Translucent Sculpey Clay, Fimo Clay, Premo, Cernit, Kato | Comparison

Translucent Clay Brand Comparison

7 Things to Know About Translucent Polymer Clay for Jewelry Bead Making:

There are so many things to learn about the different brands of polymer clays. Today’s article will focus on a special type of clay called translucent. It is available from all the manufacturers but each brand has different properties. Here’s some comparison notes that will help you decide which one is right for your project:

1) Premo Frost #5310 with Bleach and Studio by Sculpey Frost are the clearest of the translucent clays. They are followed by Kato Polyclay, Sculpey III, Premo #5310, Fimo Soft #014, Fimo Classic #00 and lastly Cernit #010 White Translucent.

2) Premo Translucent and Sculpey III are the most amber colored of the brands. Kato and Fimo clays are the whitest in color.

3) The tiny circular ‘moon’ shapes you sometimes see in the layers of translucent clay are caused by a condition called ‘plaquing’. Fimo Clay has the most plaquing of all the brands of polymer clay. Kato clay the least. Moisture on your hands and over working the clays will cause more plaquing.

4) Adding tiny amounts of opaque clay will help to reduce plaquing. Think pea sized amounts with a whole block of clay. White and beige are good candidates for this technique.

5) Translucent clays start yellowing very easily with heat. Baking directly on a ceramic tile or metal cookie sheet will cause translucent clays to scorch quickly. You can protect the clay either by tenting your pieces while baking or by burying them in a bed of cornstarch.

6) Translucent clay bakes up clearer when layered over raw clay, more so than over baked clay.

7) All translucent clays can be tinted with alcohol inks. Coat the clay with ink and let dry a minute or two, so the alcohol has time to dissipate. Then mix the clay until you have the look you want. Gloves are a good idea here unless you don’t mind colored hands!

There are many more things I can teach you about Fimo, Premo, Sculpey III, Cernit and Kato polymer clay… but that will have to wait for another day! Feel free to add any of your own tips or information to the comment section below.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

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  1. Okay!

    I did experiment with using the transluscent clay, with an ivory. My main idea was to make a mock scrimshaw. Well, I was using a toaster oven (at the time), with a metal tray. Yup! That was the ticket! I ended up with raku textured clay. Think that I had to have overcooked it. Had even decided to use a lower heat. Yah! Could be!!!!! I was foolish enough to discard these. Can you imagine, I threw these out — and was not about to fish into a trash bin. Anyway, afterwards the dawn awakened me. Where was my brain! I could have sponged metallics on these and made them into RAKU colored beads. The moral of my story is simply — before you do anything foolish (stupid), hold onto your boo boos. Now, if you could imagine, I’ll have to smell up the house again, with burnt clay. Yuk!!! Ha! Ha! So the moral of the story is — more clutter is sometimes betttaaaaaa!! One woman’s burnt clay, can turn into another’s top of the hub!Yup!! What kills me is, that these would have been the best Raku’s. Nobody could have even known the difference. Viva la differenceeee!!!!!!!!!!!


    Queen of Beads, and considered obsessive (and dangerous) in bead shops. However, now, I am leaning into another direction. This time I will be obsessed with clay. Ahem!



  2. Dear Cindy,

    Thank you so much for answering my translucent clay questions, and for all of this most valuable information! I appreciate it very much!

    I don’t know if you will remember a certain picture that I sent to you a few weeks ago. The one I am talking about is the picture of the translucent heart with the silver heart confetti pieces mixed all through it. Well, when this peice was finished, I wished that the clay had come out more clear so that the confetti could be seen a little more through the entire heart. Maybe now, with the knowledge you have given above, I will be able to get more of that kind of effect with a clearer translucent clay. I will try using the Premo Frost, and will also be sure to tent the piece when I bake it.

    Thank for the other info as well…I am very interested in trying the alcohol inks.

    Hugs to you…Cindy E.

  3. @Queenie: Wow are you ever enthusiastic! Thank you for your great comment! That is too bad you threw out your mistake! However, I would not try to purposely burn the clay again, unless you can take your oven outside. The fumes can be toxic!

    @Cindy E: You are very welcome Cindy! I do remember that piece and it was very pretty! Although changing brands will help with the clarity on a piece like yours, non of the brands will give a completely see through look.

  4. I have a question about the recipes with translucent clay. It is had to see a difference in the clay in the raw state but it seems to give the clay a more creamy look without diluting the color saturation. What is the biggest benefit of adding translucent?

    Thanks for all of your inspiring info.


  5. That’s a great question Anna! Although translucent doesn’t change the color of the clay, it does make it less opaque. It allows more light to get into the clay and causes it to appear to have more depth.

    When the mixed clay is used in very thin layers like on a luminary or the petals of a sculpted rose the look is even more effective. To see an example click on the Rose Bead link by my name above.

    One other benefit of adding translucent to clay, is that it will buff to a higher shine!

  6. Cindy – I love to use your ideas and transpose them to my work. I just made some clothes for a fairy with Fimo colored with the inks. I ended up putting gold leaf on top of the clay, but it gave a good back ground for the gold.

    • k@Bonnie Jones:
      i just looked at your site- i was checking out clays-
      OMG= your things are just amazingly fantastic!!!
      i love them!!!how wonderful you are!!!
      just had to tell u , u made me smile and ahhhhhhh- and we can all use alittle
      more good energy sometimes-just what i needed-
      thank you for sharing–you have such a gift—

  7. Bonnie your dolls are so fantastic I am thrilled to think that they could have been influenced at all by info from this blog! I would love to see the wings you are talking about… Bet the are stunning!

  8. I am soooooooooooo impressed!!! Bonnie Jones, Mary V. Smith, and Mary Tempesta, you are ALL sooooooooo talented!!! I really enjoyed (and will enjoy more) all of your sites and blogs!!! You all do such great work!!! Thanks to Cindy, there is so much that we get from her, and each other on her site!!! THANKS CINDY :)

    Sincerely, Cindy Erickson

  9. Hi Cindy! I’m still working on making beads with flower petals in them. I am glad to learn from this article what probaby caused the plaquing in my beads. But I have to tell you that I really like the look for this project! I’ve been mixing in the flower petals and then experimenting with letting the clay sit for some time – days or weeks. The color from the flowers leaches out into the clay and the result looks kind of like stone! The plaquing actually adds a layer of color and texture to the beads. I like it and am getting really good feedback from my “guinea pig” friends. My question is does the plaquing affect the beads in any way other than in the look of them? Should I be concerned about it? As always, thank you so much for everything!

  10. Marsha that sounds lovely! I love the idea of the flower’s color bleeding into the clay!

    Plaquing won’t effect your clay in a negative way for the technique you are using. It is only a problem in things like image transfers where the ‘moon’ shows up in a bad spot in your image like in the middle of a face.

    As far as for stone techniques it makes it look realistic and many artists try to purposely create plaquing. You can do this by wetting your hands and over working the clay.

  11. I’m way back here! I was in such a hurry I didn’t digest all you have given us. I’m soooo glad to have become a member and hope this time around can get those colors I missed. 11/09/08. Thank You again!

  12. Attempting to locate Fimo Classic Translucent White 00; do you know any sources as I make “Ivory”, using a blend, and 00 is main ingredient. Thanks Mark!

  13. Hi Mark. I haven’t seen 00 for awhile so I went to Fimo’s site. They only seem to carry Fimo ‘Effects’ 014 as a translucent clay. That should work fine for your purposes.

  14. I saw you use Premo Frost in one of your videos. What is the difference between Frost and Translucent. I cannot find Frost at any of my stores.

  15. Premo Frost is a little whiter and clearer than the regular translucent. Most stores do not carry it but you can find it easily online. Regular translucent can be substituted if you want. It will just be a little more yellow in color and not quite as clear, but close enough.

    For lots more info, type the word translucent into the search box at the top of the page. There are many articles that have already been published on this topic that will keep you going for a while.

  16. I worked so hard on making a whole set of beads and matching pendant. I used translucent, silver leaf, and a small amount of color to tint the trans. I wish I had read this blog first, because all of that work is ruined now. I put the beads on a bead rack and the pendant in a dish covered with cornstarch. I used my brand new amaco oven. I did not even check them at 30 minutes, just set it for another 30 cuz Cindy says she bakes everything for an hour. Well, if I had looked up to see what Cindy says about baking translucent first, I might have a beautiful set of beads right now instead of a pile of burned ones. I’m so disgusted with myself!!!

  17. Burnt clay has happened to most of us Tiffany, so don’t let it get to you. Part of the initiation rites, lol.

    Save the remains, in a couple of years, you’ll be laughing about what came out of the oven the first time.

    Best of luck next time out….

  18. @Tiffany: I am sorry that happened to you. Sometimes it is hard to remember all the important info the first time. Sometimes it takes making a mistake to know where you went wrong. Like Jocelyn said, don’t be too hard on yourself. It has happened to all of us!

    @Jocelyn: Thank you for the supportive comment to Tiffany. I can’t get to the comments as fast as I used to and it sure is nice for her to know that someone out there is listening and understands.

  19. Thank you all for the support, it was just so frustrating because I used silver leaf and and alot of time. But you are right, lesson learned!!!

  20. @lynn: Trans Frost is pretty much the same as regular translucent clay only it is ‘whiter’ and less yellow. I guess frosted is a good way to describe translucent frost since none of the translucent clays are very clear.

  21. hi,
    i’ve only recently looked into translucents, and was wondering if the translucent sculpeys are found in the same small bricks as regular sculpey? i’ve seen the liquid stuff, but i’m not interested in it. i’ve made a few small toys for my daughter, and would love to make some lightning bolt, or fire effects on the next few, but am unsure how to get my hands on some of this clay.

    i didn’t look through the entire color wall of sculpey at my store, was the translucent staring me right in the face, and i just missed it? i thought it would have a different packaging or something!

  22. Derrick, raw trans Sculpey looks a kind of pale peachy colour, not at all what you’d expect if you’ve never seen it before. You really have to look at the labels, because they all look the same. The number is 010 if that helps!

    It’s easier with Fimo because trans has “Fimo Effect” on the pack rather than “Fimo Classic” or “Fimo Soft”.

    I prefer Premo Frost myself, it’s clearer than the others I’ve tried, and generally a better clay.

    I’m sure Cindy would warn you that Sculpey III is not the strongest clay so you’ll have to be very careful with your finished pieces as they can break easily.

  23. I have a question.. I bought Fimo effects translucent clay.. .-. i baked it but it’s not translucent… can I return it? or is their something I can do to make it more translucent??

    thanks so much .-.

    • Hi Shannon, most brands of translucent polymer clay (including Fimo) is not very clear unless it is sliced very, very thin. Most people who have not worked with it before, expect it to be TRANSPARENT, but in fact it is only TRANSLUCENT which just means that light can go through it, but it is not completely see through. Don’t throw yours away or return it. There are lots of cool things you can do with it. For ideas, type ‘translucent clay’ into the search box at the top of the page. Hope that helps!

  24. I also have a question because I know little about baking. Can I bake the translucent clay more than one time? Because I plan on making a charm. So after I make the first part, I want to sand/buff it first, then add a non-translucent clay to put designs on it.

    • Yes Lim you can bake as many times as you want. If you find that your raw clay is not sticking very well to your baked clay, you can either use a product like Sculpey Bake n Bond as a bake able glue or you can add a drop of Sculpey clay softner or baby oil to the raw clay you are adding to the baked piece, to make it stickier.

      For any other questions, just type ‘baking’ into the search box at the top of the page and several articles and tutorials will be listed for you. Hope that helps!

      • Hi Lim you can also use Kato Poly Paste to stick raw to baked clay and it will stay put and not slide and bakes “clear”. You can also use poly paste baked to baked clay it will not slip it holds it’s place. Give it a try you like the results. Lynn Watts

  25. You wrote:
    “3) The tiny circular ‘moon’ shapes you sometimes see in the layers of translucent clay are caused by a condition called ‘plaquing’. Fimo Clay has the most plaquing of all the brands of polymer clay. Kato clay the least. Moisture on your hands and over working the clays will cause more plaquing.”

    Just so folks know, plaquing isn’t always something to avoid.

    I learned about plaquing from Tory Hughes when she introduced the faux techniques (ivory/bone, amber, jade, coral, turquoise, etc.) to the polymer clay world. She loved Fimo’s “Art Translucent” version primarily because it plaqued the best. The plaquing contributes to ivory, jade and amber projects looking more authentic.

    • Nice to see you paying us a visit, Desiree, and would be thrilled to see you add more to the comments here as you are another groundbreaking tutor and artist, No kidding Tory Hughes mastered the faux effects of placquing, indeed she elevated it to art.

      If combined with darker colors those lovely little half moons can add tremendous depth to a piece. I love them, and try to get more to occur, lol!

      Thank you so much for blazing a trail in how to teach, I have spend hours and hours on your work, the tutes, the projects, and the food, lol. And your work work as a computer project manager deluxe.

      Last at the site several days ago (mentioned it on Tonya’s FB tutorial site). Know you are crazy busy, but if I could encourage you to finish and publish some of those you list, I would be in heaven. Especially the first, colorless clay mokume gane. OOooo, can just imagine how spectacular that would be to make.

      Possible future how to’s (no promises):

      colorless clay mokume gane
      dye and paint stencil effect
      metal cup bezels for clay
      clay and wire hook&eye clasp
      faux fossils (a tribute to Steve Wood)
      slicing canes with a mandolin

      Until then, I thank you from my heart for your spectacular site, and the way you reach out to assist others. All best always!

  26. Is the Premo translucent clay more crumbly than the other colors?

    I have a block that is SO different and crumbly from the others. It never seems to condition as well. I guess I could add some bake-n-bond or something to it – unless it’s just how it is.

    I think the place I used to buy some Premo didn’t move it very fast and the blocks cold have been old. This may be an old block. But, then again the translucent might be made differently.

    And as long as I’m talking about weird clay…. I have two blocks of unopened Magenta Pearl. The colors are very different. One is bright pink. The other is a dark pinky red. It’s so different I am wondering if it got the wrong package around a different color. The darker one does seem cracked around the edges though. I can squish both of them. Maybe it’s just old? Not sure if I should open it or not. No receipt. Not sure I could exchange it.


    • Hi Lena! Hmm, translucent usually is easier to condition, so not sure what is making it crumble.

      But I sure wouldn’t throw it out until I tried a couple of methods to bring it back to life. If you place “conditioning crumbly clay” in the search box of the upper right top of the page you’ll get a bunch of articles and comments addressing various methods of reconditioning old clay.

      I used to run for my Black and Decker coffee grinder, add a little Mix Quick or one of the other solvents mentioned and whirl away, but, for some reason now, I enjoy the hammer technique more. Just put the clay in a sturdy plastic bag and whack away. Add a few drops of a solvent, whack some more. Little sit in a warm spot for an hour, and whack a couple more times. Cathartic, lol.

      Gather the clay together in the bag, roll it into a flat shape with a roller rod, then let the pasta machine take over. Haven’t met a block of clay I haven’t been able to restore using all the methods you will find on the search, and bringing it back is very satisfying. All best…

      • Thanks for the reply.

        I must have gotten an old package. I can condition it, but it never seems that “great” when done. I’ll add something to it to soften it up. I just resisted since I am new to polymer clay.

        I like the coffee grinder idea, but even better is the hammer! Fun! I did get a NeverKnead, so that helps. It just crumbles EVERYWHERE. I’ll assume the next package will work better. (:

    • Sorry I forgot to say something about the magenta pearl… yes your eyes have not deceived you… the color was changed. Polyform did that to a couple colors without mentioning it to anyone. Just changed it! Magenta Pearl, Rhino Grey, Turquoise, White and Copper are all different colors than what was originally put in the pack..

      Color is not just a name… so I really don’t get why they think they can just change a color and then keep the name they have for it, as if it doesn’t make a difference. They did it with the copper too but at least they told us they were changing it.

      If you’re going to change a color (availability of a pigment could be one reason why it would be necessary) then change the name and the product number too. Something like Magenta Pearl (dark) would have been an improvement. You know how much I love Premo, but sometimes the way they do things drives me crazy!

      • Huh. Well, THAT was the last explanation I would have come up with. LOL. Good to know! Thanks for the information. That was driving me CRAZY. I just finished making little name plates for my clay out of each color. I made one of each wondering which one I would end up using. I guess both until I buy a new pack!

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