Using a heat gun to bake a sculpture
One of the more recent additions to my workbench is a heat gun. I initially purchased a heat gun because one of the sculptures that I was working on was too large to fit into my oven. Although it takes a little longer then baking a sculpture in the oven, my heat gun allowed me to cure my sculpture so that it can later one be prepared for a mold. Since my purchase I have learned that the heat gun is also a great tool if you want to only bake certain parts of your sculpture.
Let’s use an example where you were sculpting the human figure. In our example you have worked out the details to the front of the torso and now need to move onto the other areas such as the back, arms and legs. To avoid any damage to your hard work, a heat gun will allow you to bake the sculptures torso so that you can comfortably work on the other areas. Now keep in mind that using a heat gun is similar to an oven and you will need to let the sculpture cool after it has been baked.
Recommendations when using the heat gun
First of all do not put the heat gun on the highest setting. Polymer clay is supposed to be baked at low temperatures and baking it a too high of a temperature will destroy your hard work. Try to gauge the temperature of the gun around what you would use in the oven (for example most polymer clays should be baked around 275 degrees for 15 minutes of time per ¼ inch thickness of clay). Secondly, avoid holding the gun in one location for too long. Imagine using the heat gun like a hair dryer, you will want to move it around from side to side to avoid burning one spot. If you hold it in one area for too long, you may see the clay form little bubbles and start to turn black from burning.
– Keep away from small children. My heat gun looks like a modified hairdryer and heats up to over 900 degrees. In my house that is a potential formula for disaster. I also recommend storing the heat gun somewhere where the kids cannot get to it when you are not using it.
– Do not touch the tip of the gun. The heat gun will get extremely hot in a short amount of time and brushing up against the tip of the gun can cause serious burns
– Let the heat gun cool down before storing it away.
– Let the sculpture cool down before going back to work on it.My heat gun is not my most used tool but it does serve its purpose and gives me a lot more sculpting freedom for a very small investment.
I personally own a Uline H-915 and I am very happy with my purchase. My gun is lightweight, heats quickly and allows me to isolate certain areas of my sculpture so that I can move on to the rest of my project. If you are looking around for a heat gun to add to your tools collection, you can learn more about different brands available by clicking here.