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Topic: Is it difficult getting used to Donna Kato's Polyclay? Advice, please?  (Read 6709 times)
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« on: September 28, 2012 11:21:52 AM »

Hi, clay peeps:

I make beads and boxes using Sculpey III. I started about three months ago and do it about ten hours a day, so I've rapidly approached something like intermediacy, I guess, and I've quickly realized that Sculpey III is grody. It's too soft and mushy and it smears something awful. I put it in the fridge so I can slice it without making too *too* much of a mess, but it's awfully brittle after baking.

I did my research and discovered that FIMO is sposta be much firmer to work with and harder after baking. Yeah, well, the latter part is true, but I'm finding it to be awfully sticky and gluey to work with, so I'm *still* having to refrigerate it to slice it. (And the gold suuure is orangey; I much prefer the pretty gold the Sculpey people make.) (Not that that has anything to do with anything; I digress.)

I'm contemplating tossing everything and going with what appears to be the Rolls Royce of clays, Donna Kato's Polyclay. Much to my tremendous surprise, however, I've been unable to find any in Manhattan (at least not on any art store's web site, nor in any of the art stores I frequent) so I can try it out, so I've decided I should order some off a web site with free shipping (yeow!).

Before I do that, though, I'm thinking that I could potentially be disappointed. What if I order a bunch and then hate it (I live in poverty, so I can't afford to throw money away)? What if it's as hard as a rock (which would be good after using all this mush!) and it ruins my pasta machine (aiiee!) and makes me frustrated and I cry like a little clay-making baby? Is working with it like working with old, dry Sculpey (which is crumbly and nasty)? Or is it more like a rock? Is getting the package of concentrates along with some black and white a good idea, or should I just get the colors I want (assuming you think I should get it at all)? Is it only for pros who know exactly what they're doing, and I need to keep practicing with cheap stuff ('cause Michael's often has big sales on Sculpey and Fimo)?

See, the thing is if I'm going to keep on this path, which looks as if I'm going to be very serious about clay, I think I ought not keep throwing money away on inferior clays (or clays which are inferior for *my* purposes, anyway, and which are making me pretty miserable. I throw away more clay than I end up keeping! It's such a smeary and/or brittle mess!). What I'm not sure about is whether Polyclay is for me, and whether now is the time to make the switch if, in fact, I oughtta be using it at all.

Thanks for any light you can shed. I suuure wish I could literally get my hands on some so I could try it out to see what it's like, but since I can't seem to, I need as much input as I can get!


I play video games and watch MMA when I'm able to stop making clay stuff. I need a video game about clay MMA fighters.
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2012 04:41:47 AM »

I'd hoped this was an active community; I gather it's activer in the other crafts. Can anyone point me to some busy clay forums where I might get an answer to my Polyclay question? I'd be grateful! I'm itchy to know whether it'd set me on the right track, switching clays, if it's even right for me. Thanks!

I play video games and watch MMA when I'm able to stop making clay stuff. I need a video game about clay MMA fighters.
Diane B.
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012 09:33:07 AM »

I can answer all those questions, and also direct you to my polymer clay "encyclopedia" site for loads of info on all aspects of working with polymer clay (be back in 20 min or so with all that).

But wanted to say quickly that the most active board for polymer clay here at Craftster is the Completed Projects sub-board:
Occasional questions and discussions happen on this sub-board but it doesn't have nearly as many posts.  Be aware though that at Craftster it's mostly sculpts that are shown and discussed, and only a few of the many other things that polymer clay can do (there are other boards/groups I can direct you to for those).

Okay, back now with your answers:

First, check out the summary I wrote re characteristics of the various brands and lines of polymer clay in my answer over at YahooAnswers:
...and maybe this one at Craftster though it's a bit older:
(Note too that there are *2* lines of Fimo these days, and they're pretty different.  I'm assuming you have the newer FimoSoft, not FimoClassic.)

As you'll read, the "best" two remaining brands/lines of polymer clay on the market these days are Kato Polyclay and FimoClassic, though many clayers are also happy with Premo and Cernit.
I wouldn't bother with the others, except perhaps for specialty ones if needed, if you're serious about doing all kinds of polymer clay on a somewhat higher level.

Kato Polyclay is more used than FimoClassic now that the manufacturers of Fimo have started focusing on their FimoSoft line and also moved most of their colors to the FS line or dropped them altogether.  FC can be a bit harder in the package too, though not always, but good conditioning techniques can take care of that.
....Kato Polyclay does have a slight odor that a few clayers have found objectionable, described as sort of a "new vinyl doll" odor (unless that's changed), so you might want to check out some of the Kato clay to see how you get used to that before committing completely.
....Kato also has only 8 main colors (plus translucent and metallics/pearl, as well as liquid clays, etc), so unless you're okay with being limited to only the 8 spectral colors, you'd be mixing your own colors (most more-advanced clayers do that anyway though--with a pasta machine).  Kato colors are easy to mix though because they're very pure colors (Premo is better at that too).
....Donna (Kato) has a particular way of conditioning her clay which you can read about on the Conditioning page of my site, but basically like all the better/firmer clays you'll just want to use a pasta machine and put in only thinner slabs of clay to begin with.  Like any firm raw polymer clay, it will also become softer from beating on it, using warming devices or even food processors, and adding thinners if ever necessary.
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120505080320AAJyCe8 (my answer)

As for buying Kato Polyclay, you might just use Donna's shop site and she often has discounts too if you sign up there:
You can also find it online at polymerclayexpress.com and probably other sites.  Locally, it's usually carried at Hobby Lobby and some other craft/hobby stores (but not Michaels).
Most all polymer clay will be cheaper online (except for the 99 cent sales on Sculpey III), but prices for Kato Polyclay are especially good because it's kind of a one-person venture and the manufacturer VanAken hasn't really put a lot of money behind it.

You might also want to check out the info in my answer here about strategies for doing polymer clay more cheaply, one of which will be to buy online and also perhaps buy the larger bricks of clay rather than the small ones especially for some colors:  
This answer has more on mixing your own colors too (...btw, an entire palette of colors can be created from just 5 colors--red, blue, yellow, black, lots of white...plus translucent or one of the metallics for more possibilities):
(Kato concentrates can be good for some things, but would be a lot of work to get all your color from mixing those into white/etc.)

Btw, don't toss out your old Sculpey III or FimoSoft.  Those can be mixed with other clays for color or characteristics adjustments, or be baked and used as cores, etc, etc.

You might want also to check out this page at my site  for info about the various kinds of "metallic" colors the various brands/lines have (some are mica-based and will do great special effects) since you mentioned a gold:

There's loads more info/tips/lessons/equipment/etc re all aspects of working with polymer clay at my site, GlassAttic.  
Here's a link to the Table of Contents page there which is really best for finding *where* the topic you're interested in would be located!  You can just browse all the way down the page, or you can do Ctrl + F searches for your topic, then use the alphabetical navigation bar to go to the category page you want.  
...You might also want to check out the category pages for beads (as well as for jewelry and pendants) and vessels since you mentioned those items.
(Note that I haven't maintained the site for several years and lots of links have been broken by their owners, but there's still loads of helpful info/links there.)

P.S.  Your Snarky forums look really interesting!  Will be checking them out.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2012 10:33:28 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

few of my photos
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013 10:20:34 AM »

If you still want a personal perspective I can offer a little. I started out using Sculpey III and Kato. I liked Kato well enough, but there were two problems. Certain colors always seemed to be super chunky and hard to condition right out of the package and there weren't enough colors. I read a lot of articles in PolymerCafe and it seemed an overwhelming number of people preferred Premo! Sculpey- including all the big name "famous" polymer artists. I bought some and I've never looked back. There are more colors to start with. They all come out of the package soft enough to condition by hand. They keep their colors when baking. I could go on and on but... yeah. I'd really suggest you try some. It's great stuff.
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2013 07:29:42 AM »

Kato clay is very firm and hard to work with. I would suggest Premo clay, it is my clay of choice after working with polymer clay for over 24 years. Its a middle of the road clay, not too soft and not too hard. It works well for cane work too. You can find Premo wherever you find Sculpey 111 its made by the same manufacturer Polyform. Yopu are welcome to join us at http://www.craftylink.com to ask questions, we always answer them. Good luck.

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