Monday, August 20, 2012

The Origins of polymer clay

Have you ever wondered where polymer clay came from?  I know I have!  Like many sculptors, I started with ceramic clay in high school art classes and fell in love with sculpting.  However, once I was out of school I no longer had access to a kiln in which to fire my creations, and buying one of my own was simply too expensive.  So I started looking for more affordable alternatives to ceramic clay and discovered polymer clay, which came in a rainbow of colors and could be cured right in my home oven.

I became curious about how this versatile medium was created so I did a little research.  Here's what I discovered: In the 1930's "Fifi" Kruse Rehbinder, a German doll artist, developed a moldable material for making her doll heads.  Originally the material was called Fifi Mosaik.  After the formula was sold to Eberhard Faber in the 1960's it was rebranded as FIMO, the name we're all familiar with now and which can be found online and in craft stores all over.

The very first Sculpey product was also introduced in the 1960's.  An Illinois company called Zenith Product Company began selling a coating made for industrial use and as a modelling compound for crafting.  These days you can find a wide array of Sculpey products in just about any craft store you enter.

Polymer clay is an amazing material that continues to undergo changes and improvements.  Premo recently changed their formula and added new colors and effects, all of which blend together beautifully so you can create your own custom color mixes.  These improvements and additions to formulas, strength, colors, and durability just keep making polymer clay better and more versatile for artists and crafters.  Since 2009 all major brands of polymer clay have been free of phthalates and have always been certified as non-toxic, making the clay safe for even young crafters.  This is a wonderful medium to encourage children's creativity.
Polymer clay can be enjoyed by everyone from children, to crafters, jewelry makers, sculptors, and even just those looking to replace those ugly handles on their cabinets. Each brand has it's own qualities and benefits, which I'll expand on in future posts.  Whether you're new to the world of polymer clay or a skilled clay artist with years of experience, this medium can be enjoyed by anyone!

2 Smooshing Thoughts:

Lynn Reno said...

Awesome post, Michelle, I had never taken the time to learn the origins of polymer clay, now I have, thankyou!

Michelle said...

I never realized that polymer clay originated with doll making! I'm looking forward to your future posts where you talk about the differences between brands.