Last year I made DIY clay ornaments to give as Christmas gifts. I did some experimentation prior to the important day but still struggled. I have tried an air dry polymer clay by Sculpey, as well as a generic brand of terracotta polymer clay for beginners. The glaze I used was a double glaze specifically for pottery. I also tried Mod Pod, and acrylic sealer.
Maybe the attempt to use acrylic paint instead of a different type of paint on the clay could have been a mistake, I am not sure.

The main issue was that whenever the glaze dried, no matter what the ornament came in contact with it stuck to the object and pulled away from the clay ornament and pulled the paint right off. It is frustrating, I have also had this happen with other projects I work on with acrylic and clay.

My process:

  • I use an oven drying process of 250F for ~20 minutes for the clay ornament to completely dry;
  • Wait for it to cool completely;
  • Sandpaper to give clear coat something to stick to;
  • Wait for clear coat to dry
  • Paint it with white acrylic paint as a primer base
  • Wait for it to completely dry;
  • Sandpaper to give acrylic paint something to adhere to;
  • Repeat steps of acrylic and sandpaper until desired amount
  • Paint it with acrylic paint;
  • Wait for it to completely dry;
  • Add glaze;
  • Wait to dry;
  • Add an additional coat of glaze;
  • Wait to dry.

Further investigation and input:
First few searches on Duckduckgo for "diy Christmas ornaments" use an already colored polymer clay, or using natural color of the clay, and using textures on the clay to give it festive look. Also when acrylic paint is used, it is not entirely covering the whole ornament. Some use glitter, I am not a huge fan of glitter because of micro plastic. Another option to use instead of glitter is using colored sand to decorate ornament. This doesn't entirely answer my original question, but it gives other options instead of using a sealer or clear coat on ornament.

How do I prevent paint and glaze from peeling off of clay Christmas ornaments?

  • 1
    When you say "wait for it to dry", do you mean you wait until the coat is dry to the touch, or is it a specific amount of time that you wait? More importantly (possibly): does the paint peel off before you glaze it, or can you test it? I think the problem lies in the second stage of your process, and the glaze reactivates the acrylic paint.
    – Joachim
    Dec 5, 2021 at 12:10
  • 1
    Under what conditions does the paint and glaze peel off? Is it spontaneously peeling off as the last coat of glaze dries or must you touch it, rub it, strike it before the peeling begins? If it isn't spontaneous then you could add a few layers of clear coat spray paint over the second glaze after it dries. Suspend the ornament on a thread before applying the clear coat so you can cover all sides, wrapping the hard exterior coating over all edges to mechanically enclose the ornament in a single unbroken shell which covers the clay, paint and glaze from all sides and angles. Dec 5, 2021 at 17:59
  • @HenryTaylor in my process of learning, I guess I wasn't suspending it when I added the clear glaze or clear coating. That is where some of the process of peeling began. Because I was putting the clear coat on one side, and flipping it over. Had it on a paper plate. I was running into a lot of issues during the process haha! Because the peeling happened when I flip it over. If it didn't peel in that process. It peeled began to peel when I put it in away in storage and pull it out later to find it stuck to the container, or stuck against the other ornament I made. It is aggravating.
    – Lyssagal
    Dec 5, 2021 at 23:17
  • @Joachim wait to dry, as in to the touch. Which brings up a good point, maybe it is just not dry long enough all together. The acrylic paint I was using seemed to dry easily and felt dry to the touch before adding a clear coat, or glaze. Maybe that is where I am messing up because I am not waiting for the entire thing to dry thoroughly.
    – Lyssagal
    Dec 5, 2021 at 23:18
  • 1
    @Lyssagal, I still think you can seal it all behind a matt clear coat to get the durability you are looking for, but here is an article that suggests a different solution. Dec 6, 2021 at 1:03

1 Answer 1


It seems to have to do with the process of sanding, adding sealers and layering the acrylic paint in a specific order. It is going to need more than 2-4 layers of sealer and acrylic paint to finish the ornament.

In my process I added a white primer as a base, but could have added a sealer on the very first layer, and then added a primer. Numerous layers need to be sanded to give it an abrasion, so the acrylic as well as the sealer has the ability to stick. Otherwise it is going to be ripped off whether it is because one ornament is resting beside another in storage, or just because it's held in the hand.


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