It seems that there’s a lot of confusion about the Sculpey’s liquid clay brands. Sculpey Clear? Transparent? Bake and Bond? Oven-Bake Clay Adhesive? What are those? So here’s a quick article to help clear up the confusion.
Sculpey’s Liquid Clay Brands
Sculpey has a lot of brands of liquid clay, and because of frequent labeling changes and name changes, there is a lot of confusion about these various liquid clay brands. TLS, Bake and Bond, Sculpey Clear and a whole array of colored liquid clays are all part of the Sculpey line of liquid clays. While they all have much in common and can be used similarly in some cases, they’re not the same thing.
The most recent packaging change brings us a nifty screw-top cap (similar to what’s on Elmer’s Glue) that can be closed and sealed. Both the Translucent and the Clear Liquid Sculpey bakeable medium come with this nice bottle cap. The small bottles of black, white, pearl, gold, and silver also come in sets with this new packaging and cap.
It All Comes to Clear vs. Translucent
In English, the worlds clear and translucent do not mean the same thing.
Clear: free from darkness, obscurity, or cloudiness. Transparent.
Translucent: allowing light, but not detailed images, to pass through; semitransparent.
So something is clear when you can see through it, similar to glass. But if the item is slightly cloudy, with light passing through but not clear images, then it’s translucent. Keep these terms in mind while we learn about the difference between the various Sculpey brands of liquid clay.
What is Liquid Clay?
Before we talk about the difference between Sculpey’s liquid clays, let’s take a minute to talk about what liquid clay is.
Liquid clay is PVC resin mixed with a plasticizer (among other things). Liquid vinyl. Liquid clay is essentially the “goop” that polymer clay is made of, but without the fillers that allow it to be in putty form. I wrote about liquid polymer clay previously, so please take a moment to read that article if you’re new to learning about liquid clay and not yet sure what makes Kato Polyclay and Fimo Liquid different from the Sculpey Liquid Clays.
Liquid clay is essentially the medium of polymer clay in the same way that acrylic gel medium is the medium of artist’s acrylic paint. So, not surprisingly, Sculpey has chosen to name their most recent versions of liquid clay “bakeable medium.” The product has not changed. It is still the same product we all call “liquid clay.”
How are Liquid Clays Used?
All liquid clay can do many of the same general things, and it doesn’t matter which brand you use. But all brands are not interchangeable, and there are some specialized techniques where using the right brand matters. The main difference between the brands of liquid clay is in how clear they are and what color they are.
Liquid Clay is Used For:
All brands, colors, and types of liquid clay can be used for these general functions.
- “moistening” crumbly or dry clay
- attaching raw clay to baked clay
- filling in the spaces to avoid bubbles when attaching a veneer to another piece
- adding “stickiness” to allow raw clay pieces to hold tight as you’re building
- thinning clay to make it runny or soft for syrup or painting effects
- repairing broken polymer clay items
- attaching or securing other materials that will be baked into your project
In addition to this, specific brands of liquid clay have specialized functions that make each of them a valuable addition to your polymer clay “toolkit.”
Sculpey info continues below the jump…
Translucent Liquid Sculpey
A favorite liquid clay brand since the ’90s, Translucent Liquid Sculpey was the first Sculpey liquid clay brand and has been known by many names over the years. But most polymer clay people have called it TLS for “translucent liquid Sculpey.” It’s a drippy, syrupy liquid that’s slightly grainy and cloudy. It does not bake clear and can be quite opaque when thick. It’s a great all-purpose liquid clay. TLS bakes with matte surface in the oven, so it makes a good matte finish when sponged onto a surface. Unlike other brands, using a heat gun on TLS won’t make it more clear. But it will make it shinier.
Retailers might not yet have the new packaging, or their online listing photos might show an old label. Regardless of the packaging you have, to get TLS, look for the word “translucent” on the label.
Liquid Sculpey Clear
Brand new on the liquid clay scene in 2017, liquid Sculpey Clear is remarkably clear. The syrup-like liquid is white and looks a lot like white glue. It can be used the same way as any liquid clay, but the unique feature of Sculpey Clear is how clear it is. When poured into a mold and baked, it can be very clear. It makes an excellent glossy coating when applied thin and cured with a heat gun. Sculpey clear bakes to a satin finish, but will become glossy when a heat gun is used.
Sculpey Clear is very comparable to Kato Liquid Polyclay when making glossy coatings with a heat gun. But Sculpey is a tiny bit less glossy, a bit harder to clarify when applied too thick, and less likely to burn. (Are you new to making glossy coatings with liquid clay and a heat gun? Don’t miss Debbie Crothers’ tutorial here.)
One thing to note about using Sculpey Liquid Clear is that you have to stir it before EVERY use. It separates and settles very quickly, and your result won’t be as clear if you use the top-most part of the bottle. Also, for some frustrating reason, the bottle tends to ooze and leak.
Sculpey Bake and Bond (aka Oven-Bake Clay Adhesive)
Although it’s not advertised as a liquid clay, I’ve included Sculpey Oven-Bake Clay Adhesive (formerly called Bake and Bond) here because it’s so commonly confused with their liquid clays. Bake and Bond is a bakeable adhesive for polymer clay. Don’t let that fool you, though. Bake and Bond is not glue. It’s just a thick version of liquid clay. It’s used to attach unbaked to baked clay (or baked to baked), and it must be cured for the bond to cure. The thickness of Bake and Bond is useful because it keeps things from slipping around while you’re constructing your piece.
While any liquid clay can be used as a bakeable adhesive, Bake and Bond cannot be used in all the same ways as liquid clays. It’s thick, so it doesn’t make a very good “juice” to moisten dry polymer clay. It’s also quite cloudy and will not be completely invisible after baking. Make sure to use small amounts of Bake and Bond to create your bonds and try to use it inconspicuously.
Sculpey Colored Liquid Clays
Sculpey’s line of bakable mediums includes colored liquid clays. Black, white, pearl, gold and silver are great fun to use for a variety of special techniques. They’re great for pouring into shallow molds to make lacy decorations. Sculpey has produced two molds (a mandala and a butterfly) just for this purpose. Sculpey’s star extraordinaire, Syndee Holt, suggests mixing the liquid clay with a bit of Sculpey Clay Softener and then baking this mixture in these molds. The result is a strong and flexible design you can apply to your polymer clay work. Give it a try!
Where to Buy these Products
Sculpey’s products are available at your favorite craft stores, but for the best selection of a variety of products, you’ll likely have to shop online. Amazon in the US will likely have them of course. But I also like to order from Poly Clay Play, who has a fantastic selection of products, including all of these liquid clays mentioned.
Disclosure: Sculpey provided me with their liquid clays and molds as a courtesy and to use in my experiments. Linda’s Art Spot has helped me out when I was running low on liquid clays, too. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links which means I get a tiny sum if you order something from Amazon. But as always, you should buy products wherever it makes sense for you in your location. And of course, my opinions are my own, and you can’t buy me with liquid clay. 🙂 Liquid refreshments, on the other hand, will likely get you a better result. 🙂