What’s the Best Polymer Clay Brand?

What is the best polymer clay brand? Learn about each brand and find what they're best used for.When we start working with polymer clay, the choices can be overwhelming. What is the best polymer clay brand to use? There are many brands of polymer clay and they’re all a bit different. Some are stronger than others, some are more flexible, some are more brittle, some are easier to work with, others are too mushy. There is no one best polymer clay brand to use. It’s best to choose the right clay for the kind of results you want to get. But what is each brand best suited for?

I do have all of these brands on hand here, and have compared them by using them in various applications. Here, I’ll describe what’s unique about each of the various brands of clay and what they might be particularly well-suited for. The best thing, of course, is to find what works for you. But it is helpful to know what else is out there.

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Sculpey is a Brand Name, not a Type of Clay

When you say that you use Sculpey, it could mean any of several different clays produced by the Polyform Company. They have polymer clay brands that range from a very weak and mushy children’s clay to a high-quality clay suitable for jewelry. Here are some characteristics of the various Sculpey brands of clay. Oh, please note, there is no “t” in the word. It is not Sculpty. That is a very common slip of the tongue.

Sculpey Original

Sculpey Original is best suited for teaching preschoolers and toddlers how to play with clay.Original Sculpey is a very soft and easily worked polymer clay that comes in a large boxes (from 1 to 24 pounds) and is only available in white and terra cotta. This should give a clue about its intended use. It’s quite mushy and soft, can be difficult to sculpt, and is quite weak when cured. This should never be used in thin pieces as they will certainly break. This clay is best used as a pottery substitute for clunky things like pinch pots, bowls, and plaques. It’s perfect for letting children explore with the advantage (over pottery clays or plastalina) of being able to cure and preserve their creations in a home or school setting. It is not the best polymer clay brand for making detailed sculpts, figurines, or jewelry. In fact, it’s utterly unsuitable for those purposes. I know that a lot of beginners use this clay first, but know that most of the other brands are stronger and better suited for most of the types of clay work that you see others doing online.

Super Sculpey

Super Sculpey is a very basic brand of sculpting polymer clay.Super Sculpey is designed for sculpting and comes in large boxes (from 1 to 24 pounds) and is only available in a light flesh tone. It’s best used for sculpting figures that will not be handled. It’s fairly translucent and makes a nice doll skin tone, but it often darkens during baking and people will often paint it. This is still a quite soft clay and there’s a gray colored version called Super Sculpey Firm for those who need a stiffer sculpting medium. If your sculpture needs to be strong after baking, or will be handled, you’re better off choosing one of the stronger clays below, some even have a range of skin tone colors specifically designed for sculpting.

Sculpey III

Sculpey III is not the best brand of polymer clay for most uses.One of the first American colored polymer clays on the market, Sculpey III comes in 2 oz bars in a range of colors that include metallics, pearls, and translucent. Some colors are also available in 8 oz and 1 pound bricks. This is a much stronger clay than Original Sculpey, but it still has limitations in its usability. It’s very soft to work with, people say it resembles toothpaste or cookie dough in texture, and it is notoriously brittle after baking. This brand of clay is often the first choice of beginners who try to attempt complex projects and are disappointed to find that it breaks easily. Don’t use this clay for anything that will be thinner than 1/4″. It’s a great, soft clay for children to use to make dioramas and figures that will not be handled extensively, but it is not suitable for fine detailed work that has to stand on its own, for jewelry, or for detailed sculptures like dragons and fairies. But it’s a wonderful beginner clay for making large beads or simple hand-built sculptures.

Sculpey III is quite soft, though, and therefore works well for times when “smearing” the clay is a plus. Polymer clay painting, Sutton Slice, and faux embroidery are some techniques that come to mind. But the base that you “smear” the Sculpey III onto should be a strong clay for best results.

 

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Bake Shop

Bake Shop is a brand of polymer clay that's best used as a toy for small children, not for any serious artwork. It is soft and brittle.Available in 2 ounce blocks in several colors, Bake Shop polymer clay is the softest and weakest of all brands of polymer clay. Typically found for a mere dollar a block, it’s an attractive temptation for those trying to save money. But most people complain that this clay is far too mushy and soft to hold details. Baked pieces break easily. You may prefer to save yourself some frustration and leave this clay for the toddlers to play with. *Note: I think that Bake Shop has been rebranded as Firefly in some markets.

Souffle

Sculpey Souffle polymer clay Multi PackOnly on the market a year, Souffle polymer clay seems to cause people to either love or hate it. It’s one of the most flexible AND strong polymer clays on the market and is soft and easy to handle. The colors are quite subdued, but they go together well. The matte finish hides fingerprints well, but it means that a high gloss cannot be obtained. There are no translucent, metallic, or pearl colors. It’s probably the best polymer clay brand for those with weak hands or arthritis. It’s also tremendous for mokume gane because it slices beautifully with little distortion. I reviewed this clay in detail if you’d like to read more about it. It’s available in 2 oz blocks.

Premo

Premo is my pick for the best polymer clay brand for all-around general purposes. Read more about other brands at The Blue Bottle Tree.Premo is quite versatile and is an excellent all-purpose polymer clay work that’s readily available for most people around the world. For many people it’s the best polymer clay brand, and it is certainly one of my top picks. It holds its shape and details well while you’re working with it, it’s easy to condition, and it’s strong and flexible after baking. The colors are clean and bright and come in a full range of hues. The metallic, pearl, and translucent varieties of Premo are called Premo Accents. They function the same as regular Premo. There have been some reports of inconsistent shelf life of some colors of Premo in recent years, so do make sure to buy fresh clay from a reputable supplier and use it promptly for best results. Old clay can be quite crumbly and hard to work with.

There are other brands of polymer clay in the Polyform line, and while I’ve used most of them at one time or another, space limits me writing about them in detail. Ultralight is very lightweight, Bake and Bend is flexible, Eraser Clay makes erasers, Glow in the Dark does just that, and Mold Maker is sort of good at making molds. These are typically not all-purpose clays and you’d use them for a specific purpose or type of project. They’re specialty clays.

FIMO, the First Polymer Clay

Fimo was the first polymer clay brand created (in 1954), and for many years the only one. Made by Staedtler, Fimo polymer clay is made in Germany and comes several variations, including a kid’s clay, a general purpose clay, and a professional clay. The Fimo line is the most common brand of polymer clay in Europe and clayers there often refer to all polymer clay as “fimo”. Fimo can be more difficult to find in the US, but it’s a high quality brand that’s worth seeking out.

Fimo Professional

Fimo Professional is one of the best polymer clay brands for caning and all-purpose work. Read more at The Blue Bottle Tree.About a year ago, Staedtler rebranded the long-loved Fimo Classic under the name Fimo Professional. They changed to 3 ounce blocks (it’s now been changed back to 2 ounce blocks in North America, btw) and added a line of “True Colors”, along with an extensive mixing system that enables you to easily create a range of repeatable colors. It also comes in 12 ounce bricks. I’ve been lucky enough to work with this clay quite a bit and I have to say that I do love it and I think it comes close to being the best polymer clay brand. While it does stiffen up with time on the shelf, it doesn’t seem to be as brick-hard as Fimo Classic was reputed to be. I find that Fimo Pro can be crumbly at first, but soon softens to a lovely workable mass with excellent body. It holds its shape well, holds detail well, and is just the right mix of stiff and soft. I do find that it does get sticky (but not like toothpaste) as it warms up. It leaves a residue on your hands and you do need to wipe your hands with baby wipes between colors. After curing, it is phenomenally strong and durable. People say that it’s wonderful for caning.

Fimo Professional also has a full range of doll colors, too. That variety is called Fimo Professional Doll Art.

Fimo Soft

Fimo soft polymer clay, a good all-purpose brand.Far more readily available in the US than Fimo Professional, Fimo Soft is another very nice all-purpose clay. Available in 2 ounce blocks in wide range of colors, this polymer clay is easily worked, holds its shape well, and is strong after baking. Some people have recently reported that some colors don’t have a very long shelf life and can be very stiff and crumbly. As with Premo, do make sure you buy this clay very fresh from a reputable supplier and not from craft store shelves where it can be years old. The metallic, pearl, and translucent colors of Fimo are called Fimo Effect and from what I can tell they resemble Fimo Soft in behavior far more than Fimo Professional.

Fimo Leather

Fimo Leather Effect polymer clay, new from Staedtler. Great for making faux leather crafts.This brand of polymer clay has paper or cellulose fibers inside which give it a texture effect in both the raw and baked forms. This texture makes Fimo Leather look like real leather. It’s also flexible enough to sew with a sewing machine. It’s an interesting novelty clay that has some great possibilities for making marbled faux stone effects. Read a full review here.

Fimo Kids

Fimo kids is the best polymer clay brand for children. Read about other brands at The Blue Bottle Tree.Not to be left out, children have their own brand of polymer clay in the Fimo line as well. Fimo Kids comes in a basic color palette of fairly small 1.5 ounce blocks. The colors are more chalky and less intense than the colors in the other Fimo brands. The clay is soft and workable and I think it’s the best polymer clay brand for children.

Kato Polyclay

Kato polyclay is one of the best polymer clay brands for caning. Learn more at The Blue Bottle Tree.Kato Polyclay is a brand of polymer clay developed and marketed by polymer clay artist Donna Kato. It comes in 2 ounce blocks and large 12.5 ounce bricks and comes in a range of bright colors, neutrals, and metallics. The colors or Kato Polyclay are designed to be close to artist’s primaries, so you can readily mix any color that you would need. Kato has a reputation for being difficult to condition and stiff to work with, so you will find a lot of people who dislike this clay intensely. But that’s because they’re expecting this clay to be something it’s not. It’s not a clay for children or people with weak hands, but it’s arguably the best polymer clay brand for caning. The colors remain crisp and well defined, the clay is not at all sticky and is easy to re-position during caning, too. The unbaked clay has a waxy and plastic feeling to it, and the baked clay has a slight sheen. To me, it feels the most like plastic of any clay brands. Because Kato is fairly stiff to work with, it’s the best polymer clay brand to use if you have hot hands and tend to find other brands too soft.

A lot of people find that Kato Polyclay has a very strong smell. Well, it does. There’s no doubt about that. It’s not a terrible smell. It’s very vinyl-like, just like a new shower curtain or a new baby doll. But some people find it to be overwhelming. Others quite like it. I find that the smell is barely noticeable if I keep my clay covered with a lid during baking.

Kato Polyclay is also one of the strongest polymer clays on the market. If you need something to be strong after baking, this clay is the one to choose. It’s also wonderful for very finely detailed sculpting, as you can see in the work of Forest Rogers.

Pardo by Viva Decor

Also a German brand of polymer clay, Pardo comes in a jewellery clay and a professional clay. It’s also known for having a phenomenally clear translucent polymer clay.

Pardo Jewellery Clay

Pardo Jewellery Clay comes in gemstone-like colors.Originally supplied in odd little balls in a jar, Pardo Jewellery clay is a hobby clay that has colors named for and is designed to resemble various gemstones and jewelry materials. Most of the colors have a slight sparkle or shimmer to them, similar to gemstones. I rarely see this clay and don’t have any reason to work with it as I find other clays more suitable for my needs. But it’s a perfectly good brand of polymer clay. In short, I know little about it.

Pardo Professional Art Clay

I will admit that I don’t use Pardo Professional for anything but the translucents, but it does come in a full range of lovely colors. Translucent Pardo Professional Art Clay is the clearest translucent polymer clay on the market and is by FAR the best polymer clay brand to use if you want to create faux glass or other extremely translucent effects. Pardo now has a line of colored translucent polymer clay that I reviewed recently. I highly recommend them!

Pardo Professional is a very good polymer clay for creating canes as it gives clear definition and doesn’t get too mushy. It can, however, be a bit tricky to work with. It does tend to crumble when it’s not conditioned, and some people find this to be a problem when slicing older canes. Pardo responds beautifully to heat, though, and gently warming a cane before slicing can make it easier to slice. Here’s more info for you if you have trouble conditioning Pardo translucent. It does have some tricks to it!

Cernit Polymer Clay

Cernit polymer clay.For some reason, Cernit is a polymer clay that’s far more popular in Europe than it is in the US. It has a reputation of being the best polymer clay brand for making dolls and it does come in a range of flesh colors that more evenly reflects the variations of the human population than other brands. It comes in well over 77 colors in both small and large blocks. Cernit has a slightly translucent base, so baked items have a luminous porcelain-like effect that makes nice flower petals and doll skin. I find Cernit to be a bit crumbly when you first break it off the block, but it quickly smooths out to form a very soft-bodied clay that can be a bit too floppy to work with when it warms up. I find that it’s best if you let it rest every few minutes and don’t overwork it. Cernit is extremely strong and quite flexible after baking, making it an excellent choice for flower petals and flower jewelry. Translucent Cernit is one of the clearest of all the brands, and you will find that mixing Cernit and Pardo Translucents gives and excellent translucent combination that seems to have the best features of both. You can read my comprehensive review of Cernit Polymer Clay here.

PVClay is from Brazil

PVClay, a polymer clay from BrazilSouth America has a rapidly growing polymer clay community. More and more people are learning about the joys of creating with polymer and they’re looking for good brands of clay to use. Importing clay can be expensive. But there is a wonderful brand of polymer clay made in Brazil called PVClay. I have used this clay and I wrote a review of PVClay here. It’s strong, flexible, fairly easy to work with, and comes in a range of colors, metallics, pearls, and even a translucent. I do recommend this clay and find it to be a very nice all purpose brand.

Generic Brands

Generic or store brands are not the best polymer clay brands to use.Polymer clay is easy for chemists to make, so it’s not unusual for there to be “no name” or generic brands of polymer clay available on the market. Some stores have their own brand of generic clay. Michaels has CraftSmart brand and Hobbycraft has ShapeIt! Brand. You can also find unnamed brands for sale quite cheaply on auction sites such as Ebay. In general, these clays can be too soft, too hard, too brittle, or just plain inconsistent from one purchase to the next. There are better choices.

So, What is the Best Polymer Clay Brand?

As I hope you can see here, there is no one best polymer clay brand. It just depends on what you’re wanting to do with it and what type of project you want to make. In short, here are my recommendations:

  • If you’re teach toddlers about tactile work, I’d choose Sculpey Original or Bake Shop.
  • For working with small children, I’d choose Souffle or Fimo Kids.
  • To make jewelry I’d choose Premo, Cernit, Fimo Professional, or Souffle.
  • For caning, I’d pick Kato Polyclay or Fimo Professional.
  • For detailed, strong sculptures, Kato Polyclay seems to be best.
  • For everyday sculpting of things that will stay on a shelf, Super Sculpey does well.
  • If you’re sculpting cartoon figurines, choose Premo, Kato, Fimo Professional, or Fimo Soft.
  • If you have hot hands and need a stiff clay, Kato Polyclay is wonderful.
  • For arthritic hands or disabilities, choose Souffle.
  • For super clear translucent work, go for Pardo Professional Art Clay in Translucent.
  • If you’re in South America, PVClay is an excellent choice for most purposes.
  • When a super stiff and strong result is needed, Kato is a natural choice.
  • When very flexible and strong results are needed, Cernit and Souffle are good.
  • If you just want to pick one brand and be done with choices, Cernit, Premo or Fimo Professional are excellent all-purpose brands.
  • If you prefer to mix your own colors and want true primaries, Kato and Fimo Professional have true colors. Premo makes true primaries, but they’re only available by special order.
  • To make polymer clay paintings where clay is spread on a surface, Souffle works nicely and Sculpey III might work if you can keep the base rigid.

Where to Buy Polymer Clay

In short, I think the best place to buy polymer clay is from reputable suppliers who keep up a high turnover, always have fresh clay, and are invested in finding other products that will help you with your claying adventures. Craft stores, while convenient, often have old stock and that can mean you’ll get hard and crumbly clay that will cause swearing and frustration. For more strategies on buying polymer clay and for a list of good suppliers that I trust, head over to my article How to Buy Polymer Clay.

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121 thoughts on “What’s the Best Polymer Clay Brand?”

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  3. I’m finding your site so helpful!

    On Sculpey’s site, they say the Premo primary colors do not contain white, making them great for mixing. Perhaps that’s a new development since this post? 🙂

    1. I don’t believe I talked about that….it’s a big subject actually. The true primaries that Maggie Maggio recommends are Fuchsia, Cobalt Blue Hue, and Zinc Yellow. The blue and yellow are not generally available and must be bought from suppliers online. These three colors do not contain white…they have a translucent base, and that makes them good for color mixing. But the rest of the colors of the Premo line are not singular pure colors. So if you mix with them, you get muddy colors (a situation that’s true for nearly all brands of polymer clay). It’s not new, it’s been like this forever, and Polyform dropped the cobalt blue and zinc yellow a few years back, which caused a huge uproar among artists who rely on them.

  4. WOW, thank you so much! I’m wanting to get into polymer clays, and this is really going to help with the learning curve and will save me some time and money.

  5. Lynette Reinhart

    I have dabbled in polymer clay for a few years. Mainly making characters, pens, Christmas ornaments, and some caricatures of people. I’ve pretty much only used Sculpey and Premo but tried Fimo and I found it to be hard to condition. I have arthritis in my hands and arms so trying to condition the clay is difficult not to mention painful the next day. I saw a Fimo conditioner in the store the other day and wondered if it would help to soften and condition it faster than trying to just use my hands and a pasta roller. I’ve hesitated to get it, even though they often have a color i need which Sculpey does not, because I find it so hard to condition. I’m going to be working on some gifts which will be a couple of caricatures of some friends, and some pens for birthday gifts, as well as add on’s to a Alice in Wonderland Deco mesh wreath I’m making for my niece. I am making pieces from the tea party, etc. to attach to the wreath. Would the Fimo clay do better for me if I can get it to condition quicker and softer? Thanks for your help!

    1. Yes, polymer clay will definitely be easier to work if you use a clay conditioning machine or pasta machine. It’s not a gimmick…it’s a necessary tool for many clayers. However, know that Fimo Professional can be quite crumbly when unconditioned and you may prefer to use your hands because you can slowly “wake up” the clay without it crumbling to bits going through the pasta machine. But even with Fimo, color mixing and sheeting is much, much easier with a pasta machine.

  6. I am wanting to make some items for my Fairy Garden. It is located outside so items are not protected from the elements. Also I have never worked with clay of any kind. What type would be the best for me?

    1. There are two things to consider. One, since you’re new to clay, you want one that isn’t difficult to work with. And two, you want one that is durable in the elements. I recommend Premo for you. Kato is durable, but it can be difficult to work with for newbies (it’s pretty stiff). While polymer clay won’t deteriorate in the weather (water, freezing, heat), it can sometimes droop and gravity can make it bend in the heat, just like many other soft plastics will do. Also, some colors will fade in the sun, so be prepared for that. Sadly, you can’t predict which colors will fade until it happens as the manufacturers change their formulations so often.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I live in South Central Alaska so I don’t think heat will be an issue. Highest in summer is upper 70’s to mid 80’s. 🙂 Plus the Fairy Garden is in a shaded area on the East / Northeast side of the house. I am excited to give this a try!

  7. I want to make a keychain. Which type of clay can be used for it (I don’t know if any kind of clay is good for making keychains)?

    1. I think Fimo Professional or Cernit would be excellent for making a keychain. However, don’t make it too thin. I would stick with at least 1/4″. And to attach the key ring loop to the clay, don’t rely on using clay for this. Use a piece of wire, at least 18 or even 16 gauge stainless steel would be good, and embed it deeply into the clay. Years ago I made a keychain and used a large safety pin embedded into the clay, with just the looped end sticking out. It worked perfectly. A truck could have run over it and been just fine.

  8. Hi, I’m wanting to order the Primo Clay from Shades of Clay, but they have Primo and Primo Sculpy. On reading your opinion on Primo, you don’t mention Primo Sculpy, so I am confused. You mentioned higher that Sculpy is a brand, and you don’t recommend it. So, if it is Primo Sculpy, is that okay? -Christina

    1. Hi Christina, the Sculpey company doesn’t do a very good job of differentiating between the lines of clay that they produce. Sculpey is the company’s brand name. They have many types of clay such as ‘Original Sculpey’, Super Sculpey, Sculpey III, and Sculpey Premo. Each of those clays have very different intended functions. I do not recommend Sculpey III for jewelry making or anything thinner than 1/4″. I think it’s a frustrating, soft, weak, and brittle clay. But I heartily recommend Premo because it’s easy to work, not too soft, quite strong, and will stand up to pretty much anything you ask of it. Don’t let the term ‘Sculpey’ worry you…it’s just a brand name. Premo’s good clay…go for it!

      1. Yes, most colours from Sculpey III are awfully fragile. I baked a few strips of various thickness and could easily snap them into half. Mixing them with Premo Translucent, unfortunately, did not strengthen it. Sculpey III weakens more than Premo can strengthen. For some reason when they’re snapped I noticed the cross-sections seemed to be multiple layers of clay which never did adhere properly together. That’s odd considering how mushy and sticky the clay is. Now I use Sculpey III for adding a little bit more colour to my canes which are predominantly Fimo or Premo. I don’t mind Sculpey III’s softness or colour change, but darn I do hate how fragile it can be. I’ve read somewhere (can’t recall where) that sandwiching Sculpey III cane slices between translucent clay can strengthen it, and that’s one thing I intend to try.

  9. Are there any way to make Sculpey III more useable such as by mixing it with other clays? The colour selection is wonderful and it seems to be a waste to dismiss this line of clay entirely. I’m wondering if you have any experience with it, in part because Sculpey III (followed by Premo) appears to be the most readily available clay here.

    1. Sculpey III can certainly be mixed with other clays to make it stronger. It’s so soft that it works well to mix with harder clays, such as Kato and also Fimo soft (that isn’t). It’s also good to use as bead cores that are covered with other clays. Or even as larger beads. Sculpey III is great when it’s not thin. Keep it above 1/4″ in thickness and use it for things that don’t require durability. As for the colors, you can mix colors with polymer, so it might be worthwhile to learn how to do that so you aren’t limited to choosing your clay by color. Once you know a few “secrets” about color mixing, you can get by with buying just a few colors. I recommend Lindly Haunani’s book on color. http://www.amazon.com/Polymer-Clay-Color-Inspirations-Techniques-ebook/dp/B00CVS2JWG/ref=sr_1_2

      1. Thank you for your advice Ginger. I’m just worried that for a mix of Sculpey III with another clay Sculpey III will weaken more than the other clay strengthens. You’re right, I don’t do a whole lot of color mixing and like working straight out of the packages. I’ll check out that book and work on overcoming this limitation.

        1. I think it will be fine for general purpose use, but wouldn’t rely on it for paper-thin pieces. Color mixing is fun for sure. It’s a fantastic skill to have, too.

          1. I baked a thick circle of Sculpey III in neon pink. It formed some plagues and darkened (presumably because it isn’t a very opaque clay) but I am pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t break it in half and it still retains its brightness. I’ve not done more rigorous testing but I’ll take that to mean it’s safe for canes (as in, those that could do with some distortion such as the chrysanthemum cane) and mokume gane. The colour change is something I’ll have to keep in mind though, not to mention not all colours might behave so favourably.

            1. I think that your experience will be the best teacher here. Maybe they’ve changed the formula recently. Maybe the neon is stronger than the other colors? So many variables. Just know that many people complain about Sculpey III being brittle, not just me. But hey, if it works, that’s fantastic!

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  11. Great post, Ginger! I was curious about your comments on Kato and the odor it gives off while baking. Is that the only time you smell the plastic-y/vinyl scent? I got three bars of Kato last year to try and after the strong odor of the raw clay overwhelmed me on the first project, and was very stiff to work with as you said, I gave all three bars to my daughter just to get it out of my house. Every time I opened the (plastic drawers) storage container my clay is in I felt nauseous and light-headed, the smell was so strong from just the one opened package. I was forced to put it in a baggie (even if I normally didn’t already, but which I do). I can’t say how it smelled during curing since my clay oven is in another building (for just that reason- curing odor or the possibility of it), but I will be moving the oven into my craft room once I get it set up since Premo! doesn’t have a strong odor, and I will not be using Kato again. lol

    Thanks for this wonderful information on all these clay brands. Some I’ve wondered about and some I’ve read about, but most I haven’t used so far. I use Premo! and love it, Souffle is wonderful too. I am interested in getting some Fimo Professional to try now too though.

    1. All brands of polymer clay have an odor to them, and I can actually tell which one I’m holding by its smell alone. But an odor does not mean it’s toxic. Of course we all find different smells pleasant or not. And Kato does have a very strong vinyl odor, very similar to when you put a new shower curtain in your bathroom or when you get out a new pool toy. The bricks themselves have an odor and of course you can smell it when baking. Some people find it unpleasant, others seem to be sensitive to that smell like I’m sensitive to the smell of some bugs that make me gag. Go figure. We’re all different!

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  13. Another well written, informative article. You continue to provide an invaluable service to the polymer world, both for the new kids and us (arthritic) people who have been claying since 1986. (!) In addition to your tips, I’d add that all the clays are intermixable (is that a word?) and sometimes you can get just what you’re looking for by doing that. For example, light weight and strong comes from mixing ultralight and Soufflé. It comes close to the characteristics of Studio which is no longer available except in my basement where 60 or so bars reside. You summed things up well with the comment that “it all depends on what you’re trying to do.”

  14. I appreciate such a comprehensive look at all the clays, but I am curious if all the info is from your direct personal experience? When I read comments such as “there have been reports” or “most people complain…” I am not sure that it’s necessarily a fair assessment. I have been working with Premo in particular for over 20 years and have had wonderful experience, certainly not the issue you note about how each package seems to differ. Would you be willing to share your resources on how these were tested and compared? Great website with a lot of very helpful information!

    1. Hi Cathy, that’s actually a very good question. I do have direct personal experience with every clay here. Some more than others, of course. But I have had my hands on each of the clays pictured…and in fact took the pictures myself yesterday in my studio. I have used all the clays for various projects and have a pretty good idea of how they differ one from the next. Because different brands of clay react differently to things like paints and sealers, and for comparison purposes when reviewing a specific brand of clay, I’ve made a point of putting these brands through their paces and noting things like softness, strength, workability. So that yields a lot of this information. And when I can directly compare one brand to another, their differences become more obvious than if I were relying on memory. As an example, you can see in my reviews of Souffle and PVClay, for instance, how I compared other brands to these. Plus I have my own artwork that I do and I actually DO use these clays.

      You’re right, though, about using the terms like “most people complain”. I can’t say that unless I were to poll everyone and get a majority statement! But I do participate heavily in online groups and forums and I do read what people do say. It’s anecdotal evidence rather than direct scientific comparison, of course. But I make it my business to note trends in what “people” are saying. While one person might not experience, for instance, crumbly Premo white trans, the power of the internet means that we can be privvy to the experiences of the collective community. Both Fimo Soft and Premo gave me trouble with some colors, and discussions online (both in groups and by private message) showed me that there are, indeed, trends of trouble with this issue. My own experience is augmented by the experiences of others, leading to the statements in this article. BTW, it’s not that each package differs. It’s that quality control isn’t consistent and I have reason to believe that the manufacturers vary their formulas in response to market costs of raw materials. (As per the article by Tony Aquino in a recent article in Polymer Cafe.) I think that sometimes the shelf life does suffer.

      Thanks for giving me a chance to clarify. I do work hard to be as accurate and honest as possible.

  15. I have neither arthritis or disabilities and I love using Souffle! The suede-like surface is perfect for use with paints, pens and other surface treatments. It also can be buffed to a lovely shine and/or accepts glazes quite well. I also love to cane with it- in fact, I just taught two beginning classes with it yesterday and everyone’s canes came out quite well.

    1. LOL, well, I never said arthritis is the ONLY thing Souffle’s good for. 🙂 Have you read my reviews of it? Here and here. I’m actually quite a fan of Souffle and use it often. For all the reasons you mentioned. It’s absolutely stunning when used with my Rustic Beads Technique.

  16. Thank you for another very thorough and useful review. I compared clay brands once myself, Pardo Pro, Fimo Pro, Premo and Kato. No matter what I did, Kato clay always cured crumbly and would snap immediately, when I was expecting it to come out really strong. Pardo resulted in being the strongest clay by far and stiffer. Fimo is also strong but more flexible when baked. Premo is a very pleasant clay to work with and has beautiful colours but I don’t find it strong enough and therefore don’t use it, as I make jewelry items and want strong pieces. Maybe the problems with Kato that I had are due to old clay, hoewever, I did try with different packages and with the baking temperature recommended by Donna Kato.

    1. The baking time listed on the Kato package is ridiculously insufficient and the clay will crumble easily if you only cure for 10 minutes. But when cured at a reasonable time, more in line with the other clays, Kato is exceedingly strong. I agree with you about Premo being less tough than the others. I am a fan of long cure times, and sometimes hotter cure temps for most of the clays out there. I have found that it makes a stronger result. I have long wanted to test strength, but that are so many aspects to that (what kind of strength…deformation, tensile, load, flex??) and the testing equipment is pricey.

      1. As far as I’m concerned as regards testing strength, I want piece to be able to take forceful bending by hand and not snap easily, so not be flimsy.I just baked pieces of different clays of equal thickness, at 150 degrees C. for 45 min. Then I tested for strength by trying to bend piece back and forth to see how resistant it was. That was sufficient scientific proof for me!

  17. I’m a recent convert from stained glass to PC and found this post invaluable, thanks! I look forward to receiving your posts in my email.

  18. Another great review and summary. Folks could just print your summary bullets and take them shopping so they know what brands, or sub brands, to look for depending on what they want to make.
    I read somewhere (can’t remember where – maybe one of your posts even) that some polymer clays were reformulated to eliminate pthalates, which has affected shelf life or the consistency. Which would make sense given what little I know about the purpose of pthalates.

    1. Phthaltes are just one class of plasticizers. There are others, and most brands of clay use those now. I don’t now if it was the plasticizer change or another ingredient in the clays, but yes, they do seem to have shorter shelf life. And it’s really inconsistent, too. It’s a bit frustrating trying to figure it all out. None of us like paying good money for clay that goes bad in a year. Other packages are just fine, though. Who knows.

  19. Hi Ginger,
    great article! Just one remark – where do you get the info that FIMO changes the sizes back to 2 oz in the professional line? This would be news to me. It’s true that FIMO soft and the Effect line still have the 2 oz packaging. Also the now discontinued FIMO Classic.
    Oh, another thing. FIMO professional is not a newly formulated clay. It’s just the renamed Classic with the new true colors added to the color range. There was no formulation change in the clay base. All that’s new is that 5 colors are made with pure pigments and all the colors now come in 3oz packages.

    have a great week
    Bettina

    1. Hi Bettina, I first heard about the packaging size change (back to 2oz) last fall, and now I see that the photos in their advertisements show 2 oz blocks. The US website reflects a 2oz package. Perhaps this isn’t also happening in Europe? I’ve heard both about the formulation of Fimo Pro, both that it hasn’t changed, and that it has. I did read somewhere in Staedtler’s marketing material (darned if I remember where) that there are minor changes in the formula, but that it’s essentially very similar.

      1. You’re right. They really change the package size but only for the US martket. Yiou guys didn’t seem to be happy with the big sizes 😉 I’m happy that we will keep the 3oz packages, though.
        🙂

  20. This is great information. Wish I knew about it a long time ago. Thank you so much for sharing your hare earned knowledge.

  21. Jo Roseborough

    Thank you for the review. I appreciate your in depth experience with the different clays. Very helpful.

    1. It’s funny how they’re all just the same thing…polymer clay. But each has such different characteristics. Hard to believe there’s so much variation.

  22. Great summary. I appreciate the information written so clearly and cleanly. Wonderful post! Thanks, Ginger!

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