CraftSmart Polymer Clay – New Brand from Michaels Art and Crafts

CraftSmart Polymer Clay Michaels Brand

“I found a new polymer clay at Michael’s this week. Just wondering what you think of it.” ~Sue-W

Well since you asked… I took the time to try out the new Craft Smart Polymer Clay product that is now available in Michaels Arts and Crafts Stores across North America. It appears to be Michael’s version of a no-name brand.

Michael’s now has their own generic brand of polymer clay that feels spongy. Have you tried it yet? ~Anna-S

Hi Cindy! I found a new polymer clay at Michael’s this week. It appears to be a generic type of clay and the name on it is “Craftsmart”. Michael’s stores is listed as the distributor. It seems to be a softer clay, bakes at 275 degrees. It comes in a variety of colors but from the stock at hand it doesn’t appear to be comprehensive. For example, there was only one red although it seemed to be fairly balanced and probably could be made warmer or cooler with mixing. Just wondering if you are familiar with this brand and if so, what you think of it. ~Sue-W

I wish I could tell you that the product lives up to it’s “smart” name. Unfortunately it doesn’t (IMO). Not sure how the other CraftSmart products compare to thier name brand competitors, but in the polymer clay department I was not impressed.

Based on the fact that CraftSmart price was not that much lower than the name-brand clays, I was hoping that the quality would at least be comparable. The packaging is exactly the same as the Premo and Sculpey Products so I was guessing it may be made by them, though there is no mention of Polyform Products on the label, just Michaels. And like several other clayers have mentioned, the instructions are identical to those on Bake Shop Clay also made by Polyform.

The texture wasn’t as soft as I expected it to be. Somewhere between a Premo and a Sculpey III clay. It also had a bit of a Studio by Sculpey feel to it. I thought maybe they mixed some Premo with some Studio to come up with a hybrid.

The colors kind of suck, but for someone who mixes their own colors, that didn’t matter too much. It was easy enough to work with, and when it came out of the oven I thought everything was going to  be all right. Boy was I wrong!

This clay is so brittle! Way worse than Sculpey III. Never before was I able to break my sample sheet (rolled to the thickest setting on my pasta machine) into such tiny pieces. I could even break the stuff with my fingernail. And this was after baking for a full hour!

I don’t get it. The technology and knowledge is out there to make a perfectly wonderful polymer clay. Why make a formula that is so inferior? Are the ingredients really that expensive that they can’t put a dash or two more of whatever it is that gives the clay strength?

There are thousands and thousands of us clayers out there consuming polymer clay by the pound. When you bring out a new clay, why not make it a good one?

Well that’s my rant for the day. Good thing I only bought one pack. Maybe I’ll mix it in with some other clay to make it stronger.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the different polymer clay brands out there, check out the following articles:

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor


  1. Anna Sabina, 15 October, 2009

    Thanks for the review Cindy. I noticed that the price of Sculpy III at Michaels has increased with the introduction of the Craft Smart. But, the difference in price between the two products is only about 50 cents. They had about 25 colors of Craft Smart here. Last week when PC was on Sale at Michael’s they did not include the Craft Smart brand, so I don’t get their strategy. I believe Crafty Goat recently did some testing on this clay, so if more info is needed Google her site.
    Anna Des Moines

  2. JoyceM, 15 October, 2009

    Good Morning Cindy,
    Its certainly a disappointment that your experimenting with the new clay proves to be a negative. My big question is “Where were they when someone said: If you’re going to do something, do it right!”. Too bad there was a chance of great success there. Like you say maybe it can be mixed with the “good stuff” and get used up. But, I’m not one to try something that you have found to be an inferior product. Maybe some day when I have lots and lots more experience and my to do list is empty I could try something like this. Don’t know when that will ever happen though, you have too many great tuts coming fast and furious. Thanks so much Cindy, for your efforts, now we know. Out to the doctor and back to clay play.

  3. Dawn, 15 October, 2009

    Thanks so much for the test drive Cindy! I’ll stick with the Premo! :-)

  4. Ken H., 15 October, 2009

    Glad I didn’t buy any, I remember posting that I saw this clay after noticing that Michaels had pushed all the PC to the back of the store and thinking “what’s going on, are they going to stop carrying PC”. Nice to know it’s pooy uckie caca (to be nice) before I invested time and money on this new clay. I guess Michaels want’s to race Sculpy III to the bottom.
    .

  5. aims, 15 October, 2009

    I’ve glanced at the product on my way past to my Premo and thought the colours were not nice at all. I was waiting to see when the first test drives were going to be reported here and I’m glad I did.

  6. chitzngigglz, 15 October, 2009

    Thank you so much for the tip on the no name clay. I will tell my friends and family.

  7. Jeanne, 15 October, 2009

    Thanks for the review! I saw the clay in Michaels last week when I was buying Premo and wondered if there was a difference. I will stick with Premo.

  8. NoraJean Gatine, 16 October, 2009

    Cindy:

    Thanks for the heads up. I shared this blog link with the ClayMates at CITY-o-Clay. I appreciate you going through the trouble of testing the clay for us and I’m sorry it did not live up to expectations.

    Thanks again.

    NoraJean

  9. Angie B, 16 October, 2009

    Cindy, I caught a girl stocking this new clay at my local Michaels last week. Even though it doesn’t say this anywhere on the packaging, this new clay is made and distributed by Sculpey. I assume they won’t put there name on because they know it is an inferior product.

  10. Catalina, 17 October, 2009

    It is made for and distributed by Michaels Stores, Inc. No where does it say Sculpey. I tried to find out who makes it myself since it has shown up in the store. How do you know it is by Sculpey? Just to let you know many companies will manufacture their products and sell them under many different labels. (I designed these labels for these companies and the product is the same.)
    But, as those of us who have tested this new clay realize it is not the same. But, Sculpey could have manufactured it and made it less durable to sell at a lower cost. A beginner’s medium so to say. But, to say, “they won’t put their name on (it) because they know it is an inferior product” may not be correct.

  11. Anna Sabina, 17 October, 2009

    during my discussion with the Sculpy chemist and rep in Chicago there was no new mention of new clay in the works. i specifically asked if any new colors were coming out in the future and they were not aware of any but did say that would be the product development area. but, with a whole new line coming out I am sure the whole company would know.

    I believe there will be 4 clay manufacturers at the Synergy conference. Anybody going?

  12. Catalina, 17 October, 2009

    Will that be in Chicago? I might not be able to go but if you go please give us a report on what you find. I would be be very curious what you will discover. Maybe you’ll get some free samples!!

  13. Sue Werner, 17 October, 2009

    Thanks for doing the test drive, Cindy! I hope someone gets this feedback at Michaels. It seems a shame to market something so inferior when there are good products out there offered at a competitive price. What were they thinking?

  14. Cindy Lietz, 18 October, 2009

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Although I feel an obligation to be completely honest with my product reviews, I certainly do not want any misinformation being propagated as a result. So thank you Catalina for giving us some intel on the situation.

    Don’t think we’ll be going to Synergy this year Anna, though I would love to. We are probably going to need to hire an assistant before we will be able to take time away. Things get busier around here everyday and it is already a 7 day a week business for both of us. Plus we have the kids and all. Do plan to make it and other events part of what we do though. Just have a few too many plates spinning at this time.

    Are there any other products out there that you guys would like me to ‘test drive’ for you? Do let me know.

    Cindy Lietz
    Surrey BC, Canada
    Where are you from?

  15. Miguel, 08 May, 2010

    Thank you Phaedrakat.

  16. Phaedrakat, 08 May, 2010

    @Miguel: You’re welcome, Miguel. Did you find out any good info from the manufacturers? Anything you’d care to share?

    @All: BTW, Michael’s is also carrying a new clay made by Polyform called Firefly Pluffy. You can read about it at the Sculpey website. It’s aimed at kids, and has lots of fun sets, molds and lots of colors, including glow-in-the-dark. Natalie mentioned it on another post — Tips for Navigating Michael’s Arts and Crafts.

    Cindy said she might do a review of the new clay, using her kids as testers.

    Michael’s has updated their clay aisle with lots of other cool products, as well. For more info, follow the above link, then read some of the comments above that one. I was thrilled by the exciting new products in the clay aisle, things like tiny shape cutters, Foils, Metal Powders, texture plates, a new extruder w/cool crank handle, instructional DVDs, glitters, jewelry kits, an embossing kit w/cutters, texture, & other cool stuff, and several Lisa Pavelka products: Clayin’ Around DVD, PolyBonder, Border Molds, Jewelry Bezels, WaterSlide transfers, etc. It’s so nice to see new products there.

    FYI, the jewelry dept has new stuff, too. Metal smithing tools! (Hammers, Dapping Block, Anvil, Sheet metal, rivets, Shaping tools, etc.) Sorry, that was a long plug for Michaels, huh?

    Have a great Mother’s Day, everyone! ~Kat

  17. Catalina, 09 May, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: It almost seems you are the one who works at Michaels! Thanks for the plug! Yes, I’m glad the clay aisle and jewelry aisle got upgraded. That’s a good thing about Michaels, they are always introducing new products.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and mothers-to-be! Enjoy your day!!

  18. Jill V., 09 May, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: Thanks for all the info. Michael’s is my clay lifeline. I’m thrilled that they have beefed up their polymer clay section.

  19. Miguel, 09 May, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: Have not find any good info so far…I did talk to a rep from polyfor to ask about the Craft smart product from Michaels because they only have limited amount of bars every order because their computer makes the reorder and this are limited to the same amount every time and when I try to ask michaels or polyform about opening personal account with them to make orders they said you cant do it so I have not been lucky with any good info…..Can you help me know how to make and keep a hole on a cilindrical shape bead after you curve it…I try to make a bead like that and after I bake it I could not run the wire thru the hole…Thank you and happy mothers day!!!

  20. Linda K., 10 May, 2010

    @Miguel: You know, I’ve been wondering the same thing. I’ll bet that when you curve the bead it makes the inside walls of the bead touch each other, then fuse together when you bake. I haven’t tested this yet, but this is what I’m thinking:

    Make the cylinder bead and pierce it, then run a piece of soft copper wire through the hole. The copper wire should be an inch or two longer than the bead and have a slightly smaller diameter than your piercing tool.

    Bend the bead to curve it and bake it with the copper wire still in the bead. I wonder if it would work if you held the ends of the wire in order to make the curve?

    After the bead is baked, gently remove the copper wire and you should be able to run your beading wire through the bead.

    Or…you could make loops on the ends of the wire and attach the bead to another bead or to a chain, ribbon, etc.

  21. Catalina, 18 October, 2009

    I put an email out to Michaels’ product testing and they are going to forward my questions on this new clay to those in charge. I will let you all know what they say about this new product. Also, I told them that there is a lot of talk about wanting a better clay that is more durable. I’ll let you all know as soon as they email me back what they say.

  22. Cindy Lietz, 18 October, 2009

    That would be great information to add to this thread Catalina… right from the source. Thanks for doing this.

  23. Anna Sabina, 19 October, 2009

    Here is the official word from Sculpy-Polyform…

    ————————————————————————–
    Dear Anna,

    Thank you for contacting Polyform Products Company. Regarding your question on Craft Smart; Polyform has created a special formula for Michaels’ private label polymer clay.

    If there is anything else I can help you with, please contact me again.

    Regards,
    Patricia L. Colella
    Polyform Products Company
    Elk Grove Village, IL, USA

  24. Cindy Lietz, 19 October, 2009

    Hi Anna – thanks so much for doing the ground work on this. Between you and Catalina we will be able to keep all of the information being posted here as accurate as possible.

  25. Ken H., 20 October, 2009

    Oh yeah, it’s “SPECIAL” alright, but logically, they wouldn’t create a product to directly compete with their products, so they made it worse than their low end.

  26. Catalina, 20 October, 2009

    Here is the response I got from Michaels Care Center. Please excuse all the typos. I didn’t correct their grammar.

    ————————————————————————–
    New Entry: Dear Catalina,

    Thank you for your patiance. Below is the information that we received from the vender regarding your inquiry.

    Craft Smart Clay was designed to offer the “Casual Crafter” a value priced opportunity to experience the excitment of crafting with Polymer Clay.

    Craft Smart Clay carries the Craft Industries AP Seal, which certifies that this Clay is Non-Toxic & Safe for Crafters of all Ages. (Parental supervision suggested where applicable) Craft Smart Clay was designed to be easy to condition & can be conditioned by hand or with the use of a traditional “Pasta” machine. Craft Smart Clay was designed for Casual
    Crafters & may not be as effective as more advanced Polymer Clays for highly detailed & intricate modeling projects.

    Brand Philosophy, offering Casual Crafters Good Value & Good Quality.

    If you have nay further questions please call 1-800-642-4235

    Michaels Customer Care
    ————————————————————————–

    So, as I thought, this media is for the beginner and children. This is not really a bad product. It is just not what we need at this level.

  27. Cindy Lietz, 20 October, 2009

    Thank you Catalina for getting Michaels to respond to you and posting it here. I really appreciate it!

    The problem I see with making a cheaper grade of any craft product for the beginner or ‘ casual crafter’ as they call it, is that it is the beginner that will have the most problems with it. That leaves a bad taste in their mouth toward the medium. Why not make all the products high quality and sell more in the long run, because the beginner found success with it?

    This of course is just my opinion. Companies have the right to make what ever quality material they like. I’m just a little disappointed for the beginner that won’t know better, that’s all.

  28. Catalina, 20 October, 2009

    Ditto! I totally agree! If a beginner gets frustrated they will think it is too much to continue. Children will have a ball with it I think. I guess we will have to wait until the manufactures take our requests seriously. Who knows, maybe we got the ball rolling.

  29. Ken H., 21 October, 2009

    If it crumbles like Cindy said in her experiments it’s bad, no shades of gray here,if it’s going to give a newcomer a bad experience, then to take a page from Martha Stewart, this is a bad thing.

  30. Cindy Lietz, 21 October, 2009

    For me, even for kids (maybe especially for kids), cheap clay that breaks easily when you bake it, gives the wrong impression about polymer clay. That it is something you play with and then throw away.

    My son and daughter love to work with polymer clay. So I gave them a bunch of my Sculpey III since I didn’t want to use it in my beads. They worked very hard on their little charms and sculptural pieces and were heart broken when they fell apart. (The link by my name points to an article with a picture of my son crying because of a broken piece he made.)

    If I wasn’t there to tell him it wasn’t him but was just the stupid clay and that he could have some of my Premo and Fimo for his next projects, he would have probably never tried working with it again!

    It wouldn’t be so bad, if the manufacturers would write a quality grade on the pack. All it says is ‘polymer clay’. So as far as the customer is concerned, there is no difference between the clay.

    Now if the clay was half the price or less and everyone knew it was lower quality, the customer would just use something better next time. Us pros may also find another use for it, where strength doesn’t matter, like maybe those polymer paintings or something. So maybe then I wouldn’t care that much that it was out there.

    I want people to understand that I love a lot of products that Polyform makes and Michaels carries. So this is not a slam against everything they do. I just wish they would do a little consulting with the experts before making a new product.

    Just because something sells well, doesn’t mean it’s well received. It could be more that there’s an endless supply of people who just don’t know any better!

  31. lynn watts, 21 October, 2009

    I agree with you. If the clay is not high quality and not good for good detail holding ability,then list that as the case. I have played arnd. with alot of the clay types and I do have my preferences. Some clay takes alot of conditioning to not crumble when folded. One clay I have not tried yet is the Perdo. (I think that is how it is spelled). Hobby Lobby is selling it now along with Cernit, Premo, Fimo Classic / Fimo soft,& Kato. Thanks for letting us know about the OTHER clay,when you spend money on your supplies you want them to be the BEST quality possible. Lynn

  32. Ken H., 22 October, 2009

    @ Catalina

    I’ve heard about it since I buy some things from their catalog (think old time sears christmas catalog). They actually make beads from it and embed rhinestones or swarvoski crystals directly into the product. I haven’t taken the time to carefully read instructions on making anything with it (I think there are projects on FireMountain’s web site) but the product itself sounds interesting.

  33. Catalina, 22 October, 2009

    Have you all heard of a two-part epoxy resin adhesive made especially for jewelry making called Ferido? Pronounced “Fair-ah-doh” in available at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.
    It cures without heat, adheres to metal, plastic, glass, wood brick and cement without gluing. It can be drilled and painted but can be molded to make center pieces and attaching stones and crystals is a breeze. It works like clay but does have a time limit when using once the two parts are equally mixed. Comes in many colors and could be mixed to make unique colors.

    I haven’t tried it yet because I’m not sure how I would incorporate polymer clay or if it would be a benefit to polymer clay. I guess if it is used to adhere two pieces together or to add some sort of accent to a piece so it would have more strength would be a plus. Maybe use it as a core bead and cover with polymer clay? Any thoughts on this?
    .

  34. Cindy Lietz, 29 October, 2009

    I have heard of the 2 part epoxy clay Catalina, but I have yet to try it. So many cool materials to try out there, aren’t there?

  35. Stephanie S, 28 February, 2010

    Hi there. I had a clay question. I’m right in the middle of purchasing more clay and I’m a newbie fairly. I bought Premo recommended from another site. I noticed you said Kato could be used also. Which is better especially for what you use and also do you recommend any reasonable sites? I’m trying to be economical and may try and get the 1LB size as the small sizes go quickly I think. I’m also interested in making this a business do you have any links for people who want to do that or any support links?

  36. Phaedrakat, 01 March, 2010

    @Stephanie S: Hi, Well, I can tell you that Premo Sculpey is Cindy’s favorite clay. She uses it for most everything in her videos & techniques taught here. But choosing a clay comes down to personal preference, for the most part. The two brands that people LOVE around here are Premo (“full name” Premo Sculpey) and Kato. Kato is a very firm clay, and can be very hard to condition. But its fans say that it is the best to cane with. Both clays have positives & negatives, but are considered the best by most. Fimo Classic & Fimo Soft are both very good clays, as well. There’s also “a new clay on the block,” called Studio by Sculpey, which Cindy says is also good. If you follow the 5 links in the article above, you can read all about these clays. The differences in formulation, qualities, etc. Don’t forget to read the comments below the articles, as well. That’s where you’ll see the many reasons why people have their own favorites. If you haven’t read the articles, at least read the 4th one down, it has good info and comments about Kato vs. Premo.

    Lots of clayers end up choosing a clay based on what’s available to them at their local craft store. But since you plan to order large blocks online, you can make the decision based on what you like. First, what are you planning to make? What techniques will you use? If you are making a bit of everything, you might want to get a little of both clays (Kato & Premo) and see which you like best. Maybe get black, white, and a couple colors of each brand to try & see which works best for you. A couple notes about clay colors: Kato has fewer colors, so you have to do more mixing; Premo has a lot more colors, including several pearl & metallic clays. Premo FROST Translucent (different from regular translucent) is considered the clearest of all translucent clays (even by Kato users.)

    Cindy’s color palettes are all done with Premo. However, one of the “Kato-using” members Sue F., has converted a few of these palettes so they can be used with Kato. The comments section on these Kato color pages have some good information about the differences between Kato & Premo. Here is one of the palettes Sue F. converted, the Pansy Flower Spring Color Palette.

    Ordering depends on where you are. If you’re in the US, you can get clay from many places; here are a few reasonable ones. They all carry the large blocks except Fire Mountain. (I can’t list the web addresses, so add a “dotcom” on the end of all of the names.) PolymerClayExpress & TheClayStore — Premo & Kato. Prairiecraft & FireMountainGems — Kato only.

    If you are not from the US, there are people from other countries who can tell you where they order clay. You can also look for info by using the search box at the top left of the page. Type in a word or two like “ordering clay” or “home business” and you’ll get a list of articles where the topic was discussed. You can find all kinds of info and tips this way, or you can use the tags at the bottom of the articles. Here are a couple of business-themed articles (you didn’t say what kind of business…beads, jewelry, sculpting, etc.):

    Tips for Home Based Jewelry Businesses
    and
    Selling Jewelry at Craft Fairs

    You can find articles about Etsy, the handmade online store, by doing a search. Since you are just starting, you may also want to try Cindy’s Fundamentals/Basics course. It has 39 videos, that will help teach you everything you need to know to work with polymer clay, the correct way. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Cindy’s Newsletter. You’ll get 3 free videos, as well as 2 Free color recipes per week. The link to join is at the top of the page “Polymer Clay Newsletter.” The link for the video course is there, too “Polymer Clay Basics Course.”

    I’ve written a novel here, so I’d better stop. I hope I’ve helped you! If not, or if you have other questions, leave another comment, and someone else can give you additional information. Happy Claying!

  37. Miguel, 28 March, 2010

    Can anyone help me know the names of the polymerclay companies that make the clay ;specialy the new one that michaels brand…. I will love to ask about compositios of the product ,why the lilited colors and other good stuff… Please let me know besides polyform who alse is out there making this products….I love this products but I will like to know more about it directly from the makers… Thank you.

  38. Phaedrakat, 28 March, 2010

    @Miguel: Hi Miguel, the Michael’s brand is made by Polyform, as noted in the comment above by Anna Sabina. Did you read the article? (It links to articles showing the clay names and manufacturers.) Still, here is a quick rundown comment Cindy made in another post: Polymer Clay Brands

    I’ll copy the info here to make it simpler (and for other readers,) but you can find most information by using the search box at the top left of the page. For example, search for “clay companies” or even something like “who makes Kato” to find articles on the subject you want. Anyway, the companies from Cindy’s comment with manufacturers:

    *Polyform makes PREMO Sculpey, Sculpey III, Studio by Sculpey, Sculpey Ultralight, Bakeshop, Eraser Clay, Mold Maker, Bake and Bend, and a few others. (and now we know, Michaels’ CraftSmart clay.)

    *Van Aken makes KATO Polyclay and some other plasticine type clays.

    *Eberhard Faber makes FIMO, Fimo Soft and a few accessories.

    *Jacquard Products makes CERNIT.

    *Makins makes an airdry polymer clay.

    *Viva Decor, German company, makes Pardo, a new beeswax-based polymer clay.

    The main clays used by members here are Premo Sculpey, Kato, Cernit, Fimo (classic & soft,) Studio by Sculpey & Sculpey III, at least from what I’ve seen in the comments. There are liquid clays, as well, but they are made by the same companies above. I hope this helps you. Let us know what kinds of information you get from the manufacturers, or you could email them to Cindy and she can do an article or something. Good luck!

  39. Libby, 02 May, 2010

    Kata vs Pardo???

    Hello All, I am new to this and am using polymer clay to make jewelry and to do mixed media pieces with metal clay. Since Pardo is new to the market, I have not seen many comparisons of it to Kato, which is what I have been using…what are your experiences on the two?

    thx,

    Libby

  40. Phaedrakat, 02 May, 2010

    @Libby: Hi Libby, I don’t think anyone uses the Pardo clay, at least no one has “spoken up” about it. Every now and then this question comes up. But as of the last time someone asked her in December ’09, Cindy hadn’t tried it yet. (She commented she’d be happy to write a review if they sent her some!) I did a search (which is easy to do, just type “Pardo clay” or whatever into the search box at the top left of the page) and got a few articles where the name came up. The only one that mentioned the properties of the clay was this comment by Anna Sabina.

    She mentions that it’s “pretty soft clay and not something you put through the pasta machine.” Considering that Kato is NOT a soft clay, Pardo has very different qualities! Are you unhappy with the Kato you’ve been using? Are you looking for clay with different qualities, or just shopping around, seeing what’s out there?

    Since you’re new to this, you might want to sign up for the Polymer Clay Newsletter (link at top of page.) You get some free videos, and free color recipes just for signing up. If you like it, you can become a member for less than $10 (for 90 days.) For that you get 12 video tutorials and 36 color recipes. It’s an unbelievable value! There’s also a Polymer Clay Beginners/Fundamentals Course, with 39 videos to help you learn all the great tips and tricks.

    I almost forgot! There are free Kato recipes here at the blog. Just search for “Kato color palette” or “Kato recipes” and you’ll get a list of them. I think there are 4 or 5 pages for them now. Anyway, I hope someone who’s tried Pardo will chip in with some info for you. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to leave another comment. Have fun! :D

  41. jessica, 08 May, 2010

    Craft Smart Polymer Clay was on sale this week at Michaels for 88 cent each,and the next thing i know i was buying it. I have never done anything with polymer clay be for but, i fell in love ;) even tho i have only been making round beads and playing around with mix colors and what not. I think this is good beginner clay for me. BUT i did see the other clay that was a little more money the colors looked way better, even glow in the dark!! I can’t wait to become better at this clay thing and get the good stuff. If anyone has any tips or anythings a newbie like me should try let me know I’m always open to new stuff. thanks

  42. Phaedrakat, 08 May, 2010

    @jessica: Hi Jessica, welcome! There are all kinds of tips here at this website. There are articles on everything from choosing clay, conditioning it, rolling & piercing beads, using pasta machines & food processors, baking clay, sanding/buffing it, to finishing or varnishing your creation. And everything in-between! You can search for these articles by using the box at the top left of each page.

    An easier way is to get Cindy’s Polymer Clay Basics Course (link at top of page.) It has 39 videos that teach you all those things I just mentioned and more. It’s really the best way to go, if you want to learn to make polymer clay beads and avoid making costly mistakes. If you want to take it slow, though, try reading some articles and get familiar with how the website works.

    You can start a guest membership by signing up for the Polymer Clay Newsletter (link at top of page.) You’ll get 3 free videos and 2 new color recipes every week. Just about every topic is covered here somewhere, and there’s so much information. If you need help, just ask a question. Someone is usually around, happy to help!

    If you decide you want to become a member, it’s only $9.95 for 3 months! You get 12 brand-new videos, and even more color recipes. It’s an incredible deal. I used to wander around this blog, looking & reading, but I didn’t join. Once I finally did, though, I was so mad at myself for waiting! I missed out on a lot of tut’s that I could’ve seen for less than a buck! Anyway, at least I’m a member now, and it’s really cool. Members can participate in contests like the one going on now, where you can submit photos of your work. Cindy spotlights the photos and members are eligible to win a set of beads made by Cindy!

    Here’s the link to the Beginner’s Course

    Check it out & look it over, as the names of the videos show which topics to search for information. Each of the topics has AT LEAST one corresponding article, so you’ll find lots of info to read and learn. Try to read as many articles as you can, as this is the next-best way to learn (the course is the best way!) ;D You’ll probably have lots of questions — go right ahead and ask them! But do try to read some articles first. I’ve seen lots of times someone will ask a question, and the answer is in the article right above their comment. Many times you’ll search for an answer and find it in the comments section, since it’s basically a Q & A, after all! Good luck in your journey!

  43. Heather Graef, 05 June, 2010

    @jessica, @cindy – Hi there. I’m pretty new to polymer clay also. The Craft Smart price was great for starters, and I’ve been using it to make beads and buttons. I also just tried out some Premo Sculpey, which is really nice to handle, but truly, the Craft Smart was every bit as durable as the Premo:

    In my comparison, my pieces are 3/16″-1/8″ thick – both brands are just a little flexible when cooled. Unlike to Cindy’s experience, mine was not crumbly at all, and didn’t break, even after bending back and forth over 20 times. My oven typically bakes 50 degrees hotter than normal…and I usually bake longer than suggested… not sure if this all makes a difference, but it works.

    Peeves: while Craft Smart is soft, easy to condition, and a breeze to mix colors, it leaves some build-up on your hands after a lot of handling, so I had to use a scrubby sponge to wash up before starting with a new color. Tip from Cindy’s site: sponge a little water on your table/surface/roller/textures/stamps to prevent the clay from sticking!!

    I’ll be doing some more work in both brands to compare results for thicker pieces. Overall, for making simple pieces, I think C.S. brand its A-OK… but I’m looking for a clarification on what constitutes a “professional” clay… Anyone…?

  44. Sue F, 06 June, 2010

    @Heather Graef: Hi Heather, I’m in Australia so I’ve never tried that particular brand of clay, but in response to your question about what constitutes a “professional” clay, I use Kato which is generally considered one of the strongest clays. When strength testing different baking times and temperatures I was looking at more than 400 bends without breaking. These were full bends, folding the sample completely back on itself (first one one direction, and then in the other). I got tired of bending it back and forth after 400, but it would have taken a lot more. I probably want my clay to be able to take more punishment than average, but 20 bends wouldn’t even count with me. ;)

  45. Heather Graef, 12 July, 2010

    @Sue F: Thanks Sue, I’ll have to try Kato for some of the thinner pieces I’m making.

  46. Sue F, 12 July, 2010

    @Heather Graef: You’re welcome… I hope you have fun with it! It’s actually quite handy to have a few different types of clay, depending on what characteristics you want. (Kato, for instance, takes a lot of muscle to put through an extruder!)

    Kato also uses a higher baking temperature than most clays (300F/150C, with a reduced baking time too), and doesn’t reach full strength if baked at say Premo temperature. That doesn’t really matter for things like round(ish) beads but is relevant for flat or thin pieces. If you oven varies in temperature it would probably be a good idea to bake a few test pieces of the thickness (thinness?!) you’ll be working with, to check that you can get a suitable temperature from your regulator-challenged oven. Kato will take somewhat higher temperatures than many other brands, however, which helps!

  47. Natalie, 07 March, 2011

    @Sue F: How do you bend cured clay to check the strength of the piece? I just use athe brands that Cindy recommends for her color recipes to avoid any major problem

  48. Sue F, 10 March, 2011

    @Natalie:
    Hi Natalie,

    Sorry for the delay in replying!

    The two strength tests I do are the “bend test” which you asked about, and also occasionally a “tension test”.

    Bend Test

    For the bend test, I start by making all the samples to be tested the same size and thickness (unless I’m testing the strengths of different thicknesses, of course!). These samples might by made from different clays, with or without various additives, or might have been cured at different temperatures and for different times.

    For the curious, my test samples are typically the same size and thickness of my colour chips, only without the hole for stringing. The cutter I use is a “squoval”, basically a rectangle with rounded ends, 40mm long and 28mm wide. I roll the samples at #3 on my pasta machine (which has 9 settings, #1 being the thickest; #3 is 2mm thick when measured by calipers).

    Then I take a pair of nylon jaw pliers, put a sample into them lengthwise so that the pliers go half way up (I’ve made a mark on the pliers to show where to line them all up, since my samples are always the same size) and close the pliers so that the sample is firmly gripped. Then I the fingers on my other hand to bend the loose end of the sample all the way to one side as far as it goes, then all the way to to the other side as far as it goes that way, and so on.

    I firstly count the number of bends it takes for the sample to develop a visible crack on the surface, then keep bending and counting until the sample is broken all the way through. (Although I get bored with counting after about 400 bends and generally call anything that survives 400+ bends “strong enough!” LOL)

    Tension Test

    This one takes a bit more setup and a bit more equipment.

    The samples are a bit more complicated for this test. I’ll start by cutting out the same size pieces as above from the uncured clay to be tested (40mm x 28mm squovals at #3 or 2mm thick), but for each sample I also cut out 4 small ovals from the same sheet of clay (I use an oval Kemper Kutter, 18mm x 13mm). Then I put the small ovals cross-wise at the very ends of the squovals, so that ends of the squovals are sandwiched between the smaller ovals, and the middle of the squoval is a single layer of clay.

    I put the samples on a tile to cure, with a foil-covered strip of (cured) scrap clay down the middle to provide support to the single-layer middle of the samples while they cure. After the samples are cured and cooled I drill a hole at each end, through all 3 layers of clay; I use a 3mm drill bit.

    To perform the tension test, I have two pieces of stiff steel wire, each bent so that it can be threaded through a hole in one end of a clay sample. One piece of coathanger wire is relatively short: I hang this from the framework of my workbench. The clay sample to be tested hangs from that. I then hang the second piece of steel wire from the clay sample, put a cushion on the floor underneath the whole lot, and then hang successively heavier weights from the second piece of steel wire until the clay sample breaks (hence the cushion; some clay is strong enough to require a lot of weight to be added before it breaks, and I don’t want to damage my timber floors even though they are fairly tough!).

    The ends of the sample are reinforced (3 layers thick) to minimise the chance of the wire tearing through at the end. (That would actually be a third test, although it’s not one I actually do that way.

    Other Tests

    I sometimes want to test the strength of clay that’s already been formed into beads and cured. This is generally not a particularly scientific test, but just to see if the beads are strong enough for me to consider them good to use. It also normally damages or even breaks the bead tested, so don’t do this if you can’t spare one! And finally, the way I do it is a bit physical, so if you have a bad back or problems with your hands or arms you probably want to avoid this… or at least adapt it (you could use a similar approach as in the tension test above).

    What I do here is take two lengths of beading wire, feed both of them through the bead hole, and then tie or simple hold each length so that it forms a loop (that is, you end up with two separate loops of wire, each running through the bead hole). I have a junk roll of tigertail from when I started beading, before I knew that it kinked and proper beading wire didn’t, and tend to use that.

    I then take something in each hand to prevent the wire cutting into my fingers and pull the two loops apart, sometimes like I’m using one of those slightly ridiculous chest-expander exercise thingies, sometimes by putting my foot through one loop and using both hands to pull up on the other. If I can’t break the bead that way, or if I can only break it by applying a lot of force, that batch of beads is good to use. ;)

    Since this test applies force to a small area via the beading wire you’ll probably find that even with good/strong clay beads the wire cuts into the bead around the bead hole. With weaker clay, be prepared for this test to entirely cut the bead in half! (You can use the halves the same way you would cabochons if you want to, however, so it won’t be totally wasted.)

    So there are a few ideas for testing clay strength. I hope they help!

    Sue

  49. jessica, 06 June, 2010

    @Heather Graef:
    hey there :) I to did find that the Craft Smart was every bit as durable as the Premo sometimes i even use them both to make stuff. The clay was on sale again and i got even more! I even got a clay softener which makes the clay even better feeling. What im wondering is what kind of sand paper and liquid finish will make my pieces shine like glass!

  50. Phaedrakat, 06 June, 2010

    @jessica: Hi Jessica, wow, that’s great that you got good results with CraftSmart clay, too! Maybe Cindy did get a “bad bar” of clay. What temperature do you bake your clay? I’m wondering if you’re using a higher setting like Heather…

    With a clay like Premo Sculpey, you can sand your baked piece with wet/dry sandpaper using grits starting around 340/400 (depending on if you have fingerprints or marks to get rid of) then go up in increments, like 600, 800, 1000 (you can go up as far as you like — some go up to 2000!) But sanding through all the grits to 800 or 1000 should allow you to buff your piece to a glassy shine using a dremel tool or something like a Foredom buffer (with the proper cloth wheels.) But I don’t know if this will work with CraftSmart clay. The Studio by Sculpey clay doesn’t shine up like Premo, and neither does Sculpey III. Since the thinking is that CS is some kind of clay mixture, I’m guessing that it won’t buff up to a glassy shine like Premo will. But you can try (and hopefully, I’m wrong!)

    Either way, sand your piece to get it really smooth. Then try buffing, if you have a machine, or use a soft cloth to see if it will come to any kind of shine. If it’s not going to work, you can use a glossy finish, like Studio by Sculpey Glaze, instead of buffing. Studio by Sculpey is one of the newer glazes, and it “sinks” into the clay better, giving a better quality finish. Let it dry for a bit, then put it in the oven for a strong, durable finish. There are other clay-compatible finishes, like Future floor wax or Varathane wood finish, that will work, as well. Check out these articles for more info on adding a shine to your beads:

    > Studio by Sculpey Glaze

    > Polymer Clay Finishes (Has Varathane info)

    > Future Floor Finish (now called Pledge with Future Shine)

    > And one last finish, PYM II, I forgot to mention

    Good luck to you, and let us know how it comes out! We’d love to see pictures of your creations! ~Kat

  51. jessica, 09 June, 2010

    @Phaedrakat:
    thanks Phaedrakat. I bake for 30 min at 250 with a oven thermometer, seems to be working good for now. Also i have to say i do love the way Premo shines up. Have not got any Sculpey clay yet but im looking in to it :)

  52. Phaedrakat, 09 June, 2010

    @jessica: Hi Jessica, Sculpey III is not a very strong clay, so you’re probably better off sticking with Premo Sculpey if you can. Also, Sculpey 3 doesn’t buff up to a high shine, either. If you want to buff to a shine — Premo! (Or Fimo, Kato, and I believe, Cernit.)

    Another thing, 250 F is a fairly low temp to bake your Premo. You should probably add some time to the length of your baking to ensure your bead gets completely cured-through. Sometimes it seems like your beads are cured, but they can have uncured plasticizers still inside. Eventually they can “eat” through and ruin your pieces. It’s best to be on the safe side and bake for at least an hour. You’ll find that baking longer makes a stronger bead that’s easier to sand & buff, also.

    I left a comment the other day about this. Here is the link: Baking Polymer Clay Beads for an Hour.

    The comment has links a post by Cindy that explains it much better, as well as to some articles about baking and other helpful information. I hope you check it out, most people find it makes all the difference. Let us know how it works for you, and have lots of fun! ~Kat

  53. Heather Graef, 12 July, 2010

    @jessica: Jessica, I haven’t tried sanding anything yet. I texture my beads and buttons with various found materials & stamps. With a little Pearl Ex powder rubbed over the top surface, leaving some of the indented areas free of powder – it makes for a rich, interesting effect and no need to sand.

    I’m going to search this site for more info on varnishes and Pearl Ex… see you there maybe…

  54. Phaedrakat, 06 June, 2010

    @Heather Graef: It’s good to hear that you didn’t have trouble with the CraftSmart brand! I haven’t tried it myself. From the article above, it looks like Cindy only sampled one package/color of the clay. So it could be a problematic color, or just a bad batch that she got. However, I’ve read other bad reviews of this clay, in addition to Cindy’s. So that makes me think that your results might have something to do with baking it at a higher temperature.

    You said your oven runs 50 degrees hotter — did you use an oven thermometer to see how hot the oven was when you baked the clay? I’m curious what temp you used to get these results with the clay. Who knows, maybe 300F is the perfect temp for baking CraftSmart. Did you use a toaster oven, or a convection or home oven? I ask because it seems like you’d have trouble with burning if you used a regular toaster oven at such a high temp’s. Could you let us know?

    As for a “professional clay,” Kato, Premo Sculpey, Fimo (Classic,) and Cernit are the main “artist quality” clays on the market. The clay “masters” that you read about and know their work seem to have their favorites, although most tend to choose clays based on the type of work they do. Kato is very strong, although some artists prefer to use Premo because it’s easier to condition and doesn’t have the strong plastic smell. Clayers doing precision caning tend to choose Kato, whereas other artists like Premo’s all-around ease-of-use. The best thing to do is try some of each, and see what YOU like. But all of the clays I mentioned are used by master artists — they’re all “professional” clays. Good luck with your work, and thanks for the info!

  55. Heather Graef, 12 July, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: I’m using both CraftSmart and Premo, and sometimes mixing, depending on the colors I need. I don’t have a toaster oven. I use my 1950’s oven with a broken regulator, but I do monitor the them with a thermometer. Its is hard to keep at 275, but I can successfully bake the clay at about 300, and everything comes out OK… Also I tend to bake different thicknesses in the same batch. Since Premo requires 30 minutes for 1/4″ thickness, so I bake it all for 30 minutes. So far I haven’t burned anything.

    Does anyone know if over-baking has a negative effect – would it make the clay stronger or weaker?

    CraftSmart would probably be more difficult to use for caning and fine detail, because its so soft.

  56. Sue F, 12 July, 2010

    @Heather Graef:

    Does anyone know if over-baking has a negative effect – would it make the clay stronger or weaker?

    Increased baking generally improves clay strength… up to a point. It varies a bit depending on the brand of clay too.

    With Kato, which is the brand I use most, I usually bake at the recommended 300F/150C or a bit higher, for quite a bit longer than the recommended 10 minutes. 20 minutes is about the minimum I ever bake for, with thin pieces, but large, solid beads might bake for 40 minutes or more.

    I’ve done quite a bit of testing, and with Kato strength improved both with higher baking temperature and longer baking time, although it did get to a point at which longer baking time produced a slight drop-off from the maximum strength reached. (Still stronger than minimum time though!)

    Cindy’s preferred brand is Premo, and she generally recommends baking pieces for an hour. That definitely improves Premo strength and hardness.

    The main issue with extended baking times (and often with higher baking temperatures too) is discolouration, with many colours getting darker or changing in colour. It varies from brand to brand, and from colour to colour even within a brand.

    Translucent clay is particularly susceptible to discolouration so if you have translucent on its own (e.g. filler on slices from a ghost cane), or mixes with a lot of translucent in them, you should take a bit more care than normal. (Unless you deliberately want it to yellow/discolour… I’ve made some neat faux amber by deliberately overbaking translucent at a somewhat higher temperature for a MUCH longer time; it ended up beautifully golden and very clear.)

    Experiment a bit to get a feel for it. You might even discover something nifty, like I did with my overbaked-translucent faux amber! :)

  57. Heather Graef, 12 July, 2010

    @Sue F: Thanks for the tips! ~H

  58. Marcia, 27 September, 2010

    Can the craftsmart from michaels be used for sugar molds to go on cakes?

  59. Anna Sabina, 27 September, 2010

    Craftsmart Polymer clay cannot be eaten and should not come in contact with food.

  60. Ken H., 28 September, 2010

    @ Marcia – It’s not only the Craftsmart clay, no PC brand can come in contact with food or containers that could possibly contain food in the future, that’s why if you “borrow” a tool from the kitchen to work with PC in the studio it can never go back to the kitchen.

  61. Kim, 06 March, 2011

    What ingredients are in the Craftsmart Polymer Clay? I need to know if I can use it during Passover?

  62. Cindy Lietz, 09 March, 2011

    @Kim & Anna: Although Iris Mishly and Yonat Dascalu can probably shall lots of informatin with you about Passover, they likely are not that familiar with the Craftsmart Brand of Polymer Clay since it is not sold in Israel.

    I believe that Craftsmart is just the No Name Brand that Polyform makes for the Michaels Stores. Your best bet for something like this is to go to Polyform directly. You can reach them online at sculpey.com and at Polyform’s page on Facebook. If you do hear back from them, make sure to come back here and let us know what you found out. I am sure there are others who would appreciate the information!

    If your question was relating to food safety / compatibility, I agree with Anna that the Craftsmart brand is not a product you should be using around anything edible.

  63. Anna Sabina, 07 March, 2011

    The best people to answer this question would be a clayer from Israel such as Iris Mishly or Yonat Dascalu. You can do a google search on their names. There is nothing natural in any polymer clay and Craft smart is made by Polyform which makes all the Sculpy products. Polymer clay is not food safe.

    Anna. Des Moines, Iowa.

  64. Natalie, 07 March, 2011

    When I first started with Polymer clay(2009), I bought one bar of Craft Smart clay in pink at Michaels to try out with the other brands. What a disappointment…it go so soft so fast..that it stuck to my hands….I made a kitten out of it for my granddaughter and the tail broke off. shortly after she had it …I talked to someonewho worked in the craft deparment at Michaels and she said that they do not sell much of that brand. I told her to tell people who as her to spend the little more and buy the Premo or Fimo brand..its not worth putting all that work into something that will not hold up or is very difficult to work with.

  65. Jane M, 13 May, 2012

    I have tried Craftsmart polymer clay for the first time and I love it! It only has to be baked for 15 minutes, not any longer and the colours don’t darken after they are baked. To make pastel colours, I mixed a tiny bit of Sculpy 111 white with it and when it was dry, I painted it with Bic Markit permanent ink markers and it looks like icing on a cake. It’s easy to manipulate and dries like plaster.

  66. mce, 28 May, 2012

    hi,

    I use the craft smart clay to make tool handles, and in my experience, baking it longer than the 15 min. recommended on the package tends to make it brittle and crumbly.

    Just thought I’d throw my experience with it into the ring.

  67. Bad Horse, 29 August, 2014

    I’ve used craftsmart polymer clay to make costume parts. I haven’t used any other polymer clay, but I find it hard to believe either that normal polymer clay is this hard, or that it’s stronger.

    – The clay is very very hard and incredibly difficult to condition. I had to mash it by hand with a 25-pound weight for about 5 minutes. This still left it with hundreds of tiny, millimeter-sized brick-hard inclusions that I had to pull out of the clay by hand.

    – The instructions say “Bake at 275 F for 15 minutes per 1/4 inch thickness”. That’s a joke. I made parts a half-inch thick and had to bake them for hours.

    – The resulting structure is very strong. Almost like plastic. Maybe not strong enough to make brass knuckles from it, but strong enough for any art application.

  68. Bad Horse, 29 August, 2014

    Also, CraftSmart currently costs about half as much as Sculpey.

  69. Anna Sabina, 30 August, 2014

    Craft Smart clay is actually made for Michael’s by by Sculpy. What you are describing is conditioning Craft Smart Clay that sat in the back of a hot truck and partially cured/baked before it ever ended up on the store shelf. That is a common problem with all brands of polymer clay during summer months, especially a big box craft stores when they store supplies that will not fit in the warehouse or retail shelves.

  70. Launa Hebert, 30 October, 2014

    I tried the craft smart clay and my complaint is that my pieces shrunk about 1/4 inch. Never had that problem with fimo or premo.

  71. Jeff N, 21 March, 2015

    Found your blog a bit too late. Never nade it past trying to condition it. Very brittle, cracks easily. I will stay with super sculpey.

  72. David K, 01 January, 2016

    I just bought some really cheap with a Michael’s discount… 1 lb. for about $2.
    My plan is to make earring beads. I’ll keep the pieces small, and will go with 20-30 minutes
    at 250 degrees. Then I’ll coat it with diluted Modge Podge to toughen it up.
    I can even push the wire though and looped so it will be ready to attach.

  73. Cindy Lietz, 04 January, 2016

    Hi David, that is a good price you got there… I can understand why you would want to make the best of it. As far as baking, I would bake longer to improve strength. It may darken a bit but you’re better off sacrificing color than having it break on you. And for finishes, don’t use the Mod Podge… it’s not really the best product for polymer clay and it is not going to give you any added strength anyway. (No finish other than a thick coat of resin that will give any significant strength to your clay). There are many other finishes that you could use instead. Just do a search at the top of the page for finishes that you can choose from that will best suit your needs. Good luck! Let us know how your project goes…

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