Michaels is a large retail craft chain in the US and southern Canada. Their private label line of generic craft supplies is called Craft Smart (mostly written as Craftsmart by those on social media and in internet searches, so I’m writing it both ways in this article). Included in that line of generic products is Craftsmart Polymer Clay from Michaels. This is just a preliminary, overview article that I’m writing for my reviews of the related Hobby Lobby Crafter’s Collection polymer clays here and here. I’ll fill in more information once I know more.
Way back in 2009, Michaels came out with a private label brand of clay for their Craftsmart private-label craft supplies line. Reviews from Cindy Lietz and The CraftyGoat weren’t particularly complimentary about this new line of clay. Both stated that it was likely made by Sculpey and that it resembled Sculpey’s way-too-soft and very brittle Bake Shop clay. I have a bar from that vintage and the package certainly looks like it was from Sculpey.
I think this early association with a brittle, way-too-soft, and frankly cheap type of polymer clay gave Craftsmart Polymer Clay a terrible reputation that still stands today. It’s often mentioned in the same breath with Sculpey III, another much-maligned clay line from Polyform/Sculpey. But I’m not sure that harsh view is still warranted.
Craftsmart Polymer Clay Changed
Companies seldom reveal what company they buy their private-label products. I am pretty sure that Craft Smart changed suppliers and formulas several times. I know that in 2017, Michaels split the line and started carrying TWO types of polymer clay. They had a basic white label and a premium black label of clay.
Each time I’ve been to Michaels since then, up to and including the autumn of 2021, I found these two lines of clay: the white label regular Craft Smart and the black label premium Craft Smart polymer clay.
But then in March 2022, Hobby Lobby came out with their Crafter’s Collection polymer clay tools and clay. And I wanted to explore the suspicions that these clays are similar. So I went to Michaels and found that they no longer have the Craftsmart black label clay.
Craftsmart Polymer Clay — Currently, March 2022
My Michaels currently has three types of Craft Smart polymer clay. Yes, they still have the white label polymer clay.
In fact, it looks like the label will change again shortly. I did see some bars with a newer label.
But there’s more. There are also multipacks. I found several assortments of 12 bar multipacks of small 1.5 ounce bars.
You wanna know something super weird about these multipacks of Michaels polymer clay? They’re nearly identical to the multipacks of Hobby Lobby’s new Crafter’s Collection polymer clay. Right down to the colors and the markings on the bars inside.
And there’s more confusion. There’s another type of multipack of Michaels Craftsmart polymer clay. There are two boxes of 12 bars labeled as “soft”. Since the multipacks above are pretty flipping soft (at least when they’re fresh like right now), that is a bit of a confusing point. Will those bars stay soft? What ARE they? Are they similar to the black label? The white label? Something totally different?
I will explore these later. But there’s one more point that I want to show you. Take a look at the packages of this Soft Craft Smart oven bake clay from Michaels. Notice how it looks very familiar. Yes, it appears to be made by (or at least by the same packaging factory) as Fimo by Staedtler.
I’ve written more about this packaging similarity in my review of Hobby Lobby’s Crafter’s Collection polymer clay, here. You see, both the Hobby Lobby and the Michaels private label polymer clays use the same packaging as Fimo from Staedtler. Oh, and they’re all made in Germany, too.
And finally… is Craftsmart polymer clay from Michaels any good? I haven’t yet made sense of the current white label or soft lines of clay. But the small-bar multipacks are identical to the Hobby Lobby Craft (HL Craft) polymer clay and I’ve reviewed it thoroughly here. It’s my hope that the white label and soft varieties are even better. Stay tuned.
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