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What the Heck is Polymer
This is from a model kit that makes this polyvinyl chloride molecular sculpture, but I forgot where it is located, when I remember I'll add it to the picture as a link.
Cure: To heat set raw clay. It can be baked or boiled. It can be heat set in the kitchen oven, in a toaster oven or a covered electric skillet. It can be heat cured on your sunny window sill or the trunk of your car. I don't use the word "Fired" for that's for earth clay and it's a gazillion degrees. We cure at the low temperature of 265F/130C and it can be done in more ways than "baking".
It came to my attention that some folks don't know what polymer clay is and how it differs from "earth clay" or "painted plaster". Having had experience with all three I'll give a 10 point explanation of the differences and why polymer clay is just so danged handy.
Polymer clay is cheap, cures quick with no fancy equipment needed and is easy to manipulate because it doesn't set up on you before you're finished or dry out while you're still needing flexibility.
|Polymer Clay||Earth Clay||Painted Plaster|
|Inexpensive||Capital investment needed||Inexpensive|
|Warm to the touch after conditioning||Wet, cold||Starts out cold and heats up with chemical catalyst|
|Can leave work in progress out in the air with no ill effect||Must cover with wet cloth and plastic in special closets while work is in progress||Must finish what one starts for it sets and there's no going back. Minutes to get it right.|
|Low heat setting, 130C/265F||High heat setting, special kiln needed||No heat to set|
|Quick setting time, half hour||Hours to fire and hours to cool, multiplied if glazed||N/A|
|Color in the clay||Glaze and then wait to see after firing and cooling||Paint the Plaster the Color needed|
|When broken it can be repaired||When broken, it's broken||Breaking is Plaster's nature for it is not strong|
|Cannot be used for food||Can be used for food if no lead is in the glaze||Do not use for food for washing up is impossible|
|Has translucent properties||No Translucent properties||No Translucent properties|
Carve and the color is still there.
|Post color carving will scrape off surface color.||Post color carving scrapes off the surface color|
Polymer Clay and Safety
There's been some concern on the safety of any PVC product. I think that using PVC for baby pacifiers is criminal. Roll up a plastic grocery bag and stick it in your baby's mouth, I think not.
Polymer clay is to be used with care with adults as well as under supervision with children. The tool that touches polymer clay cannot be reintroduced into the kitchen for food use. Do not make bongs or pipes from polymer clay, like rolling your smoking material in that plastic grocery bag, just not safe to do. Common sense people, use common sense. Just as you would not stir your coffee with a paintbrush used for acrylic paints, don't put polymer clay into your mouth, wear gloves while working on it if you're skittish, wash your hands. It's easy to be careful.
Ok, what the heck is polymer clay? We kick this term around and what do we really know about it? This page will give you links to the propeller heads who will give you some "hard data".
Polymer Clay is a plastic. Because of that it should not be used for anything that is going into the mouth. No kazoos, no flutes or dishes that hold food. Don't burn it and if you do open all the windows and don't inhale.
Now before you go running into the woods all scared about using a plastic as an art medium, just remember the young apprentice artists, the "Mullers" whose job it was to mix paint pigment into the medium - linseed oil and stuff like that. Those young Mullers died at the same rate as Chimney Sweeps. Sculptors of marble deal with dust. All artists run some risk with the mediums they choose to create their art.
Know what you're working with and work wisely. Don't let friends or family go gnawing on your polymer clay covered pen while they are on hold ordering pizza over the phone. Give them a smack and say "don't do that!"
Safety (MSDS) data for polyvinyl chloride Some folks say there's no danger if you minimize contact.
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