Tutorial: Polymer clay brands review

Clay review

After several years of playing around with polymer clay we still can’t put a finger on one brand and say this one is the best. Someone’s favourite brand might not work for you because your creations/techniques require different clay. For some, the effort of conditioning harder clays isn’t worth the result and they don’t want to spend half of their creative process just kneading clay. Also mind the temperature of your workspace and the season; summer time is great for extruding, but when it’s really hot some clays are nearly liquid :). You might prefer some brand just because of the colors they offer so in the end its a personal choice.

Our review is limited to a few brands that are available locally in craft stores; we don’t order clay online because of the shipping cost.

FIMO SOFT:

Fimo soft

  • Great clay for beginners
  • The most affordable clay locally (~20% cheaper than Kato, Premo)
  • Too soft for most serious work
  • Available in many colors and effects
  • Easy extruding
  • Good for mixing with harder clays
  • Baked clay isn’t as strong as other brands
  • Matt finish after baking
  • You can quickly over sand when sanding with lower grit sandpapers

FIMO CLASSIC:

Fimo classic

  • Better choice than Fimo Soft for most users
  • Baked clay is a bit  stronger than Fimo Soft
  • Good all round clay, good quality for the price (same as Fimo Soft)
  • Matt finish after baking
  • If choosing between Classic and Soft, this is our choice

KATO POLYCLAY:

Kato

  • Hard clay – becomes pliable after conditioning
  • It used to be a lot harder but they changed the recipe
  • Baking instructions differs a lot from other brands (higher temperatures and shorter time)
  • Raw clay has a specific smell (we don’t mind it, but we heard it bothers some people)
  • Kato also offers color concentrates – pigments and other accessories (Polypaste,  Repel gel…)
  • Baked clay is the strongest and most durable of the brands we’ve tried
  • Best for jewelry that requires a firm product like bangles
  • Color choice is limited (only basic colors) – mixing your own is a must
  • Good when working with pasta machine on thin settings (won’t stretch or stick to itself)
  • Glossy finish after baking
  • Sanding requires more work but it gives great results quickly
  • Buffing requires less effort and shine lasts longer

PREMO! SCULPEY:

Premo sculpey

  • Relatively hard clay, although it differs from color to color
  • Once conditioned it becomes very soft
  • Baked clay is hard and firm but also brittle (when bent it breaks rather than bends)
  • Good for canes and mokume gane
  • Good when working with pasta machine on thin settings (won’t stretch or stick to itself)

PARDO CLAY:

Pardo clay

  • Soft clay, sometimes too sticky
  • Comes in many different colors
  • It has the best packaging we’ve seen (plastic container)
  • Noticeable color change after baking

CERNIT:

Cernit

  • Similar to Fimo
  • Some colors are very soft others very hard
  • Changes color after baking

As you can see, we gave some brands more attention than others and that’s because we were working mostly with Fimo Classic, but switched to Kato when it came to our stores because it’s clearly the strongest clay on the market. The limited choice of colors isn’t a problem, since we mostly mix custom tints. The downside is high price and longer conditioning time but we still think it gives the best results especially for jewelry making.

The rule of thumb is: the harder it is to condition the clay the better the result. No pain, no gain!

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