Polymer Clay: What is it? and who is using it?

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By chat-noir
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It seems there has been a recent explosion in DA users who are now using polymer clay as a medium for their deviations.

To help out curious users who might be interested in what this medium is, how it works, or where they can get it I thought a NEWS article should be made. I shall also showcase some
deviations made with polymer clay. The data below is compiled from HanaClayWorks polymer clay FAQ and my own FAQ

:bulletred: What is polymer clay?
-Polymer clay is actually not clay at all. It is a form of plastic. (Specifically fine particles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) suspended in plasticizer) The only reason it is called "clay" is because of it's clay like properties. It is a mold-able substance that can be cured in a normal oven (or toaster oven) and will retain it's shape and remain strong after baking.

:bulletred: Where can I buy Polymer clay?
-You can buy Polymer clay at craft stores like Michaels, AC Moore, Jo Ann Fabrics, or online. Places like eBay and etsy sell polymer clay as well as formal sculpey and fimo websites. Sometimes even Target brand stores carry small amount of polymer clay.

:bulletred: What are the different brands of polymer clay?
-There are a few brands:
:bulletpurple: Sculpey (Sculpey III)
:bulletpurple: Fimo
:bulletpurple: Kato
:bulletpurple: Cernit
:bulletpurple: Premo (a stronger form of Sculpey)

:bulletred: What are the differences between brands?
:bulletpurple:Scupley III
Pros: inexpensive, wide color range, good for beginners, readily available in many craft stores, (often goes on sale for .99 - 1.00 a brick)
Cons: When baked it is not as hard as other brands. So thinner pieces break easily. It can sometimes be too soft to work with, colors sometimes turn darker after baking (this goes for the white and translucent Sculpey), not available worldwide
:bulletpurple: Fimo
Pros: much sturdier than Sculpey brand so it won't break as easily, not as soft to begin with (Which can be a good thing since it will retain it's shape better before baking), colors won't change after baking as much as Sculpey.
Cons: more expensive, not as readily available as Sculpey in the US, harder to work with for beginners since the clay may need more conditioning.
:bulletpurple:Kato
Pros: inexpensive, great value for your money, colors are steadfast so they won't change so much as Sculpey or Fimo after baking, sturdy, easy to work with, good for jewelry-making
Cons: not easy to find
:bulletpurple:Cernit
Pros: Very strong, easily conditioned,flexible when cured,often used in doll making due to it's porcelain-like finish.
Cons: Cernit is less widely available in the U.S. and can mainly be ordered on-line.
:bulletpurple:Premo
Pros: Designed to mix colors the same way an artist mixes paint, Firmer than Sculpey III but softer than Fimo.
Cons:Store only carry a few colors, the rest need to be bought on-line

:bulletred: How do you bake polymer clay?
-Polymer clay is traditionally baked in an oven or toaster oven to be cured. All brands of polymer clay have a slightly different recommended oven temperature and duration. So, READ THE WRAPPER CAREFULLY! You don't want to burn your clay. Sculpey III (which I use) recommends being baked at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

:bulletred: What is TLS
-TLS stands for Translucent Liquid Sculpey. Is translucent polymer clay in a liquid form. (A limited amount of colored clays are also available in liquid form) It is not necessarily the consistency of water but more like soft cake frosting. It is also very sticky and messy. Brands other than Sculpey make liquid versions of clay but Sculpey brand translucent liquid clay is more widely available and can be found in craft stores like Michael's and AC Moore. Uses for TLS range from a polymer clay-to-polymer clay adhesion (must be baked to function properly), a image transfer medium, or even to soften other colors of solid clay. Often used in faux frostings and other food items. TLS can also be purchased on-line.

:bulletred: Are the fumes toxic?
-No, the fumes are not toxic. They're only toxic if you breathe a whole lot of it after you've burned your clay. Keep the windows open and cover your items with tin foil when baking and you should be fine. If you want to be very cautious you can bake your clays in an open area like a garage (inside a toaster oven).  

:bulletred: What are glazes and How do you use them?
-Glazes are a clear protective finish you can put on the outside of a charm. One can use a variety of glazes.
:bulletpurple:You can buy a small bottle of Sculpey brand glaze at craft stores like Michaels or AC Moore which is very strong and durable. The downside is it is very over priced. It comes in Gloss and Satin varieties.
:bulletpurple:A small can of acrylic based floor varnish is very efficient and cost effective. It is much cheaper and there is enough to glaze your charms for years. You might already have some in your basement. Plus it comes in varying degrees of shine/gloss.
:bulletpurple:You can also buy a clear enamel spray to coat your charms.  Which can be very fast and efficient, but if charms are mildly flexible it can crack and flake. (according to HanaClayWorks My new opinion of the Krylon glaze: it sucks! Don't use it! The glaze gets sticky after a while and it will ruin your clay!)

:bulletred:Is it okay to rebake polymer clay items
-Yup it's entirely safe to re-bake clay. (although within reason. You can't bake something 100 times). Some even say re-baking makes the clay stronger. You can check out glassattic.com for more information. That site is the polymer clay encyclopedia. It has everything you need to know about polymer clay.

:bulletred:My clay is really soft I am having trouble making ____
-Polymer clay is very temperature sensitive. The warmth of your hands is what makes it soft and moldable. So if you are experiencing a warm climate polymer clay can be very soft and difficult to work with.
To fix this you can try a few things:
:bulletpurple:You can turn on an air conditioner
:bulletpurple:Or even have so cold ice water on hand to help you. You can give the items a little dunk and the cold water will cause them to stiffen up a bit.
:bulletpurple:For some items where the clay is warm and it is difficult for it to retain it's shape you can pop them in the freezer for a few minutes. This will cool the clay down and make it easier to manage. (I use this one a lot especially during summer) :nod:

:bulletred: What types of glue can you use with polymer clay?
-You can use a variety of glues. Some are:
:bulletpurple: a 2 part epoxy resin
:bulletpurple: E6000
:bulletpurple: even TLS (translucent liquid scupley) can be used as a glue for clay to clay adhesion. (but you have to re-bake it)

:bulletred:How do you store your clay? Will it dry out?
-Polymer clay should be stored in plastic bags or Tupperware containers. Somewhere air tight. Polymer clay does not dry out overnight but if left out for several year it will become hard and more difficult to condition and work with. You can buy a clay softener (made by most brands) to soften overly hard and old clays.  

:bulletred: Can Polymer clay be painted?
-Yes, polymer clay can be painted after baking with different types of paints. Such as acrylic, watercolor, and oil. (though Oil is not recommended due to it's long drying time) Cheap acrylic craft paints are commonly used to decorate charms after baking. Although the Sculpey glaze does have a reaction to some colors of acrylic paint changing them orange or brown. So beware. White clay can also be colored using chalk pastels. You shave some chalk pastels into white clay and mix/condition it with your hands.

:bulletred: What about making clay colors with chalk pastels?
-HanaClayWorks "For the purposes of coloring clay, you really should get just the regular sets and try to stay away from the lighter "pastel" sets. This is because you can always mix less pastels into white clay to get a lighter color, but you cannot mix more light-colored pastels into the clay to make it darker! Also, I have not tried coloring the clay with either hard or oil pastels, but from what I've read,it is best to use chalk pastels. Oil pastels and the hard pastels tend to come off as chunks and shavings rather than powder pigments."

:bulletred: What are mica powders?
-HanaClayWorks "Mica pigments are very, very fine powders that they have manufactured for cosmetic or craft purposes. They are water-soluble and can be mixed into paints and/or clays to add to the finished effect. The most popular brand is Jacquard PearlEx pigments, which can be found in most craft stores. They are a bit expensive, so be careful if you plan to invest in them! You can get a kit with 12 or so colors for about $30."

:bulletred: Are there polymer clay tutorials available here on DA?
      - YES There are.  
:bulletpurple: Halloween Jack-o-lantern Charm blackmago.deviantart.com/art/H…
:bulletpurple: Fortune Cookie Charm tedsie.deviantart.com/art/Fort…
:bulletpurple: Candy Apple Charm chat-noir.deviantart.com/art/C…
:bulletpurple: 5 Petal Flower Cane glori305.deviantart.com/art/Fi…
:bulletpurple: Strawberry Charm oborochann.deviantart.com/art/…
:bulletpurple: Lolli Pop Charm chat-noir.deviantart.com/art/H…
:bulletpurple: Crisp Apple Charm deltadream.deviantart.com/art/…
:bulletpurple: Bowl of ice cream chat-noir.deviantart.com/art/B…;
:bulletpurple: Octopus Charm oborochann.deviantart.com/art/…
:bulletpurple: Deviant Art Fella caithness155.deviantart.com/ar…
:bulletpurple: Filigree Technique mamalucia.deviantart.com/art/F…
:bulletpurple: Sushi Cane chat-noir.deviantart.com/art/S…
:bulletpurple: Sushi Charms tedsie.deviantart.com/art/Sush…
:bulletpurple: Plate of Breakfast chat-noir.deviantart.com/art/B…
:bulletpurple: Panda Charm oborochann.deviantart.com/art/…
and many many more. Just look around.

:star:Below are some lovely deviations made with polymer clay:star:

Polymer clay cupcakes by strawberrywafers flower necklace by Meeellla Piranha by Clayed
:thumb41544225: Fudge Brownies by HanaClayWorks polymer clay jackolantern bowl by frost-rot
Chocolate charms by tragedienne Citrus Fruit Charms by bapity88 purple poppy necklace by Meeellla
Jungle Boogie by eerok1955 Ice Cream Scoops Charms by MandaBeads Ghost Charms by Keito-San
clay dice by blackhorsewhispers Plock? by jefita Calvin and Hobbes by eric-with-a-k
WhiteDemon bust by rah-bop:thumb40138794:

I hope you enjoyed my first article ^_^
:heart: chat-noir
A special thank you goes out to all the wonderful polymer clay artists who let me feature their works today.
Published:
© 2007 - 2021 chat-noir
Comments87
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I want more and more articles and blogs please post soon such informative information.MacFarlane Curry
CloverWyobraznia's avatar
this was pretty helpful. I bought this stuff called Mod Pudge to make my charms glossy but they are super sticky now. Im hoping i can put a coat of polyurethane on them to see if that works.
NymmieMog's avatar
Mod Podge is usually used on paper masher or as a sealant for craft foam. The best things you can use are listed in the articla above, and you could even use clear nail polish. But if you do that, I suggest using the more expensive brands like Sally Hansen. The cheaper ones come off kind of yellowish and can crack over time.
CloverWyobraznia's avatar
i actually got a can of wood varnish and it works great!
orelinde08's avatar
informative article! THANKS!! :)
CelestialTennyo's avatar
= p oh and also, when you say fumes, do you mean while the clay is baking?
so when i bake the clay it will make my kitchen smell?
(in that case I open the window)
CelestialTennyo's avatar
Very informative =3
But I've always wondered this and wondering if you can help me answer this. = ] Can you make a charm with 2 different types of clay, like fimo with sculpey?
Like in a situation that there is more fimo than sculpey or the other way around. Which temperature and amount of time would I use to bake the charm? = o
Eliwi's avatar
Hi! I can help you out :).
you can mix your clays, but you have to try and see what temperature it needs to bake right. Try with some smaller pieces and see :) I hope it helps.
mayukichan's avatar
I was wondering, Is it okay to use poster paint on the clay and then use sculpey glaze to make it smooth? :love::love:
sparkling-vampire's avatar
can you use sharpie marker pens to add detail to a finished, painted model?
origanime-muckle's avatar
ive used them before (after baking) but make sure you leave them to dry COMPLETELY (sorry for the capitals) otherwise it can bleed - it did when i glazed (stupidly) less than a second after i sharpied it, lol.
sparkling-vampire's avatar
ohh okay thank you

~Nyaa! <3
zorble's avatar
I prefer good ol' plasticine, or modeling clay, for any artwork. But mostly I use it in animating.

And it smells nice: kind of an earthy smell. I like it.
Poki-art's avatar
thank you very much! i realized now that my fimo clay is good for making some charms! i was upset because i cannot get any scupley or scupley glaze in my country. now because of this article i realized that my fimo clay and my acrylic varnish which i bought some days ago is good too. thanks you again :)
chat-noir's avatar
You're very welcome. :nod: Fimo is just as good if not better than sculpey. It is stronger than sculpey III after baking.
LuisaRafidi's avatar
Very nice article! You said Etsy sells polymer clay, but I can't find exactly where in the site they sell it. Could you give me a link?
Starcharms's avatar
Mostly Etsy sells things made from polymer clay instead of the clay itself. It would most likely be a lot cheaper to just buy some at Michaels craft store if you have one near you (keep an eye out, they go on sale for 99 cents a block every month or so), or [link] is the cheapest place besides that for Sculpey III. Hope this helps! ^_^
LuisaRafidi's avatar
SiliceB's avatar
GRAT ARTICLE very helpful thank you so much
Nekokissa's avatar
I have a question about sculpey clay , ive only had this batch ivee bought for a few months and its become kinda brittle it falls apart into little pieces when i try and warm it with my hands it doesnt work very well x.x Does this happen often with sculpey?
chat-noir's avatar
Sorry it has taken me so long to reply.

If your clay is cracking and brittle like that there are two possibilities.

#1 The clay you purchases was exposed to some very hot/dry climate and has become partially baked. If you think this is the case try and return it to the store and explain that it is unusable.

#2 You can put on some gloves and try working a little vegetable oil into the clay. Start with a little hunk of clay and a tiny drop of oil to see if it can work. It will be a bit messy.

But, from the sound of it I think it is really more like #1. Try and get a refund or even write the company. There is no sense in you wasting money on their product if it is faulty. :nod:
Nekokissa's avatar
Thanks but i figured it out, just dropped it in some warm water and it started feeling like it should again
Naraku-Sippschaft's avatar
your tutorials are really really fantastic. I love you darling.
I have a little question: Do you canmake a tutorial about orange?
My friend loves orange and fruits like that and I want to make some jewelery for her, but I try it and try it without a good result. I found for a long time a tutorial, but I missed it.

Do you can help me?
chat-noir's avatar
Actually you're in luck. The lovely *MotherMayIjewelry made a tutorial already right here on DA.

Here is a :pointr: [link] :pointl:
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