Hobby Lobby Crafter’s Collection Craft Polymer Clay

In March of 2022, Hobby Lobby released two new lines of polymer clay as part of their private-label Crafter’s Collection brand. In this article, I’m exploring one of the two lines of clay. Here is a review of the Hobby Lobby Crafter’s Collection Craft Polymer Clay. Gee, that’s a mouthful. They were NOT thinking when they named this stuff. How will we all refer to it? That’s too hard to type. Maybe HLCC Craft? This is going to be annoying on social media. Maybe HL Craft? Yeah, that sounds good. That’s what I call it.

What is HL Craft Polymer Clay?

Hobby Lobby’s Crafter’s Collection polymer clay comes in two variations. One is a craft version, helpfully labelled “Craft” and the other is a more professional or premium version labelled “Advanced”. You can read about the Advanced version in my review here. It’s not the same clay. 🙂

Two ounce packages of Hobby Lobby Crafter's Collection Craft Polymer Clay.

Hobby Lobby Craft Polymer Clay (aka HL Craft) comes in 2 ounce packages in 21 opaque colors, 3 metallic colors, and 3 glitter colors. There is no translucent, no pearl, or special effects such as glow-in-the-dark. In some stores, you can also find large packages of white in both 2 pound (yes, TWO POUNDS) and 8 ounce. The black also comes in 8 ounce blocks.

A massive feature here is cost. A 2 ounce block retails at $1.49. The huge 2 lb block is only $21.99. And a pro tip… Hobby Lobby rotates its sales, so every third week the clay section will be on sale at 30% off. You can see the prices of the large blocks and multi-packs below.

In addition to the packages of individual colors, this Hobby Lobby polymer clay is available in multi-packs of small bars. In my store, there was a large package of 24 small bars and also three smaller multi-packs (pastel, bright, classic) containing 12 bars each.

In addition to the packages of individual colors, this Hobby Lobby polymer clay is available in multi-packs of small bars. In my store, there was a large package of 24 small bars and also three smaller multi-packs (pastel, bright, classic) containing 12 bars each.

Handling Crafter's Collection Craft Polymer Clay

When this clay came out, there were many social media posts about how soft this stuff is. They’re right. It’s super soft and more than a bit sticky. When you roll it out, it doesn’t feel like a board the way that Cernit Number One and Fimo can. In fact, some colors felt a bit like Cernit Translucent and Cernit Metallic in the way that the clay will flow and droop. That makes this clay frustrating to use if you need for the pieces to hold their shape (such as when you transfer pieces to a baking tray) or if you’re sculpting fine details. This stuff is gooey.

If you have good blade and clay handling skills, you will still be able to make wonderful things with this clay. It’s not THAT soft. But if you’re still learning to work neatly, this clay is going to push you over the edge. Skip it until you’re up for it. For the same reason, I don’t recommend this clay for children. It will make them hate clay and doubt themselves.

HOWEVER… please be aware that it is super fresh. Not all colors were gooey, and I have a STRONG suspicion that this clay will age poorly and become quite crumbly and hard with time (more on that later). Don’t assume that a clay will always be the same as it is right now. Polymer clay ages with time. (More on that here and here.)

Can You Leach It?

Normally, I like to leach my super fresh polymer clay to make a better working texture. That removes the oils from the clay. But when I leached HL Craft, I wasn’t impressed with the result. Taking out the oils didn’t reduce the stickiness. Instead, it made the unbaked clay hold together poorly and made it quite hard to roll out smoothly. It was an odd combination of being too soft and crumbly as the same time. Weird.

 

If the clay you have is too soft to use, I recommend just hanging on to it. It will firm up. You can also mix it with harder clay, any brand. I found that it works beautifully as a clay softener! These bits of old cane ends were hard as a rock. I mixed 50/50 with white HL Craft and mixed with my hands. Five minutes later of rolling and twisting and it was ready for the pasta machine. Easy and no crumbs.

Hobby Lobby's Crafter's Collection Craft polymer clay used as a clay softener

Smell and Feel

Those of us who have been around many brands of polymer clay know that each one has its own smell, feel, and way of acting. This HL Craft clay does have a quite distinctive smell and I noticed it often as I was working with it. I’d say that it smells like burned rubber mixed with crayon. Yes, it does diminish after the clay sits out a bit. You can still detect that same odor after its baked, though I don’t think it will be strong enough to annoy a customer.
 
It has a tacky surface feel very much like Fimo and Cernit Number One can have. It doesn’t feel dry like Premo or Souffle. The clay color comes off on your hands and tools as you work with it. You will need to wipe your hands and tools between colors.
baby wipe with yellow residue from wiping hands after using Hobby Lobby's new polymer clay

Can You Cane With Hobby Lobby Crafter’s Collection Craft Clay?

That’s a loaded question. You can cane with cookie dough. A better question is, “Does this brand of polymer clay give caners a new choice for an optimal caning clay?”
 
Nope. This is too soft for detailed pictorial or precise kaleidoscope canes. Yes, of course you can make perfectly presentable bullseye, jellyroll, and freeform canes. But you will struggle to get neat, crisp, distortion-free cane reduction. Want some quick caned elements? Sure. Go for it. But caners will not be flocking to snap this stuff up.
Cane made with Crafter's Collection Craft polymer clay

What About Fingerprints?

This is not a sculpting clay because it’s way too soft to hold details. So you won’t be pressing your fingers into this (such as making chibis or small dragon charms). Use other clays for that!
 
Does it get fingerprints easily, like when you’re making earrings? Honestly? Fingerprints in your clay is a sign of not yet knowing how to handle your clay. Yes, this (and all other brands of clay) will get fingerprints if you press your fingertips into it. But even super soft clay like this won’t show fingerprints if you don’t make them. Watch a pro work sometime and you’ll see that we handle our clay in a very specific way to prevent them from happening.  (I need to make a video about this, don’t I?)
 

What About Bubbles?

This is another common question people have had about this clay. Bubbles aren’t caused by the clay brand, however. Bubbles are caused by people. (Sorry. I know you didn’t want to hear that.) This gets bubbles just like any clay does when the user traps bubbles. But I didn’t find it particularly difficult to use and it wasn’t sticking to the pasta machine the way that Premo does. No polymer acne on this. (If you’re struggling with bubbles in your clay, your clay is likely too soft or your baking needs to be addressed.)

Colors of HL Craft Clay

Polymer clay artists do love color! So it’s not a surprise that more people wanted to know about the colors of this clay than any other feature. It comes in a nice range of 21 craft-forward colors and 6 special colors. My local store didn’t have all of the colors, so I can’t show you them all in a photo. Here are the 21 colors, taken from their website.

This is a good range of colors and you should be able to mix any color from these. The cream, sandy beach, and brown are definitely designed to work well to create a variety of skin tones.
 
The multi-packs of small bars contain colors that are not available in the full-sized bars.
 

What about CMY mixing primaries?

Oh, I’m glad you asked! The blue is an excellent “cyan” that is hued very closely to Premo’s Cobalt Blue. The Yellow is a neutral yellow that works well to create all hues. And the wine is, well, it’s adequate for most people’s needs but way too putty-toned and dark for the discriminating colorist. This entire range of colors is a bit desaturated and doesn’t have any brilliant, clear, pure hues. Everything seems to have a bit of beige in it. I suspect that’s down to one of base fillers used for this clay. Here are the Blue, the Wine, and the Yellow combined in Joan Tayler’s Colour Logic cards.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/1014701195/mix-colour-accurately-without-waste

Notice in particular the pasty reds and the murky purples. This set of colors are better than many other brands out there for CMY mixing (Souffle in particular), but if you are a colorist, this particular line isn’t going to be your jam.

What about Metallics and Effects?

Yes, there are 6 “metallic” colors. In reality, there are three metallic colors and three glitter colors. You can see them here.

They look pretty small and dull there, right? Yeah. That’s just it. They are. Very unimpressive metallics! They’re not very sparkly or bright. They’re not even as nice as a metallic crayon. While you CAN do mica shift with these metallics, the effect is not impressive.

Comparison of raw and baked metallic HL Craft polymer clay in gold color
Unbaked (left) and baked (right) HL Craft in "Shimmering Gold" with a mica shift effect. No, there is no real sparkle or shimmer here.

And so what about the glitter clays? These clays have solid color with an iridescent glitter lightly sprinkled through it. There is white, pink, and blue. They darken a bit during baking and don’t really show much glitter effect because the clay isn’t translucent enough for the sparkle to show through the clay. The clay covers the glitter so the effect is more of a speckle than a sparkle.

HL Craft glitter clay blue before and after baking
HL Craft clay in blue glitter, before (left) and after baking. These fun cutters are from Hobbyrian. I love the wide stripes!

HL Craft Clay after Baking

Hobby Lobby’s Crafter’s Collection Craft Polymer Clay (aka HL Craft Clay) bakes at 275 F for 15 minutes. That’s the same temperature as Sculpey’s products, btw. While 15 minutes is long enough if your oven is well-behaved, you will absolutely want to check the flexibility to see if the clay is baked long enough. If your oven is incorrect or if you’re baking on or between tiles, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

Appearance After Baking

After baking, the HL Craft clay is very, very matte with no shine. On social media, a big deal was made of the fact that this clay scratches easily and turns white when flexed. Is that true? Yes, it is. However, lots of clays do that. If you’re using dark colors, you’ll probably want to finish the clay with a surface technique, resin, or varnish if this is going to bother you. As for turning white when flexed, don’t do that! You shouldn’t be bending all your pieces in half! You should only bend a test piece while figuring out your baking process. More on that here.

Is it Flexible and Strong?

Speaking of bending, is this clay brittle like Sculpey III? No, it’s not. After baking, this clay is quite bendy and “floppy”. Thin pieces will feel very much like vinyl. It is less stiff than Kato, Fimo, Premo, Souffle. It’s on par with Papa’s Clay in stiffness. This means earring pieces will feel soft and bendable unless they are quite thick.

comparing the stiffness of various brands of polymer clay

This is also a very strong brand of polymer clay with no sign of brittleness, even when baked for only 15 minutes. Here I’m taking a strip, made with #5 setting on my Atlas pasta machine, and twisting it. No damage.

Pieces of this clay were quite difficult to break by bending. Only when the piece was repeatedly flexed, it would begin to tear. It did not snap in two.

twisting a thin strip of HL Craft polymer clay

What about mixing with other brands? Does adding HL Craft clay to other brands make them stronger? Well, anytime you mix brands of clay, you’ll get a blend of the characteristics. So adding this to Sculpey III makes it less brittle, yes. But you’d probably need to bake it longer than 15 minutes to get much flexibility from a Sculpey III 50/50 mix. Adding other brands DID reduce the white scratches on the surface, however. Here’s what I found:

HL Craft test tiles mixed with other brands
Each tile is same thickness and sized, baked together at 275F for 30 minutes.

Color Change During Baking

It’s so annoying when you make something and the color darkens a lot during baking. This clay DOES have some color change during baking but not much. This is likely due to the fact there is little translucency in any of the colors.
Hobby Lobby Crafter's Collection Craft polymer clay before and after baking to test for color change.
Of each pair, the left is unbaked and the right is baked.

Sanding and Buffing HL Craft Clay

What happens when you try to sand and buff this clay to a high shine. Does it work well? Meh.
natasha bead made with Hobby Lobby's Craft Clay

I had a hard time getting a super glossy shine on this clay. Don’t get me wrong, it sands easily. But when it comes to the buffing step, the clay’s still sort of dull. There appears to be fine pits in the surface of the clay, which tells me the fillers in the clay might be breaking out, making the surface of the clay hard to make perfectly smooth.

Yes, the above video shows just polymer clay. There is no resin. That’s just from sanding and buffing. If you haven’t yet learned this valuable skill, you can pick it up from my Sanding and Buffing course.

Cernit Pearl mica shift skinner blend earring pieces

Includes Mica Shift Tutorial

Want a flawless finish?

Sanding and Buffing POlymer Clay

Tired of resin? Not getting a great result with sanding (so far)? This HUGE 120 page guide provides every detail, every step, and will show you how to get flawless, glassy, shiny polymer clay artwork.

Cernit Pearl mica shift skinner blend earring pieces

Includes Mica Shift Tutorial

Want a flawless finish?

Sanding and buffing polymer clay

Tired of resin? Not getting a great result with sanding (so far)? This HUGE 120 page guide provides every detail, every step, and will show you how to get flawless, glassy, shiny polymer clay artwork.

Is HL Craft Similar to Another Brand?

Hobby Lobby does not manufacture their own products. When big companies put products under their private label, they often are buying the product from a well-known company that specializes in that thing. And sometimes they just order it from a factory in China. So is this Hobby Lobby clay just another brand repackaged?
 
This is a huge can of worms. When I committed to writing this article, I thought it would be a few tests and a quick write-up. But no. There are rabbit holes on this. Huge deep ones. One article turned to four or five. Readers began to pester me about why I wasn’t done with the article yet (please don’t do that). There’s a lot to it.
 
Oooooookay.
 
Firstly, people have already noted that it’s an awful lot like Craftsmart, which is the private label brand from Michaels (Hobby Lobby’s major competitor). So that meant I needed to check out Craftsmart. But wouldn’t you know…it’s not that simple either. They have once again redone their clay line and there are three different clays at the store right now. I didn’t have time to check that out fully, but I’ve explained the mess here.
 

Yes…it’s Craftsmart Clay

But not so fast. Six months ago, there were two varieties of Craftsmart. Regular (white label) and Premium (black label). But they’ve eliminated the black label and brought in several multipacks of small 1.5 ounce bars. (Sound familiar?) I’ll let you be the judge.
Craftsmart multipack vs Hobby Lobby multipack of polymer clay
On the left is Craftsmart, on the right is Hobby Lobby's Crafter's Collection multipack. Are they the same clay? You decide.
And when I open those identically marked and colored little packages of clay…the clay feels the same. So. You be the judge.
 
Of course, nobody is going to confirm this. But I can unequivocally say that Hobby Lobby’s Crafter’s Collection Craft Polymer Clay is absolutely consistent with Craftsmart’s clay in the small-bar multipacks.
 
(That being said, I’m not at all sure that the white label Craftsmart clay is the same. I haven’t had time to test that. That will come later.)
 

But Look at Those Bars — FIMO??

Users of Fimo took one look at the way those small bars are packaged and said, “Hm. That looks like Fimo.” Ah, yes, it does. But the plot thickens. Check out the packaging of the Hobby Lobby Crafter’s Collection Polymer Clay.

The Hobby Lobby clay AND the Craftsmart clays are made in Germany. From the font on the little label on the back to the unique overlapping closure specific to FIMO, these two packages have much in common.  Note the black bar in the lower left of the back label. Note the black mark on the lower right. Note the width and score mark of the block of clay. Note the weird line of hashmarks on the plastic where you open the bar. Yup, I’d say these two packages are from the same company. Do I have proof? No. But if it quacks like a duck…

Is HL Craft the Same as Fimo?

I tried to figure this out, but it’s quite difficult to do, believe it or not. They don’t smell exactly the same. And it’s really quite difficult to compare the texture of super fresh clay with old clay. And go ahead…try finding fresh Fimo right now. 🙂 Water does not dissolve the Hobby Lobby clays. So it’s not exactly 100% Fimo.

But I think it’s close. Is it Fimo Soft? No, not exactly. There are differences in density, weight, odor, performance, and the colors are different. It’s also not Fimo Kids. But it might be close.

Conclusion and Recommendation

So, what’s the bottom line? Should you buy this clay? What is my recommendation? Well…

You know what I’m gonna say. It depends.

It depends on what you need your clay to do. If you are a caner, a colorist, a sculptor, or new clayer who isn’t yet working neatly, this is not your clay. It’s just not up to the challenge. Use Cernit. And if you need translucent, metallics, or any special effects, this is also not your clay.

But if you need to bulk up a dwindling supply of better clay? This will mix in just fine. It’s a good softener for crumbly clay of any brand. This is a “good enough” clay. A workhorse clay. And you cannot beat the price.

Be aware that dark colors will need a finish of some sort. Sanding and buffing should work just fine for that.

I do have one huge caveat, however. If this is a Fimo product or if it’s similar to the clay that’s made up Craftsmart’s brand in the past, this clay will get very hard and age badly becoming (reversibly) hard and crumbly. If that’s the case, you will not want to stock up on this clay. Until we know how it ages, don’t buy more than you will use up in a few months. But for now? Head out and pick some up. Give it a try. Let me know what you think.

Try the Advanced Version

Remember, there are TWO new clays from Hobby Lobby. This article is a review of the CRAFT version. But there is also an ADVANCED version. You can read my review of it here.

2 thoughts on “Hobby Lobby Crafter’s Collection Craft Polymer Clay”

  1. I used this clay last week, noticed it at my local HL. I made mushrooms from it. I am primarily a sculptor.
    In smell I did not think it smelled as bad as craftsmart from Michaels. It does have a smell but it’s not as heavy lol.
    As for the mushrooms I made, I did notice it’s a softer clay and like other softer clay, they wilted a little in the oven if it’s a thicker or thinner piece.
    The mushrooms came out pretty though. I like the muted tones for them, reminds me of vintage styles. I wasn’t frustrated with the simple mushrooms sculpt but would not use it for heavily detailed work. I liked it in general and plan to use it more and see what happens.
    This is not what I’d recommend to do big projects for sculpting with but little pie es like charms that aren’t super detailed, mushrooms, and the like I do think it will work for if you have a light touch.
    Thank you for taking the time to do these reviews.

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