The Best Polymer Clay for You

Design Idea 7216 Necklace The Best Polymer Clay for You
by Leslie McLane, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

There are a lot of polymer clay brands for jewelry-making on the market. How do you know which polymer clay you should use? In this article, we’ll compare and contrast the top clay brands so you know which works best for your jewelry-making projects.

There are several different types of clay readily available at Fire Mountain Gems for your designing pleasure: Fimo® Professional, Premo! Sculpey®, Kato Polyclay®, Cernit®, Vitrium® and Apoxie® Sculpt.

Fimo® Professional Polymer Clay

Create almost anything with Fimo Professional polymer clay.This tried-and-true favorite polymer clay brand allows designers great versatility when creating jewelry, picture frames, home décor, dolls, sculptures and more. Just as with other polymer clay types, Fimo Professional clay has a large initial color range, all of which can be mixed with other colors to create an incredibly vast amount of custom hues. This allows Fimo clay to be able to imitate the appearance of other materials such as wood, stone, glass and more. Note: Do not apply varnish to Fimo. Darker colors may stain hands while working with the clay, but the tint is easily removed by washing with soap and water.

Fimo Professional is considered one of the stiffer polymer clays, but this means the firmness allows the clay to hold petite or finely delicate details. The hardy nature of the clay also means smearing is nearly nonexistent when creating canes or other designs. Fimo Professional polymer clay is also completely waterproof and has been used to create snow globe decorations.

Be sure to bake Fimo for 30 minutes at a temperature of 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit) to achieve a flexible final hardness. Lower temperatures may cause the piece to become brittle, while higher temperatures can cause the colors to turn brownish or burn. Always be sure to follow the baking instructions on the manufacturer’s packaging to ensure your desired result. After baking, Fimo polymer clay has a slightly glossy look and buffs well to a high shine finish.

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Jewelry-Making Clays: Compare and Contrast

Resources Premo! Sculpey

There's a reason Premo! Sculpey polymer clay is a favorite molding compound in the jewelry-making industry, especially for sculpting. Incredibly soft and supple, you won't find an easier clay to work with than Premo! Sculpey for all your creative endeavors. Manufactured in the United States by Polyform Products Company, Premo! Sculpey polymer clay is non-toxic and comprised of polyvinyl chloride polymers, plasticizers, coloring agents and fillers. When properly stored, the shelf life of Premo! Sculpey clay is quite long, lasting up to a few years.

After conditioning Premo! Polymer clay, you are able mix colors and techniques while expertly displaying delicate details. A huge assortment of rich pigments creates a vivid color palette including rainbow brights, saturated neutrals, translucent, metallic and even pearlescent effects. All Premo! Sculpey colors are able to be blended for the color mixture of your choice too, even including other types of clays; just make sure to thoroughly blend. Due to the heavy pigment with some Premo! Sculpey colors, there is a chance of color "bleed" on your hands while working. Simply clean hands with baby wipes when switching to the next color and keep tools, such as your pasta machine, clean between color changes. When working with multiple colors of clay, it's always a good idea to work from light to dark.

Premo! Sculpey clay retains flexibility after curing, ensuring a strong adhesion and added durability to designs. Because of this resilience, Premo! Sculpey is a favorite material for a huge list of applications including jewelry, home décor, scrapbooking, recreating semiprecious stones, sculpting and more. Because the colors are so intense, techniques including millefiori, caning, mica shift, mokume gane and others can be reduced to tiny proportions while maintaining vibrancy and precision.
Jewelry-Making Clays: Compare and Contrast
Premo! polymer clay is not an air-dry clay, your working time is extended and you don't need to worry about the polymer clay becoming unmanageable before your design is completed. Once a piece is ready to cure, follow manufacturer's instructions and bake finished pieces in a craft oven (not a microwave) at 275° F (130° C) for 30 minutes per 1/4 inch, or 6mm, thickness. Colors may appear to become even more saturated after baking, but the colors won't shift or lighten, so you know your piece will come out exactly how you want.

Shop for ... Resources Kato Polyclay

This is the first polymer clay created for artists, by an artist. Donna Kato decided it was time to make the type of polymer clay she really wanted to use. Made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plasticizer and pigment, Kato Polyclay has come to be well-known throughout the industry. This polymer clay comes readily available in a myriad of colors but designer-artists are not limited by these pre-existing pigments. Mix and blend Kato clay during conditioning to create personalized gradients and colors. Non-sticky formula will not stain hands or work surfaces. After opening the Kato Polyclay package, you will need to condition the clay to realign the molecules, making it pliable and easy to work with. Bake at low heat in a craft oven for as little as 10 minutes for a durable cure. In fact, Kato Polyclay is considered to be the strongest clay available, making permanent works of art that will resist breaking and wear over time. The shelf life of Kato Polyclay, even if left improperly stored, is quite long; it takes almost a year to entirely dry out.

While some fired clays color shift, dry unevenly or shrink, rest assured that Kato Polyclay has minimal color change and will not shrink even if left in the oven a bit longer or at a higher temperature than instructed. What you see is what you get! The smooth texture allows for detailed work on all types of designs including figurines, caning, jewelry, home décor and model making. It can be rolled thin enough to even create personalized cards. This is a great clay to use with Cernit polymer clay since they have similar properties.

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Jewelry-Making Clays: Compare and Contrast

Cernit

Once considered the strongest polymer clay on the market, Cernit is second only to Kato Polyclay. Created by the Belgian company Jacquard Products, Cernit clay is a polymer modeling compound known as an oven ceramic. With its translucent quality and porcelain-like finish it's no wonder this is a favorite polymer clay among doll makers. Known for its excellent qualities, durable cure and resilient finish, Cernit clay is used by professional artists and craftspeople of all niches. While some polymer clays require conditioning, Cernit is soft and easy to work with right out of the package.

Jewelry-Making Clays: Compare and Contrast Cernit clay is less porous than many other types of polymer clay, has a non-stick formula, long shelf life (matching that of Kato Polyclay), won't stain, is non-toxic and phthalate free. A unique property of Cernit polymer clay is that smaller pieces can actually be boiled at 100 degrees Celsius instead of being baked. Otherwise, Cernit bakes at 215-270 degrees Fahrenheit or 102-132 degrees Celsius. This oven ceramic clay will not burn or shrink if left in the oven a bit longer or at slightly higher temperatures than advised. While other polymer clays provide a rainbow of colors, Cernit is here to provide an artist with the ability to recreate realistic rock or gemstone-like surfaces and colors. These color combinations do not have to only be used to imitate natural materials; they are beautiful in their own color palettes and complement countless color schemes. In fact, many artists use Kato Polyclay and Cernit clay together for unique textures and designs.

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Vitrium

Made from resin, Vitrium is an air-dry clay, so you need no special baking accessories or kiln. It is suggested to leave Vitrium in open air for 24 hours to ensure a full cure. During the couple hours of working time, there is much that can be done with Vitrium.

Design Idea BA10 Brooch While Vitrium jewelry clay comes in only transparent and opaque white, the designer is able to create and color match according to their own unique color schemes. Use as is or add oil, acrylic and watercolor paints, a colored marker, highlighter or even a ballpoint pen to achieve the desired hue. Simply dab the paint or ink onto the surface of the jewelry clay and knead until the color is consistent throughout. Dab a little for pastel tones or continue to apply for darker shades. As Vitrium air dries, there is a little shrinkage and colors become more saturated or darken slightly from the time you finish molding to the time it is fully dry. Vitrium jewelry clay has a non-sticky formula that dries matte and firm but retains a bit of flexibility for stability. Because Vitrium retains this flexibility it can be rolled incredibly thin for delicate or petite designs. Try adding Vitrium Clear Protectant sealant for a high-gloss finish or to bond multiple pieces of clay together before drying. This liquid works on other clay types too, making it truly versatile. It is important to store Vitrium clay correctly to ensure longevity.

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If you haven't tried versatile Apoxie Sculpt yet, what are you waiting for? This unique product combines the benefits of polymer clay with the adhesion power of an epoxy. Apoxie Sculpt is an air-dry compound, so baking accessories are not required to create your finished product. Since Apoxie is not fired, there is zero shrinkage or color shift. Mix equal parts of the epoxy to create a putty-like texture then design away with a long working time of 1 to 3 hours. Shape, roll, mold, sculpt, texture or feather for lightweight and waterproof creations, then allow the Apoxie Sculpt to set for a full 24 hours to ensure a proper cure.

Since this product does not need to be baked, you also have the opportunity to embellish the jewelry clay while it is wet with paint, mica powder, gold leaf, Gilders Paste®, rhinestones, gemstones; you name it you can add it. You can also sand, tap, drill, grind, lathe, carve or tool the dried Apoxie Sculpt without fear of chipping, flaking or cracking. Apoxie Sculpt is non-hazardous, non-flammable, has easy soap and water cleanup, zero solvents and no fumes. Apoxie Sculpt is freeze-thaw stable, which means the shelf life can be extended if sealed and frozen, even after it has been thawed multiple times. Colors include a rainbow of bright and muted tones which dry to a semi-gloss for beautiful color schemes to match every season or design whim. Plastic, resin kits, wood, metal, ceramic, glass, polymers, foam, fiberglass and more adheres to Apoxie Sculpt--explore the vastness of what you can create.

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Design Idea C373 Necklace


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