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Polymer Clay A Clay Like No Other for Happy Hands

Polymer Clay Buttons

When people talk of clay, just regular clay, they might be thinking of the soils in their backyards. Unless they are crafters, pottery makers, or mixed media artists, then there are several different types of clays. 

  • Ceramic clays are water-based from clay materials and other raw materials. These are baked at high temperatures (firing). Once fired, these are called ceramics, stoneware, porcelain, earthenware, and terracotta.
  • Oil-based clay is made from oils, waxes, and clay materials. They cannot be fired. Typically, they are used for animation as they are very malleable and can continuously move their models. They can be used in molds over and over again.
  • Paper clay adds fiber to clay and is a great way for beginners to learn how to use clay in their projects. This can also be air-dried and its form has minimal shrinking.
  • Clay or Industrial Plasticine is a modeling material used in car designs.
  • Polymer clay does not have any clay materials in it. It is a modeling material that is made of polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin and a liquid plasticizer. It remains plastic until dried at temperatures of 265 to 275 degrees F. The packaging for the clay tells you how long to bake. Do not burn your project as hydrogen chloride gas could be released. That is why this clay cannot be used for food or drink purposes.
Most artists use polymer clay for folk crafts, jewelry, buttons, dolls, miniatures, sculptures, and small objects.

Polymer clay has been around since the 1930s when a woman named Kathe Kruse developed a clay product to use for doll heads. While the compound did not work for her, she turned it over to her daughter, Sophie (Fifi) Rehbiner- Kruse. Fifi sold the formula in 1964 to Eberhard Faber. He then developed it into Fimo, which is now sold by Staedtler, a German company.

The American company, Polyform Products Company, started developing their own version Sculpey, in the early 1960s and first sold it at craft fairs before being sold in stores. There are now over 15 different variations of Sculpey that are sold on their website or in craft stores.

I will have a class on Making Buttons and Gems from Polymer Clay on May 22, 2021 at 1 pm. Click on the link to sign up for the class.