Translucent Pardo Art Clay

Package of translucent Pardo Professional Art Clay
Have you heard the news? Translucent Pardo Art Clay is the clearest translucent polymer clay on the market. Unlike other translucent polymer clay brands, Pardo trans doesn’t impart and yellowish color as it bakes. It’s also remarkably clear. It is a very soft clay that is somewhat difficult to sculpt because it tends to sag. It’s not mushy, so it’s good for caning, but the clay sort of “flows” a bit and that makes it hard for it to hold a shape in three dimensions.

How translucent Pardo Art Clay cures

Once cured, translucent Pardo Art Clay does feel like plastic, perhaps even more than other polymer clay brands. I found that thin sheets of it did remind me a bit of working with cut pieces of milk carton. Sanding the rough edges off my cured Pardo sheets was a bit futile. It doesn’t sand off cleanly, much in the same way sanding a milk carton would be. It has a very different feel than Premo or Sculpey III. It’s not a bad feel at all though. It’s not rubbery in the way that Kato Polyclay is.

Making Pardo translucent even more clear

But Pardo has a secret. As discussed in Lynda Mosley’s blog, you can bake translucent Pardo Professional Art Clay at higher temperatures than the manufacturer recommends.

Faux Jade beads made from Pardo Translucent Art Clay by SCDiva
Faux Jade Asian Kanji Tower Beads by Diva Designs, Inc  (Lynda Moseley)

And when you do, it seems to intensify the color and make the clay even clearer. I’ve previously shown how Pardo trans can mimic cobalt blue glass, in fact!

Cobalt blue bracelet made with Pardo Translucent Art Clay.
Cobalt blue bracelet made from Pardo Translucent Art Clay by Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree (that’s me!)

I have found that 315°F in my oven gives the results I want and the clay does not burn. It does, however, smoke just a bit so I always bake the clay covered in a foil pan and open the pan outside. Pardo clay contains beeswax and I believe that baking at the higher temperatures liquefies the beeswax, driving it out of the clay. So when I bake at this temperature, there is always a waxy residue on the surface that I must rub off. I should add a disclaimer here, though. If your oven (or mine) isn’t accurate, then your results will be quite different. This is so close to the burning point of this clay that you really need to experiment in your own oven before you commit to making a project. And remember that burning polymer clay does release irritating fumes, so please use caution and your own judgement. It’s a good idea to get an oven thermometer so that you know exactly what temperature your oven is running at. I have seen these for sale at many grocery stores (in the cooking implements section) and definitely in WalMart.

Getting Pardo Professional Art Clay

Pardo Translucent polymer clay used to be fairly difficult to find, but that has all changed now and there are many distributors in both the US and around the world. Refer to my more recent post “Where to Buy Pardo Translucent Art Clay.”

Shelf Life of Pardo Art Clay

Another thing I’ve noticed is that this stuff does not seem to have an overly long shelf life. I have one package that I purchased from Hobby Lobby in May 2012, before they discontinued the line. I used it in August and it was fine, but the other day I tried to make something with it and it’s turned crumbly and hard. Just that fast. Others have said that once it goes crumbly, unlike other polymer clays, it is very hard or even impossible to condition and make it soft again. At the very least I’d be sure I was ordering from a fresh supply. Lynda Moseley has said that an order from an Amazon seller was hard and unusable, so be forewarned.

Translucent Results with Pardo

But look how clear it is! And it’s also quite strong, allowing delicate shapes to be created from thin sheets of clay. Agnès, aka Primatoide on Flickr, has created the most wonderful little jellyfish out of Pardo Art Clay. Those little tentacles would not be possible with a more brittle clay.

Three Little Jellyfish by Primatoide
Three Little Jellyfish by Primatoide

And look at these lovely butterfly beads made by Claire Maunsell. Those projections would break off with a more brittle polymer clay.

Pink Veiled Butterfly Bead by Claire Maunsell
Pink Veiled Butterfly Bead by Claire Maunsell

With Gilladian’s Leaf necklace, you can see just how clear that Pardo Translucent clay is. Amazing!

Leaf Necklace by Gilladian
Leaf Necklace by Gilladian

And I just found this heavenly Fairy Breath Pendant by Pat’s Paraphernalia. Can you believe how delicate this is!

Fairy Breath Pendant by Pat's Paraphernalia

If you’re interested in more inspirational pictures of Pardo Professional Art Clay (both translucent and colored), then check out the Flickr Group.

My Flake Necklace made from Pardo Trans

I’ve participated in Art Every Day Month for November and my Day 25 entry is my Flake Necklace created from this wonderfully translucent polymer clay. Although it looks quite delicate I can assure you it’s not! Now I just need to get my mind around this clay’s unique properties and figure out more ways to use it.

Necklace with translucent leaves created with Pardo Professional Art Clay.
Both strong and translucent, Translucent Pardo Art Clay has changed the limits of what’s possible with polymer clay. Necklace by Ginger of The Blue Bottle Tree.
Close up view of necklace made from Translucent Pardo Professional Art Clay, showing how clear the thin leaves are.
Close up view of necklace, showing how you can see right through the sheets of cured clay.

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52 thoughts on “Translucent Pardo Art Clay”

  1. Now we’re talking! This is where I needed to be, in the higher end translucent with ink department making these types of items. Almost done reading your entire site.

  2. Thanks for a great review. After a lot of book-reading, internet time and despite living in a building site with a crafts area still being only a dream, I’m finally getting geared up to start doing some real-life claying.

    I find your translucent creations fascinating and would like to ask (if you should still have your experimental strips) how Pardo and. Cernit have stood up to the test of time.

    Also, slightly off-topic, have you done any reporting on your Genesis samples from ClayAround?

    1. That’s a really good question, and maybe I should write a post about that. 🙂 As for the Genesis thick medium, I haven’t used it much, but others rave about it. It’s on my (really long) to-do list!

  3. Another Pardo translucent comment:
    I found that I really didn’t like removing the wax. I set about finding a way to remove it easily. I Googled ‘removing beeswax’. There were lots of results, and I tried several. I boiled items, which worked better (I could see wax floating on the water), but still left some wax. I did a lot of ‘toothbrushing’, which is really slow and didn’t remove all of the wax. I used an electric toothbrush, which is way faster than manual. Finally I tried vinegar which works much better, but not all of the wax came off.

    Then, I was watching some beads bake (at 325), and noticed that they looked wet. This must be the beeswax. I wondered if I could remove the wax before it set up. So, I decided on this: I put a small cup of slightly warm vinegar by the oven. I take the beads out of the oven a couple at a time and put them in the vinegar (don’t want them to cool) and take them one at a time and rub off the beeswax with a little piece of paper towel. I use a different piece of paper towel for each bead. My experience was that all of the beeswax came off very easily.

    Couple of things, with thin Pardo, you need to watch the shape and be careful when wiping the beads (so, this may not work for very thin beads or items). Also, before using resin, clean thoroughly with alcohol.

    And, you didn’t see it here: WD40 seems to work, fast. I tried it on several beads, and it worked. I rubbed it off as soon as I put it on, and thoroughly cleaned it with alcohol. I used resin and had no problem with adhesion. (But, it seems like WD40 is something you shouldn’t be using on this fine polymer clay, so…you didn’t see it here.

    1. Well I admit I haven’t tried this with WD40, but I agree with all of the rest. Ooh, I had forgotten about the electric toothbrush routine. I need to put one on my shopping list. I get SO tired of scrubbing sometimes.

      1. I do have several pieces I used WD40 on to check long term effects. I haven’t had this happen, but people report effects of ‘chemicals, etc.’ quite some time after application.

        1. A big thank you for the WD40 idea! It’s the only thing that worked really well for me. I tried the boiling method, rubbing alcohol and warm vinegar but none of these methods worked to remove all the wax. A quick wipe with WD40 soaked paper towel removed all of the wax! I followed this up with a brief soak in rubbing alcohol and a vigorous soap scrub. I just tried this, so not sure if there are any long term effects, but I’ll keep an on these pieces.

      2. These q&a’s are years old so you’re probably aware of this, but just in case: Goo Gone works like wd40, but better for this type of use. It’s not as harsh and is a drip/pour not aerosol spray.
        I just discovered your site and it’s wonderful, thank you for sharing! I’m sure I’ll still be here reading 36 hours from now… 🙂 setting a timer to remember to eat!

        1. Yes! It does work beautifully and is super easy to remove by giving a good scrub with dish soap. Thanks for the reminder. Yes, this is an old comment thread, but there are no so many posts on the site that I can’t always find them to update little details like this. So I’m really glad you came along to give me a chance to update it. Thanks!

  4. Hi, All,
    I just finished a weeklong (private) retreat where I taught a Pardo translucent class. Project was a simple earring set as the class was basically a ‘techniques’ class. Couple of things learned. Prior to the class, we could not condition the clay. Long story short, it was a bit of a cold day. Someone brought in a ‘shoulder wrap’ that she heated up. We set the clay on the wrap, and instantly it could be conditioned. So, I’m assuming the wrap heated the clay and made it useable. It stayed easy to use throughout the class and earrings were a success.

    Note that I too have had issues conditioning the clay but found that if I sliced the clay thin, and started by putting the slice through the pm at a setting just about the same thickness as the clay. I then put 2 slices together, set the pm 1 setting wider, and put slices through. I continue similarly until the clay starts feeling conditioned. The clay doesn’t seem to like being squished between the rollers, and when it flakes, it doesn’t like to go back together. I find if I treat it tenderly, it rewards me with beautiful jewelry.

    1. I have noticed a similar thing. It certainly does condition differently than Premo. But I actually think it behaves better when I condition it thinly…in other words cut think slices and then run them through at a thin setting. If I try to do it on a 1, for instance, it just crumbles.

  5. the holy grail of finding the right translucent clay thank you!! very informative and to the point. easy read for a beginner clay artist like myself haha. just bought some par do from one of your suggested retailers and i can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    1. That’s wonderful! Pardo so quite a lot of fun. You can get pretty good effects with the others, but Pardo really makes it so much better. No color shift and it is so clear! I hope you enjoy working with it as much as I have. I’d love to see what you make with it!

    1. If you’ll go to the site I linked, just below the first set of color swatches are two lists comparing the features of the two kind of clay.

  6. I too use alcohol as a general clean-up method, both wipes and straight from the bottle. I keep a spray bottle handy on my table, for work surfaces, and most tools. Do not put on acrylic rods as it will ‘craze’ the surface.
    I will not be posting any pictures of the bowl I made with the Pardo translucent as I did not like the results. I applied the translucent to the outside of the bowl with a super thin layer of liquid polymer. Then applied the bright colored Premo pieces over it making sure not to create any bubbles. This was fired at 350° for about 12 minutes.
    I love the outside, but the inside just looks bubbly and messy and did not achieve the look I thought I was going to get. All things considered I will not make this effort again.
    BUT, let me reiterate that the method of putting thin slices of the Pardo translucent balls through the thinest setting of the pasta machine does make the clay come together.

    1. Pardo can be pretty bubbly. When you lay it down on a smooth surface, (such as your bowl) it does tend to cure with bubbles under it. Frustrating when a project doesn’t come out as intended, though. Did you mean that you cured at 350°F? With the Premo? I’ve heard that Premo won’t hold up to temps that high and I have found that Pardo’s limit is about 325°F or thereabouts. Perhaps you mean 250°F? If so, raising the temp to 300°F might give a better result. And curing longer seems to clear out some of the white spot that Pardo tends to get.

      However, you mention “thin slices of the Pardo translucent balls”. Are you using Pardo Jewelry Clay or Pardo Professional Art Clay? They are different you might not get the same results that others are reporting with Pardo Art Clay. Art Clay comes in bricks, Jewelry Clay comes in balls.

      1. I don’t know why I said 350, I never cook that hot. I checked my oven and it is 300. I think that was a typing skills being challenged.

        The Pardo I’m using comes in the balls in a plastic jar. Did not know about the bricks. Also I recooked it when I put the band on the top, so it had a total of 20 minutes in the oven. I use an oven thermometer and timer when I bake.

  7. I loved your very long explanation about translucent clay and read every word several times so I could get a better understanding myself.
    Curious results: I too have found all of my Prado Translucent clay very crumbly when I tried to condition. Then for some reason (??) I sliced some very thin pieces of the clay and put it through the pasta machine on #9 setting. As I continued to condition the clay it all came together in usable sheets. I cut out some shapes, added thinned Jacquard ‘Pinata’ colors to several. Baked at 300° for 10 minutes and they came out perfect. I’m now applying pieces to a glass bowl and will let you know the results if you are interested.

    1. Yes, I’m very interested in what you find. You said you thinned the Pinata colors…with alcohol? And did you paint them on the cured clay or mix it into the raw clay? I checked out your website. Very nice work. Great color combinations.

      1. Piñata paints have an extender solution which I used to get medium to very light results. I painted on the uncared clay. Have the bowl half finished so it will probably be tomorrow before I can report on it and maybe sent pictures.

        Thanks for your comments about my work 😉

        1. Ah yes, extender solution. I have it but never use it. I just use alcohol instead. 91% isopropyl alcohol (available at any pharmacy) will do the same thing and is cheap. I go through tons of the stuff. It’s my general clean-up agent around the studio, actually, as it dissolves polymer clay, uncured resin, alcohol ink, grime, etc. Yes, I’d love to see pictures if you can. Do you have a Flickr account? I find that to be an easy way to share pictures.

    1. I tried to buy some Pardo translucent in Germany in December and was told that they wanted to ‘get rid’ of what they had cos no one was buying it! They didn’t have translucent. But thanks for the link – maybe they’ll ship to Canada, or I’ll get them to ship to my relatives in Germany.

      1. Hey, Izzy. I don’t know where in Germany you were trying to buy your polymer clay, but I have found that in my area, Berchtesgadener Land, I seem to be one of the few people using it. I’ve seen people buying for their children. This surprises me since Germany has some amazingly accomplish clayers (Bettina Welker comes to mind) and people here are very “crafty” but mostly seem to knit and crochet where I am. The area artists’ supply shops carry only Fimo and Sculpey (including Premo and Effects, though.) Laurenz-Morgan have really been on the ball, and I have a feeling I’ll be using them a lot.

        1. h leeluda. thanks for the input. i sent ane mail to laurenz-morgan yesterday to ask if they ship to canada. fingers crossed! 🙂

      2. We had the same problem here. It was in all the Hobby Lobby stores and then they pulled it. I don’t think it sold well. We are actually quite a niche market and selling retail in a large craft store probably isn’t the right demographic. But Viva Decor would be very short sighted to think that the large retail market represents us. There is a huge demand for this clay!

  8. where do you get your pardo? i can’t find it here in canada and i asked a friend of mine who was going to germany to get me some. she went to craft stores everywhere and said no one was using it anymore!!! what??? i’m dying to try it

  9. I love your Flake Necklace. The flakes look like the sails on the jellyfish that would wash up by the thousands on the nearby beach when we lived in Pebble Beach. Those sails were purple but quite translucent. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I saw jellyfish on the shore in Galveston once. So incredible. I really thought they were some sort of plastic thing….they didn’t look like something nature could create. I really need to look to nature more as inspiration for my work. Really.

  10. Ginger, thank you so much for including my faux jade beads in your article, and for getting the word out about PAC Translucent! I’m thrilled and honored to be included with these other talented artists! Viva Pardo!

    1. Well, you’re the one who told me about the temperature tricks after all. I just wish I could create beads the way you do. But I know that there is a lot of hard work and years of experience that bring the results you get. I’m glad the word is getting out about this clay and I can’t wait to see all the wonderful work yet to be created!

  11. I can’t wait to give this clay a try. I make faux Roman glass pieces that are just begging for this kind of translucency. I currently coat with Ice Resin after baking for a glass like effect. May wait until after the holidays for the new shipment in 2013 but might be tempted by the voices in my head sooner. Great article.

    1. Kristine, I LOVE your faux Roman glass! You’ve really created an original and unique technique. And I say that listening to the voice in your head won’t get you into trouble if it’s just polymer clay. Go for it.

      1. Thanks for the support. It was a happy accident to work up to doing those pieces. I will have to share some grass under glass pieces which were an extension of the process. I am definitely going to order some pardo and see what I can do with it.

        1. Yes, I’d love to see your grass under glass pieces. Are they on your Etsy or on Flickr? I look forward to seeing what you do with the Pardo. Stay in touch!

          1. I just posted a few photos of them on my facebook page at kkennedydesigns. I’m out of stock right now so don’t have any on etsy. I look forward to getting my hands on this product and seeing what you can do with it.

  12. Great article !
    I love pardo clay, but I have to order it in Germany, so not that easy to get here either.
    I have bought quite a few packs, so I hope it doesn’t go bad too fast… For the moment it is lovely and soft.
    I have backed it at normal recommended baking temp, though so I really have to check what happens at Kato temps. Thank you very much for the informations !

      1. I rebaked one at the same time as Kato, and it yellowed a bit. Although my oven might be off too…
        So I will experiment further, but carefully…

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