Friday, 4 March 2011

My help for begginers: CLAY

Hi guys!

You've told me that you'd like me to write more tutorials. I've also been recently asked what materials I use to create my clay sweets and I thought that this would be great post covering what you need to start making clay decorations. I know that this probably was done by many people before, but somehow many of you don't know what to buy or what to use. It might be all confusing to some of you who is just starting to use clay.
First I have to say that I'm not an expert :) I discovered polymer clay over year ago and air dry clay has become my working medium just from September last year :) Therefore you need to keep in mind that I don't know everything about it and I can only share with you things I've learned on my own mistakes :D If you decide to "follow the white clay rabbit" and go deeper into the hole :) , you will probably make many mistakes too and discover your own unique ways and materials you want to use. Everyone is different, and we all have our won preferences.
In these post series (one post would be WAY to long!) I will try to show you materials and tools you will need to make clay creations. I will try to include only basic and the most important ones, because in clay art you can use almost everything, from household items to give clay texture, to spices like pepper to create vanilla seeds in ice creams :) I proposal won't include everything here, only things I've tried before :)

What clay should I use?

There are two types of clay: polymer clay and air dry clay. Well yes, there are more types (which I don't even know...) but in deco sweets these two types are the most common and I use only these two mainly. The difference between these two clays, is that polymer clay is baked in oven and air dry clay, as the name says, becomes hard after drying out in air, which takes about couple of days, depending on thickness.

Polymer clay is the first clay I've used and it was Fimo brand. There are also different brands, like Sculpey, Kato etc. Fimo comes in two types: Classic and Soft. My first choice was Classic because I read that it's more durable. My advice to everyone wanting to use Fimo is to buy Soft version. It's easier to work with and I didn't notice any difference after baking it. It's still hard as rock and it doesn't brake at all.
You could use polymer clay to make all of your creations, but I personally think that it takes some practice AND skills to create the same things from polymer clay to look like sweets made from air dry clay. Polymer clay is tougher and it's just not easy to work with. It's hard to colour it (shade, "bake it") with pastels and shade it with acrylic paints (although it's still possible!). But it's very good medium for detailed and small items like roses and sprinkles, so it's still good to use it! :)
You can't colour polymer clay with acrylics, but only by mixing it with other clay. Polymer clay comes in variety of different coloures but if you like pastel and bright colours, it's better to buy large block of white clay and some of your favourite colours and mix them together until you get your desire shade. It's also cheaper than buying all the available coloures at one time :D
The basic colours you might definitely need would be Fimo chocolate and champagne, which I found is really good for basic cookie colour before shading it.

Air dry clay is the most popular clay amongst deco sweets artists. I think that Hearty is used the most but personally I don't use it. The first reason is that it's not easily available in UK, and it's also too expensive for me (200g pack costs around £15 delivered and I have to wait for it 2-3 weeks). Second reason why I don't use it, is because it's not durable. It brakes easily and is not water resistant for me, even after varnishing. It is perfect for anyone who has easy and cheap access to it, and who wants to make clay creations for personal use only. But if you want to sell your sweets, then I wouldn't recommend it.

My personal favourite is Fimo Light Air Dry Clay (please don't mistake it with normal Fimo Air dry clay! ) It comes in white, black, red, yellow and blue colour, but I only use white one.
Fimo Light is very similar to Hearty and other air dry clays, although It's much stickier and messy to work with. If you will decide to use it, you will have to clean your hands after every time you mix it with paint :) (or use latex glove to mix it with paint). But it's a small price for it's durability and hardness. It is much more sturdier that Hearty and it's much more water resistant, even before varnishing. It is also cheaper and available here and in Europe.

There are also other types of clay, like transparent Sukerukun (used for fruits) or different types of Fimo effect clays (glitter, metallic, translucent and even glowing in the dark! :D ) It is up to you if you want to use them as they are not that necessary and you won't need them when you just start using clay. Sukerukun is also a bit expensive for me :) I tried to use translucent Fimo but it didn't give the same effects...
Other types of clays used by deco artists are Grace and Cosmos. I've never used them but you can read about them here, on Hikaria's blog. She made very good review of three types of air dry clay :)

I've searched for Fimo Air Light on the international craft/art websites and unfortunately it seems like it's only available only from UK (also eBay) based shops, and they should ship internationally.

Hope you enjoyed this rather long post! :)
And thank you for stopping by here!

Help full links:


  1. Ooh, I think they might actually sell this Staedtler Fimo Light Air Dry Clay in the US, but I've only seen the basic one so far...

    Anyway, this post is not helping my spending freeze, haha. I told myself that I wouldn't purchase any more craft-making items until I go to Korea at the end of the month (Spring Break!), but ugh, it's so difficult. ):

    Thanks for the links & recommendations! They're really useful.

  2. Basic you mean polymer clay Fimo?

    And I would love to shop for craft items in Korea! I'm so jelaous! :D

  3. I use Hearty and I drapped my first glossed piece some many times and nothing happened..i wish i was able to try this fimo air dry clay though...sad face :(. (Oh by the way first time selling stuff went ok! Made fifteen bucks! :D)

  4. Lizzy:
    Congratulations on your first sale! :D
    It's all about personal preferences. I personally don't like Hearty. I've tried to use it recently. I made some bread rolls, painted them and when i varnished them, paint started coming off :(

    Cherri Drop:
    I'm happy I could help! Even if it's not proffessional help, it's always good to share experiences with others :) It's better to learnon other's mistakes, rather than our own :D

  5. Oh, I mean the regular air dry clay. I haven't seen the light version anywhere. :|

  6. ohhh i'm so late in browsing blogland! i love your blog! i bought this a few months back and didn't try it yet, thanks sooo much for your review!! i was planning to review and blog about it, i think i'll just refer to your blog post instead XD

  7. I hope you will enjoy using it. It's realy goo, I think better than Hearty etc. And you should review it too, because everyone has different preferences and bloggers would love to hear different point of view too :) you may discover something new about this clay :) Who knows? And btw, I would love to read about someone else's opinion about Fimo Air Light. Not many people use it

  8. I really appreciate you wrote this blog. I want to make things from clay for in my doll house and this helps me to be informed about clay, it helps me choose which clay to try.