I promised this to Betty Lou and I finally got around to doing it so here goes.
Polymer clay is wonderful stuff. It has a good deal of strength on its own but we can increase the strength of the final product by doing two things; cold bath and super heat.
We have touched on these two procedures before in past postings but it never hurts to do it again.
COLD BATH is simply taking the figure out of the oven while it is hot (just as the curing cycle ends) and placing it in the freezer, refrigerator, snow bank, etc. The idea is to drop the temperature as fast as you can. This will help stop cracks from the cooling process. It works, I have done over 70 pieces this way by now. I used to use a cold water bath but no longer do as it is hard to get the water out of these small figures and polymer clay grows mold very well.
SUPER HEATING adds additional flexibility and strength to the clay.
Be sure all sharp ridges are smoothed down before curing. These ridges will scorch when you hit them with the heat gun.
STEP 3; Super heat the clay. Use a standard heat gun (paint stripper) to super heat the clay. Stay about 4" away from the clay and keep the gun moving around. Focus the heat on the bulk of the hand, not the fingers. You need to alter the structure of the hand as well as the fingers or they will just snap at the base of the finger where they meet the "old"clay. Once the hand is heated you will move up the fingers to superheat them as well. This will take about 45 seconds to do a hand.
BE CAREFUL! The gun can reach temps of 1,000 degrees so it will scorch and burn if you are not careful! (see the little scorch mark on the back of the hand)
The images below show how much bend you can get when you super heat. This is done while still warm from the process. Once they cool, they will have less bend but still resist breaking .