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Topic: Poly clay pond decorations -- safe?  (Read 1000 times)
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BrocadeLion
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« on: October 04, 2007 07:14:58 AM »

I've seen some discussion about whether baking in the presence of critters is safe, but this is something else.

My friend would like to do some sculptures to place IN a pond with fish. Does anyone know if this is safe with cured poly clay?

-Dorion
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2007 08:37:23 AM »

There have been a couple discussions about polymer inside aquariums. The consensus seems to be, "Polymer clay is non-toxic, but we don't know for sure, so better safe than sorry." You can read about what could happen to polymer clay that has been under water here (http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/outdoor_snowglobes_fountains.htm) under "Water Contact Problems". Hope that helps.
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Diane B.
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2007 09:55:10 AM »

There are three possible "problems" with using polymer clay outdoors, in a pond, with live fish... but it could still be fine.

fish safety:  It is possible that polymer clay could leach some things that might be bad for fish when it's in their water.  This would be more likely if the clay weren't thoroughly cured, and also might not start for a long time. 
But proportions also matter... in an aquarium, there is a relatively small amount of water and lots of small fish that depend on that water... in a pond, there's loads of water and much larger fish (but still "small" compared to the amount of water).  So the chances that a small amount of stuff could leach out of the cured plastic (polymer clay) and be in a high enough concentration to affect large fish is much less in a pond than it would be in an aquarium.   There are also probably things that have already fallen into the water which may "pollute" it too . . . but there's no really definitive answer to how much is too much (for fish or humans).

The other two factors are only cosmetic problems:

white coating :  Because polymer clay is very slightly porous if it's soaked continuously and for a long time in liquid, a whitish coating can begin to show up on the surface of the clay (will show primarily on dark colors) after a number of months.  This may not be a problem though, and the piece can always be removed to let the surface dry out completely, then put back in the water, as far as I know.

fading:  Some colors of polymer clay (as with most pigments) can fade if left in bright sunlight for a long time... this is particularly true of the reds and colors with a lot of red in them.  Again, the change is gradual so may not be noticed, or may not "look bad" at all.


There's more info on all those things on the page at my site that was referenced before, if you want to know more details:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/outdoor_snowglobes_fountains.htm


HTH,

Diane B.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2007 09:57:09 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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BrocadeLion
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2007 02:28:42 PM »

Perfect, excellent reference, thank you! I'll pass along the information and let him make the decision -- sounds like it could kinda go either way.
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unico
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2007 07:49:37 AM »

I'm not sure about cured clay either, not much is said about it. I have read somewhere that backed items like dishes or platers should be used as decorations and not to eat out of. If this is true than I would not want to put it in a fish pond.  Maybe there is a special glaze that can be applied - but I just don't know. good luck in finding the answer.
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maggieandsteve
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2007 08:26:36 AM »

Would a clear sealant help?
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Diane B.
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2007 08:47:47 AM »

maggieandsteve, unfortunately, most of the sealants will eventually absorb a bit of water over time and with continuous submersion too... even the "marine" ones I think.
I don't think we have the final word on using an epoxy resin though. 
(if you want to check out the page I referenced below, there's more info about which sealants have been tried and speculated on, etc.).


Diane B.
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POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
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