Types of Polymer Clay
So your interested in working with polymer clay - but you don't know which brand to choose?
Have no fear - I'm here to help!
I've been working with polymer clay for a few years now, and as its one of our most popular items in store at the moment, I thought I'd share some of my knowledge to help you out if you're a beginner!
So I'll start from the beginning.
What is Polymer Clay?
Polymer Clay is a plastic based modelling clay that is flexible - enabling it to be sculpted and designed into mini (or mega) artworks. Polymer clay requires curing (baking) in an oven to become hard and durable. I use my home oven if at home, or my bench top oven if working in the studio.
Although labelled as non-toxic, completed polymer clay products are not food safe.
Phrases you may hear
Before I go any further, I better mention some of the terms that are quite frequently used when talking about Polymer clay
Condition - this is warming the clay up ready for use. Usually you use your hand (fingers), clay conditioner (pasta machine) or rolling pin. Manipulate the clay until it is soft and flexible and not crumbly. The colder the clay is - the harder it is to condition - so get those hands warm!
Cure - this is the word used meaning "to cook" the clay
Types of Polymer Clay
There are a number of different types of polymer clay brands available, however at The Little Craft House the two main brands we stock are Fimo (Soft, Effects and Leather) and Sculpey (Sculpey III, Premo and Souffle).
Fimo Soft - Ill start by saying that the word 'soft' is a little bit deceptive! It is generally quite hard when you first get it out the packet. That being said - Fimo is a fantastic quality clay. The components of it make it a strong clay, less prone to cracking (than some of the other clays) and firm to enable more detailed work. Some people find Fimo tricky to work with because of its firmness - however once conditioned correctly, it does soften up.
Fimo Effects - Pretty much the same as above - but the "Effects" part of the name refers to that the clay is "fancy" in some way. This range consists of glitters, metallic, translucent and pearl effects (as well as a few others).
Fimo Leather Effect - This clay is really quite cool. It has a 'gritty' type texture that feels like real leather - and when rolled really thin, after baking keeps flexibility! I may have to designate a whole post about Fimo Leather, as there is a few tricks to working with it - so until I do that - feel free to shoot me a message and I can answer any questions.
Sculpey III - this is the softest of all the clays. Its great for beginners as its really easy to work with and has an amazing range of colours. The down side to Sculpey III is that it can crack during the curing process if it is over or under conditioned.
Premo - Premo used to be known as Premo and Premo Accents. Sculpey has recently re-branded to include both under the name Premo now. The "Accents" referred to the effect that the clay has (glitter, translucent etc).
Premo would be the most popular clay we sell - especially for jewellery makers. It is a strong clay that is still soft enough to work with, and detailed work can still be achieved.
Souffle - Souffle is also a popular one with jewellery makers. Souffle has a different texture to Sculpey III and Premo. It is described as a 'suede-like texture' which is quite accurate!
Did you know you can mix polymer clay together to create a new colour?! You can even mix between brands! How exciting is that. So if a colour you want doesn't exist - you can create it yourself.
When it comes to curing your pieces, follow the recommended cook times outlined on the pack of your clay. If you find your clay is still a little soft - you can always bake longer - but don't exceed the temperature or your clay will burn!
Hopefully I've answered some of the questions you may have had about the types of polymer clay we have available at The Little Craft House.