Hello all of you Sculpey and Fimo enthusiasts! Do you need a toaster oven for baking your polymer clay projects instead of your home conventional oven? In this post I’ll talk about the pros and cons and some suggestions you may find helpful.
Maybe you’re somebody who is smell-sensitive, or you’re tired of claying time competing with dinnertime (I know there are plenty of stories on that one!) Or maybe you are just looking to be more energy efficient. Either way, I want to be of help as a longtime clay-er (that the right word?)
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Is a Toaster Oven Good For Polymer Clay Curing?
I do have a toaster oven – and it gets the brunt of anything I have along the lines of pizza, garlic toast, you know, things like that. This little guy is about 10 years old (it was actually a gift from my now deceased husband back when we were courting) and it still runs like a top. The brand name is Rival (don’t know if that helps), and I’m unsure if this model is still carried – when I check the back it looks to have came from Walmart.
Now do I use it as a clay baking tool? Yes and no. YES if the clay object in question is fairly small. This would mean things like jewelry pieces and beads, keychains, small trinkets, or something that is fairly flat, too. My little oven is 8″ in height, 9″ in depth and 14″ wide. It has two positions on the inside that I can move the rack to.
I usually keep things on the lower rack to minimize the heat impact. No to most other items, though – I would be concerned about the top of the object in question being too close to that top heating element; which you can tell is pretty close, and it could typically result in dark spots, and the rest of the object, might not get touched at all and end up semi-soft.
So if you’re still with me, Yes to using your toaster oven, if you’ve got one, for very small clay objects, only. Like these chalk powder colored beads I did recently – they turned out great.
In other words, for small stuff….you should be A-Ok. If you are thinking about a special, designated oven for your work, a toaster oven like this may be the way to go. If you already own one, that’s just gravy! I wouldn’t ask you to spring for one out of necessity.
Anyway, smaller, designated ovens like these have the following advantages:
- Lower energy output (great when you’ve got a high yield going on)
- Removes concern about food contamination (which as I mentioned earlier, you have nothing to worry about, but it’s all up to you.)
- They don’t make the house hot (especially in the spring and summer where I live, this is a real blessing)
- And if you’re sensitive to the smell, you ca always open the window…( I have heard of some clay artists keeping their “dedicated” little oven out in the garage for this reason.)
Now on to the proper procedures!
Baking Polymer Clay in Your Toaster Oven Safely
I do use the conventional oven for larger projects, I turn on the ventilator fan above afterward, though. I don’t have any concerns about toxic fumes. Some people are, and that’s OK too. I did go to check out Sculpey’s website for further info.
The standard instructions on your package of clay always say something along the lines of “bake at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes …if your item has a fourth inch of thickness” But when the smaller volume of a toaster oven comes into play, does this still apply?
Yes, the same temp and time rules still apply. You may also want to consider the use of an oven thermometer. Because all ovens are different, you may need to calibrate yours for best results.
Remember to cover your project with aluminum foil, to minimize the chance of scorching or dark spots, as the heating element doesn’t lend itself to as much clearance. Set your timer, if one is present, mine doesn’t, so I use the one present with my regular oven.
Toaster ovens -at least mine does – “ding” after the time is up, and the heating element goes out, so I don’t have to worry about over baking. If after 30 minutes has passed (the best length of time for projects) I usually leave everything alone, and let the cool-down phase take place.
If you’re still with me, and you’re thinking about a new “designated” clay oven, , I have good news for you too!
The Ideal Oven For Baking Clay?
A good toaster oven like this one may be the best way to go. This one I found is cited as being excellent as a designated polymer craft clay oven. You can find it on Dick Blick in which I found that at the time of writing, it was a few dollars less than Amazon (they both offer free shipping).
It’s a nice size and won’t take up too much countertop space, with a width of 15″, depth of 8″ and height of 7″ so pretty close to the size of the one I own. The interior space dimensions are, respectively, 5″ in height, 11″ in width and 7.5″ depth.
You are encouraged to preheat for best results and there is a built-in timer that will ding when it has reached the optimum temp for the project as opposed to a cold start. The temp setting will not go over 300 degrees so you will have peace of mind when in use.
This product works like a convection oven, in that a built-in fan helps regulate the temp. Even though this overall seems like a good choice and gets favorable reviews, smaller projects would still be much better suited.
Well, there you have it….you now know everything you need to regarding the in’s and out’s of using a toaster oven to bake clay. If you primarily craft miniatures, dollhouse objects, or jewelry parts, you have lots of fun ahead of you.
All you have to do is take a few precautions (just like with the “other” kind of oven) and things should go fine.
Anyway…good luck to you, enjoy your clay baking! And let me know in the comments what you have experienced with regards to clay, ovens, etc.