PYM II Polymer Clay Spray Sealer

NOTE: PYM II is no longer being manufactured and I know of no sources anywhere in the world. I’m leaving this article up for archive purposes. 

What polymer clay spray sealer is available? It’s a question we often see asked on polymer clay forums and groups. Polymer clay itself is durable and waterproof and does not need a varnish or sealer. But if you have added a surface embellishment such as mica powder or chalk pastels, or used a technique such as crackled metal leaf, you will need to seal the surface to make sure that your special treatments don’t become damaged by the elements.

Liquid sealers such as Varathane or acrylic varnish are commonly used to seal polymer clay. But in some cases these varnishes don’t give satisfactory results. Mica powders can be rubbed off or smeared by the addition of varnish. And designs made with alcohol inks on the surface of baked polymer clay will run and bleed when painted over with liquid sealers.

Another problem occurs when you need to seal a highly textured surface. Sometimes liquid sealers will puddle in the texture and that can look gloppy and ugly. Wouldn’t it be great to have a spray varnish? But you’ve probably heard the warnings: Don’t use spray paints and sealers with polymer clay! And that warning is almost always correct. But there is at least one product on the market that is a spray sealer specially designed to be safe for polymer clay. It’s called PYM II. Note: Helmar Crystal Kote is another one.

PYM II is now available at Happy Things in the Netherlands, shipping to all of the EU.

Characteristics of PYM II Polymer Clay Spray Sealer

Okay, that’s an odd name, right?

It stands for Preserve Your Memories and I’m guessing it’s a second version they made (though there is no PYM I). It’s marketed as a spray sealant or coating that is used to preserve, seal, and protect things that hold memories for you such as photographs, newspaper clippings, children’s artwork, and even things like autographs. It’s also used as a fixative to keep glitter, charcoal, pastels, and mica powders from rubbing off or smearing.

PYM II comes in a 12 ounce aerosol can and a 6 ounce finger pump spray can. According to the company’s website, PYM II is water resistant, has UV blocking ability, is non-yellowing, is acid-free, and is compatible with many materials including polymer clay. Yes, you read that right. PYM II is a spray sealer that is safe for polymer clay! I’ll show you some results in a bit, but for now here’s my observations of PYM II acrylic sealer spray.

Does it Smell?

Just like any aerosol spray, you really do need to use this spray outdoors. Or at least in your garage. Although it does not have the strong solvent smell that spray paint has, you don’t really want any aerosol spray to be floating around in your house. It does have volatile compounds that aren’t good for you, so ventilation is a must. PYM II does have a fairly mild, but distinct fragrance that’s not a whole lot worse than hair spray. The smell dissipates very quickly and items that you spray with PYM II won’t have a lingering smell beyond a few hours.

How Glossy is it?

PYM II is a not really a gloss sealer spray, but it will give a slight sheen to items that it’s sprayed on. Items that are textured will remain textured. And a light coating of spray on a piece of copy paper, after drying, will look nearly the same as the uncoated paper. Thicker and multiple coats will build up, though, and given enough coats you can get a fairly glossy finish. But this is not a thick lacquer and it’s important to note that the texture of the item you are spraying will remain.

In the picture below, black Premo polymer clay was first baked and then stamped with various colors of Inka Gold. Then the left half of the sheet was sprayed with two coats of PYM II. As you can see, the sealer makes the color richer and brighter and brings out the sparkle in the Inka Gold. You can also see that it has a slight sheen. But it’s not truly glossy. Note that you can see the texture of the clay and of the stamped Inka Gold through the sealer.

PYM II polymer clay spray sealer is slightly glossy and works to seal water soluble paints such as Inka Gold.
A sheet of Premo was stamped with Inka Gold and then the left half was sealed with PYM II. Note the richer colors and the slight sheen of the coated side.

If you need a truly matte spray varnish, or one that is invisible on your finished piece, I recommend Helmar Crystal Kote Matte.

How Fast Does it Dry?

The manufacturer states that PYM II dries in about two minutes. I agree with that. I’ve used a lot of spray paint over the years and I expected this to act the same. But it truly dries almost instantly.

In fact, it acts much more like hair spray than spray paint. A light coating dries fast enough that I can spray one side of a piece of paper, flip it over, and spray the other side right away. A heavier coating (where you make it wet) will take longer, but it will be dry before you know it. It’s not worth going back in the house. Just hang out for a couple of minutes and then flip it over. But it does take 24 hours for the sealer to fully cure and harden.

How Durable is it?

It just doesn’t seem that a couple of light coats of a spray would give a durable finish. But it does. It’s flexible and does not crack off. I have some VerDay coated pieces that I sprayed with several fairly heavy coats of PYM II and I have to scratch pretty aggressively to damage the coating with my fingernail. I wouldn’t use it in high stress areas where one component rubs against another, but it will be quite durable in everyday use, even for beads or jewelry components.

Is PYM II Waterproof?

PYM II is water resistant. That means that after sealing with PYM II, you can get things wet but they won’t absorb the water. But this spray is not intended to fully waterproof an item and if submerged long enough I’m sure your item would be damaged by water.

This video by the manufacturer shows how well PYM II waterproofs newspaper. If you coat newspaper with PYM II and then dip it in water, the paper will not absorb water and become soggy. I find this to be amazing.

Tests with PYM II on Polymer Clay

I’m very happy with using Varathane as a finish for most of my polymer clay creations. But there are two instances when Varathane doesn’t work well for me. One is when sealing alcohol inks that are used to decorate the surface of baked polymer clay.  And the other is when I use mica powder on textured surfaces, such as when making these Mica Leaf Pendants.

You can seal mica powders on polymer clay with the spray sealer PYM II.
This polymer clay Mica Leaf Pendant is sealed with PYM II.

Sealing Alcohol Inks on Polymer Clay with PYM II

Alcohol inks are great for coloring unbaked translucent polymer clay. And once baked, the colors are stable. But if you use alcohol ink on the surface of baked clay, the colors can fade. Alcohol inks are soluble in alcohol, so basic cleaning solutions like Windex will cause surface alcohol ink to run and bleed. Hair spray, insect repellent, and even some lotions can cause alcohol inks to run.

If you try to seal your piece with Varathane or acrylic varnish, that can also cause the alcohol inks to run. I have heard that PYM II will work for this. I’ve also heard that you can use PYM II to keep adjacent colors of alcohol ink from running together and getting a dark interface line. So I tried it out.

I baked a sheet of white Premo polymer clay and then used Q-tips to apply a stripe of alcohol ink, starting with the blue at the top. I let each color dry before I used the next color. You can see this on the top half of the clay sheet in the picture. Starting with the red stripe and then going down (the bottom half of the picture), I sprayed the sheet with PYM II between each color of alcohol ink.

You’ll notice that on the top half of the sheet, each color dissolves the previous color and runs into it (which is typical behavior of alcohol ink). But the bottom half of the sheet, which was sprayed with PYM II between each color, does not dissolve the previous color and does not blend together. (Thanks to Boni for the wonderful idea!)

Alcohol Inks stay separated better when sealed between colors with PYM II.
This is a sheet of white Premo striped with alcohol ink. The top half was done without sealing between colors. The bottom half of the sheet was sealed with PYM II between each color, preventing them from mixing.

But you’ll also notice, if you look closely at that top blue stripe, the PYM II spray itself dissolved the alcohol ink a bit. Maybe I wasn’t waiting long enough between coats and the ink hadn’t dried fully. I’m not sure. And also notice that the alcohol inks laid down on top of the PYM II coating didn’t spread out as smoothly. Again, that might be due to it being freshly sprayed. If I’d waited several days between coats, that might have changed things.

I do know that fully cured PYM II is definitely resistant to alcohol, though. In one of their videos, the manufacturer shows writing on coated photograph with a Sharpie and then erasing it with rubbing alcohol. I tried this on a piece that I coated several months ago and it works! On fully cured PYM II, you can write with Sharpie and then erase it with alcohol without damaging the finish!!

Sealing Mica Powders on Polymer Clay with PYM II

Mica powders, such as Pearl-Ex or Perfect Pearls are wonderful on the surface of polymer clay. If you use a brush to apply mica powders to raw polymer clay, the mica will adhere to the clay during baking. But if you’re making jewelry, you need to seal it or the excess mica will rub off on you or your clothes. This is true to a certain extent with chalk pastels, too.  PYM II is a great fixative for charcoal and pastel drawings on paper and it’s also a great sealer for mica powders on polymer clay. It makes the colors brighter and more rich as well as fixing them in place.

To test this, I textured a sheet of black Premo polymer clay with a texture sheet and then brushed it with Magenta Pearl-Ex. After baking, I blew on it to remove the loose excess powder. I sealed the right side of the sheet with two coats of PYM II. Then I used baby wipes to rub each side to see how much color would come off.

Note that the PYM II did make the colors more rich and actually fixed the surface excess powder to the clay, changing its color slightly.

That’s why the right side is darker. On the left side there is actually quite a bit of loose powder in the recesses of the texture. And notice that you can easily rub off Pearl-Ex from the uncoated side, but the side coated with PYM II had very little color rub off. Keep in mind, both sides of this sheet were identical until I sprayed the right side with PYM II. It’s the only difference between the two.

PYM II spray coating works well to stabilize and seal mica powder such as Pearl-Ex on polymer clay.
Textured black Premo was coated with Pearl-Ex and then baked. The right half was sealed with PYM II. Then both sides were scrubbed with a baby wipe. Very little color came off the sealed side.

So yes, PYM II does a fantastic job of sealing mica powders on polymer clay. It especially works well for highly textured surfaces which would be difficult to seal with a liquid varnish or sealer such as Varathane.

Where to Buy PYM II

PYM II’s manufacturer, Doug and Donna Shepherd of Precision Blue, are retiring and the transition to a new owner has been problematic. It is no longer being manufactured.

Alternatives to PYM II

I have been actively seeking more alternatives and have bought and tried about 17 other spray sealers. To date, no other product works the same, and the vast majority of these spray sealers remain sticky on polymer clay. Please do not use Krylon spray varnishes or other hardware store brands. The craft store or hardware guy will tell you it is fine, but it is not.

Also, please be aware that a spray will work well on one clay and not on another, so take recommendation you get from Facebook groups with a grain of salt. You can read about my tests here. I’ve tested even more since writing this article, and I’m still going!

There are many brush-on varnishes that will work. Have a look at the ones I recommend in my Testing Sealers article. If you need to seal mica powders such as Pearl Ex, I do like using Final Coat or Christi Friesen’s Swellegant Sealer.

How I’ve Used PYM II

  • I used it to seal patinas that I created with VerDay patina paints. You could undoubtedly use it for Swellegant in the same way
  • Sealing Pearl Ex test swatches
  • Sealing chalk pastels on polymer clay
  • Sealing mica powders on scrapbooking mixed media papers
  • Coating ink-jet printed images before covering with resin

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103 thoughts on “PYM II Polymer Clay Spray Sealer”

  1. Pingback: Tutorial on How to Make Polymer Clay Goddess Beads | karenascofield

  2. I know I’m a little late to the party but just wanted to comment that I love PYM; however, mine smells atrocious! I sprayed my items outdoors at a recent retreat and when I came back in everyone could smell it and it was awful. I had to leave the piece outside for quite a period of time to get rid of the smell. But maybe they have changed the formulation since I bought mine. I sure hope so!! It works great, but, oh, that smell!!

    1. I suppose that the smell of sprays like this is akin to perfume. What smells fine to one person is atrocious to another. I really don’t mind the smell that much and find that it disappears within a couple days. Any sealer…absolutely any of them…will have some smell. And if that smell happens to get you in the throat, then you’re going to hate using that product. I have to be careful when writing because words can’t describe individual experience. But the smell of PYM, which is certainly unique, isn’t eye-watering like ammonia or vomitous like rotten eggs, or pungent like paint thinner. I don’t want to mislead people, making them think it’s going to cause the Health and Safety people to come shut down your street, LOL!!

  3. hi, i make sculptures that a lot of people want to put on their garden, is it possible that with this spray the colors i apply or paint on them will endure longer? I also have Varathane but im not sure how durable it is for exterior sculptures made with polymer clay. thank you,

    1. I don’t really know how long PYM II will last in an outdoor environment. My gut feeling is that the finish will degrade within a couple of years, or less. I think Varathane would hold up better. But the best thing would be to use no finish at all. If you can make your designs out of pure polymer clay, they should hold up for many years. Polymer clay is a plastic and as such is quite weatherproof. I have some thing that have been outside for 10 years and the finish is all flaked off, but the clay itself is just fine.

  4. Great review Ginger, so frustrating though….we are so far behind with product availability here in the UK (took your advice though and contacted Pips on Feb… double thanks!)

    1. It looks like the problem is the importation process. They need someone who can both export from the US and import into the UK. A retailer in the UK needs to step up to the plate!

  5. I’ve used PYM11 for a while now. Great review – just 3 things to add…

    Read Stonehouse Studios blog for info on baking PYM – that’s where I first saw PYM used. Her work is lovely.
    It stinks, so I usually spray it into a small container, and then brush it on. For 2 reasons really, the smell and better placement….I find the spray can to be wasteful….
    I find the finish too shiny for my liking, but this can be modified by brushing it on, and then using Ren wax on top when layers are completed, which takes down the shine a little….

    1. I can’t thank you enough for this, Claire. You’ve solved a mystery for me about how to get an effect that I wanted. Ren wax doesn’t work on top of acrylic varnish. It peels it right up. But it works great on PYM. I think I’m going to be using it more and more. And thanks for the info about Betsy’s blog. I’m going right over now to look for it.

      1. I have also used Diamond Varathane a lot, and have had no trouble using Ren Wax on top….if I may enquire – what do you mean ‘it peels right up’? I am curious….

        1. Okay, now you’ve got me doubting myself. When I tried using wax on top of Varathane, buffing made it peel off like latex. In fact, I seem to have a lot of trouble with Varathane getting “diamond hard” and even several months later it’s kind of rubbery and I can still peel it up with my fingernail, especially when it’s used over mica powder or wax pencils. I know you’re doing something similar, that’s why I was glad to see that PYM was your solution. But Varathane works, too? Hmm…the plot thickens…

          1. Perhaps the wax pencils are not compatible – wax would produce a ‘floating’ layer,I’m guessing. ( are these NeoColor wax pencils?). I do sometimes use Mica powder but it is always put on uncured polymer and fairly well worked into the surface. I have used thinned (slightly) layers of Varathane, applied onto heated finished pieces, then apply the wax when cool and buff. Also, lately, I’ve been going back to liquid polymer, then Ren wax…..there are many solutions, I think. It’s what works best with whatever layers are on the surface, and trying to minimize the number of products used post curing, to lessen the possibility of a bad interaction. Did you apply the wax crayons after curing your base polymer? I’m curious too, as I’m teaching a couple of classes this year about surface finishes – all info is good!

          2. I’m curious and Little confused… I thought the varathane was a good sealer, but you’re saying it stays rubbery on the clay, or just when used over these other treatments? I’m newish to polymer clay and though I’ve read a lot (aLOT) of articles, blogs, watched free videos and paid classes, I’m still unsure. I’ve decided to start now by sealing everything that needs it with pym first and then add varathane if I want gloss… But I thought I understood from another post that you also recommended the spray varathane?

            So confusing! 🙂 but fun! Thanks for all you do!

            ~Katy Alexis

  6. I just ordered some and it came lickedy-split! I think POLY CLAY PLAY shipped it out the very same day!

    1. That’s fantastic! Trish is awesome. By the way, I just found out that she’ll be carrying polyform products soon. Yay, Premo!!

      1. I have no idea. I’ve never used it (and actually had never heard of it). Someday I’d love to test them all side by side but the idea of the cost of buying all those cans makes my eyes bulge out, LOL! Actually, Plaid does put out one called Patricia Nimrock’s Clear Acrylic Sealer that was safe once upon a time. I have no idea if the formula is the same as it used to be, though. Sadly, another one for the test pile.

  7. Great review of a great product! We usually advise using a light coat and letting it dry thoroughly and then adding more coats. It can be sanded and buffed to a glass like sheen if you want that. We sell real gold leaf in several karats and we recommend using PYM II to protect it on a surface.
    We carry it at Filigree & More in Atlanta, but we are always willing to deliver it to any retreats that we attend. We try to let people know where we will be by posting on the Creative Journey blog or in our newsletters.
    We are also happy to help guilds make a bulk order.
    Thanks for letting people know we exist! We appreciate your support!

    1. Thanks for the info, Sue. I’m always happy to recommend good suppliers and will continue to do so! It’s wonderful that you’re able to work with people to help them get the materials they need.

  8. Ginger, Thanks so much for this in depth discussion of PYM II! Your reviews combine your unique perspective as both scientist and poly clay artist and are invariably well researched, detailed, educational, interesting and well written. I use PYM II to seal and protect Unison brand artist’s pastels (chalks) that have been ground into a powder and then rubbed into poly clay. Because I prefer a true matte finish for the poly clay flower petals I use it on, once the PYM II is dry I use very fine steel wool to take off just a tiny bit of the gloss. I read Katheryn’s post above with interest and I’m going to experiment with rubbing the pieces with denim to knock down the shine.

    1. Oh Anita, thank you so much for being such a great fan and supporter. You always make me feel so darned good. I’m glad to know that you can use steel wool to knock back the shine a bit. It makes sense and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try it!

  9. Thanks so much, Ginger! I’ve been quite frustrated by having my lovely mica powder effects smeared after applying a finish. It’s nice to know there’s a solution out there. 🙂

    1. I know. And then you end up with mica on your brush and that gets back in your varathane, too. I’ve tried everything and this stuff just works!

  10. Thanks for posting about this product! I’m actually interested in it for its use when making paper jewelry more than on polymer – that video with the newspaper is quite amazing.

  11. Rozalynd Mansfield

    Thank you for a highly informative post on Pym II, which I had not heard of before. Your careful testing and documenting of results is very impressive and extremely helpful for deciding how and when to use this.

    1. Oh good, Rozalynd, I’m really glad this helped you find out about this great product. I hope you’re able to buy some. It’s great stuff.

  12. Thanks Ginger, yet another solid and informative post. Love your scientific method. I also like that this product and seal inkjet prints prior to resin, that would be really helpful in some of my altered art. Great job!

    1. I think this stuff would be a boon to anyone doing mixed media. It works for paper AND clay, unlike the other spray sealers. I was at Hobby Lobby yesterday and there was this great looking Grumbacher spray sealer on super clearance. It said it was acid free and archival and all, but I know it wouldn’t have worked for polymer clay. I could just tell.

    1. Thanks Barb. I do try to share interesting things. I figure that if I’m learning about something then others will want to know it too.

  13. lynda dunham-watkins

    I’ve used PYMII for several years and continue to appreciate its qualities on my sculptures.

    1. I think you’ll love it. Sometimes the “new” stuff isn’t really all that special. But having a spray fixative for clay is just so handy.

  14. One of the best features of PYM II is that unlike other spray sealants (such as krylon), a piece sprayed with it can be baked!!! Credit for this knowledge goes to Christine Damm, by the way. Additional surface colors can be added, manipulated, removed, re-done, whatever, then sprayed and baked again, as many times as needed. Repeated sprayings will of course make for a glossier surface, but I’ve also found that hitting it very lightly with a bit of denim knocks the sheen down just enough.

    1. I had no idea that it could be baked. It is acrylic so that makes sense, but I’d never tried it. What great news and thank you so much for sharing.

  15. Thanks for the list of providers for PYM II. It’s still hard to get, however, and quite expensive with shipping. I went one step further with this and contacted and requested that they look into it for their customers. Love your website and wonderful polymer clay info and ideas. Cheers, Nan

    1. Yes, it is expensive. But a whole can is cheaper than a trip with the family to McD (and it lasts a lot longer), so when I looked at it that way I went ahead and splurged. And not regretted it. That’s awesome that you contacted Amazon. Maybe the folks at Precision Blue will be able to make it happen.

  16. I like it. However, I find it limiting to have to spray outside. sometimes its too cold, or rainy. And I prefer to paint my sealer on, because I am sure it gets all the sides and nooks and crannies on 3-d pieces. That however is my personal preference, i found no reason NOT to use as far as durability. Thanks for a wonderful and thorough review! def sharing this!

    1. Interesting. I’m still finding acrylic varnish to be a bit iffy and I know it’s your fave. It is hard to get outside when the weather’s bad. And I do know that high humidity can cause some cloudiness. Thanks for the share. And good luck with your new release today, too!

  17. I just love reading your blog ! It’s so informative and bursting with so many Polymer clay tips and tricks for both the beginners and non-beginners. I always learn something new from your blog. I’m gonna be keeping my eye out for the PYM II as I think it’ll be a useful item in the near future as I possibly consider selling handrawn prints in the future. Thank you for sharing this great information !! Keep up the great posts !

    1. That’s so great to hear! I do try to share the cool stuff if I can. There’s just so much to say and so little time in the day. I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts. I think PYM would be awesome on your prints.

  18. I use PYM II on all the pieces that I color with Micro pens, ceramic paints, Pearl Ex, or anything I use to add color after the clay is baked. I’ve tried brushing on Varathane after the clay is baked and colored, but invariably some of the colors will run if the coat is the least bit thick, or if the clay item has to stand upward instead of lying down. My go to product for sealing my pieces has been PYM II for quite some time.

    1. Ah, so you’ve had the same trouble that I’ve had. You know, I’ll bet a coating of PYM would seal the colors and you could still use Varathane over it. Have you tried that?

  19. Thank you again for your thorough analyses! This is all very good stuff to know. I must admit, I’m a little disappointed that we still don’t have a sealer for mica powders that allows the original color to stay the same, but other than that, PYM II seems to rock!

    1. It does stay the same color. The only reason it changed on the pink one is there was a lot of excess powder that got sealed in and stuck down when I sprayed it. The same thing would have happened if I had scrubbed it with a toothbrush to remove the loose powder. PYM does make it more intense, but no more than putting varathane on something does. I’m really impressed with it, to be honest.

  20. Hi. I have no problems with matt ACRYLIC clear sprays from the hardware store. The PYM II is fairly expensive… so I use it when I want a light gloss. I have used the Glossy ACRYLIC spray too.

    1. I need to look into this. I know that Patricia Nimrock’s Acrylic Sealer by Plaid used to be clay safe but I’ve not heard it mentioned in many years. And I’ve read of lots of people like you who have had good results with acrylic sprays. Maybe that’s the key. I’d do some tests, but laying down $8/can for a bunch of brands makes me think twice about it. I need sponsors, LOL.

      1. Would this be similar to the fixatives you can buy in art stores to keep charcoal drawings from smearing? I already have some of that so I’m hoping it would work 🙂

        1. It seems to be very different. Some fixatives will work with polymer clay, but most will not. They’ll remain sticky. The best thing would be to try a sample first. But it might take several months for a bad reaction to occur.

      1. Hey, Ginge:

        I’m not sure how I ended up here, but I did and got caught up reading it because at the top of the page, it tells me that PYM II is no longer available (or wasn’t at the time you wrote it, anyway). I’m lucky that I have a can, apparently! I seldom use it; it’s not often that I use a surface treatment that needs to be sealed.

        At any rate, have you any idea whether the problem has been solved? Was the formula sold to someone so it can carry in as the best available sealant for polymer?

        I remember talking with the owner about how it could be sold around the world; she wasn’t amenable to the idea. I’m really hoping she ultimately decided to license the product so that it’s now widely available. Obviously, I don’t need any *now*, but when I run out, I’m gonna want some more because there’s nothing better.

        If you have any idea of its current status, I’m all ears!

        (And as always, thanks very much for all the things you do, and for backing it all up with science, instead a saying stuff like, “Studies show that homeopathy doesn’t work, but in my anecdoctoal experience, it does!” You don’t cause me to knit my brow, thereby getting a wrinkle there, and I appreciate you helping me to keep wrinkle-free!)

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