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Polymer Clay Brands, Firm And Liquid.
There are several brands of polymer clay on the market. They are all made of gels, plasticizers, color agents, fillers and resin, but have slight differences when it comes to conditioning, baking, changing of colors when baked, and how easy they are to sand etc.
Since each has different characteristics some polymer clay artists use only one brand, while others combine brands to get the right combination they need according to what they want to make.
Personally I use Fimo soft and Cernit, simply because they are what's easiest to get where I live, (in the beautiful country of Norway)and they work just fine for my needs. Thanks to internet,you can now get whatever you want through mail, but since polymer clay is heavy, the shipping costs may limit that option for you, as it does for me.
If you do have the opportunity though, try the different brands, one at the time and mixed with each other, until you find what works for you. Take into consideration what climate you live in though. If you live a place where it is very warm, some brands may not be suitable, as they get very soft and sticky when warm.
So what kind of clays do we have? Want to know? Keep on reading!
These beads are made of Fimo Soft Polymer clay. I have used translucent clay with silver leaf to add depth and a dichroic effect. They are glazed with liquid polymer clay.
Fimo polymer clay comes in three types, Fimo Classic, Fimo Effect and Fimo Soft.
Comes in 24 colors. This is a strong and firm polymer clay and it is the hardest to condition of all the clays. Some polymer clay artists use a food processor to soften the clay and blend colors, before they use the pasta machine. But because of its strength and ability to hold fine details, it is very suitable for millefiori/caning.
Fimo soft also comes in 24 colors. It is, hence the name, soft and easy to condition. It is however still firmer than other clays, and is very durable when baked. Some say that it tends to be a little brittle over time, but I have not personally experienced that. It is, luckily for us, very suitable for making beads.
These are special effect clays, among them a beautiful glitter white, that makes wonderful effects on light beads, and a strong white pearl. A fantastic clay that you can use as white, or mix with other colors to get fantastic pearly colors.
You can also get transparent white Fimo Soft. I use this a lot to create different effects as depth and glass like appearances in my jewelry. It is an amazing clay, but condition it well, since it is prone to air bubbles.
Additional to this, you can also get one night glowing clay, 7 glitter colors, 6 translucent colors, 2 stone colors and 7 metallic colors.
The metallic and pearl clays are not only beautiful, but you can create great almost 3 dimensional optical illusions with the Mica shift technique. You can see it in this tutorial:Radiant Mica Shift Necklace
Experiment with these fantastic clays. You can really get some awesome results.
Fimo Effect clays are a bit harder to condition than Fimo Soft, but unless not heat damaged from wrong storing, it becomes malleable relatively easy, and the results are totally worth some extra conditioning.
Both Fimo Classic and Fimo Soft, cures at 230'F / 110'C
All three clays are without hazardous Phthalates , which means that they are non-toxic.
Kato polymer clay is relatively new to the market. It needs more conditioning than some other brands, and is the strongest clay on the market today, kicking Cernit off the pedestal to a number two in line. It does not get sticky in hot weather or when handled, and does not crumble.
Kato Polyclay is vacuum extruded, and has therefor the most bothersome air pockets removed even before you open the pack. It has a good color stability and strength when cured.
You can get it in 21 colors including metallic, pearl and translucent colors. It also comes in 4 color sets and you can get concentrated colors designed for color mixing.
Katos metallic clays are very dens with mica and are therefor superb for mica shift techniques if you want to try this out.
It bakes at 300'F / 150'C, but can be cured at 275'F /135'C if mixed with other clays.
Kato polyclay is non toxic.
In these earrings you clearly see the effect of mica-laden clay. The pattern looks three dimentional, but is two-dimentional.
This clay comes in several variations where each has its own characteristics.
This clay requires little or no conditioning and is easy to work with. The drawback is that it is the least flexible clay of all the Polymer clays, and is liable to break or flake when bent or flexed. Therefor it is not so suitable for jewelry making, which is sad, as it comes in 44 beautiful colors.
Premo! Sculpey Frost
This clay is ideal for bead and jewelry making. It is easy to knead and condition, and is a little firmer than Sculpey III. It does not crumble and stays firm enough for detailed work, like millefiori/caning.
When you mix it with other colors it works a little like bleach, and brightens the colors and even make white whiter.
Premo is a translucent clay and is known to be the clearest of all the translucent clays. It remains flexible after curing and therefore will not crack if you make large beads.
Sculpey premo is firmer than Sculpey III, and is extremely durable after curing. It is great for detailed work like kaleidoscope and caning, and is easy to knead and condition. It does not crumble and is very suitable for bead and jewelry making.
Sculpey Premo comes in 32 colors, which are different from the colors of other clays, because they are modeled after those of oil paints. It also have several special effect clays, like pearl, metallic, glow in the dark, fluorescent and translucent.
Studio by Sculpey:
This is the newest clay on the market. It is easy to condition, and you can do it by hand. So if you don't have a pasta machine, here is the brand for you. Studio is a clay that has captured all the qualities of other brands of polymer clay.
The clay is extremely durable after curing. It does not break or crack if you bake large pieces, and cures to a suede like finish. You can choose from 34 beautiful colors, but to my knowledge only one special effect clay: antique gold.
All the sculpey clays bake at 275'F /135'C
Sculpey clays are non toxic.
Well,that were the Sculpeys, lets move on to:
Cernit was, until Kato Polyclay came on the market and out-performed it, the strongest clay on the market. It is very easy to condition, and can even be conditioned by hand. So if you have no pasta machine, and can't get Studio by Sculpey, buy Cernit. Although it is not known to, I find that it tends to crumble a bit when I condition it.
It has a beautiful translucent, porcelain-like finish, and is therefor highly treasured by doll makers.
As said above it has a superb strength after baking, even when you make very thin pieces. If you use it for caning, it must be mixed with another clay in order not to get to sticky. I find that it works very well when I mix it with Fimo Soft. If it tends to be too soft, I put it in the fridge for half an hour, and it is then firm enough for caning.
Another feature it possesses is that it remains workable, out of the pack, for up to a year.(Yes, you read that right..a whole year).
Cernit comes in a range 24 colors, including translucent. It also have 18 pearlescent colors that are called the Glamor line and are absolutely gorgeous, 6 neon colors, 7 colors designed for doll making and 6 nature clays. It's almost like a candy store, really.
Cernit is also Phthalate free.
Translucent canes can be very decorative if they are rolled round a opaque colored snake, as you see in the light- and dark blue rings.
Well, that was the firm clays, let's move on to the liquid ones.
LIQUID POLYMER CLAY
Liquid clay is a fabulous thing. You can tint it with oil paint and with alcohol inks, mix mica powders and pigments into it and use it for foto transfers.
If your clay has become hard and crumbly, add some drops of liquid clay and it will work as a softener.
It bonds raw and cured clay, but must be baked in order to do that, but since Polymer clay can be re-baked several times, that is no problem.
You can use it as a glaze and to make fake enamels, like you can see in these tutorials:
Faux Plique-a-jour Earrings
Faux Enamel With Liquid Polymer Clay And Mica Powder
There are two brands of liquid clay dominating the market today:
Kato Polyclay Clear Medium Liquid:
This liquid clay is white when on the bottle, but turns crystal clear and glossy when cured. It thickens if exposed to air over time, but stays fine if left on the bottle. It is however the thinnest of the liquid clays. You can now also get it as opaque in different colors.
Kato liquid polymer clay is also less prone to air bubbles. I have experienced quite a few times that air bubbles ruin a bead as a bump or a white spot, so this is a strength. Lesson learned I now always check my pieces thoroughly before baking or heating them with a heat gun.
The clay is fairly easy to sand, if needed. As the bead already is glossy when glazed with Kato polyclay, it may not be necessary to do, unless there is some unevenness you need to remove. Let the bead rest over night before you try to sand it, or it will be too rubbery.
Translucent Liquid Sculpey
Is the thickest of the two. You can get it in opaque and transparent. It possesses the same qualities as Kato, but is not as transparent when cured. It may also be more rubbery to sand.
I must admit that I have not tried this clay, as I am very satisfied with Kato. But if you have the opportunity, try them out for your needs. You may prefer one to the other, or use both for different projects.
Non of the liquid clays contain potential hazardous phthalate plasticizers.
So, now that you know what polymer clay brands there are to get, experiment until you find what suits you best and then make some gorgeous and awesome beads that are all you.
Storing your clay right is important. You can read about it here.
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