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Just Ask
October 2004

By Deb Hayes
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The lovely and talented Deb HayesDear Readers,

Welcome to Just Ask. I am here to answer your questions…if I don’t know the answer, I will research it with our team of experts and give you THEIR answers. Email me at: Deb@pcPolyzine.com.

I have been working with Sculpey clay for about a  year now and I have  progressed to making bowls and clocks with the clay. My problem is I condition the clay by hand (I do not have a pasta machine as yet) and I roll it out and it looks all smooth, no bubbles, and then I bake it at the recommended temperature. And instead of a smooth surface, I am getting bubbles in my  baked clay. What am I doing wrong?
I never get bubbles in clay figures that I make so what am I doing  wrong. Thanks so much for your help; this has been driving me crazy. I would like to sell my clay items, but I won't until I am sure they are of good quality.

Thanks again -
Dorothy Clarke

<>Hi, Dorothy…my first thought is that if you’re not getting bubbles in your figures, but in the flatter objects, it must be the rolling of the clay that’s causing the grief. My suggestion would be that you make certain you are rolling away from the fold of the clay, rather than into the fold, which can trap bubbles. Since you’re using Sculpey, it is also possible you’re overworking the clay before you roll it. It gets soft, and it seems that softer clay cause more bubbles.  <>

Let us know if we need to investigate this further, OK?


Hello Bottles of Hope,

I need some help. I have just started a Bottles of Hope project at my local hospital. What can I do about clay pieces that break off after they have been baked? I don't know much about polymer clay. What type of glue works good on clay and glass?

Thank you. Toodles.

Mel, the very first thing I would check is the brand of clay. The Sculpey clays are the most brittle, with the white being the worse of the two. 

If you were to use Premo! or FIMO, or the fairly new Kato Polyclay, the result would be stronger. In fact, Premo! is very flexible when cured in thin pieces, so I would suggest you use it for items with projections. 

As far as gluing glass and clay, as long as the object wouldn’t be subjected to high heat, as in a hot car or being worn on a hot day, I think one of the cyanoacrylate glues would be fine. Lisa Pavelka sells a new glue that is said to be very strong, even when used to cure clay to clay. Her site is www.Heartinhandstudio.com. Of course, to glue raw clay to raw clay or raw to cured clay, you can use one of the liquid clays as a glue, as well.

One more note:  make sure your oven is calibrated for the corrected temperature, and that you are following the manufacturer’s directions for curing the brand of clay you choose.

Good Luck!


Could you please tell me where I might find PearlEx, or Mica Powders? I usually shop at "Michaels", but they don't seem to carry it. Also, what is the proper name to use when searching for the stuff on the Internet?

Teresa Parsons

You have it already, Teresa! The generic term IS mica powders, since they are made of finely ground mica.

If you did a Google search for that term, you would find over 18,000 hits. For purposes of buying them, PearlEx is the brand name of mica powders from Jacquard and Powdered Pearls is the brand name for powders from Lemon Tree. There are also brand names called Perfect Pearls and a fourth product called Mona Lisa Authentic Metallic Powders from Houston Art.

Finding an online source won’t be difficult, but if you do have access to a Michael’s store, I would suggest you look for the Pearl-Ex brand, perhaps in a variety pack. The nearest Michael’s to me has the somewhat iffy distinction of being the smallest store in the Michael’s chain, and I did find them there. However, they were in the stamping section near embossing powders, and not with the polymer clay supplies.

<>Let us know how your search turns out, will you?


Hello Deb

I am an avid British follower of pcPolyzine. My question to you is, what is the British version of varathane? I am struggling to find a non-yellowing varnish to finish my beads. Can you pleeeeeeeeeeeease help?

<>Best regards,


I have checked Sue Heaser’s site, the Polymer Clay Pit, and in her varnish section, she says that Aleene's water-based Acrylic Matt Varnish is a good substitute for FIMO Matte varnish, which has been discontinued.

Publisher’s Note: Here at pcPolyzine, we are definitely an ensemble cast, so when one of us doesn’t have all the answers, we count on the rest of us – or in this case, one of our near and dear friends – to provide the information . . .

Hello Jeannie,

Deb has asked me to offer advice regarding UK available finishes equivalent to Flecto Varathane.

I generally use FIMO Spirit Gloss varnish - it can be made less glossy by addition of Nitrocellulose paint thinners or Toluene.

Water based finishes are available, such as the one Sue Heaser sells at her Claypit - Aleene's matt.

I've been trying something which is designed for hardwood floor protection. It's a water based acrylic varnish which has a silk/matt finish. The product's called 'Aqualac' and can be bought at hardware shops or online at Screwfix Direct at 14.99 GBP per 2.5 litres. Myself and a couple of other English clayers have used it for a couple of years with no disasters - as far as I know.

Screwfix also sell a very good carnauba-based wood wax which could be used instead of Future (in the UK Future is called Johnson's Klear)

I hope that answers the query adequately.

Alan [Vernall]

<>Finally, a question from Sharon, and it has nothing at all to do with polymer clay!  <>

Hi -

My friend was making some olive bread for a Greek dinner. The recipe called for whole meal flour. We have checked everywhere and no one has any idea what it is.


Sharon, in a nutshell, it is the same as whole-grain or whole-wheat flour. Whole meal is the term widely used in the UK and some other European countries. The bread sounds great. Do you share recipes?

Well, I need to go work on my Halloween costume. I think I will go out as a famous radio star. That way, I can wear what I want!

If you have questions about clay, or even cooking, Just Ask!


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