes below)

acrylic mediums + more

acrylic mediums ... some names you might see are:
...Gel Medium ...Gloss Medium... Matte Medium... Glazing Medium... Matte Varnish ...High Gloss Varnish, etc.
... tend to scratch more easily though??

Delta's Perm Enamel Clear (gloss or satin) glaze (acrylic?)...the Clear is intended as finish on colored glass paints
.....(Delta's Perm Enamels are colored paints for glass, tile, ceramics and metal....no baking required to set...)
...this alone does give a really nice thick shine and it takes long enough to dry that it levels nicely and brush strokes diappear. I found though that it really works best only on flat pieces, not anything 3-d or sculptural
.......(you can't dip a bead (?), and it's really hard to paint it on one half and then do the other half when dry; you can't make the seams invisible.)
.... Also, I re-baked things for 20 min. at regular clay temp to cure and harden the finish, as it will peel off if you don't
...
...but...don't re-bake until at least 12 hours later (all surfaces need to be completely dry or will bubble... and it may feel dry to the touch after an hour, but still be a little moist or sticky down under the "skin".) Patti K.

Triple Thick (Deco Art)...very thick, also comes as a spray (but doesn't work as well... less- transparent)?
....I really like the results I got on my trial tiles.. it's also bakable, water-proof.
.......since Triple Thick is just a bit less transparent than Poly-Glaze, to get better transparency, apply it in a few thinner layers rather than in one thick layer.Eugena

NO on Liquitex sealer (Sue Heaser) ???

spray .sealants ... some are sold to artists especially for keeping graphite, charcoal, crayon, or whatever from smearing, or from rubbing off a finished drawing, though they can also be found in other places
......these are usually acrylic-based (also called clear "acrylic sprays")
........ (however, the solvent used in many spray propellants isn't compatible with clay ...see "Sprays" below)

see more in other places on this page

dimensional .finishes

dimensional white glues, acrylic mediums:
....will dome up more than regular acrylic mediums
....water-based, thick ... will dry very transparent and glossy
....mixable with dye-based inks, watercolors, mica powders, etc.
....water-soluble while wet... less soluble after drying, but not waterproof if exposed to much water
...surface is scratchable... must be sealed with a stronger acrylic finish if will be exposed to abrasion (polyurethane, etc.)
...(all of them?)
may yellow if exposed to too much UV light, or if too thick
...may sometimes crack while drying
...cannot be baked or rebaked

BRANDS:

Diamond Glaze (by JudiKins Inc) and DG 3 which is somewhat more resistant to scratching than original Diamond Glaze...when applied in a thick layer, or exposed to prolonged sunlight, may yellow (...also see 2 links three paragraphs below)
http://www.diamondglaze.com/index.html
Glossy Accents (by Ranger)
http://www.rangerink.com/products/prod_inkssentials_glossy.htm
......FAQ's and projects: http://www.rangerink.com/tips/tips_accents.htm
3D Crystal Lacquer (by Sakura) ...also comes in colors
http://www.sakuracraft.com/crystal_art.htm
Royal Coat Dimensional Magic (by Plaid)
.......at Joann's, Walmart, etc. at AC Moore, it was in the section with other decoupage products, not with the adhesives.
....they also sell this stuff for model train hobbyists, for making fake "water"
Aleene's Paper Glaze (now by Duncan)
http://www.aleenes.com/ProductDetails.aspx?id=397bed08-be95-49b4-86fb-3a412b3e562c
Liquid Embossing (by All Night Media) set of 3 colors: Clear, Sepia, Antique Glass
http://www.plaidonline.com/productDetail.asp?itemID=90069

PolyGlaze (by Lisa Pavelka) ...info also applies to most other dimensional acrylics
...available at Lisa Pavelka's site http://www.heartinhandstudio.com/poly_bonder&_glaze.htm
......and soon to be in stores and at other polymer websites. Carlee
...comes in a squeeze bottle with a fine tip for squeezing out dimensional dots or lines, or to cover surfaces. Trina
...for thick coverage (simulating resin or cloisonne, etc.)... apply several thin coats, letting dry between (15-60 mins or till clear)
......can also create a dimensional, rounded-edge glaze, which extends up higher than any enclosing areas, but must apply in layers, and must also outline each area (then fill in just till level with outline)
...for thinner coverage, it can be diluted with water
...using a wet sable brush to apply it as Lisa recommended works perfect ... no air bubbles or brushstrokes. Nancy
...your first squeeze may have bubbles if don't shake glaze down into nozzle ..prick or drag out any bubbles before drying. Michelle
...it's high gloss ... covers bumps and lumps, or create a smooth or a dome finish, etc.. Michelle
...use to accent, brighten, dimensionalize, and magnify areas
...I don't like the fact that it can't be baked (just at lower temps?), it's so thick, and that something must be used over it to protect it. Ronalyn
........rebaking Poly-Glaze completely ruins the design - makes it all bubbly and cloudy. Eugena777
...I used it on Bake and Bend clay, and that piece is sticky. Ronalyn (?)
...however, the finished glaze must be sealed with a clear acrylic, like water-based nail polish, Future, or Varathane, etc, to create a waterproof finish (or may become cloudy from too much contact with moisture or from body oils)
...Poly-glaze seems to develop cracks while drying, for some people
......Eugena allowed her Poly-Glazed pieces to dry in the (cool air of the) refrigerator, and they cracked --her pieces had never cracked before in (warmer, and also less humid?) California
http://eugenascreations.blogspot.com/2007/06/more-on-poyglaze-i-am-getting-ready-for.html
.......love the look of Maybelline Wet Shine fingernail polish... very wet looking and glassy... I want to use it as a top coat over Polyglaze (and can use over Varathane too)... the dichroic glass look is helped by the additional glossiness ...Wet Shine over PolyGlaze adds that wet look that really makes the piece and colors pop. Nancy
....... I've been using Wet Shine over clay and other materials and get no stickiness, it doesn't peel off, and it doesn't seem to change color. Connie

TIPS on avoiding bubbles & brushmarks in dimensional glues, from AsphaltQueen:
- Don't shake the bottle at all. If you do, you need to wait for quite awhile before trying to use it.
- When you're ready to use it, very gently turn it so the applicator is pointed down.
- Put the first dot of Diamond Glaze on a scrap piece of paper. It almost always has a bubble in it.
- Without releasing the pressure on the bottle, move the applicator over to your project.
- Gently, but without releasing pressure on the bottle, apply the Diamond Glaze.
- Pop any bubbles that appear with a pin as soon as you've finished applying all the Diamond Glaze.
The key is to not let into air into the bottle when you're working with it. If you can avoid that, you usually avoid getting bubbles into your project. I use the tip of the applicator to help spread around the Diamond Glaze as I'm applying it.

Jeanne R's experiments on finding the clearest brands of dimensional glaze (...she also used Fimo's water-based gloss finish and UTEE, and Future, but not Varathane?)
...she felt that Judikins Diamond Glaze was the best which didn't require heating, etc, but it takes longer, and Fimo's spirit-based Gloss worked well but had to be done in layers (some products caused bleeding buy she had used unsealed inkjet prints)
photos: http://artfortheheart.blogspot.com/2007/03/photos-of-dimensional-glaze.html
text: http://artfortheheart.blogspot.com/2007/03/clear-dimensional-glazes-or-finishes.html

clear (& tinted) EMBOSSING POWDERS
UTEE + other brands
(see much more info in
Powders > Embossing Powders > UTEE)

...CAUTION . . . this embossing powder can burn fingers before it cools

UTEE is Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel...
...a clear embossing powder composed of transparent, coarse granules (larger than regular embossing powders) which look glass-like after using several coats (...melt between each coat)
.... can be used in several ways
(with or without clay)
... can be used on paper or any heat resistant surface you want, or it can be

DISADVANTAGES ....for using with polymer clay:
I don't use UTEE much myself because I have heard 1) it peels off, 2) it scratches, and 3) it's hard to get it even. Trina
There is now also UTEE Flex (which can be added to UTEE) to make it somewhat more scratch resistant, but not completely
1. UTEE is not very resistant to scratching with wear!
...the look is beautiful at first, but I found that the surface scratched sooooo easily, and then it looks awful
...the downside of UTEE for me is the scratch factor so I put a few coats of Future over the UTEE ....this will make it much stronger and less likely to scratch.
.......be sure to apply the Future after the piece is completely cool and let it dry thoroughly between coats. Cheryl

...... Do I understand correctly that you put a layer of another varnish (Varathane, etc.) on top of the UTEE after baking it on PC to avoid that? catbyte1
...........doing that minimizes but doesn't avoid the problem

....while I love UTEE, (no one wears pieces made with it), or exposes them to water, or bangs and clangs 'em...etc... they live a somewhat sheltered life.
......... so please!...take some junk clay, and experiment (an itsy-bitsy, piece, will surfice) ... Illene
...I keep my unsold earrings in plastic drawers so they do get knocked around quite a bit. ....they have been around for a while. The finish is not quite as glasslike as it was originally, but now it has a nice satin finish. Lee C
2. if the items to be covered were not flat while baking, the finish was lopsided. ...you can scrape it off while it is hot though, and try again.
3. I put a thick layer on the clay & popped it in the oven. The finish came out glasslike except in a few spots where there are lots of little bubbles. Cathy
....... you can make the bubbles go away by hitting them with an embossing heat gun. Laura A/Sparkle
(........When that happened, had you applied the UTEE to raw clay or after you baked it?
.......We had tried both. The raw clay had a lot of bubbles, the baked clay just had them at the corners. Cathy)
......Different embossing powder brands seem to liquify at different temps.... a few have melted well at curing temp, and produced predictable results, but so far very few. Kim K.

4. I tried to use the same technique with 1 1/2" square pins on a white background.... the transfers were fine, but the UTEE
cracked (?), and turned yellow (?) and was very uneven.
5. ...the powder may blow around while heating (in a convection oven), so you might want to enclose your working area a bit, work in a box top, etc.

stamping stores carry UTEE, and probably other brands
.... Michael's also carries UTEE, though it is in a very obscure place on the bottom shelf of the rubber stamp pads.... It often gets shoved back so people can't even see it. Val

.....I don't use the UTEE brand ; I use the regular clear embossing powder by Stamp-N-Stuff. Cheryl

....lots of info & lessons on using this type of embossing powder http://netnet.net/~cloud9/ (look under Tips)

You can also use regular colored embossing (powders) to cover clay, but UTEE is best if you want to cover an entire surface (?). Cathy

I make cabochons out of plain white Sculpey ....then after they're baked, I completely cover the clay with colored embossing powders (or clear embossing powders colored in other ways?). You can get some really interesting effects. Barbara

I just baked the clay piece ..then added the UTEE and heated it in the oven enough (at reg temp..275) till it melted well.
.......(it doesn't bead up like the first coat often does when you use it on paper with a heat gun..but rather spreads out smoothly more like the 2nd and 3rd coats normally do). JAN

Lisa Pavelka's lesson on using dammed UTEE, held in by a rope of clay around a raw clay heart (sheet of clay, foiled, then cut into heart shape) ...baking at 275 till melted
........ then adding clay backing and rope frame + 2nd layer of UTEE and baking again
http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cr_jewelry/article/0,2025,DIY_13762_2892544,00.html

I don't have raised sides to hold the UTEE, so it runs off evenly as long as I have it propped level
....after cooling, I break off the excess, and then gently file the edges. Debbie NM

I used Dottie McMillan's transfer technique, then covered the transfers with UTEE as a clear finish
.......first I printed the designs with the computer... and then transferred them to white clay
......I cut the clay into 6 earring-size pieces... and sanded the edges
......then I sprinkled them with UTEE (using a salt shaker with large holes) .... and baked them.

"decoupage"with clear embossing powder
...lesson on applying clear embossing ink from a pad--or probably just plain glycerin (onto an unglazed tile, in this case) then applying clear embossing powder over it and melting it (~4 mins at 350...but too hot if using clay)
... an image on tracing paper is then embedded into the melty embossing powder, and cooled
...another layer of clear embossing powder is then melted on top of the image as a finish
...(here they use waterproof inks colored in with chalks, but could probably just use a toner-based photocopy, or an inkjet print with acrylic srpay on both sides to prevent bleeding, etc?)
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/crafting/article/0,1789,HGTV_3352_1812624,00.html

I added each layer of UTEE while the last layer was still hot ...(until I got a glasslike finish)
......for subsequent layers, UTEE can be added by pressing the item upside down onto a pile of fresh UTEE (?, then heating?)

You can also put all kinds of things in between layers of UTEE, like:
........paints, foils, heat-resistant glitters,mica powders, heat-set inks
.......even objects or dried flowers, tiny beads, bits of text, magazine or other photos, handwriting, etc.
....or those can be added to the liquid embossing powder before pouring from a melting pot. Sheila

I just scrape any leftover UTEE off of the glass with a razor blade...then clean the glass with a baby wipe. Mary K
.......scraped off UTEE can be reheated in your melting pot. Joan

TINTED embossing powders

Even though UTEE itself only comes in a few colors, it can be colored with small bottles of special liquid ink in several different colors. Sheila
(alcohol inks?
or oil paints as for coloring resins?)

My technique for faux "glazing" on white polymer clay has just been published in the October issue of Jewelry Crafts mag. Emma
. . . Emma's wonderful article on color-glazed beads. I was wondering how durable the embossing powder finish is. I seem to recall several months ago people were saying that the embossing powders scratched easily. I just love the glassy look of Emma's beads, but did'nt want to invest in the powder if the finish was fragile. Libby
...I had been making some cool textured beads and was looking for some way to get them to look a bit like the glazed ceramic beads...then I saw this article... Libby
...I think the durability of the technique is a valid issue. Obviously, the embossing powder is waxy, and if you were to dig your fingernails into it, you could easily dent it. ...That said, the beads featured in the article are about 18 months to two years old now, and they were not stored carefully believe me!- just kicking around in a box with loads of other jewellery, with pin backs and barrettes and all sorts of scratchy things, before I photographed them - so, on the whole I think they are durable in terms of day to day wear. Emma

...beautiful beads were made by coating pasta shapes with various colors of Ranger Adirondack embossing powders in Expression magazine a few months ago where.
...cool to try on polymer shapes too. Libby
(dipping into molten embossing powders after baking?, or covering baked shapes then suspending while melting)

hot pots and embossing powders:
I also have the Hot Pot "Melting Pot" of Sooz's that I also use with my UTTE. Sheila
..........for more on using a (Teflon-lined) hot pot, see
http://netnet.net/~cloud9/ (look under Tips, click on Hot Pot)
...(another way to use UTEE is to melt the granules in specially designed melting pots/skillet
...... use tweezers to dip the item, then lay on a non-stick surface to cool... a small blast with a heat gun will remove any marks from the tweezers
...shrink plastic can be both shrunk and given a coat of UTEE at the same time in a melting pot
.......Mari O'Dell uses UTEE for her beautiful polymer clay and shrink plastic pieces--check out her video.... Dotty
--You can also pour melted UTEE into one of the silicone molds, let cool. DottyinCA
........can also pour the UTEE into molds for 3-D embellishments (see much more on melting pots in Powders > Embossing > UTEE)

MORE LIQUID finishes-sealers + other

2-pt epoxy resins & glues

two-part clear resins (particularly epoxy resins) can work well as thick & glossy finishes for polymer clay (as well as in other ways)
..there are two main types ... both can be brushed on as finishes (as well as poured), but they are different:
....
hard surface ones ...Liquid Glass, Ultra-Glo, Envirotex Lite, etc ...cure hard
........the most glassy, wet shine I've gotten is by using Liquid Glass ..usually it's poured on (with dams of some kind or in a container mold), but you can also use a throw-away brush and brush on several thin coats
....softer surface ones (floral resin, fake water) ....Acrylic Water, Liquid Illusion ....cure more rubbery
(see most info on 2-pt epoxy resins now in Other Materials > Resins
...including how to use resins to create thin coatings or thick dimensional coatings on top of baked clay, or on top of other objects which have been first "decoupaged" onto baked clay with white glue --like papers, dried flowers, small items, etc.)

2-pt epoxy adhesives (glues like Devcon -10-30 min set time?)
...Nancy Banks covers some of her transfers (on clay) with a 2-pt epoxy glue (prob. Devcon as below) to give them a thick, glassy, clear finish
......the glue will self-level and will be rounded at the edges if not contained?

other clear finishes

light coat of Armorall . . .we tried it and I really like the soft sheen it gives the clay.Now for the question.. Do you all think it will fall apart later? Has anyone else polished with Armorall? It says on the bottle " Protects and shines rubber, plastic and vinyl." Flo
...Armorall, as far as I know, won't hurt the clay. Polymer clay artists Grove and Grove used to use it on their beautiful polymer clay bowls. I don't know if they still do, but they have never reported any problem. I've used it on a lot of items also, as far back as ten years, and the few pieces I still have that I used it on show no damage. Dotty in CA
...I used to soak beads for necklaces in Amorall. Then I polished pc beads with a soft cloth. . .. I like the look of clay without Flecto or Future. The matte sheen is lovely. I still have the first two necklaces I made (1987) and they look fine. None have separated or fallen apart. Kay
...Jeanne R? mentioned that Armorall can weaken clay?, though that may be when it's inside the clay? (see Molds > Releases > Armorall)
...(remember, you won't be able to use a liquid finish on top of the ArmorAll later, because it will be repelled)

High Desert Polyglaze ....(4 colors, mixable)...acrylic? embossing powder?...what?
http://www.dotcalmvillage.net/cre8it/polyglaze.html

A tinted matte glaze developed for polymer clay (or other non-porous surfaces) (and especially for plain white Sculpey in the box), which both tints it (mostly in the lower areas of textured surfaces, similar to antiquing) and also glazes it, leaving the clay with a matte finish resembling natural earth clay or bisque porcelain at lease partly because of the finely-ground marble used as in inclusion ("removes any plastic-y look")
... can be colored with small amts. of watercolor, silk dyes, but don't use acrylics, or alcohol-based inks if want to keep the look
http://www.dotcalmvillage.net/cre8it/polyglazetech.html (lessons to come)
....(see much more on colored stains and glazes in Paints > Patinas)

Has anyone besides myself tried the Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac? I bake it in and have had good results. Aminaja
...I don't know of anyone who's used "shellac"... that is, true shellac, not just the word shellac when used more generically for simply sealing or glossing... but I'm not quite sure how it stacks up on clay over time, and under certain conditions.
.....The solvent for shellac isn't acetone (which can definitely make polymer clay sticky, sometimes after as long as six months), but it is alcohol, rather than water (as in acrylics).
.....That may not be a problem at all, particularly if it's let dry completely between any coats etc., and as long as it's not a spray (or there's no solvent in the propellant of the spray), but I haven't heard from others who've used it.
......Here is a definition of shellac I found online ... after reading it, I might worry about the potential "ambering," and susceptibility to humidity if living in a humid area, etc: A preparation of lac (resins excreted by the Lac Beetle), usually dissolved in alcohol, and used chiefly as a wood finish. Has good ambering, may become tacky when subjected to high humidity and lacks the high abrasion resistance of more modern finishes. Generally low in cost, this finish may water spot but is easy to use. Diane B.

(see also Paste Waxes & Vaseline below)

for DU-KIT brand of polymer clay

I'm using Du-Kit from New Zealand for my clay. After baking them at 150 deg C, there is a slight sheen on the canes which appears 'naturally'. I'm wondering if this slight sheen appear only for Du-Kit or is it the same for other brands? I've only used Du-Kit up till now because of difficulties in logistics. After baking my finger prints are everywhere on the pieces. Sanding did remove all traces of them. Again, Is it just Du-Kit that does that? I rather bake them without the finger prints. What if I had surgical gloves on when I rolled the clay, I'm sure there won't be any finger prints as such, but will it be good for the clay? You know latex on clay and stuff... And the increase/decrease of heat from your hands to the clay? I'm living in Kuala Lumpur so it's hot here everyday. . Barbara J.
As far as the gloves go I have always used gloves for removing fingerprints from my work and I use a lanolin cream to protect my hands while doing so. .Petra

I have just caught up with your postings on Dukit and its problems with lacquers flaking off. I have spent some time today speaking to the manufactuer about this but he had no solutions. Then I remebered an artist who used to work in Dukit and had a lacquer. She had used a product called Spray Kote. It is a spray on Polyurethane enamel. Unusual I know but this isn't the first person I've spoken to who used this product. It doesn't affect either Dukit or the old Fimo.(it does affect the new Fimo recipe however) It does need at least 24 hours to dry and a few days to dry really hard but it does work. I have seen this product work on items and have seen work at least 15 years old done in this lacquer.... I have in the past done tests with Dukit and have a sample here with Sculpey glaze, fimo glaze and a crafters glaze on it and all peel off. So the result of my conversations with the manufactuer today have led him on search for a suitable lacquer..... Hes now speaking to the paint manufacturer to see if it can be supplied in a bottled form.... I will keep you all informed... Petra

As promised, I thought I'd share some findings about the varnish that goes well with Du-Kit Polymer Clay.
.. I have tried a new (solvent-based?) varnish called Humbrol and it works like a charm. First of all, immediately after baking Du-Kit it has a shine, however this is not permanent. You are supposed to apply Humbrol to it without touching the items with your fingers and that is quite reasonable as oil from your fingers somehow do get transfered to the pc items, if you have to touch them; use gloves.
However sometimes, the piece requires further sanding and buffing and hence gloves are such a nuisance, so therefore before applying the Humbrol Varnish, dab some Methylated Spirit (alcohol) on some cotton and apply it liberally to the pc items. This won't hurt the pc items a bit. With this you rid the items of any oil residue, only then apply the varnish. The varnish can be diluted a little with some thinner and that gets a bit messy and smelly. You could use the varnish neat too but ensure that the brush is dipped in thinner after applying.
It takes a long time to dry mind you, over night would be best. But after it has dried it is glossy and has no sticky feel to it at all. Overall great looking. However it doesn't stand up too much to deliberate scratching and knocks. ...Next observation: To see how the Humbrol stand up with the test of time and daily wear, water etc.
Some info on Humbrol: Made in England. I got it in a 14ml can, a cute very small can. There maybe other sizes, I'm not sure. It is actually an enamel paint and I used Satin 135. From what I gathered on the net it is used to paint toy models of aircrafts, cars and such. Barbara

 

LIQUID CLAY (as a finish)

for more on liquid clays and on all brands of liquid clay, see the Liquid Clays page

Liquid clays can be used as a sealer-finish, as well as in other ways.
....It can also be tinted first with oil paints, alcohol inks, or mica powders for use as a finish or an antiquing agent
........(oil paints and alcohol inks in liquid clay will leave the finish transparent to translucent, compared to antiquing with acrylic paint, so will resemble a kiln-fired glaze on a piece of ceramic clay especially when coated with Varathane or another liquid acrylic finish).
....it is harder to sand than regular clay... it can be cut with a craft knife or other blade though

My single criteria for determining which brand of liquid clay to use:
....Fimo (Fimo Liquid Decorating Gel) and Kato (Kato Clear Medium) brands of liquid clay will cure clearer than the Sculpey brand (Translucent Liquid Sculpey).
........Do I want it to be shiny? Kato has a shine. TLS is more matte. jayne
...I like to use the matte finish liquid clay (TLS) over stuff I have used Pearl-ex on.... makes the mica powders really pop (?)
. . . .The Kato liquid clay with its gloss finish is great for those items that you want shiny but will be very hard to sand every nook and cranny. Tonja

Apply very thin coats to get the clearest result.... Better to do several thin layers than one thick that may obscure your design. Tonja
...If you dilute the Kato sauce you will get an even clearer layer. Laura

If you are looking for a really nice matte finish for a piece, the TLS can give you that. It's especially nice for fairly flat pieces.
. . .The key is to first thin the liquid down with some Sculpey Diluent.... Then brush it on and let it sit for a bit so that it will flow some and be even across the piece. You shouldn't see any ripples aross the surface. If you do, the liquid is still too thick.

Right out of the oven the finish will be a nice, soft matte.
. . . should you want a glossy surface, just sand lightly and buff.
......I use this method a lot when doing color photo transfers where I use the Prisma Pencils for the color. The color as well as the black lines show up just fine through the liquid Sculpey.

I just pulled angel out of the oven and she has the most beautiful skin because of TLS (recommended by someone to cover fingerprints). Not only did the TLS produce a smooth and matte and almost a flat finish, it was applied over a painted sculpture (eyebrows, thinted skin, etc).
....I thinned the TLS with Diluent and cleaned my brush with alcohol, and painted the thinnest of layers over the fleshy parts of my sculpture. I baked it at 275 degrees for twenty minutes and she did just fine. The layer was so thin that higher, recommended temps weren't necessary. Katherine

......(addendum) Although the finish was matte, there were some rough spots where the TLS had flowed due to heat and gravity. These imperfections, visible only under magnificaton, proved difficult to deal with. TLS is very hard and is difficult to sand. In fact, I actually did some damage to my sculpture trying to deal with this. Still, I intend to explore the possibilities this technique presents more fully. Katherine Dewey

Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) creates a very matte and slightly textured finish. When I've used it, I couldn't (eve) tell it was there.... I'd try thinning it - quite a bit, but set aside a small amount and thin that... a little goes a long way. Desiree

I have a new bottle of TLS in the Polyform packaging and it's thinner than my older TLS, just the perfect consistency for this. I have a really hard time explaining exactly what that consistency looks like, but a bit thicker than heavy cream might do it. Jody B.

I love the finish you can get with TLS too. The first thing I learned about using it is to keep the coat thin. In the beginning, I was always using more than I needed and wasting material and spending forever cleaning up the problems. Here are a couple of things that might help.. . .
...Try sponging a thin layer on instead of using a brush. Test it first to see if you like this method, because it does make the matte texture more pronounced.

Also let the piece rest for an hour before you bake. This will let the clay absorb a bit of the plasticiser as well as evaporate some. If it runs or pools, you can still clean it up.. . . Have your oven pre heated. Jody

When I have used TLS over sculpted pieces, the trick of waiting at least an hour to allow drips to happen seems to really help identify problems (Thanks, Jody!)
....
Also I have found the occasional noticeable drip easier to remove with a small-bladed craft knife than to sand off.

CRACKLING techniques
(summary)

There are different techniques which will create a crackle effect:
...generally, to crackle without the special chemicals (those crackle "finishes" sold at craft stores), you'll have to apply something to the surface of the clay that moves slower than the raw clay does when they're both put through the pasta machine.
(METALLIC LEAF, FOILS:) You could use silver or gold leaf laid onto a thick sheet of clay, then run through the pasta machine on a thinner setting, first one direction, then the other direction on the next thinnest setting, for even crackling effect (see more in Leaf > Crackling).
(CLAY colors:) You could also partially cure a very thin sheet of polymer clay, using a heat gun or in the oven for a few minutes. Place the thin sheet of partially baked clay over a thick sheet of contrasting colored clay, then run that through the pasta machine on the thinner settings. To create larger gaps in the crackle, start with an even thinner setting on the pasta machine.
..... for the thin layer of top clay (use something harder than the second clay --could leach or use firmer clay). Brightpath
(PAINT colors, especially pearlescent paints): You could use most acrylic paints or other quick drying (clay compatible) paints, by applying the contrasting paint color to a sheet of clay, letting it dry *thoroughly*, then running it through the pasta machine on the thinner settings. (see more on using paints in Paints >Crackle)
(INK colors): You could use pearlescent inks. ...paint onto raw clay, allow to dry, run through pasta machine or manually stretch....some inks used have been Daler-Rowney Pearlescent Liqud Acrylic and Posh Rainbow) (see more in Letters-Inks >Pearlescent)
(CLEAR FINISHES:)... for crackling with special clear "crackle mediums" or with other clear finishes such as Future, see next sub-category)
(EMBOSSING POWDERS?:) I'm wondering if crackle could also be achieved by using embossing powders on top of raw clay, but it's likely to cure the clay while using the heat gun to melt the embossing powder. Marcella

crackle finishes (clear)

To create a clear crackle on top of clay, special crackling mediums (usually 2-part) can be purchased, or a single layer of acrylic finish can be used instead.

Apply the clay to cover whatever you want... or cut the into tiles, or whatever.... then bake. Suzanne
......Crackling can also be antiqued to show up the crackling more.

Future, etc.

a very subtle but beautiful effect can be achieved by using Future....apply it to raw clay and let it dry completely... run it through the machine to crackle.
....... (If you get bubbles in some of the Future during baking, try popping the bubbles and reapplying the Future to those spots with a small brush and bake again at only 200F for 10 minutes and everything should be fine.) (see more above, under Future). Marcella

inclusions in Future
...I mixed some metallic powders with Future, painting it over raw clay...after it is dried, I`ve stretched the clay in order to get the crackled surface. It works very well. Paulo
...for brilliant color, add metallic powders (mica-based, or real-metal?) to your Future before applying to the raw clay.
........just be *certain* that the Future is *totally* dry, perhaps even using a heat gun ... it will goop up the pasta machine if it weren't
.......if you add enough, the effect can look like dichroic glass..
...Take a flat sheet of unbaked clay and paint it with Future ...then apply metallic powder (like Pearl-Ex) all over the Future in a color that contrasts with the underlying clay....let it dry completely at room temperature.... run it through your pasta machine (without folding) to fracture the Future.
...crackle with Future (or even Varathane as well?) ... loose translation from French:
.......aAnother trick with Klir (the European version of Future)... I mixed a small quantity of Klir with Pearl Ex powder... then rolled a sheet of clay to a medium thickness. ...with a brush I applied a thin layer of the finish... let dry well (few hours) ...then reapplied a (thinner?) coat ... ran through the pasta machine?? ...the more you thin the sheet, the more the cracks will be significant. ... use the raw sheet as you wish
... if you want to emphasize the cracks after baking, use a little acrylic painting of contrasting color (as an antiquing medium). VIO

purchased crackle mediums

special "crackle mediums" just for crackling, can be bought at craft stores, etc... these usually come in two-parts:
--a first coat/layer which can be either opaque or clear....and a second coat/layer that's generally applied over the first (which is clear and will crackle while drying).
...the opaque part, I think, is basically a paint --which we wouldn't need since we'd be using the crackle layer over clay instead...this part would be used by others to create a solid color paint which could be covered by the second, crackled, clear coat.)
........however, not all of the crackle medium brands will work when using only the clear coat... you must use both parts for some brands
....the clear part can be used over transfers or any baked clay
.....
I've found all the brands are fickle, first working , then not working, then working again. I honestly don't know the secret unless it's the weather, or temperature.... I love the effect no matter. ...(later) I spoke to someone from Anita's and they told me that is something that happens most often on very rounded surfaces as opposed to flat surfaces. (drat!) Dotty
...I've got 5 "brands" of crackle and each bottle tells a different procedure....in addition, each time you use it, it can be different (I'd take a small sample of pc, and do exactly as instructed per instructions)..... I work on curvy surfaces all the time and that does not affect the action of the crackle (for most/some of the brands?). Dar

One of the things that needs to carefully monitored is the humidity in the enviroment. Crackle needs a dry place to set up properly (sometimes it takes a couple of days for the effect to occur)... . Also the base needs to be applied 'liberally'. .... try rubbing pigment into a small area to test the crackle (using a magnifying glass may not have been enough if the cracks were small). Valerie

One trick I learned from Gwen Gibson: Use a minimum number of brushstrokes when applying the second coat. ..I love this stuff... it works so well with Dover etched images - makes them look truly ancient. Linda G.

The crackle medium dries fairly fast, but the total amount of cracks don't show up right away. You will probably see some right away, but it's at least 24 hours before you will see all of them.
...Once I couldn't see anything at all after four days. But I wanted the piece antiqued anyway so I went ahead and rubbed it with Burnt Umber acrylic paint. Bingo! It was crazed with a zillion little cracks. Look great! Maybe I need stronger glasses! Dotty
...However, if you coat the your crackle surface with a glaze (before it's completely dry), that will stop the crackling action . . . I think that antiquing it with acrylic paint will stop the action also. Dotty

...My crackle was done with Anita's Fragile Crackle. I bought some of Aileen's crackle medium and found it worthless, frankly. Anita's is a two part application, but really easy. Then I diluted some acrylic paint with water and did a few brushonwipeoff (that fast!) passes until it took the way I wanted it.
...Apparently Anita's FC
can be found at Michael's, WalMart, maybe Hobby Lobby. Not sure which one I got mine at. Frustratingly, the company does not have a "public" webpage...
.........." If you desire small cracks, apply a thin coat, and for larger cracks, apply a thicker amount. Let this dry completely. Finally, use a brush to apply acrylic paint in the color you desire. Wipe off the paint and its done. The Fragile Crackle can be used on any surface, including glass, plastic and wood. http://www.hgtv.com/HGTV/project/0,1158,CRHO_project_1840,FF.html Kelly K
.........If you want a "tighter" crackle finish, make the 2 coats of the First Step thinly --thicker coats make a larger pattern. . . .Trish
....the final product has a beautiful glossy finish and (but?) the gloss reduces to satin if you rub with acrylic paint to define the cracks. ...
....on curved surfaces it's not quite as good (none of the crackle mediums are). Dotty
... when I drilled the cured piece, the finish around the holes came off like rubber cement. I think it doesn't really bond with the clay so much as it just dries on the surface. Trish
.......could you drill the holes before you cure the piece or before you crackle it? Gwen

I think the Jo Sonja's type made the smallest cracks, and not one of my favorites. But it is the one I have the most of now. Dar
...The medium I used was Delta Ceramcoat . . . two-step, fine crackle finish. Linda G.

The way most crackle finishes work is that they have a very volatile solvent (like methylene chloride) mixed into them. When the skin forms on the surface, as the paints dry in the air, the volatile constituent breaks up the skin and gives the crackle. . . . . I've often thought it could be fun to make non-crackle finishes crackle by the addition of methylene chloride - which is sold here in the UK in model shops as a polystyrene model kit adhesive. I imagined Fimo spirit varnish could be crackled quite easily - but I've yet to try it. The only words of caution I can offer are that the crackle additives are often quite toxic by inhalation and are best used out-doors or at least in a well ventilated area. Alan

misc.

Jon Anderson uses animal -shaped (wood or clay) forms ....after covering with 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

(...for crackling with paints, see Paints > Stretching ........ for using Inks, see Letters/Inks > Pearlescent Inks
....for info on crackled metallic leaf and foils, see Leaf)

...see Transfers > Tattoos for the wrinkly surface appearance that can be left by using a (non-preprinted?) tattoo on raw clay (or perhaps using the blank tattoo paper alone?)
...
see Translucents > Brands for Premo Bleached translucent leaving a smashed-windshield effect after the translucent was heavily leached before use
...
see Canes--Instructions > Lacey for a crackle effect made with canes (the effect can be translucent over other clay if one of the transclucent clays are used for the logs)

SPRAY finishes-sealers

many of the spray sealers will not work with polymer (as well as non-spray ones).
.....some may leave a sticky feeling right from the beginning, but some may appear fine for many months --then become sticky! .....Choose carefully. . .
...it's not always the paint or sealer in the can, but the propellant that's the problem

Several times I have received items in swaps that were finished with some substance (I never asked what) that was sticky and didn't dry with several weeks' waiting. I rebaked them, they dried out fine, and have never been sticky since (more than 6 months later). LynnDel
...I sprayed them with goodness-knows-what and was heartbroken when I found them sticky after several days. I did the rebake in a slow oven for a long period of time. To my surprise, I had the same results you had. A nice diamond hard finish.

....BUT, later, when I used another finish that hadn't worked, the beads only got sticker with this method.. .
....Like you said, you had nothing to lose.... It may not always work, but if you save one batch of your hard work, it's worth it.

If you want to remove some of the tackiness (caused by the wrong kind of spray or paints/finishes—which may appear after weeks or months), try
.... wiping with alcohol
… or using a solvent you'd use to remove oil based paints from brushes
....soak the hand sprayer in ammonia after using Future. . . . that is the solvent.
....(or acetone) DB
......I had one disastrous experience with sticky beads that rebaking wouldn't cure- so I soaked them in nail polish remover (acetone), wiping them down with old socks-- the crap all came off and I was able to buff them. I've avoided glazes most of the time since then. Jeannine
...if you want to remove the varnish, diluent (also a solvent) will work and work well, but it will take take considerable effort, perhaps as much as sanding. Katherine Dewey

The best thing to do may be to use a sealer such as Future or Diamond Elite Varathane (watered down?) which is definitely safe for polymer, then apply it with some kind of sprayer or even an atomizer . . . then you can be sure it will be safe for the clay???
...I pour some Future in an empty spray pump bottle [eyeglass cleaner/hair spray etc. the smaller the better] and spritz the item lightly [so that it doesn't run] every time I think it is dry. The bottle never gets clogged because I hold the nozzle under the hot water faucet once a day and give the hole a thorough scratching with my thumbnail to get rid of the wax. If I'm not going to be using the Future for a while... I pour the Future back in it's container, fill the spritz bottle with hot water and spray to make sure it is really cleaned out for the next time. It's easy. You will love it. 2-3 light coats are more durable and less likely to puddle or drool than one heavy coat! Gets in every little crevice easily. Cecilia Determan

"I found some cheap 4 oz. pump spray bottles at Michaels…. work really well for me."
...That's good to know... I'll try some of those... the ones I had just left big splotches.
...
Why not pour some future floor polish into a spray bottle? You'd have to clean after using to keep the spray end clear, but I don't see why it wouldn't work, do you?
...…hair dye comes with little mister bottles of after-shampoo conditioner that spray a *perfect* fine mist of Future onto Pearlex'd things, so as not to disturb the Pearlex. Elizabeth

Sue Heaser. . . Another idea is to use a mouth diffuser that you can get from artists' materials shops. This is a little gadget consisting of two thin tubes, hinged together so you can bend it into a right angle. You stick some Future into a small jar, insert the bottom tube of the diffuser, and blow through the top. Somehow this causes a fine, directible spray to emerge. Very cheap, very easy to use, no waste. It is used by artists and illustrators to spray pastel and charcoal artwork - works brilliantly! Cost only a few pounds in UK.
. . . . Sue, sounds like a manual air-brushing kit.

what I would try if you want to use a spray... is go to walmart or a hobbyshop and pick up a small testors airbrush.. the kind that uses a can of compressed air that is usually in the same area of the shelves... then you can mix your own spraypaint using only safe for polymer acrylics and water... you can then reuse the cheap airbrush anytime you want to paint something like that again
The air brush can be used with either a compressor or a can of propellant. (the propellant in this case is not an aerosol but compressed air). Future works well right out of the bottle but flecto (Varathane) has to be thinned with water to a milk like consistency. With a little practice you can get the most wonderfully smooth coating. No brush strokes, no air bubbles to brush out.. nuttin! The caveat here, isn't there always a caveat, is that you do have to clean the nozzle out VERY well and relatively soon after using. The little bottles that hold the paint and or in this case the sealant.. can be capped and stored for any time you need em. Tommie

...I've a no-frills, bottom-of-the-line, siphon-feed Badger air brush. I rinse with water before I change jars. At the end of the day I disassemble and clean everything with rapidograph cleaner. It's the best cleaner I've found for cleaning an air brush that uses acrylics. The bottles never get in the way, but I would someday like to own a gravity feed, nozzle control Paasche with interchangeable color cups. Katherine Dewey

Preval sprayer..... comes with a bottle and a canister. put little Future into the bottle, screw on the cap and one push of the button, all the beads are covered. Wait half an hour, do it again. I put 3 coats on. After all dry, then slip them off of wire and wash wire in soapy water and spray wire with Armour All. Dar
http://www.x-actoblades.com/preval/preval.htm (will the propellant used in the canister be a problem though?)

It's sometimes hard to brush on Flecto (Varathane) without disturbing the PearlEx, so for the leaves, I diluted some with about 20-30% water in a little pump sprayer and misted them.
...Test the spray first, to make sure that it mists, and does *not* spray in little gobs (...finding the right sprayer may be half the battle)
...Waited half and hour ....and then misted them, again (it will be set enough that the powder won't come off)
...This won't give you the really shiny look that brushing it on will, so if you want the real shine, brush it on the third time...
....After you're done, pump clear water through the sprayer part before you put it back in the bottle.
PyroPatty gave me the courage to give this method a shot, and it works really well, so far. . . . Bet it would work with Future, too. Elizabeth

I tilt my work towards the sun (or light source) over a white background and rotate it to find the uneven spots and imperfections. doololly

good. sprays?? for polymer

Others use Rustoleum's Varathane. It is a polymer friendly brush on finish that comes in satin & gloss. Like Future in many respects. Waterproof and buffable.
...
its been over a year now and so far, the spray Varathane appears compatable with Premo polymer clay --no stickiness, no cloudiness---all is perfectly clear and smooth.
.....this opens up HUGE possibilities for those who just want a bit of finish, and aren't needing the adhesive aspect (of using the liquid Varathane in a can) (...although Bryan has been using the spray Varathane as an adhesive for small particulates like glitter, and its working very well.) Sarajane
THE FOLLOWING INFO CONCERNS THE OLDER VARATHANE, PUT OUT BY FLECTO (RATHER THAN THE NEWER MAKER RUSTOLEUM)
...I've had success with Flecto Elite Varnathane Diamond spray Finish (silver can--different color now?) ...I also found that it scraped off with my fingernail, though. So I now bake my pieces after applying two coats of finish, and I can't scrape it off. I must admit, I've been less than scientific about time and temp of baking the finish -- I toss the pieces in the oven, sometimes at 200, sometimes 275, usually for a half hour. The semi-gloss is not overly shiny, and it also comes in a matte finish that I have not tried.
.... DO NOT use the aerosol (spray) version of Flecto, as it will not work well. The propellants interfere with the finish staying on the clay in the long term. Sarajane

I have used Plaid's "Clear Acrylic Sealer (Gloss)" on many PC pieces without problems. I spray two light coats when I want a glossy finish. I have not had any problems with stickiness. I also use Future a lot, but I dip my pieces into it instead of applying it with a brush. --Shelly Crossen

I have used acrylic sealer on some of my past pieces. As long as it is acrylic (waterbase), it will work just fine. Just make sure you spray in light coats, and allow to dry thoroughly between coats. Lynslow


Dear Irene -- I have used Patricia Nimrock's Acrylic Matte Sealer for over 5 years now. I have never had this problem. I don't know how you applied it, but you should shake the can very well and use short bursts of spray. If you held the spray too closely and sprayed too heavily, then this might have happened. (However, as a clayer who has used many, many cans of this stuff, I can vouch for its effectiveness [sans stickiness] if applied correctly).
Oh, I seal with Patricia Nimocks matte sealer... Yes, spray!…You can't brush this...you will smear the powder all over (the leaf impression). Mike B.
I've also used the Patricia Nimrock's Acrylic Matte Sealer and with great results. I have some vases that are 1 1/2 yrs. old and they look the same as the day I sprayed them. Geo
I use it too (Patricia Nimrock's Acrylic Spray) and I haven't had any problems with it. I use the matte and also the gloss. rralicia

Mona Lisa Clear Clear Cote Spray Sealer from Houston Arts may keep metal leaf from darkening as liquids will do
http://www.bearingbeads.com/Materials.htm

Duncan Super Matte is the only spray I recommend. It is the only spray I have used that never leaves a tacky feel. Jami

When I was at Polyform, we used to recommend Carnival Arts spray glaze. I think a company called Blair made it. I don't know where to find it! Donna Kato (no longer made?)

Now you can mist the beads with a spray gloss. (I used Rustoleum Clear Gloss, because it was the only thing I could buy overseas... as it turns out, I was lucky... some brands never *dry* on polymer clay. I I will stick with Rustoleum, if I have to, but, it *does* take a lonnnnng time to dry.
It's a GOOD product - dries VERY hard and durable, with a non-yellow Varathane type of shine. But, be prepared for 8-12 hours between coats. Nothing you want to finish in a hurry. It'll take another few days to get that "smell" off of them.

I've always applied Pearlex to baked clay, simply because I can sand it smooth and have more control over where I do apply the Pearlex. Rubbing the surface with diluent until tacky will make the powder adhere. For a topcoat, I now use . Made for fixing pastels onto paper, it doesn't react with the clay or the Pearlex and several coats will produce a shiny finish. I've a silver lion cuff over two years old that I wear constantly and it's held up well. No scratches, no dullness of finish. Adding of tiny touch of Pearlex Brilliant Gold to the Silver made it gleam like sterling.

For years I've been using workable Krylon's Spray Matte Fixative (made to fix pastels) as a finish when I want to protect (something) lightly painted. . . . I've only used it with Super Sculpey and Premo, and I can attest to its suitability. I don't know how waterproof it is, but hey, I'm a sculptor.
...I also use it over Pearl Ex powders which have been applied to a baked clay surface after rubbing with Diluent till tacky... I use several coats of spray . . .Katherine Dewey

~I know that the doll artists Jodi and Richard Creager use the Krylon #1311 Matte Finish on the dolls that they make. They use it on super sculpy to set the chalks they use for coloring. It seems to work for them. Jenny P

I use Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic or the Krylon UV-filtering Clear version as a first coat on all the switch plates that I have drawn on with Prismacolor pencil after baking.
.... I spray from a good distance with sweeping strokes just as I would for a drawing on paper.
...Once it's dry I put a coat of Future on top of that. I would use just Future, but it makes many of the pencil colors run and bleed if you use it alone. Krylon stops that. I don't like sprayed finish as a rule because it's never quite as glassy smooth as a brush-on. There's always that fine matte texture of spraying.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are several products made by Krylon, including a workable fixative that I would never dream of spraying on clay…. Flecto Elite Semi-Gloss… Since I heard about it's penchant for attracting dirt, I've retired it to wood use only and stick to Future or nothing…, except for that light mist of Krylon to set the pencil work Halla
I use chalks on certain pins …I tried the Krylon Matte Spray too. Seemed to be fine for a long while… one day went to my jewelry box to wear it and it was tacky. Shawn

I made two very large candleholders in Premo. They were kept together since they were a matching set. Same temp, same clay. I sprayed them both with Krylon. One of them got sticky after about a month. The other did not. Go figure. -byrd
Maybe it is how 'mixed' the chmicals are. Maybe the can has to be shaken several times between each spraying. Jeanne R.
Or maybe your coats were too thick or didn't dry sufficiently between them.

http://www.usartquest.com/products/studio
....Krylon's Preserve-It! (KRY40) to seal and protect digital photos ....moisture resistant, protects against fading, and is acid-free/archival safe...gloss or matte.
....Krylon's Make it Acid-Free! (KRY404) ---spray that neutralizes harmful acids that deteriorate paper... extends life of newspaper clippings, scrapbook materials, other paper products

TESTING finishes

(You could) make some test pieces in white (so that any yellowing over time will show up well) and in some other color too. Number or label the test pieces, and keep a record of what you use on each test piece. If there's a question about number of coats, do one coat on one test piece, two coats on another, etc. You'll be able to tell some things right away - re ease of application, any problems with bubbles, differences in gloss, etc. There are some finish tests that woodworkers use that can be applied to any finishes. You can test for scratching by seeing how hard a pencil it takes to scratch the finish, starting with a soft pencil and gradually increasing up to 5H. You can test for adhesion by scratching a 1" square with a sharp scribe or equivalent tool, then scratching little squares inside it - 10 each way so there are 100 tiny squares. Go ahead and scratch right through the finish. Then apply a piece of 1" masking tape to the square, press it down, and lift it off. How many of the tiny squares have the finish lifted off? Good adhesion is when none or very few do. Durability is tested by pouring play sand onto the piece through a little piece of pipe. Woodworkers use a 3' length of 1/2" pipe but as long as you're consistent with each test piece, this probably doesn't matter much. Right after doing these test pieces, you can narrow down your finish choices considerably. Then over time - weeks, months, and years - you'll be able to see differences in yellowing, as well as how much the colors underneath the finish fade. These are things a beginner in any medium can do. I recommend it, because you have your own test pieces to check over time. And a finish someone else can apply easily may not work as well for you. Cathy

MISC. (for all finishes)

(see Outdoor-Snowglobes. for info on effects of sun and water on finishes)

Applying a liquid finish often brings OUT fingerprints and small imperfections unless you put on 3 or more coats of it)
.....so sanding by hand or tumbler first (and/or using the smoothing-before-sanding methods above) will make the finish look a lot better, and you'll need fewer coats. Dotty

If only parts of the piece are meant to be glossy, you can hand paint a matte or a gloss finish only where needed with a Varathane, or other liquid of the finish type you want. (see specific brands above for several ways to do this).

IF FINISHES STICK to SKEWERS, etc
...I find that twirling the beads around on the stick as soon as they come out of the oven, before I put on the Future resolves the sticking problem. I also make certain that they can move around on the skewer before I bake them. . . . If you loosen them prior to futuring, there isn't further shrinkage when reheating with the future. Jeannine
~(if you've coated your pens with finish while they were on skewers), twist them on the skewers before adding the second coat. Kim
...You could also try coating the skewer with vaseline before you apply any finish to the beads. that should help to keep anything from sticking. Glenn
...or use cornstarch or talcum powder if it's necessary...
...You can drill the wood out later with a smalll hand drill to rescue old ones--it's a pain, but does work. Jeannine
...I don't know if this works with Future, but when this glue thing happens with Flecto (Varathane), I put the beads on the stick BACK in the oven long enough to get hot, and they slide/twist right off. Sarajane
...and if that does not work, try a solvent such as turpentine substitute - the solvent you would use to wash brushes after painting with gloss enamel paint. In UK it is called white spirit (confusingly, because it is not an alcohol spirit) can anyone identify this for US terminology? As a rule of thumb, any varnish or paint that uses this type of solvent will be a problem on polymer clay. Water or alcohol- based varnishes and paints have always been okay in my experience. (Well, so far, that is! ;*) Years ago, I painted some little polyclay cars with silver enamel paint. They seemed to dry and then went tacky - and stayed so. The above solvent got rid of all the paint - which was the only way to go. Sue

A " painting board "for holding varnished obejcts as they dry can sometimes be found at craft and hobby shops (each board has a multitude of tiny points spaced pretty close together that you can place your painted object on) ...the tiny points leave very little indication they are there...when I coat the second time, I place a different part of the object on the points.
...if you can't find one, a simple board can be made with thumb tacks by pushing them through a heavy cardboard, matt board, thin plywood, masonite or the back of a double thick legal pad (something stiff, durable and thin) ....space the tacks as close as you can get them, or further apart for larger objects
....you can also stretch a layer of plastic wrap over the points until they pop through as a "drop cloth" for paint or varnish, then change it when it fills up.
....you also might want to clean your tacks' points once in awhile to keep them free of varnish/paint which might stick to your freshly painted object.Patty B.

Future doesn't like to stick to items that were molded with Armor All as release when they're fresh from the oven, or even freshly cooled. If I'm very stingy with the Armor All, there's a chance I'll get glaze to stick and not bead up. . . Flecto won't stick to it, either.
How about a quick wash with Dawn dish soap? That's what rescuers use (or at least used to) on sea-life that has been compromised with oil-spillage
Armor All contains silicone. Silicone is almost always a problem when applying finishes. …There are "orange peel preventives" made as additives for finishes, that are meant to counteract the effects of silicone contamination…This might work with the Future or Flecto applied over Armor All. (Woodworker's supply stores are a source for this.) If Dawn doesn't remove the silicone, perhaps another solvent will work - alcohol, naptha, or mineral spirits (followed by Dawn to remove the solvent.) Cathy

(re drying after applying sealer) ....How about taking your oven rack, prop it between two stacks of books or something tall. Bend open some paper clips so they kind of look like an S, hang the ornaments from one end, and the other end over the wire grid on the oven rack. Does this make sense? I have baked hanging things in my oven this way too. Jenny P

OTHER .WAYS to get a SHINE or SHEEN
without
a liquid finish

(see Sanding and Buffing for creating a sheen, or all the way up to a high-gloss finish)

brief high heat
...I had a wonderful accident the other day... I bumped up the temp to 350 degrees just to raise the temp slightly but quickly. I hadn't realized that the top elements would come on (as well as the bottom ones), and my pan with beads was on the top shelf.
......the elements got red hot and I noticed smoke (not a lot but enough to know what was happening)
....I immediately removed the beads and they were perfectly shiny! ... no burns or markings at all/
Now I'm thinking there must be a way to do this, on purpose. To shine beads without having to sand, polish, or glaze. Wouldn't that be great!? Especially for those small 7mm beads that you would never do that to anyway. Cindy P.
...the shine I got was actually a complete accident. I used FimoClassic and I'm pretty sure I burned it, cause there was smoke coming out of the oven. When I pulled my items out, they had that shine. (I've only used FimoSoft before and that one bakes to a nice matte finish even when you burn it). honeysuckle

sanding & heat... sometimes+ buffing, sometimes + Diluent
...I sand (from 400 to 600 grit is more than ok) and then bake again for 5-10 minutes... the piece it has a very nice and soft feeling. japaya
...The heat causes the clay to create the same effect as having "melted" on the surface and filled in all the tiny little scratches from sanding or unevenesses
.... that alone can get rid of the whiteness created by sanding, but if the object is then lightly buffed (with a towel, etc.) afterwards while it's still warm/hot, that looks great for a sheen too. ....(Some people have even done that between each grit to cut their total sanding time a lot.)
.....Diluent-Softener creates the same sort of sheen when it's applied to baked objects that have been sanded in the regular way (sandpaper) then reheated briefly, or even when it's applied to raw objects which have been previously smoothed with water, cornstarch, etc., then baked and lightly buffed. Diane B.
(see more in on all those in Sanding)

boiling --or baking, then brief boiling-- + buffing
...For some reason, boiling does something to the outside of the clay item
...........if I bake as usual first, (then) I boil rapidly for 5 min... let "drip dry" (the same thing happens as just below?)

..During boiling, the clay will have acquired a coating of whitish substance, so I simply buff it off with a chamois-like cloth
....... you end up a bead with a luster that is usually achieved with sanding and buffing or with Future
........... I noticed little if any coating or film on my pieces though, so could the whitish film possibly be related to your water source? (or type of material pan was made from, etc.?)
.... if what you're making has a lot of nooks and crannies , it might not be worth the time it takes to get the desired result. Kelly
...Beads that I'd boiled had a kind of matte finish (no buffing? or different water?)
....... the two different finishes I got from the two curing methods (boiling and baking) actually looked good together--like getting two coordinating beads from the same batch.
(see more on boiling clay, etc., in Baking > Boiling )

PöRRö's shiny flat surfaces from baking between 2 smooth tiles... clay softens slightly when heated and will assume the texture of whatever it's touching
http://members.surfeu.fi/porro/eninti.htm (more in Mosaics > Tiles?)

(see also Buffing > Other Ways to Get Shine and Other Ways to Get Sheen, for more?)

(non-liquid) Paste WAXES + Vaseline + more

Vaseline (petroleum jelly) works for me..... just buff it real well.

carnauba (kar-NAW-ba) waxes.... (plant-based) ......(sometimes misspelled as carnuba)
.... I don't know about Johnson's wax, but I have used Mother's Car Wax. It is pure, carnauba wax so it has a nice fresh smell, it comes in a can that will last forever, and it will give you a nice soft finish and a soft shine if you buff the piece with a strip of demim. Kathy G.
... I picked up some Kit brand carnauba wax at the grocery store, slathered it on thinly, let it dry ... then buffed the eggs with old towels. They shined right up like I'd spent wayyyy more time on them, plus had no brush marks or long drying time that I'd get with a liquid glaze..... gorgeous deep shine (somewhat glossy after buffing).... very fluffy and creamy, not stiff like paste wax.... so instead of 20 minutes each, they needed only one minute each to be ready for packaging. Eliz.
....Treewax... a clayer friend of mine used to use a kind of wax on her beads sometimes and loved it ...it was a a sort of cream-colored wax maybe similar in feel to shoe wax, but with a definite smell if you sniff. Diane B.
....You do *not* want any type of wax that includes cleaners, just the plain wax
... you will have enough wax in one can to last a lifetime (...unless you decide to wax your car also) Kat
.......
....some people have used a archival wax called Renaissance Wax, but I can smell petrolates so don't use it. KathyG
...........I wonder if those would be more like the regular Rub 'N Buffs?? They do have that kind of smell... DB
...........(see more on these waxes, Rub 'N Buff, etc., in Powders & Waxes ... Metallic Waxes)

I used Johnsons wax many years ago on wood and to restore a saddle. I remember that it stated it could be used on vinyl and plastics and decided to try it on polymer. So far it is working really well.... the more coats applied, the harder it becomes, and it leaves a nice satin finish without any marks..... I will reserve judgement for awhile but so far so good. Shon

I checked out a book from the library "Hands on Sculpting" by Dottie erdmann. I believe it is an older book, but it is mentioned in the book several times to use paste wax on finished sculpy 111 and buff. I have not tried this yet but intend to do so. No brand name or particular kind was mentioned. I believe the biggest problem would be keeping the wax from gathering in the crevices of textured pieces and making it hard to get out. Florine . . . although a regular electric or Dremel buffer would prevent that.

I slathered my egg with saddle soap. It was just what I wanted, protection from dirty fingers, a coating that was not real shiny, and the colors and translucent clays were given that kick that finishes or being wet gives them.

For larger pieces, I sometimes still rub on natural shoe polish, then wipe & buff with a cotton cloth.
.... (by the way, colored shoe polishes make GREAT antiquing mediums.)

I've also had a lot better results when I rub the items I'm polishing with my hands to add my body oils to the surface. It's an old technique we used in photography to retouch scratches on negatives...you touched the side of your nose (talk about body oil) and then rubbed your finger across the scratch on the negative. Your body oil would fill in the scratch and you could print the negative again. Syndee
........I've rubbed pieces through my hair to give them a bit of extra shine... it does work a treat. Sera

paraffin wax ..(from crude petroleum... used for candles --as opposed to beeswax or tallow), and for preservative or waterproof coatings )
...I often used paraffin wax (from grocery store) on the surface of the clay while it is still warm from the oven. ....that is, I take a hard chunk of it and rub over the surface of the still warm clay.
.....It then melts and seals the porous surface--the porosity is what makes the surface matte.
.....The parafin gives just a light sheen and looks as if nothing has been put on the clay.
.... I have several necklaces made of poly beads that I waxed in this way I have worn regularly for nearly two years with no sign of change in the clay or the look of the finish.
....In case you were wondering, it also doesn't seem to come off on skin or clothing.

 


(see also Glues/Diluent, Liquid Sculpey, Paints, Powders, Leaf, Baking, )

Home