Can You Paint Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is a plastic or artificial clay which is best for decorative purposes. It’s so easy to bake in an oven. Also, there are no difficulties like color or shape-changing during the heat in the oven. You may think about painting on the polymer clay to make your creativity. But is it paintable or can you paint polymer clay?

Yes, you can paint polymer clay. The best paint suggested for polymer clay is Water-based or acrylic paint colors. These paints easily stick to the clay. For baked clay, sealing and priming is necessary. You can also use alcohol ink, coloring pigments, or fabric dyes. 

However, don’t worry if you feel that you’ve no prior experience. Polymer clay painting is just a name to follow some steps if you stay with us till the end. So, let’s get started.

What is polymer clay? 

Polymer clay is synthetic modeling putty that one can mold, sculpt or shape in infinite ways. Generally, it’s used for crafts, jewelry, wall art, decorated bowls or vessels, and many more things. 

Source: Dan Bollinger – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Mainly, polymer clay is made from PVC, resins, coloring agents, and fillers. Therefore, this manufactured clay is durable, flexible, and lightweight. You can easily polish, carve, sand, and paint a polymer clay. 

A detailed explanation: Can you paint polymer clay? 

Polymer clay is such a versatile craft idea that it can be paintable with proper polish or sanding. Choosing a suitable paint type like acrylic color is necessary. 

Why acrylic paint? It is because this type of paint contains plastic that reacts with plasticizer and softens the polymer clay. Baking is also necessary to properly ensure the paint sticks with the polymer clay.  

To paint polymer clay, you should go through the following tricks: 

Tips for painting polymer clay: 

  • If you want to paint polymer clay before baking, then use water-based paint or acrylic color. It can easily adhere to that surface as it is water-soluble paint. 
  • If you want to paint the polymer clay after baking, use alcohol-based color, coloring pigments, or fabric dyes. The cheapest alcohol-based colors are Alcohol inks. Don’t use water-based paints on the baked clay as there’s a possibility of creating bubbles on the surface. But, if you want to color with acrylic paint, then give the polymer clay 24 hours for the water to evaporate before baking.
  • White clay is a more convenient option to paint than coloring clay. 
  • Use a little ink.

a) Can you paint polymer clay with acrylic paint 

Yes, you can paint polymer clay with acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is the best option to deal with such a paint project. It is water-soluble and easily adheres to the surface of polymer clay. This paint is also durable and creates a better finish. 

Mainly heavy bodied acrylic color works great on this type of clay surface. Before baking, you can use acrylic paint. Again, sanding and priming are required when you’re painting polymer clay after baking. 

If you’re searching for the best acrylic paint for polymer clay, you can choose Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylics or Golden Heavy Body Acrylics paint

Liquitex professional heavy body acrylics are best according to our research because as it-

  • Highest viscosity paint
  • It brings flexibility, non-cracking, and durable finish.
  • Non-yellowing, UV resistant, and water-resistant when dry.

You can also pick another famous brand of acrylic paint, Golden Heavy Body Acrylics, for the following reasons-

  • Provide excellent permanency.
  • Lightfastness and purely pigmented 
  • Offer great coverage.

Different mediums for painting or coloring polymer clay:  

You may wonder about the number of mediums used for painting polymer clay. We’ll discuss the common medium that can or can’t be used to paint clay. Let’s join our debate to know the truth!

a) Can you paint polymer clay with nail polish?

No, you can’t paint polymer clay with nail polish. However, it seems like a better option but you should never try this one. 

Because the solvent present in nail polish softens and dissolves the polymer clay, again, used on baked clay will turn into a result of sticky and gooey over time. 

b) Can you paint polymer clay with gouache?

Yes, you can use gouache to paint on polymer clay. But, you may need to apply multiple layers as it is pretty thin. Must use a primer. 

As regular gouache is not permanent, so seal the paint later. Also, you can use gouache with acrylic paint, which dries quickly and layer easily.

c) Can you color polymer clay with food coloring

Yes, you can use food coloring to give your polymer clay a deep or vivid color. Most food coloring consists of sugar, water, and other things. 

These can change the hardening process of polymer clay when heated in the oven. Try to use the food coloring medium depending on the clay.

d) Can you color polymer clay with mica powder? 

Yes, you can use mica powder to color polymer clay. In the case of unbaked clay, mica powder adheres naturally. Adding mica powder to baked clay is less effective. It will not stick until you add a varnish or clear coat to the baked clay.

e) Can you paint polymer clay with watercolors?

Yes, you can. Liquid watercolors are the best option for choosing painting over polymer clay. Water-based color provides rich & smooth finishes and also dries quickly. After baking, let the clay dry for around 24 hours to evaporate water from the paint.

f) Can you spray paint polymer clay?

You can use spray paint which contains water-based paint. In this case, acrylic colors are the best option to use. Although, many professionals suggested not using spray paint as polymer clay is too sticky.

How to paint and seal polymer clay?

In this stage, we’ll dive into the important discussion of how to paint polymer clay with effective steps. Well, take a look at the method, and don’t forget to seal the paint with this easy guide.

a) How to paint/color polymer clay with alcohol ink 

Well, alcohol ink is perfect for coloring polymer clay. Basically, polymer clay has better solubility in alcohol, and alcohol inks are dispersed in polymer clay easily. Let’s see how to color polymer clay with alcohol ink-

Steps to color polymer clay:

  • Prepare a thin sheet of translucent polymer clay and place 4-6 drops of ink onto it. Don’t add more than 4-6 drops.
  • Start squeezing the alcohol drop. 
  • Use a knife to spread the alcohol ink evenly on the surface. Try to spread out more to dry quickly.
  • Let it completely dry.

b) How to seal acrylic paint on clay 

Mainly, using acrylic colors on baking clay requires sealing and trimming for better results. The basic steps are as follows to seal acrylic paint on clay: 

Steps to seal acrylic paint on clay

Step 1: Prepare these necessary tools-
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paints
  • Clean cloth
  • Lacquer 
  • High-quality gloss finishes spray.
Step 2: Choose suitable acrylic colors:

Now it’s time to choose suitable acrylic colors and mix them well in the container.

Step 3: Apply the color with a paintbrush

Apply the color with multiple layers using a paintbrush or a palette knife on polymer clay. You can choose the Soucolor Acrylic Paint Brushes Set for this job. Apply a coat and let it dry before recoating.

Step 4: Apply a thin gel coat

Apply a thin gel coat and let it dry for around 2-3hours. You can try Eternal Acrylic Top Coat Gel

Step 5: mix colorant and modeling wax 

Next, mix colorant and modeling wax and apply a thin coat of this mixture onto the clay. Then, sand lightly with steel wool.

Step 6 Apply one or multiple clear coats: 

Finally, make sure you apply one or multiple clear coats to protect the surface. Let it completely dry. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

Ques 1: Can you paint polymer clay before baking? 

Absolutely, you can paint polymer clay before baking. Paint colors easily adhere to the unbaked clay. Also, it creates a strong bond with colors. Like, water-based or acrylic colors are the best option to paint polymer clay before baking.

Ques 2: Can you paint polymer clay after baking? 

You can paint polymer clay after baking. Using alcohol ink, powder form, coloring pigment or fabric dyes is best for color-baked clay. Water-based acrylic color also can be used, but here you need to prime and seal the color. 

Ques 3: What paint to use on polymer clay? 

Mainly, water-based colors are perfect for coloring polymer clay. These colors are very durable and easily stick to the surface of polymer clay. The versatility of acrylic colors helps to get a rich and smooth glossy finish to the surface.

You can also use coloring pigment, alcohol-based or fabric dyes to color polymer clay after baking.

Summary: What’s my Opinion

Coloring polymer clay is actually a DIY project of fun. From beginners to professionals, all kinds of people can easily do this project. Just, you need to choose the right medium and follow the basic steps carefully. That’s all. Let us know if this article is helpful to you or not!