Thursday, July 11, 2013

Storing solution for w.i.p. polymer clay sculptings

Welcome back for a new tutorial.
This time I'd like to present an idea about storing unfinished miniatures to keep them safe between the sculpting sessions.
Usually I've done my sculpting with two part epoxy putties like greenstuff and Procreate, but lately I've tried my hands more and more on polymer clays that have to be baked in the oven to get hard.
Especially since the BeeSPutty produced by Stefan Niehues is out (see my last post) I'm doing my stuff with this polymer clay.
The biggest advantage (at least for me) of polymer clay is the fact that unlike the epoxy putties (greenstuff/Procreate) it won't get hard and stays workable until you bake it in the oven.

But this advantage is also a disadvantage or at least it could be. Because the clay stays soft, you have to be very careful not to ruin all your sculpting work by accidentally squashing the miniature.

Especially between the sculpting sessions, you have to be sure to store the work-in-progress miniatures in a save place where they won't be accidentally damaged.
So this is why I came out with the idea to create such a safe storage place. The idea is just to take an empty jam jar to store the miniatures. Usually miniatures will be made with a base-wire-armature that is placed into a cork as a kind of handle. So I just glued a magnet into the bottom of such a cork. As the cap of the jam jar is made of metal, the cork with the magnet will stick to it if you place the cork onto the upside down cap. then you can screw the jar on top of the cap and your miniature is safe. You have to store the jar with the miniature upside down, with the cap as the bottom.
The magnet in the cork has just another advantage because it gives your cork a safe stand while sculpting, if you place it down to a metal surface and also in the oven if placed onto a baking tray while baking the polymer clay.
That's all. Not the most brilliant idea ever, but useful.

Additional thoughts:

About magnets:
There are basically two kinds of magnets around: the ferritic magnets and those made of neodym. On the picures you can see them. The neodym magnet is the small silverish one whils the ferritis magnet is the larger dark greyish/brownish one. The neodym magnets are much stronger, while smaller at the same time, so at first sight they seems to be better suited for this project.
But you have to know that neodym magnets are much more sensible to heat than the ferritic magnets. On the lable of the neodym magnets it says, that working temperature is only up to 80° Celsius, which is below the temperature polymer clay needs to harden. I read on the web that neodym magnets will loose a part of there magnetic drawing power if heated up above that temperature. I haven't tested this by now so I can't tell you exactly how much of their magnetic drawing power will get lost and if the magnet gets useless after a polymer baking session. So at least if you want to use the cork with the magnet to be inside the oven while your polymer miniature is baked and you want to be sure, I recommend using ferritic magnets to glue into the cork. You can find ferritic as well as neodym magnets quite easily on the web (eBay, Amazon etc.).

About corks:
You can find all kinds of cork on the web (eBay, Amazon etc.). The size you use depends on the size of the miniature you want to sculpt. For sculpting 30 mm miniatures I like corks with a diameter of 2,4 cm and a height of 3,2 cm. The larger the cork, that larger and stronger the magnet to glue in should be.

Alternative to the jam jar:
If you are not happy with the idea to use a jar made of (breakable and quite heavy) glass for this project, an alternative could be a container made from acrylic glass like you can see on the picture.
I bought this on eBay and it is stuff you usually use for medicine/laboratory purposes. Usually these containers don't have a metal cap, so I glued a metal disk (also from eBay) onto the inside of the cab. I used double-sided adhesive tape for that, because the cap is made of a slightly bendable plastic, so usual glue is useless here. You can also use these metal discs for the cap of the jam jar as the magnets will sit much stronger on this disc than on the metal of the cap alone.


  1. Glue a metal washer or similar metal part to the cork, then place or glue the magnet to the lid. Temperature problem solved, you only heat the miniature, the cork and the metal piece. Magnet stays with the jar.