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Glazing Beads With Liquid Polymer Clay, Gives A Glass Like Sheen To Your Beads

Glazing beads has caused lots of headaches for polymer clay artists.

If you varnish or buff your beads, they need to be sanded thoroughly first, which is hard work, not to speak of boring.

I too wrung my head to find an easier way to get shiny beads. Then I read somewhere that you can use liquid polymer clay to make flat pieces shiny, but that it would run of shaped or round beads. I decided to give it a try anyway. After several unsuccessful attempts, I managed to glaze a round bead, and give it a smooth glass like surface. I have been glazing beads like this ever since.

Glazing beads with this method also takes time, but you do not have to sand the beads first, unless there are some flaws that must be removed. Another plus is that if you get a scratch on a bead, all you have to to is to apply another coat of liquid clay, and the scratch is gone.

So,do you want to give it a try? OK, here we go!

what you need to be glazing polymer clay beads

You will need the following:

  • Kato polyclay clear medium
  • Soft flat paint brush
  • Bamboo rods
  • Embossing heat gun
  • ceramic tile
Round beads:
Pour some liquid clay into a cup. I use an empty jar of face cream. Since it has a lid, I can leave the clay in it when I am finished. It tends to get thicker pretty fast though, so don't pour to much in it at the time. To avoid getting air bubbles in it, just let it run freely out of the bottle, don't squeeze it out.

Stick one of the beads on a bamboo rod. If the rod is to thin and the bead slides down, put some liquid clay on it and heat it with the heat gun (just be careful so it doesn't start to burn). Repeat until it is thick enough to hold the bead. “Well used” bamboo rods are the best when glazing beads, since they have layers of liquid clay on them, that prevents the beads from sliding.

Applying the liquid polymer clay onto a bead Use the paint brush to apply a thin coat of the liquid clay onto the bead. Then drag the brush lightly from base to top all around the bead. This is to drag of potential air bubbles.

Spin the bead slowly and check for more air bubbles. If you see any just drag them of the bead with your brush, or touch them with your finger. The spinning of the bead, prevents the liquid clay to run.

Heating the glazed polymer clay with a heat gun

Hold the bamboo rod in one hand, and spin it slowly as you heat the bead with the heat gun. To prevent burning the bead keep the gun moving and the bead spinning slowly as you heat it. When it gets warm the clay will look frosty. Keep heating it until it has a satiny shine.

Put it aside to cool of a little, while you glaze another bead. If you try to apply another coat while the bead is very warm, the half cured clay will flake and get bumpy, so let it cool while you add the first coat of the second bead. Work with two beads at the time.

I am normally glazing beads with three to four coats, but you can apply as many as you like.

If you apply more than four coats though, they may be difficult to get shiny and transparent. A way to surpass this, is to apply four coats as mentioned above. Then let the bead cool of completely. Heat it up again until it gets glossy and shiny. Let it cool a bit, and add a new coat. Repeat the whole procedure as many times as necessary, but not more than 4 coats at the time.

Glazed beads put to cool down before re-heating When satisfied, put the bead aside to cool of. When the bead is cold, heat it up again, spinning it as before. After a while it will turn shiny/glossy.

Parts of a bead may get shiny through the first step, but when the bead is warm some parts simply refuse to get glossy. I don't know why this is so, but if you let it cool down completely first, the whole bead will get nice and shiny all over when you re-heat it.

Did you like these beads? See how they are made here.

Glazing beads that are flat:

This is an easier way to be glazing beads, since you cure it in the stove.
Put the beads on a ceramic tile with some space round each bead. Pour liquid clay onto each bead. You can do this directly from the bottle.

The layer can be quite generous, but not so thick that it runs of the beads. If it does however, it really is no disaster. Just cut of the excess clay around the edge when it is cured.

With a needle or bamboo rod, drag any air bubbles or impurities like hairs, dust etc. off the bead. Use the bamboo rod to spread the liquid clay all over the beads, so you get an even layer.

Leave them for 30 minutes allowing air bubbles you didn't see at first, to rise to the surface. Drag them off the bead.

Bake the beads for about 30 minutes. Liquid clay tolerate higher temperatures than firm clay, and firm clay may tolerate a slightly higher temperature too without getting burned. Transparent clay however gets yellow to brown. To avoid negative surprises, cure according to what is recommended for the clay you use.

When baked, the liquid clay very seldom come out of the oven shiny and transparent. This is normal, just leave the pieces to cool and then heat them up again with a , until they are shiny and transparent.

Since these beads are flat, you cannot put them on bamboo rods to spin. Instead you must move the heat gun to avoid burning the beads. But even if you do, you may actually burn the neighboring bead, if you don't have enough space around each piece. So sometimes it is better to use two tiles, so you can spread the beads.

Very small or light pieces will be blown away by the heat gun. A way to prevent this, is to put a drop of liquid clay under them. This will “glue” the pieces onto the tile, and they will not be blown around.

White clay tend to yellow faster than other colors, when heated, so it may be vice to let white pieces cool longer than colored clay, before you reheat it, just to be sure. The less heating used when glazing beads like this, the better.

Curved beads/pieces:
The technique you use when you glaze curved beads, is a mix between the two mentioned above. Work with two beads at the time.

Put the beads on the ceramic tile. Apply a thin coat of liquid clay on one of them. The coat has to be thin, or it will run. Heat it with your heat gun , moving it quickly all over the bead to make the clay frosty. If the coat is thin enough this goes very well without any moving or running of the coat. Continue heating it until it looks satiny.

Do the same with the second bead. Add as many coat as you like, but follow the procedure of round beads if you want to apply more than 4 coats.

Leave the beads to cool off, and then reheat until shiny and transparent.

And that's it. It takes a bit practice and some burned beads to master this technique, but it really isn't that difficult. You will get the hang of it quickly, I promise you.

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