Polymer clay is a material that you can sculpt. It is based on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymer material. It usually does not contain clay minerals and is only called “clay” because its texture and properties resemble mineral clay. Polymer clay is sold at craft, art, and hobby stores. It is used by artists, hobbyists and children.

All brands of polymer clay include PVC and one or more liquid plastics. Pigments can be added to the base to create colors along with small amounts of kaolin or white china clay. Mica can also be added to make a metallic-looking clay.

Bakelite, one of the first plastics used in practical and decorative items, was very popular with designers. I had an early polymer clay that was sold in kits. It was found to be flammable and was discontinued. Modern polymer clays are based on a plastic modeling compound.

In the early days of World War II, polymer clay caught the eye of a German dollmaker named Kathe Kruse. She thought that she could use it as a replacement for the plastic ones. Her idea didn’t work out, so she passed the clay to her daughter Maureen, also called Fifi. It was later sold to Eberhardt Faber and marketed under the name Fimo (Fifi’s Modeling Compound) in honor of Maureen.

In the early 1940’s, the Zenith Products Company was founded in Schiller Park, IL, and began as a company manufacturing coatings for fastener industries. These were waxes, hot melt compounds and electrical insulating varnishes. Sculpey, which is a brand of polymer clay, was originally designed to be used as a heat transfer compound to carry heat away from electrical transformer cores. It was unsuccessful and was shelved.

One day a visitor was playing with the Sculpey and it formed a small figure. It was fired in the laboratory kiln and used as a sculpting medium. This happened in the mid-1960s. By 1967, the US was making and selling this brand.

All brands of polymer clay are about the same. I prefer Sculpey or Fimo. It is easy to use and bake. When you have formed your design, you can bake or cure it in the oven at 265 or 275 for 15 minutes for every 1/4 inch of thickness. You can use molds found at craft stores. Any mold made of silicone, rubber, and sometimes metal can be used to make shapes. You can also cover chandeliers or other things made of glass, metal, terracotta, etc. You can make things like beads, frames, vases, and just about anything.

You will need things like a rolling pin or pasta maker. A pasta machine makes it much easier to smooth out the clay and prevent air bubbles. You will also need tools for shaping and cutting, such as a kraft knife or sheet of tissue paper, a needle or toothpick, etc. Most shaping tools will work, or even items you find around the house.

Some great videos and books to look up to help you learn this fun art are polymer clay videos or books by Donna Kato. She explains things very well. Even her son could probably understand her. She has also made her own clay called polykato.

minifee doll by [Dollshy]