In one of Michael DeMeng’s
online classes, he mentions Sugru
— an amazing air-cured silicone-based “clay.” It’s perfect for making items that need a little “bounce” — like octopus tentacles.
Unfortunately, I don’t currently have a need to make octopus tentacles, so I couldn’t justify the cost of a packet of Sugru to play with… but Michael also mentions “DIY silicone clay”. I started googling and ended up at this Instructables
page that uses a combination of 100% silicone caulk and cornstarch to make an inexpensive Sugru substitute.
Working from that tutorial, I started playing with silicone and cornstarch (not expensive at all) and found that to make a suitable/moldable clay, the best mix ratio is approximately 1:1 (e.g., 1 tablespoon of silicone and 1 tablespoon of corn starch), heavy on the corn starch.
INGREDIENTS and SUPPLIES
100% Silicone Caulk (there are mixed reports on whether the GE Silicone Brand works with this method)
Food Coloring (optional)
Popsicle Stick for Mixing
Container for Mixing
Rubber gloves to protect skin
1. Place equal amounts of silicone and corn starch in container.
2. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring.
3. Use popsicle stick to mix thoroughly. Add cornstarch to reduce stickiness, silicone to increase stickiness.
4. Mold into shape as desired.
It really is that easy.
One difference between the 1:1 clay and Sugru? It doesn’t stick to anything, not even itself. So if you want/need to avoid using an additional adhesive to attach your clay object to something else, you’ll either have to pony up the bucks for the real Sugru or increase the amount of silicone and decrease the amount of corn starch… which makes it sticky and much harder to work with.
The “clay” sets up much too quickly for me to have much success with sculpting elaborate details. Additionally, since the 1:1 mix doesn’t want to stick to itself, I found I had to add a bit more silicone (to increase stickiness) any time I wanted to add more clay to the working piece. Not particularly convenient.
The original Instructables page uses linseed-based oil paints to color the silicone… I used the food coloring because I happened to have it on hand and it worked great.
Oh, and keep in mind – silicone does not like acrylic paints (they flake/rub off). I knew this and still gave it a shot with a couple of different brands of acrylic paints — guess what? They flake off.
The following video demonstrates the sproing-factor of the cured clay.
So now I’ve played. I still don’t have any use for silicone clay at the moment, but at least I’m prepared for the moment I do.
That’s a relief.