A lot of newcomers to the world of sculpting and modeling have this question. You may feel lost in the overwhelming mass of different clay types and products, that are out there in the crafts shops. But don´t worry, after reading this article, you will have a good idea what kind of clay is the best for your project and what kind of clay is the best for beginners.
So what is the best clay for beginners? The short answer is, it depends on your project. If you want to create a complex sculpture or figure then I would suggest using Firm Sculpey Polymer clay. If you want to make Jewelry, then I would recommend using Primo Sculpey Polymer clay. And if you want to make simplistic forms or simple figures, then I would suggest either air-dry clay or Primo Sculpey Polymer clay.
Picking the right clay depends entirely on what you plan to do with it.
For Beginners I would generally recommend clay, that is easy to cure, like air-dry clay or polymer clay.
Air-dry clay simply drys and cures when it is left in the open and polymer clay can be baked in an oven at moderate temperatures.
So if you want to make jewelry, then I would recommend using Primo from Sculpey(Amazon Link). This is a very easy to use clay with a lot of nice and bright colors. Ideal for making colorful and creative jewelry.
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If you want to make sculptures or figures with a lot of details, then I would recommend using Firm Sculpey Polymer clay (Amazo Link). This clay is a little harder to work with, you will have to knead it a lot before you can mold it properly. It is a little tough to start out with this type of clay but this is the clay most professionals use (when they are using polymer clay) for highly detailed work.
If you want to create simple sculptures or figures with a medium amount of details, then I recommend using Sculpey Primo or air-dry clay. Both of these clays are easy to mold and simple to cure. You will not be able to add a lot of details, though, but for most projects, it will probably be more than enough.
What is the Easiest Clay to Work With?
Like I wrote above, the choice of clay is mainly up to the project, that you need it for. That being said, there are a few clays, that are way easier to work with than others.
So what is the easiest clay to work with? The short answer is most polymer clays are easy to work with. Avoid using firm polymer clay in the beginning, this clay is quite hard to work with. Polymer clays can be baked in an oven at moderate temperatures, they are easy to mold. Air-dry clay would be also a good choice.
Polymer clay is generally the easiest clay to work with. It can be formed very easily and you can bake it in your kitchen oven.
There are even air-drying polymer clays, that you can get.
Don´t use firm polymer clays or Polymer Clays from Kato if you want clay, that is easy to work with because these clays are very firm and hard to condition.
Regular air-dry clay is also a great option, when you are searching for clay, that is easy to use.
What is the Best Polymer Clay for Beginners?
Polymer clay is a very popular kind of clay for crafters and sculptors all over the world. But finding the right kind of clay for beginners is kind of hard because not every clay is good for every kind of project.
So what is the best polymer clay for beginners? Polymer Clay is a great clay for beginners. Any Polymer clay from Sculpey is perfect for beginners as long as it is not firm or smooth Sculpey clay. For Jewelry making or for simple figures Premo Sculpey clay or Fimo clay is a great choice for beginners.
Polymer clay, in general, is a very easy to use clay. You can freely choose whatever polymer clay you like at the beginning with only two exceptions. In the beginning, I would not use firm clay or medium clay because these are quite hard to mold and condition.
So, in the beginning, I would recommend using polymer clay, that is easy to knead and shape like Premo Sculpey or Sculpey III. Fimo is another polymer clay, that is similarly easy to form.
What Kind of Clay do Professional Sculptors Use?
The short answer is professionals use a wide variety of clays depending on the kind of project they are doing. Generally, professionals tend to use clays, that can hold a lot of detail such as oil-based clay, like Monster clay, or firm polymer clay, like firm Sculpey. Earthware clay is also popular but it must be fired in a kiln.
It is kind of hard to answer this question with a definitive answer. A lot of professionals prefer different kinds of clays for their work.
Depending on the professional and what he has to use the clay for the choice of the clay he uses can vary greatly.
A lot of professionals who do high detailed work like figures or busts use Monster clay. Monster clay is an oil/wax-based clay that never drys or hardens. It is easy to work with and to condition, it simply has to be warmed up and it will be easy to knead. Oil/wax-based clay can even be heated up to make it liquid, so it can be cast in a specific form and later more detail can be added.
The only downside to this type of clay and the biggest reason, why I don´t recommend it for beginners, is that it can´t harden in any way. So a mold of the finished sculpture has to be made in order to create a finished project. The mold can then be used to cast the sculpture in any material, that you want. Most commonly either concrete or epoxy resin.
The most used kind of Oil/Wax-based clay is called Monster clay. Monster clay is used in the movie industry and in costume making as well. A lot of professionals use this clay to create incredible masks, sculptures, and more.
Some professionals also use firm Sculpey to create figures and masks. It is a little harder to condition than Monster clay but it can easily be hardened in the kitchen oven without the need of a kiln, which is simply convenient. The hardened sculpture can then still be molded and cast to multiply it.
And the more traditional oriented professionals use Earthware clay. This is a more traditional clay, that has to be fired in a kiln which makes it hard to use for non-professionals. I personally never worked with this clay, so I can´t say a lot about it but it seems to be easy to condition and as far as I know, you can add a lot of details to sculptures made with this clay.
If you really want to use the clay, that professionals use to create amazing sculptures, then I highly recommend starting with firm Sculpey. out of the three clay mentioned above, this is by far the easiest to work with and to harden. You don´t need a kiln nor do you have to make a cast of your finished sculpture. It is easy to come by and not all that expensive either.