How to Bake a Clay Figure


Baking clay figures can be a challenge because of the variety of thickness in the clay. The best way to yield professional results is to bake the figure pieces individually and then stick them together after baking. This will allow enough baking time for thicker pieces without causing damage to thinner pieces. You can also try to make one solid figure, simply using a similar thickness of clay throughout by using a aluminum foil base or other base under the clay. For home baking, polymer clay provides the best results, as it can be baked in a traditional oven.

Things You'll Need

  • Polymer baking clay
  • Measuring tape
  • Oven
  • Cookie sheet
  • Clay liquid diluent
  • Check the packaging of your clay piece to determine if it is air-dry, or bake-dry clay. Do not try to bake air-dry clay. All forms of polymer clay are baking clays and will dry properly in a home oven. According to Dan Perez, clay figures 12 inches high or shorter work best in home ovens.

  • Form each clay piece for the figure individually. This makes it easier to add elements and also prevents smaller pieces from burning in the oven. Attach all wires for attaching parts to one another, if necessary, as well as complete all details for each part before baking.

  • Preheat the oven to about 265 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Measure the width of the clay at the widest point and the narrowest point. Do not count the thickness of the entire piece, such as aluminum bases, as part of the thickness. Only count the thickness of the clay. Plan for about 20 minutes per ¼ inch of thickness.

  • Place the figure pieces on a cookie sheet and bake the pieces in the oven. You can bake them together or apart, but make sure to take out smaller pieces before thicker pieces.

  • Check the pieces to ensure proper baking time. When baked properly, the clay should have a white or cream appearance and look dry. If the clay still looks wet or damp, then it is not baked enough. If the clay starts to turn brown and crack, then the clay is over-baked. However, if you follow the 20 minutes per 1/4 inch rule, then you shouldn't have to worry about under or over baking.

  • Allow the pieces to cool. Brush on liquid diluent to attach baked pieces to one another. After cooling, you can add additional clay on top of the base figure, such as clothing or hair, and bake the clay a second time without harm to the sculpture.

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