Working with polymer clay is an exceptionally versatile hobby, and can be great fun whatever your level of ability.
You can either make intricate little miniatures if you’re sufficiently adept, or you can just make pretty patterns blending the clay colors. And you can then go on to making the clay into beautiful mosaics, mokume canes for millefiori, or jewelry.
And unlike with air dry clay you have as long as you like to shape and mold it before you decide you’re ready to bake it in the oven.
There are several different brands that make polymer clay, which we will be looking at more closely shortly in our top 5 picks.
The most notable difference between brands, and in different ranges in the same brand is the level of softness of the clay. This is the factor that decides both your level of enjoyment of the hobby and how quickly it takes you to finish your items.
We’re going to kick this off with a review of two beginner’s polymer clay kits, before looking at some of our favorite ranges in polymer clay. We will cover the best polymer clay for miniatures and the best for mosaics and jewelry making.
After that, we’ve also got a handy buying guide for you, complete with answers to some of your most frequently asked questions on the subject.
So, without further ado…
OUR TOP PICK
This is a perfect beginner’s starter kit, whether to be used by kids or adults.
It features plenty of different colors, 26 to be exact, with shades to appeal to adults and children alike. Including some that go really together and others that will make an eye-catching contrast. All in their own handy case.
You get 20 grams of each color, which is enough to create plenty of smaller items with.
What we like about this clay is that it comes already quite soft, and doesn’t need as much conditioning and kneading as you might do with some of the more well-known polymer clays out there. It’s a nice, smooth clay that is easy to work with and shape.
The other thing to love about this kit is that you don’t have to rely on the oven baking method alone, and you could instead biol the clay to harden it or use a hair blower. Can be handy when the oven is already in use.
And that’s not all. It’s also non-toxic, eco-friendly, and non-stick!
Included in the kit are 5 different modeling tools and loads of jewelry making sundries, 30 individual pieces in total, such as those for making pendant necklaces, earrings, brooches, keyrings, and charms.
It’s actually a lot more than what you really need to get started, and is available at an excellent price too, which is why it suits people who just want to try out the hobby to see if they like it.
It’s no surprise that this kit made the bestseller lists with leading online retailers.
The only thing missing from the kit really would be some varnish, which is a great way to finish the end creation.
- More than enough to get started
- Doesn’t need a lot of kneading
- 3 different hardening methods
- 30 items for jewelry making
- Excellent value for money
- No real guidance provided, just hardening instructions, but you can find plenty of inspiration and tutorials online
In this beginners kit, you have a seemingly endless collection of colored clays. It’s 50 colors all together to be exact, including plenty of pastels and more sedated shades, not just the primary colors you see in some beginner’s kits.
And you get plenty of accessories included too. There’s a whopping 8 number of modeling tools, a small rolling pin, which is great for conditioning the clay and giving a flat surface to work on, and loads of jewelry findings. These findings include head and tail pins, earring hooks, hair clips, a ring, and charm hooks.
There are 20 grams of each color. And it’s easy to work with. It has moderate hardness, so it will need some conditioning at first use, but you’ll soon be able to stretch and bend it very comfortably.
It’s also non-toxic, eco-friendly, and free of common allergens, such as wheat and nuts.
You harden it in the usual way for polymer clay, by baking in the oven at a low temperature for up to half an hour.
Just because it comes with jewelry findings does not mean you can only use it for jewelry making. It’s just as well suited to making little figures and parts of a doll’s house etc.
It comes with a project booklet included, so you can get creating as soon as the box arrives, without having to spend time searching the net for ideas,
It’s excellent value for money and in our opinion quite the bargain.
Amazon occasionally has deals on this starter kit - worth a look.
- Very wide range of colors
- Excellent value for money
- 8 modeling tools & roller
- Loads of jewelry findings
- Includes a project book
- Does not come from any of the big-name brands in polymer clay
This is one of THE most popular clays chosen by those adept at polymer clay to like to make lifelike figurines and miniature dolls.
It comes from a big brand in polymer clay, the one and only Sculpey. This particular shade, which is very pale, and even a little translucent is particularly popular with crafters trying to get that pale and delicate caucasian skin tone.
It’s a perfect shade for creating life-like miniature dolls and mixtures. Although, admittedly, for other types of skin tone you will have to be a little more creative, whether it’s by blending with other colors, mixing in chalks or micas, or by carefully painting over the piece once hardened.
But the uses aren’t limited to creating traditional dolls. Many fantastical creatures from myths and legends are also imagined to have a similar skin tone. Whether it’s a fairy, a Vulcan, an elf, or a hobbit.
Once hardened through baking, you can still carry on with your creativity. Whether it’s by painting more features on, or through other methods such as sanding or carving.
It’s a very nice clay to work with. And while of course, it will need some conditioning at first, you’ll soon be able to mold your creations.
The price may sound a little steep, given that you can get 50 colors for a similar price in a beginner’s kit. But you have to appreciate that where those 50 colors only offered 50 grams of each clay, here you are getting 10 times as much, nearly 500 grams.
And just to be clear, although there is only one shade of this clay on the Amazon page, we can assure you that you can get other colors to blend, they're just on separate pages.
Customer feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with more than 80% of Amazon customers scoring it at 5 out of 5.
- Top, well-established brand
- Very nice, life-like color
- Very nice to work with
- Buy about 500g in one block
- Excellent customer feedback
- Only comes in one-color packs
- A lot of money for just one color
If you don’t want to buy an entire kit with several colors that you might not even use, then another option would be to buy just the particular colors you’re after.
If you look at this review’s accompanying photo you will see a package of white polymer clay. You can do a lot with white clay. Not only can you paint over it when the clay is hardened, but you can also use white clay to blend with other colors to get a lighter shade of the other color.
But white is by no means your only option. If you follow the link to the Amazon page, you will see that there are 24 different colors to choose from, with there being approximately 2 different shades of each color.
The clay comes in packages of 2-ounce blocks, that’s 57 grams of each. And it comes from the longest-standing brand in the polymer clay industry, Staedtler Fimo.
Normally, Fimo polymer clay can be fairly hard and brittle, needing a lot of conditioning before you can start to mold it into shape. But not the Fimo Soft range we’re showing you here. It’s pliable as soon as you open it from the packaging. This makes it a lot more fun and more suitable for beginners.
When you’re happy with your creation you harden it in the usual way by baking it in the oven at a low temperature.
And we were quite impressed with how break-resistant the hardened items were.
- Buy only the colors you want
- 24 different colors to choose from
- Top, well-established brand
- Soft and pliable from the start
- Break-resistant finished pieces
- If you need a lot of colors, then a starter kit would be better value for money
If you want your finished pieces to show some gorgeous special effects - there’s a way to cheat! And we’re going to let you in on it.
The top longest-standing brand in the business, Staedtler Fimo has a special range dedicated to special effects. And there are a whopping 29 different special effect clays to choose from.
You can get a granite effect, several metallic effects, several crystal-like effects, several glitter effects, several translucent effects, and even luminescent! All without having to add any special powders. We love using them for jewelry pieces, but you could also use them for making miniatures too.
Unfortunately, these clays aren’t quite as pliable as their Fimo soft range, or as pliable as the other top brand Sculpey. So this means that they will need a lot of conditioning and kneading before you can really work with them. But some would argue that that’s half the fun. Plus, many people would agree that the special effects are well worth it.
- Cheat’s way to special effects
- Buy only the styles you want
- 20 different varieties available
- Top, well-established brand
- Not one of the most pliable polymer clays
Best Polymer Clay Buying Guide
As promised, here’s your polymer clay buying guide!
How to Choose which Polymer Clay to Use
Hard Vs Soft
Whether to choose harder versus softer clays depends very much on how much you enjoy the kneading aspect of working with polymer clay. Harder clays are naturally more brittle and need a lot more working with to get the right consistency for sculpting. But for some people, that’s part of the fun and highlights the more therapeutic side of the hobby.
But if you’re quite eager to move on to the more detailed work, then having to spend so much time kneading the clay can be quite frustrating.
If you would prefer softer clays, then can recommend going with Fimo Soft, which we showed you earlier, or Original Sculpey or Sculpey III. If you would prefer to go with harder clays, then we would recommend that you go for Fimo Classic.
Most polymer clay brands offer their clays in a wide variety of colors in most of their ranges. And you will often find colors that go well together or ones that will make a really stand-out contrast.
And the beauty of working with polymer clays rather than other clays, such as Play-Doh is that you can mix and blend colors. You can create beautiful marble effects by hand, or achieve some amazing graded effects by feeding the clay through a pasta machine.
But if you find you struggle to find or create the exact shade you’re looking for, it’s not the end of the world because you can paint the clay, however, you like once it has been hardened in the oven.
Sometimes you might want to make a finished item using some clay from one range and some from another. And this is fine, so long as the clays use the same hardening procedure. If in any doubt, please check the instructions on the packet before you start.
How to Work with Polymer Clay
You don’t have to look very far for guidance on the various techniques you can try with polymer clay. There are loads of great books you can get, and you don’t even have to go to dedicated polymer clay websites to find them - there are loads ready to buy from Amazon. And that goes for all your other polymer clay sundries too, such as tools and jewelry findings.
Perhaps one of the best ways to learn the techniques is to look them up on YouTube. That way you can see exactly what to do and how to do it, rather than rely on some textbook explanation.
There are all sorts of effects you can create with polymer clay, some before you bake the clay and some afterward. Before baking, there are the marbling techniques and graded color fades as we’ve already mentioned.
You can also stamp various designs into them for a nice 3D effect. You can create mokume canes which you can then use for those ever-popular millefiori beads. Or you can add transfers.
Or you when the clay is baked you can varnish your finished pieces, add metallic powders, or simply paint over them in any color you wish.
But it’s certainly worth noting at this point that many polymer clays are available that already possess special effects, as per the Fimo Effects range we showed you earlier. These include metallic finishes, faux precious stones, glitters, translucence, and even luminescence.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best brand of polymer clay?
To be honest that’s quite a difficult question to answer. I guess the main two brands out there are Fimo and Sculpey. Though there are many other brands around that are trying to gain a foothold in the industry.
And there’s a lot of scope in how the clays in these two brands perform. Sculpey’s Premo range has taken off really well for example, and the overall texture of the clays can vary quite considerably between each brand’s ranges. For example, Staedtler does a very soft range, Fimo Soft, but is still very popular for it’s harder clays in their special effects range we showed you earlier.
What is the best polymer clay for beginners?
If you are a complete beginner, we recommend that you buy yourself a complete kit, with several different colors included, along with modeling tools and jewelry findings. That way you receive everything you need in one package and don’t have to make several individual purchases. This is by far the most affordable way of going about things.
If however, you’d prefer to just buy certain colors, then we would recommend that beginners go for more pliable polymer clays, like the Fimo Soft range we showed you earlier.
WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.
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