There are a lot of different brands of Polymer clay out there and most of these brands have there own variations of polymer clay. So it is no surprise, that a lot of beginners ask themselves which brand and polymer clay variant is the right one for their project. And to be honest, there isn´t always a clear answer to that question. But after you are done reading this article, you will know what to look out for and which aspects are important, so that you can easily choose the right kind of polymer clay for your needs.
Polymer clay can be used for a lot of different things, like sculpting figures, general forms, jewelry, cosplay, and much more.
Your imagination is the limit. I will tell you my top picks for the areas, that polymer clay is most used in, like sculpting and jewelry making but other than that I will just go over the advantages of each major brand and their clays so that you can make an educated decision after you are done reading this article.
But choosing the right type of clay is only the first step. If you want to know how to work with polymer clay then consider reading my guide on how to work with polymer clay right here.
What are the Differences Between the Different Kinds of Polymer Clays?
There are obvious differences like baking time and temperature but we will not focus on those in this article. Instead, we will focus on how hard the polymer clay is to knead, how expensive it is, and how detailed you can sculpt with it.
Different Polymer Clay kinds will also vary in how hard they are when you are kneading them. The firmer they are the more detailed you can get with your sculptures but it will also make it harder to work with. The softer the polymer clay is the easier it is to work with but you will not be able to make very detailed figures anymore.
So if you plan on sculpting figures, then I would suggest using firmer polymer clay. By following the link you will get to my favorite firm Polymer Clay which is from Sculpey. I personally use this for most of my projects when I need a lot of detail.
This is a video of mine where I used firm polymer clay to create a diorama of Link from Legend of Zelda.
If you are only planning on using the polymer clay to create simple shapes and forms, then a regular or soft polymer clay will be just fine. The Premo line from Sculpey is my favorite soft clay. It is easy to work with and you don´t need a lot of strength to form it.
Firm polymer clay is also a lot more expensive than regular polymer clay, so you should keep that in mind as well.
When it comes to price, the cheapest polymer clay with the best quality is also from Sculpey, in my opinion. Sculpey III to be exact. It is quite cheap and for most projects, it will be just perfect. But I would not use it for sculpting very detailed figures, it is simply not hard enough for lots of details.
There is also Fimo from steadier, which is quite cheap and very high quality as well. I actually started with this brand before I tested a few others and finally ended up using Sculpey. They have great clay but they don´t have as much variety in their product line as Sculpey has.
Some Polymer clays are also harder to paint than others but you can always prepare the surface of the clay to make it possible to color it anyway. You can read more about that in my polymer coloring guide.
What Polymer Clay Brands are There?
There are a lot of different polymer clay brands out there but in this article, I only listed the major ones, that I tested.
Sculpey is awesome, they have a lot of different kinds of clay from firm to soft. They have a wide variety of different colors and effect colors and their prices are very decent too.
If you heard of polymer clay chances are, that you heard of this company. I mainly use their products in my projects and they are the number one pick for many polymer clay enthusiasts.
You can find their homepage here. It has a lot of useful information and a list of all their products.
Staedtler is another big player in the polymer clay world. Most probably only know their product name “Fimo”.
Fimo also has a lot of different clays but it is missing some essential kinds in my opinion. They don´t have a firm clay for detailed sculpting, for example.
Their clays are very high quality, however, and they are quite cheap compared to other clay brands.
You can follow this link to their homepage to have a look at their products yourself.
Kato polymer clay is also one of my favorite clays but I would suggest to only use it when you want to have a lot of detail in your work.
This polymer clay is not for beginners, it is quite hard and it is not easy to condition, but you can create very detailed works with it.
And it is a little cheaper than Sculpey firm polymer clay. I personally don´t use it too much but mainly because it is kind of hard to come by where I live.
You can find their site here and check it out for yourself to see if it is the right clay for you.
As I said, there are a lot of other brands but these are the three I tested in-depth and the ones, that I can recommend the most.
No matter what type of polymer clay you use, polymer clay is very versatile and can be used together with a lot of different materials.
What is the Best Polymer Clay For Jewelry?
The short answer is it doesn´t really matter all that much. I would recommend using regular soft polymer clay, that is easy to work with like Sculpey Premo or Fimo clay from Staedtler. Don´t use hard clay, like Sculpey firm or Kato unless you want to add a lot of details (not recommended for beginners)
So if you want to use polymer clay for creating jewelry, then you should use regular soft polymer clay. It is easy to work with and especially the Sculpey Premo clay comes in a wide variety of vibrant colors or even effect clay.
The effect clay from Premo, that I mentioned and linked to above, are especially fun. You can get clay, that glitters, looks like granite or metal, and even translucent clay.
Regular clay is more than enough for most jewelry projects, that you might have but you won´t be able to make very detailed jewelry with it. So if you want to add a texture or a fine relief to your jewelry then you should consider using Sculpey firm or Kato polymer clay.
These clays are a lot harder to work with than regular clay but you can add a lot more detail to them because they are so hard.
It can be kind of difficult to work with them and I have damaged my fair share of tools while working with them because I underestimated just how hard they are to knead sometimes. But no other clay will hold detail as well as these clays do.
If you just want to make basic forms without great detail then Sculpey firm and Kato are a little overkill.
What is the Best Polymer Clay For Sculpting?
The short answer is firm polymer clay. In order to get very fine detail in your polymer clay, the clay has to be quite hard to knead. Sculpey has a special kind of clay for sculpting figures, which is called Sculpey firm. Kato is another kind of polymer clay, that is quite hard and can hold a lot of detail.
For sculpting more complex forms and sculptures and figures there really is just one choice of clay, which is firm clay. The two best kinds of clay for that are either Sculpey firm or Kato.
Both of these clays are quite hard and difficult to work with but they can hold a lot of detail. So if you want to create an awesome looking figure with lots of great detail then this is the clay to go.
What is the Strongest Polymer Clay?
Kato polymer clay is the strongest polymer clay I know. It is hard to knead, great for very detailed sculptures, and very strong after it is baked and completely cured.
So if you need a strong clay then Kato polymer clay is the way to go. It is, as mentioned above, quite hard to work with so it is not necessarily the best clay for beginners.
What is the Best Polymer Clay for Beginners?
To make it short, the best polymer clay for beginners is either Sculpey Primo or Fimo from Staedtler. Both of these polymer clays are easy to knead, to work with, and to bake. So they are perfect clays for beginners to start sculpting.
Both of these clays are quite easy to come by, they are not that expensive and you can use them for a lot of different crafts before you need to upgrade to another kind of clay.
You don´t need a lot of sculpting tools, too. You can simply use your hands and maybe a ruler and a pen to create some basic details. Once you start to get a feel for the clay you can try and use a harder clay, like Sculpey firm or Kato, and see what you can create with them.