Part 2 of the making polymer clay tiles adventure. Read Part 1 here.
Really Making Polymer Clay Tiles
The first step was rolling out my hunk of clay. I shaped it into a squarish shape then rolled it out to about 3/8th inch thick. At least, I tried.
As you can see, it’s not the most evenly rolled out polymer clay in the world, but I tried. Then I placed my square-like shape inside a one-inch grid on my wax paper. Then, using the cutting tool, I lop off the edges to create one-inch square tiles.
Two sidebars on this. First, the pictures show the first polymer clay tile I made after several failed attempts. It took me a few tries to get the hang of using it.
Second, if you’re wondering why I went with one-inch square tiles, the answer is because that’s what I have in my real life house! Not one-inch tiles, of course (all though I guess that could be a thing). Using dollhouse scale as a guide, I took my 12-inch ceramic tiles and scaled my way down to 1:12 dollhouse scale, hence the one-inch tiles.
Now I have one polymer clay tile. It’s a bit uneven across the top, but that’s OK. This is just an experiment.
Then it’s on to the next square and the next, until there’s no more polymer clay left.
As you can see, I didn’t exactly master the fine art of rolling the clay out to exactly 3/8th of an inch every time or cutting exactly one inch all the way around every time. But, again, learning, experimenting, and trying stuff out.
In some respects, this whole process reminds me of making sugar cookies. Take the clay, roll it out, cut the shape, repeat until you’re out of clay. Or sugar cookie dough.
Anyway, I keep rolling and cutting until I don’t have enough clay to make any more tiles. I take those leftovers and roll them into one pink polymer clay ball, then toss them next to the clay tiles in the pan.
That one slab o’clay yields five homemade polymer clay tiles that are one-inch square and approximately 3/8th of an inch thick. And one polymer clay ball, dimensions unknown.
Baking Polymer Clay Tiles
As I mentioned, I put the clay tiles in the pan. What pan, you ask? Well, the pan I’m using to bake them.
The thing about making polymer clay tiles is that to get them to keep the shape, you have to bake them, so they hold that shape permanently. Otherwise, they’re just wads of clay that you could shape into something else. Or carve things into — things you may not want. Or, the tiles will dry out and crumble.
The instructions say to bake your polymer clay creation at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes for every 3/8th of an inch, which is exactly what I picked 3/8th of an inch for this project. Easy enough. But, you don’t simply pop your polymer clay creation onto a random baking sheet and pop them in the oven. I mean, you could, but you probably shouldn’t.
Like the pasta maker and the rolling pin, you should have a designated polymer clay baking sheet. Then, what you’re really supposed to have is a dedicated polymer clay oven, probably for the same reason you should have a designated polymer clay pasta maker.
There’s a ton of information out there about the dangers or lack thereof of using polymer clay, baking polymer clay, and so on and so on. Like a lot of things in life, there’s a risk, and you weigh that risk against the reward. However, one of the things I did see a lot of talk of was the fumes and how they can or cannot present a risk. I won’t dive into that discussion. But, what I will say is that people who did report an odor said it was kind of plasticy and gross and that the smell kind of lingered in their oven.
The odor-fighting solution is to cover your baking tray, whatever it is, with another baking tray or sheet, then securing the top sheet to the bottom sheet. As the polymer clay bakes, the odor stays safely trapped in between the two. Everyone said that if you go this route, you should secure the top baking tray, and, interestingly, many suggested using a binder clip like this: pic
I know 275 Fahrenheit isn’t that hot, but it is hot enough to bake food. And, I would guess, melt the plastic off a binder clip. I trust my fellow craft enthusiasts, but I took a pass on this one and covered the tray in tin foil instead.
Then it was into the oven for 30 minutes.
During the entire bake time, I did not notice any odd smell, so I assumed everything was all right in my oven and that soon, I’d have some So 80’s pink tiles for my dollhouse floor.
Fun fact: one time, I was in a house that had a first floor that was nothing but pink granite. Along with the neon, that entire house was So 80’s!
The Final Product
When the timer beeped, I pulled the tray out of the oven and let it cool for a minute. I still didn’t smell anything particularly unusual. However, I was still very careful when I peeled back the foil. Others warned that you could get hit in the face with potent fumes when you take your top cover off.
I did not smell anything unusual, and it didn’t seem like there was a huge release of fumes, steam, or whatever. Again, I take that as a good sign. Here’s what I saw under the foil:
Yup. They look exactly the same, except they shifted a little when I moved the pan.
This was expected. According to the Sculpey instructions, Souffle dries “with a suede finish.” Sounds and looks about right. I will say that they feel harder, like real tiles. Maybe not like the ceramic ones you have on your floor, but like tiles that are sturdy and could withstand a little shock.
As you can see, I need to work on my rolling skills. This may explain why I’m less than successful with pie crusts.
So, while they came out “right,” the real question is, how do they look?
Polymer Clay Tiles in the Dollhouse
I slid the wall in place, so I had a guide (and so I didn’t have to deal with the uneven ends of the wood floor) and set the tiles down in the bathroom.
It looks like someone lined up their bubblegum on my dollhouse floor.
OK. I figure it’s So 80’s kind of messing with my head, so I put the polymer clay tiles on the wood floor for scale.
Then I play with a couple of configurations on different floors to see what I like.
I like nothing.
It’s not the color. It’s the size. I know the scale is right, but one-inch does not work in this dollhouse. I need something way smaller, and there is no way I’m making polymer clay tiles any smaller than this.
So, What is the Tile Plan?
Honestly, given how difficult this project was, I had already made up my mind that I was not going to DIY polymer clay anything for the dollhouse. Hats off to those of you that do! And, even if I did want to do it, I really don’t think I could. To get those down to size would be… hard, and that’s understanding it.
Instead, I went out and got some mosaic tiles that are smaller, precut, and pretty. I’m going to experiment with those and see where it goes!
So, have you ever worked with polymer clay for anything? How do you do it? And, do you have any pie crust tips? Let me know in the comments!
Heather Bristow says
So I am also a newbie – my first project is a book nook. I just tried to use Sculpey to make tiles for a fireplace hearth. I’m modeling it after my own fireplace, and I did the math (I’m good at math) and discovered that my hearth tiles would turn out to be 1/8″ by 3/8″. (Yeah, 1:24 scale isn’t easy.) Scooping those teeny tiny pieces off the cutting board to the baking pan is impossible. Take two: I rolled out the size I needed and scored lines into the clay. Then I baked it, used an exacto knife to clean it up a bit, and painted it. My husband paints miniature figures, so he has all kinds of wash techniques to make the grout lines look darker than the tile. It worked like a charm. Glad I found your site. It helps to know I’m not alone in the fail, try again, fail, think on it, and then try again and hopefully succeed world of miniature building!
You work in 1:24? You’re braver than I am! It’s awesome that you’ve got someone to work with. I am working alone (but I love it)! Glad to share my fails with you and also good to know I’m not alone, either. Good luck on your book nook!