Strong Polymer Clay Designed For Jewellery
Pardo Clay is a new entry to the range of craft polymer clays. Designed mainly for polymer clay jewellery makers, the colors are intense, deeply pigmented and strongly translucent, many of them with mica or glitter added. The clay remains very flexible and strong when baked, more similar to old format Cernit than to other polymer clays.
The clay is workable directly out of the jar with little conditioning needed. This makes it a boon for those with arthritic hands who have difficulty with firmer clays for canes. Packaged in 3/4 inch balls, in lidded, recyclable plastic jars or small opening blister packs, the clay is blendable across its wide range of colors and can be mixed with other polymer clay brands and liquid clays. The size of the balls makes them very easy to use right out of the jar, and piece can easily be cut to size for color blends. One downside of the clay is that the beeswax used to make the clay easily workable, does create dull colors when blended, which darken and clear substantially after baking at 266 degrees Fahrenheit (130 degrees Celsius). As a result several clay colors shift considerably when baked which can lead to surprises if you aren't prepared, or haven't run test samples of your color blends.
Viva Decor have a pdf (acrobat reader) format brochure of the various Pardo colors online at their English site. Unfortunately, the colors are not broken into groups of clear translucent colors, although some of the mica shift colors which marbelize and the colors with glitter added are given their own groups. Polyclay Play have better samples online.
Uses of Pardo Clay for Miniatures
The new Pardo Jewellery Clay is easily blended into a range of colors from basic primaries. I used Ruby (401), Lapis Lazuli (601), and Calcite Yellow (203). Agate (101) is the translucent clay, which is very clear when baked. All colors seem to be far more translucent than other common brands of poly clay. You really need to bake test samples of custom color blends. I didn't think I had a good chocolate brown (it looked muddy purple) until I baked it and a rich pure brown resulted. The color is shifted slightly by the color of the beeswax in the mix. The green calcite (708) marble effect clay I tried looked pastel blue in the jar, but baked to a deep rich mica shift turquoise, with a very fine deep glitter effect.
The pigment levels are more intense than in many other clays and the colors are a lovely natural range. When baked, the clay is very glossy where it has touched a smooth surface, so you may need to adapt your baking method, or used unglazed tiles or parchment paper rather than foil if you want to avoid gloss finishes. Many of the clays have a mica inclusion, which makes useful marble effects for miniature tiles, surfaces and containers, but which won't work for miniature foods. From the samples it can be hard to tell which clays have these inclusions, so be sure to ask your supplier.
The clays which contain glitter contain either silver or gold squares which are too noticeable for most miniatures, unless you want that square effect. You would probably be better to mix micro glitter into the clay if you need that effect.
The use of beeswax to make the clay easily moldable before it is baked, means these are slightly sticky clays with much less plastic smell. Soft and easily worked, they hold detail exceptionally crisply. Fingerprints are obvious but easily wiped off. The colors blend well, but the use of beeswax means that the clays will also keep very fine detail unless fully blended. For miniatures this can be an advantage, as it means very fine lines are possible in blends and canes retain detail exceptionally well. It may be a problem if you intend to blend large amounts of custom colors at a time, as it will take a lot of mixing to get the colors fully blended.
I had no problem mixing the Pardo Clay with other polymer clays. I did use some blends in fine canes without a problem, but you may need to be careful with blended canes, as the Pardo Clay is easier to work, and you will have to match working characteristics of clays in your canes carefully or they will not shape evenly. An advantage of the Pardo Clay is that the beeswax content helps it set up very quickly in refrigerated canes. For the small canes miniaturists often work with, this quick hardening of the clay meant less wait time for everything to settle. As the clay is very strong and flexible after baking, you can shave very thin layers from canes.
The clay mixes well with Fimo Deco liquid polymer clay, leaving far fewer lumps than when mixing firmer clays into Fimo liquid to color it. I wondered how the beeswax might affect the liquid clay, but it seems to blend in well, and doesn't create any bubbles or plaques when baked.
Availablilty and Pricing
Pardo Jewellery Clay is available throughout Europe and has just been introduced to the North American Market (Spring 2009) The price is higher than other clays. Individual jars are 2.7 oz (75 grams) priced at $4.95 compared to $2.50 for 2 oz blocks of other commonly used clays. European suppliers sell the smaller six ball (41 gram) packages for around $2.50. Check prices versus amounts carefully as it seems the smaller six ball (41 g or 1.4 oz) packages are the common size in Europe, versus the 75 g (2.7 oz) jars with 14 balls sold in North America. Currently the clay is available through a limited number of suppliers including Poly Clay Play in the U.S.
The available colors of this clay are lovely, obviously designed to mimic jewel tones and stones. I hope to see it more widely available with the option of both sizes soon, to allow more people to experiment with it.