Before buying a particular brand of polymer or air dry clay, check that the color range, handling and curing properties suit your abilities and the projects you want to make. Firmer clays are better for canes, softer clays are better for molds and sculpting. Air dry clays can be easily blended with paints for custom colors.
With the wide range of specialist, 'artist' and 'play' polymer and air dry clays on the market, choosing a brand of polymer clay or air drying clay for your particular working methods and projects can be difficult. This list compares many brands of polymer and air dry clays and discusses the pros and cons for particular uses.
Cernit Polymer Clay
Cernit polymer clay is a very strong clay which softens easily without conditioning. It is slightly translucent in all colors with a soft porcelain finish. Available in a range of flesh tones, Cernit is a popular clay for dollmakers. Cernit becomes progressively softer with handling, this can create problems in warm climates. Cernit's tendency to soften when worked makes it less popular for clay canes. It has a high elasticity when green which means extremely thin sections can be rolled out without crumbling, a ball will dimple when a pointed object is pressed into it. Cured Cernit has a very high strength and remains somewhat flexible after baking with a semi matte finish. Like Fimo, Cernit appears to have a moisture absorbing filler. Talc or cornstarch are the preferred mold release agents for these clays.
Fimo Classic Polymer Clay
Fimo(Classic) is a firm handling clay, good for someone with strong hands, or people who live in warmer climates. The clay remains fairly flexible and strong after baking, which makes it a good candidate for miniatures with small parts, including dolls house tea sets and figures. Fimo has a good range of premixed colors and a good translucent clay, making it a popular clay for miniature and dolls house foods. Fimo is a firm clay and needs conditioning by kneading to reach a workable consistency. Once conditioned. Fimo does not turn sticky with extended handling. Fimo's stiffness makes it good for canes. Dark colors darken with baking. Like Cernit, Fimo appears to have a moisture absorbing filler. Talc or cornstarch are the preferred mold release agents for these clays.
Kato Polymer Clay
Kato Poly Clay has a strong following amongst people who cane. A strong clay, the canes retain their flexibility for a long time and slices can be cut immediately after being caned. Kato is firmer than Premo, but not as firm or crumbly as Fimo Classic. Kato Polyclay doesn't turn sticky with extended periods of handling. It is a great choice for detailed canework although it may require some conditioning for use by people with weaker hands or arthritis. Once cured, it is very strong and flexible. Kato's metallic clays have a high proportion of mica, and work well for mica shift techniques. The clay comes in 21 bright but blendable colors including translucent, metallics and one beige flesh tone. Kato polyclay darkens only slightly with baking.
Pardo Jewellery Clay is a soft, very translucent clay which requires no conditioning available in a wide range of jewel tone and semi translucent colors including several with mica and others with glitter added. It is a very strong and flexible clay after baking, and works well for miniatures with small parts (handles, fingers, ears) This is a beeswax based modelling clay, which means it does not have the level of phalates present in other brands of polymer clay and has little or no odor.
Pardo clay requires no conditioning and is very easy to mix and work with as it comes in small balls rather than the more common blocks. It does not appear to dry out or crumble. If you use polymer clays only sporadically for miniatures, this one will store well. It holds fine details exceptionally well, and can be blended with other polymer clays in a ratio of 1:1. Although very soft, it can make very detailed canes.
Premo! Polymer ClayPremo! (Premo Sculpey) is a very strong clay which remains flexible after curing. Premo is available in a range of colors which are designed to mix similar to paints in an artist’s palette. You can see some basic color mixes of Premo clay in the Clay Blending Gallery Premo is firmer than the other Sculpey clays but softer than Fimo. It can easily be conditioned by hand. It makes good, although slightly soft canes, which can easily be hardened in the refrigerator. Like other Sculpey clays water is the preferred release agent for molds for this clay. Premo! is widely available from craft stores and works well for canes and modelling.
Prosculpt clay, is an elastic polymer clay especially designed for sculpting dolls. Like other polymer clays it cures at a temperature of 275 degrees (130 degrees celsius), and should be cured ten minutes for every quarter inch of clay. Unlike other clays it comes only in flesh colors, with a special tone for babies, and includes darker pigmented skin tones as well as a lighter color for fairy folk. Prosculpt is a very strong clay which blends well for sculpting figures. It is soft and requires little if any conditioning before use. Unlike regular polymer clays, it is sold in large bars, like Cernit for dolls and Puppenfimo. It can be used in molds. The main advantage of Prosculpt for dolls over Cernit, is the range of pre mixed skin tones available.