Polymer clay is a great material to work with. It is PVCÂ (Polyvinyl Chloride) and it is a malleable modeling clay that hardens after it is baked in the oven and feels like plastic. By far, all of the products in my store are made of polymer clay.
Polymer clay is a non-toxic material, that is safe to use, however it is not intended for making any items that come in touch with food, such as plates, cups and etc.
Polymer clay was first invented in Germany in 1930s by a dollmaker Kathe Kruse. Fimo was the first brand of polymer clay and is made by Staedtler company.
There are many different brands of Polymer clay on the market: Sculpey by Polyform, Fimo, Cernit, Kato Polyclay , PVCLay and a few more.
I personally chose to work with Premo clay that's a part of Sculpey brand. First, I tried Fimo, but I found it too hard to condition and then being too soft and mushy for my projects. After conditioning this clay by hand, it leaves a residue, that bothered my quite a bit. Nevertheless , it is actually a very popular brand in Europe and Russia. It has a large variety of colors and several lines: Fimo classic, Soft, Kids and Professional. Every line has a different texture, properties and purposes.
I also tried Kato Polyclay. I have mixed feelings about this clay. It is the hardest clay on the market. It holds the shape, doesn't get too soft even in the summer and the baking time is shorter . BUT, it is extremely hard and stiff! You really have to have strong fingers to condition it, and I found it takes much longer to make it malleable. Another thing that bothers me about this clay is its smell. It has quite a strong smell to it (I found it smells like plastic), especially during the baking. Many accomplished artists swear by Kato clay, however, I find it hard to work with.
Sculpey is a USA brand that also has different lines of polymer clay: Sculpey Original, Super Sculpey, Sculpey lll, Premo (my favourite) and Souffley. I love working with Premo clay for several reasons. Easy to condition, but not mushy, even though sometimes it feels too soft . In the summer or when the clay is really fresh, it tends to be extremely soft, which makes it hard to work with.
The color choice is great! I especially like Premo Accent, which has metallic colors. You can notice that vast majority of my designs are made of this clay. I love to incorporate metallic colors in my designs. The metallic effect is achieved by tiny mica particles mixed into polymer clay. You can get some really cool effects with it by the technique called Mica Shift.
Another innovation from Sculpey is Souffley clay. It is a line of lightweight polymer clay (a standard package of the same size weighs 48 g compare to 57 g for Premo clay), that has a different texture to it. Usually polymer clay feels very smooth, plastic feel to it. Souffley clay feels like velvet. I found it easy to work with: soft, but holds the shape extremely well. This line of clay has mostly subtle pastel colors. After it is baked it still feels velvety to touch. I found this clay to be a very successful line of polymer clay.