Hmmm -- welcome to the land of trial and error. Even a relative
newbie like myself can tell that you've hit on some questions that
have no definite answers -- and, luckily, one fairly easy question (not
that it has a definite answer either). Here's the answer to the easy
Glaze. Whether you want to use a glaze is entirely up to you, and may
depend on the non-clay elements of your piece. If you want a shine, but
don't want to glaze, the clays can be sanded and buffed to a fairly
high shine (the shine varies somewhat according to the type of clay).
Use wet/dry sandpaper (the finer grades of wet/dry sandpaper are used by
people who refinish their cars, so you can find them in auto-supply
places if not in regular hardware stores). Sand the piece wet -- some
people recommend doing the sanding under running water or with the piece
submerged. You can then buff with a piece of cloth (the leg of your
jeans will work) or with a Dremel moto-tool fitted with a muslin
polishing wheel. If you want to glaze, you can use Sculpey or Fimo
glaze, Future floor wax, or Flecto Varathane Diamond Elite (which I
haven't tried but have seen highly recommended). Don't use any spray
glazes or your piece will be sticky (if not immediately, sooner or
If you use the Fimo metallic powders (brushed onto the clay before
baking), you definitely need to glaze your piece after baking. I've
never worked with Pearl-Ex powders, so I don't know if you need to glaze
the piece after using them.
Re glues: check the archives of this group for discussions on which
glues work. After doing so, you may be left with the impression that NO
glues work, at least not infallibly. I've been using superglue
(cyanoacrilate), but doing so in the full knowledge that sooner or later
the jewelry findings are going to fall off. Wiping off the metal with
*** before gluing definitely helps. There's a lively discussion
going on about two-part epoxies versus Zap-a-Gap versus various other
glues, but at this point I'm content to reglue as necessary.
Re baking: it's hard to answer your question because there's no telling
what items your creativity will lead you to include in your clay work.
To overgeneralize, I'd say most things other than plastics probably can
be baked, but I'd do test runs to the extent possible before spending
hours on a piece and having the included elements melt and wreck it.
Re baking versus gluing: if you're not going to put any clay over the
included item, I'd bake the clay part first and glue the item on
afterward. Unless you've got clay over part of the item, baking it with
the clay piece is not going to make it adhere any better. HOWEVER --
before someone points out that I don't know what I'm talking about, let
me say that there have been some recent interesting posts about using
either diluent or translucent liquid Sculpey to make clay pieces adhere
to each other -- never having tried that with clay or anything else, I
don't know whether that method would help with adhering non-clay items
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