Google+ The Art of Friendly Plastic: How to soften Friendly Plastic - What heating technique works best?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to soften Friendly Plastic - What heating technique works best?

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Since we have so many new one's here, and to provide an easy to find resource for working with Friendly Plastic I wanted to answer one of our Frequently Asked Questions:

"What is the best way to heat Friendly Plastic?  or "How to I soften Friendly Plastic".   There are several methods to heating Friendly Plastic and they are all wonderful and useful depending on the technique you are using.

Jana Ewy put together this helpful guide with all the information you will need to properly heat Friendly Plastic so that it is soft and pliable.

This excerpt taken from the Friendly Plastic Encyclopedia which is available as a pdf download:
Liz Welch also has a helpful video tutorial on her preferred method of heating Friendly Plastic

How to heat and Soften Friendly Plastic by Jana Ewy

Each method of heating and softening Friendly Plastic® has its own unique properties and effects the plastic in different ways. It is important to try them all so you have an understanding of these effects and know which method is right for the technique you have chosen. This is a bit of a trial and error game.
Electrical appliances may differ from one manufacturer to another. Your altitude and your geographic location (country of residence) are also factors to consider. The temperatures given are just a guideline, you may need to make some adjustments.
Griddle – The griddle method of heating and softening Friendly Plastic® is my favorite and is the one I use the most. This method provides you with an open work time. You can continue working with the softened plastic until your desired design is achieved. Once your design is complete, simply remove the baking sheet from the griddle and allow the plastic to cool. Another important aspect to this method, the plastic is being heated from bottom to top, leaving the metallic finish virtually unchanged. With the temperature set at a low 200°F to 250°F, a non-stick baking sheet (pan or silicone mat) is placed onto the griddle and the plastic is then placed onto the baking sheet to soften.
 Griddles can be found in many sizes. Extra large (8 pancake), standard (6 pancake) and the Liddle Griddle by Presto (4 pancake), which is perfect for the studio.
 Try a test piece of plastic on your griddle, if it begins to form bubbles the temperature is too high and you need to turn it down a bit.
 The temperature may even need to be adjusted, depending on the work surface you are using (pan or silicone mat) and your chosen technique.
 At a higher altitude, you may want to set your griddle at 180° to keep the air bubbles out.
Heat Gun – The heat gun is a great tool to use on small projects and for finishing techniques. As with the griddle method, the plastic needs to be placed on a heat resistant non-stick surface before heating. It is very important to keep in mind, the strong concentration of heat and air flow being applied from above can cause the plastic to move around, become sticky, and may cause the metallic finish to crackle. Take care and be cautious as you master this heating method.
Hot Water Bath – The method of heating and softening the plastic in hot water was the main stay several years ago. It is one of the primary methods still being used in the UK and Australia. It is quickly becoming popular again here in the US with the re-introduction of the Friendly Plastic® pellets. The ability to control the temperature of the water to just under a simmer (140°-150°F) in an electric skillet or wok, allows you to soften the plastic into a malleable state that can then be manipulated by hand into free-form designs.
Oven – The oven method for heating and softening the plastic, like the hot water, has been an option since the introduction of Friendly Plastic®. With the oven set at 250°F to 300°F, the plastic is placed onto a non-stick baking sheet and then placed into the oven to soften. It was the drawbacks to this method (in and out of the oven, trying to work as quickly as possible) that sparked the pursuit for a better way. From that pursuit came the griddle method. But don’t leave the oven out as one of your heating options. If you don’t have a griddle to use, this is my recommendation to achieve the same type of effects.
 The AMACO® Craft Oven is perfect for use in your studio.
Melting Pot – a melting pot with a lid can also be used in place of a griddle for very small projects / pieces. Set the temperature to 180°F, put the plastic on a non-stick craft sheet, and put the lid on.

Comments from our Readers:

Cheryl from Cheryl's Mermaid Garden shared this tip:  One of the methods I use is a candle warmer with a piece of nonstick sheet on it and it works great for small projects. I picked up a couple at our local Craft store Michaels when I purchased some scented candles for the holiday

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Linda Peterson is compensated and endorsed by AMACO. The guests features may or may not have any affiliation with AMACO.


Cheryl's Mermaid Garden said...

One of the methods I use is a candle warmer with a piece of nonstick sheet on it and it works great for small projects. I picked up a couple at our local Craft store Michaels when I purchased some scented candles for the holiday.

LP Design Team said...

Hi Cheryl!

Thank you for sharing that added tip! I hadn't thought of that and a great idea when you don't want to pull out your large griddle to work with something small.

Have a great weekend!


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