It is no longer a concern whether polymer clay should be glazed or not. It is stable without any finish and naturally looks terrific.
But glazing intensifies that beauty and seals in other embellishments such as mica powder or paint. A glaze makes polymer clay pop behind a smooth sheen, adds depth, and conceals tiny imperfections.
If that’s the finish you desire, then by all means, go for it. However, the real challenge is finding the right glaze for polymer clay, especially for beginner polymer clay-ers.
Trying to search for answers in forums may leave you even more confused than before with every artist drumming up support for their favorite brand.
So what glaze is best for polymer clay? The best glaze to use for polymer clay is a water-based polyurethane glaze. It is durable, safe, and non-reactive to the clay or any mixed media. It will not corrode the poly clay, cloud its appearance, or go sticky with atmospheric changes.
Unfortunately, out of a mammoth of glazes available in the market, only a handful perform exceedingly well with polymer clay. We’ll lead you to those in this post if you read on.
We’ll narrow down your search for the best glaze for polymer clay to five as tried and tested by experts. You’ll also learn how to choose glaze and what to avoid if you do not want your clay crafts doomed from the start. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Polymer Clay Glazes: 5 Things To Look For
There are five kinds of glazes recommended for polymer clay: Polyurethane finishes, epoxy resins, liquid acrylic mediums, watered down PVA glues, and polymer clay branded glazes. But before making a selection, here are things you should pay attention to.
1. Level of Sheen
Depending on your preference, you can opt for high gloss, semi-gloss, satin, or matte finishes. Most glazes will have this information readily on the label. However, two different glossy glazes may have varying brilliance.
Urethanes are typically high gloss. So if you want a toned-down non-reflective sheen, you are better off with acrylic fluid glazes as they set more matte.
Being the most exterior coat on the polymer clay crafts, you expect your glaze to stay beautiful and pristine for long. The best glaze must form a durable coat resistant to UV yellowing, mechanical wear, and other environmental elements.
Urethanes and epoxy form tougher films that are more resistant to wear than diluted PVA glue like Mod Podge or polymer clay brand finishes.
3. Base Ingredient
Water-based glazes work best for polymer clay. You want to stay away from enamel, solvent, and petroleum-based glazes, including clear nail polish. They are the most likely to react with the polymer clay and ruin your creations instantly or in the long run.
How much are you willing to spend? If budget is a constraint, urethane glazes are cheap. You get so much product for less compared to other types of glazes in the same price range. Epoxy resins such as UV curing resin are costly.
5. Ease of Application
Spraying is probably the fastest and convenient way to apply glaze minus brush strokes. But hold your horses.
Before you order that can of varnish, you should know that aerosol glazes are certainly not the best for polymerized clay. Most of them contain corrosive propellants that are damaging.
You can opt for a brush on glaze and use a soft brush, sponge, an airbrush, or spray gun instead. Still, if you need to clean your brushes with anything other than water, say turpentine or spirits, the sealant is probably not suitable for polymer clay.
5 Best Glazes For Polymer Clay
A common misconception when shopping for polymer clay glazes is limiting oneself to products specifically branded for polymer clay by clay manufacturers. Surprisingly, some finishes meant for furniture and floors outperform these.
So we’ve done our research and come up with our top glazes for polymer clay:
|Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Finish
|Gloss finish, won't yellow, durable
|Polyform Sculpey Glaze Gloss
|Smooth, glossy finish, flow control tip
|DecoArt Triple Thick Gloss Glaze
|Dries clear, glossy finish, non-toxic
|Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
|Satin finish, dries clear, won't yellow
|DuraClear Ultra-Matte Varnish
|Matte finish, non-toxic, no brush strokes
To help you broaden your horizon and see what’s beyond the polymer clay brand glazes, here are our top picks based on performance:
1. Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Gloss Finish
Who would have thought an interior varnish would do so well on polymer clay? You can’t go any better than Varathane because it is a cut above the rest.
The milky whitish-bluish water-based polyurethane varnish in a tin has been clay artists #1 go-to glaze for two-plus decades.
It forms a crystal clear coat that is tough and resistant to scuffs and discoloration from UV light. And because it dries rapidly (within minutes), you can quickly add subsequent thin layers.
Slightly thicker than milk, it goes on the brush or sponge with ease, spreading smoothly without a trace of streaks or brush strokes.
Another thing you’ll love about Varathane is that, unlike other solvent-based varnishes, it is water-based and generally non-toxic. You won’t have to be left feeling noxious with fumes.
You get to choose between a half-pint and a quart in the most affordable price range and is good value for money.
Alongside the glossy finish is semi-gloss and satin. The differences are, however, quite subtle unless you really build up the coats.
You can go with gloss and when you need something a little less reflective, dilute it with a little water.
There’s simply no going wrong with Varathane. It is unbeatable from whatever angle, be it price, performance, value, ease of application, and safety, thereby securing the sweet spot of the best glaze for polymer clay overall.
2. Polyform Sculpey Glaze Gloss
From makers of a renowned polymer clay brand, you can only expect the same greatness from their glaze.
Polyform Sculpey Glaze is a thin liquid which may appear white or cloudy in the bottle, but once dry, leaves a spectacular ice-clear coat.
It comes in 1 ounce (30ml) bottles, which are obviously very small and pricey for the amount you get, but a dollop goes a long way, and the quality is fantastic.
The glaze is perfect for small miniatures, charms, pendants, beads, or figurines but not quite cost-effective for significantly larger creations like a flower pot or something. You can even glaze over acrylic painted pieces with success.
We particularly loved the cap design, which allows for precision control of the fluid’s flow. At the same time, it prevents remaining contents from drying out.
Other than the discouragingly tiny bottles, it is a high shine, easy to apply, fast drying glaze ideal for Sculpey and other polymer clay brands such as Fimo and Premo.
While the manufacturer does not provide any information regarding the ingredients, it is made in the US as per the ASTM D 4236 safety standards and therefore should be generally non-toxic.
3. DecoArt Triple Thick Gloss Glaze
Triple Thick Glaze by DecoArt is the best glaze for polymer clay for gloss. The finish is super shiny and gives any creation an ageless beauty and added realism by magnifying depth and other dimensions of your work.
Water-based and non-toxic, this glaze offers a comfortable and safe application devoid of nasty fumes. Why should making art be anything less than fun?
It also scores highly for rapid drying. In fact, it dries so fast you have to speed things up before it starts getting stringy with the brush.
You can water it down a bit or apply it in very light, thin coats for optimal results. The trick is waiting for each coat to dry completely. But the results should make it worth the wait.
The price is within a reasonable range, and you get value for your money with 8 oz of fluid. With a beautiful gloss finish, we’re sure it’s worth it.
4. Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
For just a hint of sheen, go with the Polycrylic satin clear finish. It is a milky tinted water-based polyurethane glaze that dries into a transparent coating resembling vinyl.
The non-yellowing glaze works beautifully on natural or painted polymer clay and forms a tough protective film that lasts long.
It goes on the brush effortlessly and paints smoothly and evenly without leaving visible brush strokes.
You’ll love its ultra-fast drying time. You can touch and move your creations when you need to within just a few hours.
With this glaze, safety is guaranteed as it doesn’t contain volatile solvents. You will encounter a faint smell that disperses almost immediately.
If you are after the best satin glaze for polymer clay, Polycrylic has got to be it. It offers a tough yet smooth exterior, is easy to apply and clean after, and, most importantly, non-toxic.
5. (DecoArt) Americana DuraClear Ultra-Matte Varnish
Truly matte polyurethane varnish is hard to come by. The reason DuraClear Ultra Matte is a gem. It dries smooth and transparent without a glaring shine.
If you’ve been a victim of tacky glazes, this product is a game-changer. It dries in record time -usually within half an hour- and stays that way; hardened, plastic-smooth, and waterproof.
Working with a non-stinking glaze is such a bliss, and that’s exactly how it is with DuraClear. The smell is almost non-existent. Even users with an acute sensitivity to smell report only a slight odor.
The consistency is just right and glides smoothly with a brush without leaving traces of where it has been. It won’t drip or pool where it is not wanted as long as you apply thin coats.
Duraclear is the best matte glaze for polymer clay. With this glaze, there are no odors, no stickiness, no cloudiness – only guaranteed results.
Up Next: Baking Polymer Clay On Aluminum Foil