Comparing Translucent Polymer Clay Brands

Translucent Polymer ClayVideo #334: Which polymer clay translucent product is right for you? Premo Sculpey, Kato Polyclay, Fimo or Sculpey III?

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Comparison between 4 Brands of Translucent Polymer Clay:
    – Sculpey III Translucent
    – Premo Sculpey White Translucent (5527)
    – Fimo Effects Transparent White
    – Kato Polyclay Translucent
  • Sample chips of all brands rolled out to two different thicknesses:
    – 1 playing card thick and
    – 6 playing cards thick
  • All samples baked for one hour at recommended temperature for each brand:
    – Sculpey III @ 265F
    – Premo @ 275F
    – Fimo @ 230F
    – Kato @ 300F
    (To be fair, I haven’t tested the longer baking times with Kato, so the 1 hour may have been a detriment to strength rather than a benefit like it is with Sculpey III, Premo and Fimo. Further testing needs to be done to find the ideal baking time for Kato Polyclay.)
  • Comparisons were made with each brand on the following properties:
    – Color
    – Clarity
    – Strength
    – Flexibility
    – Transparency

By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Tantesherry, 10 January, 2013

    a lot of good info in this video guys – thanks :)

  2. Louise S, 10 January, 2013

    That was a good side by side test but it would have been nice to see Pardo clay tested with them too.

  3. Sue F, 10 January, 2013

    I’m still using the older formulation of Kato, but an hour of baking time is definitely too long for that, and it is actually weakening again by that stage according to my own testing. Note that the package recommendations for Kato are only 10 minutes baking at 150C/300F, so while an hour of baking is double the package recommendation for Premo, it is SIX TIMES the package recommendation for Kato!

    I use about 40-50 minutes for Kato, and on the shorter side of that for thin or flat pieces. There will be less discolouration than when baked for that time too, although it will still have yellowed somewhat. (I know of one well-known polymer clay artist whose signature pieces require strong clay; her Kato baking time recommendations were the same as what I’d come up with independently, and it was nice to have them confirmed that way.) The strength of the newest formulation might be different, but the older Kato is by far the strongest of all the clay brands I’ve tested.

    Saying all of that, I don’t use Kato Translucent _as_ translucent because it’s the least clear of the translucent clays I’ve tried (I usually apply the “can you read through it” test for that, which up close also shows the internal imperfections that some brands get too).

    Kato Translucent buffs up to a super high shine, so I do sometimes add it to other clays to enhance their final shine. It’s also nice to add a bit to mica clays so that there’s even more visual depth to them (particularly good for mica shift techniques!). And it is good for semi-translucent effects.

    However, when I want a translucent clay in the normal sense, e.g. for a cane background, I too use Premo (::gasp!:: LOL) I haven’t tried what Premo call White Translucent because I still have quite a lot of Premo Frost, but I understand it’s effectively the same thing.

    Pardo Professional Art Clay is actually even clearer than Premo Frost. (I’ll just call it Pardo from now on because that’s a stupidly long name, although there is also Pardo Jewellery Clay which is a different product.)

    Anyway, a couple of photos of my Pardo Translucent sample chip will show what I mean. My sample chips are rolled to 6 playing cards thickness, as illustrated by this first photo.

    This second photo shows how easy it is to see through Pardo Translucent even at 6 playing cards thickness, and you can also see that it’s stil quite white. You can see my equivalent Premo Frost sample chip in the upper left of that photo for comparison… at 6 playing cards thickness it’s relatively hard to even see the sticker on the back of the Premo Frost sample.

    Pretty amazing, eh? The downside is that Pardo becomes very soft and very sticky quite quickly when working it in hot weather. I started using some the other day but found it become totally unworkable before I actually got to use it in the technique I was experimenting with. It’s also relatively hard to get — I order mine from Germany — and the packaging isn’t as conducive to efficient shelving as any of the other brands. Pardo Translucent also needs minimal handling to retain optimum clarity: you get more internal imperfections if it’s handled a lot, and they show up comparatively more because the rest of the clay is so clear.

  4. Ken Hamilton, 11 January, 2013

    That’s not translucent, that’s bordering on transparent. WOW! I’ve got to get me some PPAC Translucent to try my faux jade on.

  5. Ken Hamilton, 11 January, 2013

    Wonder how it would do in a faux amber… hehehehe this has gotten my mind spinning again with so many ideas. It might even work better for Cindy’s faux opal too.

  6. Sue F, 14 January, 2013

    It should make great faux jade, Ken! I’ve seen real (extremely expensive!) jade that’s much clearer than typical jade, with no discernable internal flaws, and it looked spectacular with gold. (I haven’t made faux jade for ages, and I don’t think I’ve ever tried Cindy’s technique for it, so I’ll have to give that a go soon. Thanks for reminding me about it! :D)

    And it should make wonderful faux amber too. I’ve used Premo Frost for that a couple of times and deliberately overbaked it (hotter than normal, for much, much longer than normal) to get the golden colour instead of using an additive to colour it. The deliberate overbaking had the nice side effect of making it almost transparent; the first experimental batch turned out so clear that I put faux insects inside my second batch (I need practice at making them actually *look* like insects though!). But I haven’t tried it with Pardo, which wouldn’t need all that extra time. If you try it, let us know how it goes!

  7. Ken Hamilton, 15 January, 2013

    I’ve got to get my hands on some PPAC Trans. first, the one site says late jan or Feb for availability. I’m going to try using the Tim Holtz inks since I think adding bits of another colored clay might take it too far from the clarity that the pardo has. It could be nice to do both types of amber and put them together.

    I’ve done a jade (not Cindy’s :( though) with premo trans., it looks good but there’s just something that’s not right yet. Either there is still too much premo colored clay in the translucent or the translucent just isn’t translucent enough.

  8. Sue F, 15 January, 2013

    Most recently I’ve bought Pardo from Marwel Design in Germany if that helps. Here is their Pardo Professional Art Clay (PPAC) product page.

    I’ve also bought PPAC and other products from Poly Clay Play, the company mentioned elsewhere in this thread as a Pardo stockist, and I was very happy with the products and the service from there too. I just found the PPAC availability better from the German site, which is not really surprising since that’s where it’s made!

  9. Cindy Lietz, 11 January, 2013

    Awesome Sue! Thanks for sharing the ideal time for Kato. I will take that into account when I do my own tests. That is very helpful!! I will be getting some Pardo trans to test myself in the next day or two. A local member offered some of hers for me to try out and share the results with everyone. Looking forward to seeing what it is like!

  10. Sue F, 14 January, 2013

    My pleasure, Cindy. :)

    One other thought on baking Kato… If you want it to be somewhat flexible but still strong, bake it for a bit less than I said (maybe 25-30 minutes); it has greater tensile strength at 40 minutes and is much stiffer, but there are some cases where you *want* some flexibility instead. It weakens somewhat if you bake it for too long, and while my own tests show it weakening again by an hour, I actually would have expected it to still be somewhat stronger than it looked in your test: I’ve rolled Kato out as thin as my pasta machine will go, then have put it between paper and rolled it further by hand until I can’t make it go any thinner, and it’s normally still difficult to break or tear. I’m curious now whether the new formula is quite as strong as the old formula… I do have a packet or two of the new formula somewhere so will try that out.

    And it’ll be great to hear your thoughts on Pardo! I’ve played with it and have used it in a few items, but haven’t done any systematic testing on it. (I’ve actually only used the translucent and the metallics, and haven’t got around to the colours yet!)

  11. Jocelyn C, 10 January, 2013

    Great PSA Cindy….love the lab coat!!! Tee Hee.

    Wonder if the ones that yellowed would resist that tendency a little more if totally immersed in bicarb of soda or baking soda while baking? That top coating of bicarb really affects my results from browning or tinting.

    Also, would love to see the results with Pardo. Some of the translucent art I have seen made with it recently seem almost to be “glass like,” which is really exciting.

  12. Sue F, 10 January, 2013

    Jocelyn, I posted a reply earlier which is currently in the moderation queue because I forgot to delete the first part of the image links I included, but when it gets approved there are a couple of Pardo Translucent sample photos to show how clear it is even when relatively thick, plus some brief notes on it. I also noted that an hour of baking time is too long for Kato: it’s weakening again by that point, as well as being overly yellowed (but immersing it in baking soda/bicarb soda as you pointed out should help a bit).

  13. Jocelyn C, 10 January, 2013

    Sue, thanks so much for sharing those photos and your fine information. That Pardo is like glass, so amazing, and cannot wait for Fall to have a little in the budget to buy and experiment with it.

  14. Maria, 10 January, 2013

    Yay! My favorite Premo White Translucent wins!

  15. eturnald, 10 January, 2013

    I love your reviews!!! You answered so many questions that I was thinking. Keep up the great work!

  16. Hermine R, 10 January, 2013

    I think you should try if you can find some the Viva pardo Translucent . I think it’s whiter than the fimo. Strong , bendable when thin. I liked your research on the trans clay. Love to follow each week.

  17. Cindy Lietz, 10 January, 2013

    Thank you guys! I just got an email from a local member Nancy Quinn who has a package of Pardo Translucent that I can test for you guys. Should have it in the next few days and will get a PcT Test Lab filmed as soon as I can. THANK YOU Nancy! You are a total sweetheart. It means a lot to me that you would be so giving!

    The reason I have not yet tried Pardo Professional Art Clay or the other Pardo Jewelry Clay even though I had heard good things about it was a few of reasons.

    First of all, Pardo is not readily available. I only know of one place in the US (PolyClayPlay) that carries it. Nothing in Canada, as far as I know. If it is not easy for my students to find, I usually avoid using it in my tutorials. But now since I am doing these new review and test lab type videos, I am OK with showing you what is out there, even if it is hard to find or even too expensive for most beginners and intermediate clayers. You can always dream… right?

    Secondly, when I did try and order some translucent clay, they were out of stock and not expecting a new shipment until at least February.

    And lastly, shipping clay to Canada is often such a huge pain in the butt. The shipping is often way too expensive, there sometimes brokerage fees and sometimes not, (its a bit of a crap shoot) and it can sit at the border for weeks sometimes. That can be very hard on clay if the storage facility is too hot.

    It would make me more that EXTREMELY HAPPY if Michaels, our one and only craft retailer in Canada , would carry all the brands of polymer clay. They do carry Sculpey III, Super Sculpey, UltraLight, Fimo, Premo, Pluffy, some airdry clays and a couple other non-polymer clays, so it is not too bad. But I would love it if they added, Cernit and Pardo to the aisle as well. That would make it a whole lot easier for me to use the stuff.

  18. Jocelyn C, 10 January, 2013

    Ooooo, and the site you recommended reduced the price on Pardo…….

    Thank you Nancy and thank you Cindy for making it possible to test this product asap. “Glass-like” is soooo intriguing, cannot wait to see what you find.

  19. Penny Vingoe, 11 January, 2013

    Cindy – its a very long time since I contributed to your comments, but I still follow your blog. Inevitably I just have to tell you that I was the first person in the UK to supply Pardo Professional Art Clay and have produced a website to showcase it – I thought your members might be interested. I absolutely love the clay and the translucent is second to none and simply flying off the shelves. I thought it was expensive when I started buying it, but now that all the other suppliers have increased their prices it is actually quite reasonable!
    Incidentally I keep having requests to supply to America and can’t make a decision as to whether to – as you say postage and duties are a block.

    Apropos of Kato – it is still my favourite clay and I absolutely LOVE the smeill – I am quite adicted to the smell and will sit with a load of the clay on my work table simply to take it in. Interesting how different we all are!

  20. Jeanne C., 11 January, 2013

    Thanks Cindy for doing all the research for us! So far Premo translucent has been my favorite. i’ve heard that Pardo was the best, however trying to get it is near impossible. I heard Hobby Lobby sold it and drove 214 miles (round trip) to a Hobby Lobby to have them tell me they don’t carry it anymore, she said it wasn’t selling. I’ll just continue to use Premo since it works for me and it’s always in stock at Michaels.

    Love the lab coat.

  21. Bertha A., 13 January, 2013

    One of the last times I was at Hobby Lobby (some months ago) they had Pardo on the Clearance shelf, so I picked up a bunch just to give it a try. Unfortunately, all the translucent must have been gone already as I did not get any. (Haven’t done anything with what I got as I have so little I wanted to research it to ensure I make the most of it as it will be hard to replace if I like it.)

  22. Michelle Adams, 13 January, 2013

    I picked up a few packages of the Pardo on clearance at Hobby Lobby too a few months ago. A lot if it turned to powder when I tried to work with it – it must have been sitting around for a while. One package was OK, another kind of so so, and another…powder. I have been able to use it though. I either sprinkle a couple of colors on some translucent and roll it out, cool effect, or use it to tint the translucent clay. I never bought Pardo before because it was so expensive. Probable the fresh packages work well, but I like the effects I’m getting with the clearance rack clay. If I paid full price for it though and it did that I wouldn’t have been happy. Love the lab coat Cindy! Thanks for doing all the research.

  23. Deby P, 16 January, 2013

    Great!!!! Info Cindy. Thank you so much for always looking to help us keep informed!! =)

  24. Linda K., 18 January, 2013

    Great job on this, Cindy. Not only did I learn enough to be happy with my Premo, but your video gave my creativity a big boost.

  25. Cindy Lietz, 21 January, 2013

    Thanks Linda! Nice to see you. I’ve missed you around here. Hopefully you have found your muse and will be busy making wonderful clay stuff again. Love having you here, part of our sweet polymer clay family!

  26. Sue F, 12 February, 2013

    For anyone interested, I’ve just seen a link to another comparison of translucent clays, covering Pardo, Cernit, Kato, Fimo, Sculpey III and Premo. Cindy gets a mention it in too!

  27. Yvonne Torburn-Clark, 12 July, 2013

    I’ve noticed that you didn’t use Premo “Frost”. Which I use as my transparent clay of choice. Have you ever compared Premo’s “Frost” with Premo’s “Transparent white”?

  28. Cindy Lietz, 12 July, 2013

    Hi Yvonne, Premo White Translucent and Premo Frost are actually the same product, they just changed the name to White Trans. a couple of years ago but the product is the same.

  29. Fran V, 19 April, 2014


    I wonder if you have ever compared Premo’s White Translucent with Premo’s Translucent?

  30. Cindy Lietz, 22 April, 2014

    Hi Fran, I should do a comparison video of the two alright. Thanks for the suggestion!

  31. Phyllis C, 05 February, 2016

    Thank you so much for this comparison, Cindy! I’m going to try Premo white translucent. I wish I would have watched your video earlier. I used Kato translucent and learned the hard way that it yellows unless you tent it.

    In Donna Kato’s book, “The Art of Polymer Clay,” she advises 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees for translucent clay. I’ve baked it for 30 minutes at 275 degrees and so far if, it’s tented, it doesn’t yellow.

  32. Cindy Lietz, 08 February, 2016

    Thanks for passing that info along Phyllis! That is very helpful!

  33. Maria C, 30 March, 2017

    Cindy! your videos are a highlight in my day : )

    (currently I’m playing with translucent Pardo – so fun to see what color it comes out as it is so milky pre-baking.. still need to sand and buff them, but look cool already…

    I find purple translucent Pardo is very dark on its own — needs to be “cut” with the white transparent…

  34. Cindy Lietz, 01 April, 2017

    Thanks for your comment Maria! I have only tried the white translucent Pardo so I haven’t had the chance to see how the other translucent colors bake up. Sounds like I’m gonna have to get my hands on some I guess! ;)

  35. Paul B, 01 May, 2017

    Hi Cindy,

    Hope you are well,

    I have just watch your video on the strongest translucent polymer clay. I notice the video was made in 2013, I was wondering if the Premo is still the strongest and most flexible when made very thin?

    Could you please let me know any strong flexible material that looks like skin tone or I could add some type of ink to make it skin tone. Also could you please tell me the name of the tool to make it thin?



  36. Cindy Lietz, 02 May, 2017

    Hi Paul, Premo is still a very strong and excellent clay to work with, even thin. There are other strong brands as well like Kato, Fimo Professional and Cernit. As far as a good skin color, Premo Beige is a semi-translucent Caucasian medium skin tone. You can always mix your own custom colors using translucent clay, solid clays, alcohol inks and or chalks. In regards to making the clay into thin sheets, you can use an acrylic roller or a pasta machine. I have tons of info on this blog in regards to brands, mixing colors and tools. Thank you for commenting!

  37. Jennifer Medlin, 12 August, 2018

    Hi! I loved the video! I was hoping you could help me figure out why my white Premo is consistently so brittle. Not matter how I bake it, or the thickness, what other color I mix it with it crumbles like crazy. I checked that the manufacture date was recent, and the date indicates that my particular package was made this year. It’s malleable and takes detail well. I can find no other fault with it. Any ideas?

  38. Cindy Lietz, 13 August, 2018

    Hi Jennifer, that is a really weird problem… one that I haven’t heard of before. Are you saying that the other colors you use are fine? Are you using an oven thermometer to make sure the temp is hot enough? If the temp is not hot enough to melt the polymer particles then it may be brittle. Are you baking for one hour? Have you tried adding a little clay softener to the mix. Those things may help.

  39. Gaye Sagar, 13 August, 2018

    yes I have the texture sheets and love them and I love your show thank you so much Im learning a lot . Gaye

  40. Cindy Lietz, 16 August, 2018

    Thank you Gaye! :)

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