Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Future is Clear!

Happy new years everyone!  I have something exciting I recently discovered that I realized I had not shared here yet so figured now is a good time.

I see so many asking the question "what sealer works best on polymer clay?"  But does polymer clay really require "sealing"?  My answer:  "No it does not".  A lot of my creations have no "sealing agent or glaze" and even years later they still look good as new.  If I want a high shine, I prefer to sand and then buff with my Dremel tool.  I especially love how it feels when I touch it with my hands.  You can read more info on this if you click on the tab at the top of this blog "Polymer Clay Tips".  Here is a video of my past hubby/claymate buffing a piece with the Dremel tool.  I have the buffing pads I make myself listed in my online store here.  (right now on sale until the end of the month).

I also create pieces that I cannot sand or buff and DO require a sealing agent or glaze.  This is when I add coloring agents to the outside of my piece such as mica powders, inks or pan pastels as in the textured tube beads shown in the photo below -- my tutorial for this is here.  If the coloring materials are not sealed, they can eventually wear off over time.

Textured Tube Beads

To Glaze or Not to Glaze . . .

I wrote a blog post quite a few years ago on glazing your work (in 2010) and realized it needed an update.  So many products are constantly changing and have even been discontinued over the years.  It seems I just find a product I like and then it suddenly isn't available any more!  I am constantly in search of a better product -- not just something better to work with but that gives excellent results and is also safer for the environment.

One of the products I have been using for many years to seal my work (that has coloring agents which require sealing) is, believe it or not, "Future Acrylic Floor Finish".  I know many who have been working with polymer clay over the years are aware of this trade "secret".  Some, like myself, still use it today.  Many "newbies" are not aware of it, or when they see a photo or a reference to it, they are confused.  This is a product that was introduced into the market as far back as in the 1960's.  The bottle pictured above is of the original vintage bottle.  Over the years, the label had changed many times and was later purchased by Johnson & Johnson, thus eventually becoming "Pledge with Future" and then lastly, "Pledge Revive".

So now, Johnson & Johnson discontinued their latest product and sadly, is no longer available.

Or is it?????

Well, introducing . . . . drum roll . . . .   Quick Shine!

It is by a different company but very much the same as the original "Future Floor Finish".  I have been testing it out to see how it compares and so far, it is pretty darn close --- other than the smell.  I really didn't mind the smell of the original Future (had somewhat of a fruity odor) but this one is not as strong and slightly different, yet not objectionable -- at least not to me.

I should mention I also like to use the other glazes made for polymer clay such as the Cernit brand -- which comes in a matte finish besides glossy.  I find they are far better to use than a typical varathane.  But when working with mica powders, I still prefer to use the acrylic floor finish (now Quick Shine) for the following reasons:  

# 1 - Safer for the environment and our health!  Just compare the labels.  Quick Shine has the "Safer Choice" seal and all you have to do is look at those danger warning signs on the Varathane.

# 2 - Quick Shine has just as hard a finish as the varathane, and maybe even tougher.  After all, it is made to be used on floors which can take quite a beating.

# 3 - Cleans up easy off your hands, etc. with soap and water.

# 4 - Cost!  Quick Shine is by far way cheaper than the varathane plus the bottle size is larger as well and keeps for a very long time.

So where can you get it?  I bought mine in a hardware store in the floor care section.  You can google it to find what stores sell it in your area.  I did see it on Amazon but at double the price but if you cannot find it elsewhere, then that can always be a back-up plan.

And here are a few quick tips for working with the Quick Shine (or Future if you still have some hanging around like I do):

  • Pour some Quick Shine into a small clean jar (not too much as you can top it up as needed).  This way when you are done you can tightly seal the jar to use next time.  Over time, the Quick shine can start to thicken.  If it does (reason for not too much at a time in your jar), take some paper towel to sop it up and wipe the jar out.  Discard the paper towel in the garbage and add some fresh product into your jar.
  • When applying it to your piece, use a dry, soft, clean, brush.  Apply a thin, light coat to your piece.  Allow to dry and then apply a second or third coat if necessary.  It is better to do several thin coats than one thick one to prevent streaking, etc.  It will also make the finish more durable. Wash your brush out with soap and water before it dries and hardens.
  • After your pieces have dried, they can be "heat-set" by baking again but this time at a much lower temperature (200 F or 100 C) for 15-20 minutes.  Also be sure to place the pieces in a pan that has a cover or tightly cover with tin foil to prevent any fumes from escaping (just in case).

So lastly, if you prefer, you can always use other glazes that are created just for polymer clay such as Sculpey or Cernit.  I quite like the Cernit glaze and like how it also comes in a matte finish besides glossy.  These both also recommend "heat-setting" which makes them more durable.  I haven't used them for sealing mica powders as of yet but have another special use which I will share with you in another post later sometime.

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