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What is Polymer Clay?

What is Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is a type of hardenable modeling clay based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It typically contains no clay minerals, but like mineral clay a liquid is added to dry particles until it achieves gel-like working properties, and similarly, the part is put into an oven to harden, hence its colloquial designation as clay.
Polymer clay is generally used for making arts and craft items, and is also used in commercial applications to make decorative parts. Art made from polymer clay can now be found in major museums
Polymer clay is an extremely versatile medium which is perfect for beginners and professional artists alike.

History

Bakelite, an early plastic, was popular with designers and was an early form of polymer clay, but the phenol base of uncured Bakelite was flammable and was eventually discontinued. Polymer clays were first formulated as a possible replacement for Bakelite.

Composition

Polymer clays contain a basis of PVC resin and a liquid plasticizer,[4] making it a plastisol. Polymer clay plastisol is also categorized as a plastigel because of its rheological properties. It is a high yield thixotropic material; when a sufficient force is applied the material yields, flows like a viscous liquid until that force is removed, whereupon it returns to being a solid. This plasticity is what makes it useful as modeling clay as opposed to putty or paste. Plastigels retain their shape even when heat is applied, which is why polymer clay does not melt or droop when oven cured.
Polymer clay is available in many colors, which can be mixed to create a wide range of colors or gradient blends. Special-effect colors and composites include translucent, fluorescent, phosphorescent, and faux "pearls," "metallics," and "stone."

Use

Because polymer clay is a durable, water-resistant plastic after baking, it is plenty strong and does not need to be sealed for protection. In fact, polymer clay itself will withstand water, weather, and wear better than any sealer. The sealer will break down before the clay will.
Polymer clay must be properly baked to ensure your project will be strong, durable, and attractive. Underbaking leads to breakage, and improper baking can cause color changes.
All ovens need to be checked with a separate thermometer to verify that the temperature you set is, indeed, the temperature that’s being reached. Always bake your project at the temperature recommended by the manufacturer, never lower. Lower temperature causes incomplete curing. Once your oven is preheated, begin timing and bake for at least as long as the manufacturer recommends. It’s okay to bake longer. In fact, most artists agree that longer baking leads to a stronger finished product.
To protect your project against browning and color changes during baking, make sure to cover your project inside the oven. I like to use two aluminum foil pans, one inverted as a lid, and clamped shut with a binder clip. This will prevent the oven’s heating element from “toasting” your projectBrands of polymer clay include Fimo, Sculpey, Premo, Cernit, Formello, Modello,Du-Kit and Kato Polyclay.
A home pasta-making machine is a popular multi-purpose tool for polymer clay artists. It is used to create sheets of uniform thickness, to mix colors or created variegated sheets, and to condition (soften) the clay. Polymer clay generally needs to be conditioned prior to use. This involves kneading the clay by hand, passing it between two rollers, or using a low-shear mixer to break up any resin particle adhesions. Once conditioned, the clay will remain pliable until the particles eventually re-adhere
 
References
Wikipedia
polymerclaycentral
 

 

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