Adding Posts to Polymer Clay Earrings

Adding Posts to Polymer Clay Earrings

This blog will discuss several methods for attaching earring backs. If you would prefer to skip to the instructions on how to use the Embedder tool, click here.

Are you a passionate polymer clay artisan, diving into the intricate world of crafting earrings? Wondering about the ideal method to attach earring post backs for a secure and professional finish? Look no further as we explore the various techniques, their benefits, and the secrets to achieving flawlessly attached polymer clay earrings.

Decoding the Dilemma: What's the Best Way to Add Earring Posts to Polymer Clay Earrings?

Embarking on your earring-making journey sparks a myriad of questions. Which attachment method ensures longevity? Is gluing sufficient, or is there a more foolproof solution? Join us as we navigate through the complexities of securing polymer clay earring post backs, providing insights, and answering the questions that swirl in the minds of polymer clay enthusiasts.

Glue: A Temporary Fix with Potential Drawbacks

While gluing earring backs might seem like a quick and easy solution, it comes with its own set of challenges. Commonly recommended glues, including the popular E6000, often fail to set properly or become brittle, leading to posts popping off. E6000, in particular, is not suitable for polymer clay, and experienced crafters advise against its use.

The inherent issue with superglue lies in its tendency to cure into a very brittle state with no flexibility. Given that polymer clay can flex easily, especially in earring designs, the rigidity of standard superglue may result in detachment when the clay undergoes even minimal flexing. This is why gel superglues, known for their increased flexibility, are considered a better option for ensuring a more durable and lasting bond with polymer clay. Loctite Gel Control and Gorilla Glue Gel Superglue are recommended choices. However, it's crucial to note that glue, even superglue, often fails to provide a permanent solution for jewelry intended to last for years.

Resin: A Potentially Hazardous Choice

While some artisans suggest pouring UV resin over the post backs of polymer clay earrings, it comes with significant drawbacks. Pouring resin over post backs is a viable method, but it's important to note that resin, whether epoxy or UV cure, poses health hazards. Working with resin requires wearing a respirator due to its allergenic properties, causing extreme hypersensitivity reactions. It's a less-than-optimal solution for items sitting against the skin, potentially causing irritation and blistering, especially for individuals allergic to resin. Additionally, resin can't withstand baking, and exposure over time may lead to the development of allergies. While resin may be seem like an easy solution, it's crucial to prioritize safety and consider alternative methods for attaching earring posts.

Oven-Bake Adhesive or Liquid Clay: Effective but Not Durable

Embedding earring posts in a puddle of Sculpey Oven Bake Adhesive, then baking the earrings again face down, is a method that can work, but it demands experience to avoid a messy application. There's also a slight chance that the liquid clay or adhesive may not bond permanently with the earring. In our testing, some of the time we were able to peel the cured puddle off the back of earrings, highlighting the potential limitations of this approach.

Apart from considerations of permanence, there's a financial element to this method. Both liquid clay and oven-bake adhesive are priced at approximately $10.50 per 2 oz, while solid clay is only $3.29 per 2 oz. This means that using liquid clay or oven-bake adhesive is over three times the cost of embedding posts with solid clay. Users should weigh these factors and explore alternative techniques for a more secure and lasting attachment of earring posts.

Solid Clay: The Best Option

In the realm of attaching earring backs to polymer clay creations, embedding them in solid clay emerges as the optimal and most reliable method. Unlike gluing or using liquid clay, embedding ensures a secure and lasting bond, eliminating concerns about posts popping off or adhesive failures. This technique not only enhances the durability of your jewelry but also provides a seamless and professional finish. At The Clay Impress, we've taken this essential step a notch further with our innovative Polymer Clay Earring Embedder Kit. This purpose-built toolset simplifies the embedding process, allowing you to effortlessly add earring posts with precision and finesse. Now, let's delve into the detailed instructions on how to utilize our embedder kit for impeccable results.

When it comes to seamlessly integrating earring posts into your polymer clay designs, our Polymer Clay Earring Embedder Kit takes the lead. This specialized toolset features a cutter designed to precisely cut round clay pieces and a doming tool for creating a smooth, uniform dome around the earring post. The kit also includes thickness guides, ensuring you roll out the clay to the precise 1.5 mm thickness required for optimal results. The benefits of our embedder tool are manifold – it guarantees a professional finish, eliminates the risk of adhesive failures, and provides a secure, long-lasting bond between the earring and the polymer clay. The sleek design ensures easy handling, making the embedding process a breeze. Let's explore the step-by-step instructions on how to use the embedder tools to create flawless earring creations:

Earring Embedder Kit Instructions for Use:

  1. Prepare your Earrings:
    Start by baking your clay earring shapes to prevent any squishing or distortion during the embedding process. Embedding an earring post into unbaked clay may lead to undesirable results. Make sure the back of the earring is free of oils and the area where the earring post will be embedded is smooth. Wiping the back of your earrings with 100% acetone can be a great way to clean them and even out any small bumps or blemishes that may prevent the embedding clay from adhering properly.
  2. (Optional) Utilize the Distance Guide and Secure the Post with Super Glue:
    Our kit includes a guide to help you determine the minimal space required for the dome encasing the earring post's flat pad, ideal for small earrings or studs. Here's how to use it effectively: Slide either the lip or the triangle (ideal for concave shapes like hearts or between flower petals) against the edge of your earring. Then, effortlessly place the earring back, securing it with a dot of superglue against the guide or anywhere away from the guide's edge. Make sure not to use too much super glue. You don't want to use so much that it squishes out around the earring back. Any glue that gets between the earring and the dome of clay will prevent the dome from bonding well with the earring. Alternatively, use a pen to mark the spot against the guide. Once marked, remove the guide and position the edge of the metal earring post at the marked spot. The super glue, while not necessary for durability, aids in keeping the post in place during the crafting process. If you would prefer not to use super glue, you can skip this step. 
  3. Roll Out Precise Thickness:
    Roll out well-conditioned, slightly sticky clay to a precise 1.5 mm thickness using our recommended thickness guides. It's important to use sticky clay so that the uncured clay will bond to the cured earring. If you're working with Clay that's to dry or firm, condition it with liquid clay, clay conditioner, or oven-bake adhesive to soften it and make it stickier. Also use a durable clay that will withstand the typical wear and tear of handling and wearing earrings (don't use Sculpey III or other clays that are not meant to be used to create very thin items.)
  4. Cut and Mark with Cutter Tool:
    Utilize the cutter tool to both precisely cut round discs of clay and create a small divot, marking the location for the earring post.
  5. Prepare the Clay:
    Move the disc of clay from your cutting surface and prepare to slide them onto the earring post. You can add a very small amount of liquid clay or oven-bake adhesive to the bottom of the disc (the side with the divot), but this step shouldn't be necessary if you're using sufficiently conditioned/sticky clay.   
  6. Apply Release Agent:
    Prior to pressing, always add a release agent to the doming embedder tool to prevent sticking. Options include corn starch, water, or dimethicone (ArmorAll). If using a liquid release agent, saturate a small sponge for easy stamping during the embedding process.
  7. Center and Press: 
    Center the embedder tool over the metal earring post, ensuring it goes into the tool. Press down, employing a twisting motion for a smooth, domed appearance.
  8. Lift and Reveal:
    Carefully lift the embedder tool, revealing a perfectly embedded earring post covered in smooth clay. The dome should seamlessly blend into the earring. If using the same color clay, the seam should be nearly invisible after baking.
  9. Final Baking: 
    Bake your earrings again to fully cure the clay embedding the earring post. We recommend baking for an hour to ensure the clay is fully cured and bonded. Polymer clay can withstand multiple baking sessions without burning. Always ensure the clay is fully cured for the most durable results.
  10. Cleaning and Maintenance:
    With regular use, clay and cornstarch may begin to build up in the hole in the dome tool, potentially causing earring posts to become stuck or snug. To clean the tool, use a 1/32 inch or 0.75 mm drill bit to manually clean out any residue buildup in the central hole of the dome tool. Avoid using a pin, as it may push clay against the walls without effectively removing buildup.
    For more stubborn buildup, consider soaking the tip of the embedder tool in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes to loosen the clay.
    By routinely cleaning the tool, you can maintain its effectiveness and prevent potential issues with the earring post becoming stuck in the dome tool.

Enjoy the video demonstration of our earring post embedding tool in action! If you encounter any issues or have questions during or after watching, be sure to check out the troubleshooting section below the video for helpful tips and solutions. And remember, if you need further assistance or have any concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to help ensure your experience with our tool is a success!

 

Troubleshooting:

Issue: Earring Posts Getting Stuck in the Dome Tool

Over time, you might notice your earring posts getting stuck in the dome tool. This can happen as clay and residue accumulate in the central hole of the dome tool. To address this, you can use a 1/32 inch or 0.75 mm drill bit to manually clean out the buildup. Be cautious not to use a drill bit that's too large, as it may enlarge the hole and affect the tool's performance. A pin may also work for this, but we have found that pins tend to push the clay and cornstarch more firmly against the walls of the hole rather than removing it. This may cause the hole to get smaller over time. For this reason, we recommend using the 0.75 mm drill bits to clean the tool whenever you're finding that the hole seems a bit tight. 

For more stubborn buildup, consider soaking the tip of the embedder tool in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes before using the pin tool to clean it out effectively.

Issue: Clay Getting Stuck in the Dome Tool

Possible Reasons:

  1. Insufficient Pressure: Ensure firm and consistent pressure while pressing and twisting the dome tool to create a proper dome shape that adheres firmly to the back of the earring. 
  2. Lack of Release Agent: Apply a release agent (cornstarch, water, or dimethicone) to the dome before each pressing. Ensure the dome tool is adequately covered in the release agent, striking a balance not to add excessive amounts. Overuse of cornstarch may result in an uneven appearance on the dome, while excess water or dimethicone can be messy. Moreover, excessive liquid may seep between the clay and the earring, potentially hindering proper adhesion.
  3. Thin Disc of Clay:  If the disc of clay used for embedding is not thick enough, it may fail to adequately fill the dome, resulting in an incomplete adherence to the earring. When using the dome tool, a too-small disc of clay may not spread all the way to the edges, causing the clay to get stuck within the dome tool. To address this issue, ensure the clay disc extends seamlessly to the edges of the dome tool, creating a smooth edge. Adjust the thickness by making a slightly thicker disc of clay, following the guidance of the thickness guides. If discs consistently appear too thin, consider rolling the clay more gently or adding strips of masking tape to the thickness guides for incremental thickness adjustments.
  4. Uneven Surface: The tool works best on smooth clay surfaces. Avoid using it on uneven clay with bumps or craters.

Issue: Embedded Posts Breaking Off After Baking

Possible Reasons:

  1. Insufficiently Conditioned Clay: Ensure the clay is well-conditioned and sticky for a proper chemical bond during baking. Consider adding a small amount of liquid clay, clay softener, or oven-bake adhesive if needed.
  2. Inadequate Pressure During Embedding: Press the dome tool firmly and twist it to ensure proper adherence near the edges of the dome.
  3. Improper Baking: Confirm that your oven maintains the correct temperature with a reliable digital thermometer and bake for the recommended duration (at least one hour) to ensure a solid bond.
  4. Thin Disc of Clay: If the disc of clay used for embedding is not thick enough, it may fail to adequately fill the dome, resulting in an incomplete adherence to the earring. When using the dome tool, a too-small disc of clay may not spread all the way to the edges, leaving a discernible edge within the dome tool. This incomplete coverage becomes apparent when lifting the dome tool, revealing a visible step between the clay disc and the earring back, instead of a smooth transition. To address this issue, ensure the clay disc extends seamlessly to the edges of the dome tool, creating a smooth edge. Adjust the thickness by making a slightly thicker disc of clay, following the guidance of the thickness guides. If discs consistently appear too thin, consider rolling the clay more gently or adding strips of masking tape to the thickness guides for incremental thickness adjustments.
  5. Unsuitable Clay: Ensure you're using a durable clay meant for thin applications, such as Sculpey Soufflé, Sculpey Primo, Fimo clays, Cernit, or Kato Polyclay. Avoid using clays like Sculpey III, Sculpey Original, or off-brand varieties, as they may not provide sufficient durability for the embedding process. Selecting the right clay is crucial for achieving optimal results in embedding earring posts.
  6. Too Much Superglue: Only a tiny amount of super glue should be used to hold the post in place. If there's so much glue that it squishes out around the post, that's too much. Any glue that gets between the earring and the clay dome will prevent the dome of clay from binding with the earring and may potentially cause the dome to pop off after baking. 

Please contact us if you have any questions about using your embedder kit. We're happy to help! 

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