What is Polymer Clay?
What is polymer clay?
It's actually surprising how many people still don't know what polymer clay is.
When I tell people that I make figure sculptures, the first image they get in their head is a terracotta sculpture. When I tell them that I use Polymer clay their reaction is...
"What is polymer clay?"
My lazy answer is "it's special clay that can appear like real skin when finished." They nod and smile but I'm pretty sure they still don't know what polymer clay is.
Despite it's name, polymer clay is not actually a type of natural clay. The only reason it has been named this is because of it's texture and workability is very similar to the clays were available already. Polymer clay is based on a sculptable material called polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) it's ingredients being more relational to plastic rather than clay.
In the late 1930s Doll Maker Kathe Kruse considered polymer clay but found it to be unsuitable to use in her particular doll factory, so she turned it over to her daughter Maureen, who was known in the family as "Fifi". The formulation was later sold to Eberhardt Faber and marketed under the name "FIMO" (FIfi's MOdeling Compound) in honor of Maureen.
Sculpey was originally formulated as a potential use as a thermal transfer compound. However, it was eventually re-purposed as a sculpting material when someone created a figure out of a lump of the compound while playing.
The history of polymer clay sculpting as an art-form is really only decades old, but wow is it an exciting discovery!
Its lack of history is made up by the imaginative and innovative ways that artists have chosen to use it, right from creating dolls, to jewelry to tabletops!
Polymer Clay in the 21st Century
There are many fantasy doll artists who have taken great advantage of this wonderful medium creating unique figures such as Nicole West who makes incredible anime style dolls; Lorell Lehman who has discovered that "not all fairies are beautiful"- creating wonderfully detailed dolls; and Julie Mansergh who has managed to sculpt figures in polymer clay that look like photographs.
There are many different kinds of polymer clay and it takes a lot of trial and error to learn which brand is best for you. There are brands of clay such as Fimo, Sculpey, Artists Ozzle, Living Doll, Prosculpt, and Kato, to name a few.
Each have their own attributes and all have been used by professional artists. Some artists even combine different brands of clay to make the most of the positive attributes of each.
There are of course many different ways to utilize polymer clay than just making dolls; but creating figure sculptures is truly one of the most rewarding ways to use polymer clay.
Venture through this website, and you may never have to ask "what is polymer clay?" EVER AGAIN! Yay!
Search Doll Makers Dream with the search box below
Learn how to create a polymer clay baby from start to finish!
Learn how to sculpt a face in polymer clay for your OOAK Dolls.
Learn how to how to blush/paint your polymer clay dolls with acrylic paints.