How to choose the right Polymer Clay

I guess that all of you will know something about polymer clay but just in case that someone is clueless, here you have my explanation:

What is polymer clay?

I could tell you a lot of technical terms that even myself don’t really know so I will just say that polymeric clay’s composition is based on PVC which is formed by polymer polyvinyl chloride monomers and as result feel a little like plastic.

In other words: Polymer clay is a type of hardenable modeling clay. It’s very easy to use and flexible and you can leave it for days and it remains workable until baking it using a home oven (you don’t need a special oven). An open packet of clay will stay usable for months or even years because it won’t dry until it’s baked.

However, you have to be careful with dust, excessive heat, and don’t store the clay in a wrapping that will absorb the oil in it.

Polymer clay has a very similar consistency to plasticine.

When the clay is baked it becomes a hard and strong material. The final look is similar to pottery and at the same time to plasticine.

Types of Polymer Clay

Fimo, Fimo Classic, Fimo Soft, Super Sculpey, Super Sculpey Firm, Sculpey Superflex, Sculpey III, Premo! (which once baked stays slightly flexible), Granitex, Cernit, Kato PolyClay and Clay Color. There are a few more types of clay not as famous like: Modello, Fomello, Friendly Clay, Papa’s clay…

There is no ‘best brand’ of polymer clay, each one has different characteristics that are suitable for certain applications.

There is a kind of Sculpey (Sculpey Super FLEX and Bake & Bend) that once baked remains flexible.

Another one named Super Mold Maker is used to make molds.

I’m going to explain the differences between the ones I’ve used: Super Sculpey, Super Sculpey Firm and Fimo Soft.

So here you have the tutorial Guide to Choosing a Polymer Clay Brand for your project:

polymer clay

SUPER SCULPEY

Sculpey is a commercial brand manufactured by Polyform Products Company.

Super Sculpey is very soft and easy to work with and is characterized by its pinky colour which seems like real skin when is baked. Although because of this it’s difficult to see the detail of your piece but you can mix it with Super Sculpey Firm (which is grey) and then you can better distinguish the little details.

Also you can use Fimo to correct the translucent problem.

It’s ideal to not leave the clay open for a long time and even if it hasn’t been opened it turns harder and more fragile. In this case, you can add body oil to the mass and mash it.

The piece can be sanded and even shaped once baked.

Super sculpey clay

Colour:

The final piece has a nice aspect without paint but you can paint it anyway after a primer layer and give it colour with oil paints or acrylics.

What can I do with Super Sculpey?

Sculpey can be used in modelling with big and small figures, dolls (due to its slight translucence), fridge magnets… I don’t recommend you to use it for jewelry (pendants, charm bracelets…) because it isn’t strong enough.

Resistance:

In my opinion this clay is weak. If your piece has thin parts they will probably be brittle.
You can mix Sculpey with Super Sculpey Firm (50%-50%) to have a stronger clay.

official site sculpey claylines

SUPER SCULPEY FIRM

This clay is the same as Super Sculpey but grey and stronger after baked.

super sculpey firm

Resistance:

Stronger than Super Sculpey but not strong enough.

Colour:

(Once baked) You can leave it without paint (and looks very cool) or you can paint it with acrylics (applying a sealer before painting) or oil paint (seal it first with Testor’s Dullcote).

What can I do with Super Sculpey Firm?

Sculpey Firm is ideal for sculpting but it’s not a product that is suitable for “very small” miniatures or very detailed ones. In that case, it’s better to use Super Sculpey.

FIMO

Fimo is a brand of polymer clay made by Staedtler. It’s similar to plasticine and harder to model than Super Sculpey or Sculpey Firm because is too soft so is not as good for details and handling.
It’s a little weak but stronger than Sculpey (you can mix it with a stronger clay like FimoClassic, Premo, Kato, Cernit).

You will have to apply heat with your hands in order to get the right working properties (that will make the clay malleable).
This is a problem for me because my hands are always cold as ice : P

I have tried Fimo Soft which I chose because it’s a little softer than Fimo Classic and requires less kneading (furthermore the baked piece, is stronger than Super Sculpey so…).
The pieces of your figure, are easy to join together while the clay is still warm. Also, baked pieces (as long as they have not been varnished) can have unbaked clay added on, and be re-baked or glued to other backings using a contact cement or epoxy.

Finished pieces can be carved, polished, drilled, sanded, painted, varnished, and cut.

fimo clay

Colour:

Fimo comes in different colours bricks/blocks that you can mix to obtain other colours.
There are an extended range of colours including several special effect clays: nightglow, translucent, glitter, stone and metallic colours, stardust…

You have to work with a very clean, free of dust surface and wash your hands after manipulating a new colour otherwise the Fimo will pick up bits of the previous colour (same with the surface you’re using).

Once baked, Fimo loses saturation but it remains a little bit glossy (Sculpey and Sculpey Firm have a matte surface). You can paint over it with chalk pastel, acrylics…

Resistance:

Stronger than Super Sculpey. You can combine with Fimo Classic, Green Stuff or Super Sculpey Firm to obtain stronger results.

What can I do with Fimo?

Fimo is ideal for jewellery (necklaces, rings, pins, earrings, pendants, small trinkets) and for figures, doll faces, kekos, and beads.
Official Fimo Website:

www.staedtler.es

You can glue (with epoxy glue) baked pieces in all polymer clay brands and also re-baked pieces.

Conclusion:

Definitely, each brand is different but neither is better or worse. You have to know what you want to model to choose the best clay for that.
I prefer Fimo when it is a simple figure so I don’t have to paint it and Super Sculpey Firm for everything else.
What brand do you prefer and why?

firma

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