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Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay

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Polymer clays

Polymer clays are moldable synthetic clays or pastes similar to plasticine that allow us to make any figure or accessory for our miniatures, including bases. They can be used to mold, sculpt, cut and laminate any shape we need. 

These clays do not shrink after baking and do not air dry. It can be found in different colors and finishes and can be sanded, polished, carved, as well as painted with any type of paint. It is ideal for beginners.  

They are composed of PVC, a coloring pigment, and a plasticizing oil that gives them flexibility. These clays can be manipulated as many times as we want without hardening. 

The difference with the common clay is that we can harden it at home with a domestic oven at a few degrees of temperature, even with a hair dryer, or even with prolonged exposure to the sun in the middle of summer.

The two best-known types of bakeable pastes for modeling are:

Sculpey

This name also comes from a very well-known brand in the United States. Within it, we can find different types, such as:

  • Original. It is a clay, soft, smooth, and flexible, which can be easily handled. Once it is baked, it can be sanded, drilled, carved, and painted. Although it can be used independently, it is best mixed with the Super Sculpey version.

  • Super Sculpey Beige is the softest of the 3 Super Sculpey's clay. Super Sculpey Blend is gray in color with a hardness intermediate between beige and Super Sculpey Firm. Super Sculpey Firm is not recommended as it tends to get very hard. If you are looking for a hard Super Sculpey, it is better to choose the Blend option, which is often close to Sculpey Firm, besides having the same gray color.

  • Sculpey Premo dry, and does not need baking to harden. It dries at normal temperature.

  • And others like: Sculpey Soufflé, Sculpey III, Sculpey Bake and Bon and Sculpey Premo.

Fimo

Actually, it is not a type of clay, but a brand that has been so recognized and famous that its name has been used to talk about polymer clay. They can be found in packages ranging from 56 to 454 grams, and there is even a liquid version. Within these ranges, there are several types:

  • Fimo Air. It is a clay that does not require an oven since it hardens in the open air. It is composed of natural substances and cellulose fibers. After 24 hours it dries completely, although the resulting pieces are fragile.

  • Fimo leather. It is very flexible and has a particular texture, a bit grainy, but with textile fibers that give it elasticity. It creates a very realistic leather effect. 

  • Fimo effect. It is flexible and very soft and allows you to create effects of materials such as pearls, shiny, pearly, and metallic, among others.

  • Fimo Soft. This is considered the right range for beginners, as it is very easy to mold and pleasant to work with, with no odor, and at a very affordable price.

  • Fimo Professional. This, as its name indicates, is indicated for professionals or amateurs, and experts, as it is more difficult to handle, but provides a hardness that prevents breakage of the creations once it has been baked in the oven. 

What is the best brand of polymer clay?

It will depend on the uses we want to give them and what we are looking for at each moment. To work with texturizing rollers we recommend Super Sculpey Beige clay. The Fimo brand has a wide variety of Fimo Soft with intense colors.

How does polymer clay harden?

Each polymer clay has a specific curing time that is indicated on the product packaging. However, there is a general rule for baking any type of polymer clay, just put it in the oven at 130º for 15 minutes. 

You can put the clay on a piece of domestic aluminum foil, or even on DM wood bases, which will not burn. 

If the curing time is too long, the surface of the clay may burn, change color and become more brittle.

How to glue uncured polymer clay?

Uncured polymer clay can be glued to other already cured clay using specific adhesives offered by each brand, such as Sculpey Bake and Bond, or simply by putting a little modeling Vaseline between the 2 pieces we want to join. 

It is not advisable to use cyanoacrylate-based instant glues if the piece is going to be baked again since it would surely burn to create a new black quite ugly and could cause some urticaria or even skin irritation.

Can I mix polymer clay from different manufacturers?

Yes, all polymer clays have a compatible PVC base that allows them to be mixed together sharing basic properties according to the quantities of each type. 

What is the best paint for painting polymer clay?

Polymer clay can be colored beforehand by adding a few drops of acrylic inks or even earth pigments during the kneading and conditioning process. 

Once the clay has been baked and has hardened, the best type of paint for low toxicity and simplicity of use would be acrylic paints, acrylic inks, and dipping inks from Green Stuff World.

Can you let the polymer clay air dry?

No, polymer clay will never air dry as it was designed to be baked and cured in a home oven. For this reason, polymer clay is ideal for beginners who do not have to worry about the material going bad.

However, it is best to store the clay in a bag or box provided by the manufacturer to reduce the evaporation of its oils, and whenever possible in a cool, dry environment. The warmer the storage environment, the harder the material will become. Heat is not good for this type of clay.

What do I need to start working with polymer clay?

In addition to clay, you can use any tool that allows you to create a texture and model with some precision, such as a toothpick. However, there are specific tools for working with polymer clay that will enhance your experience. 

You will probably need a silicone mat, smooth or textured roller, silicone molds, metal tools with many different tips, silicone-tipped brushes, and above all a clay conditioning machine. These machines are adapted paste-cutting machines and really reduce the kneading time considerably. The clays do not dry out over time, but they do get harder if they are not used regularly so it is increasingly difficult to condition them for working with them.  Adding a little petroleum jelly to the clay to recover some of the oil that may have been lost over time is a very popular trick.

Where to buy polymer clay?

In our online store you will find different types of clays such as those mentioned in different colors and sizes, to suit your needs. You will be able to create your own figures with your unique style more easily than you can imagine, take a look!