The popularity of polymer clay, first used by ceramic artists as an inexpensive way to make pretty pottery, has just exploded in the last decade, and these days it seems like every single person is a make-it-yourself artist. The fact is, polymer clay has surpassed all other mediums for DIY art because it is inexpensive and available in a huge variety of colors.
There are other factors that make this craft so attractive to new artists. Polymer clay can be molded into any shape you want, and once fired in the kiln, it hardens into a solid piece of art that can either be displayed or used for practical purposes. This means that you can easily make functional as well as beautiful objects, and the vessel for these creations is unlikely to be filled with dust and dirt because they can be cleaned up with ease.
Over the years, many clay alternatives have popped up to fill the void that polymer clay has left open in terms of new materials. The most obvious alternative would be to continue to make objects with polymer clay, but this is likely to be a difficult proposition as the product has traditionally been quite expensive and there have been many complaints about the breakable quality of the material.
So let’s take a look at some of these other materials for polymers that might work well for some people.
Ceramic clay as polymer clay alternative
Ceramic clay is a silica-based product that is finer than polymer clay and is made in a similar way. It is so smooth and consistent that it can be easily molded over a form without breaking, cracking, or crumbling. Once an object is created, it can be fired in a kiln to harden it. This product is much more expensive than traditional polymer clay, but the quality of the finished project makes up for this with its durability and other benefits.
Pros: Unlike polymer clay, Ceramics Clay is not as sticky on your hands and contains no additives. This means that once you’re done with a piece, you can simply clean it with water instead of having to use oil or other liquids.
Cons: With ceramic clay, there’s less room for error because once it’s fired in the kiln, you can’t do much more than paint it.
Alumilite as alternative to polymer clay
This is an epoxy resin mixed with putty, and you can use it just like traditional clay. It hardens in the kiln, but because it’s so thick, it has a much smoother texture. The material also lasts longer and is stronger than polymer clay, and more people are using it in their projects.
Pros: you can use it to make figures that are smooth and have a high gloss finish. It is a durable material when fired in the kiln, and you can add dyes to it without fear of damaging the finished piece.
Cons: This product is not flexible, so you cannot move or adjust pieces once they are created. Although this material is more durable than polymer clay, most people still see it as a temporary solution rather than a permanent one.
Silicone Clay instead of polymer clay?
Silicone Clay is made from silicone oil and hardened by adding a catalyst. This product is popular with young artists because the material can be molded into a variety of shapes, and it is made so that it can be used over and over again. This product is not as durable as some other clay alternatives we have seen, but its flexibility makes it a great material for many projects.
Pros: This product can be pressed in your hands without breaking, so you can make very detailed sculptures without fear of damaging your project. You can also use it to create portraits because it changes shape so easily.
Cons: It’s not a permanent solution, and once you want to stop working with it, you’ll have to destroy it by heating it in a kiln. In most cases, you’ll want to store it in a container with an airtight lid.
Plastic clay is a petroleum-based polymer that is moldable and was first used to make mannequins and toys. It is also used for a variety of creative projects. You can buy this product in a variety of shapes, and it is made from a series of fillers that are mixed together to create a creamy consistency that can be molded. Plastic clay hardens when exposed to heat, which means you can paint or finish your product before or after baking. This material is really durable and can be used for both functional and decorative purposes.
Pros: you can use this material to create many objects with different purposes. There are many recipes and tutorials online for making these objects, and you can also buy pre-made models of sculptures that you can use as templates for your own creation.
Cons: This material is not very durable, so it will need to be replaced pretty soon after you use it. Since it is a petroleum-based formula, plastic clay dries out quickly if left outdoors without being covered with some sort of material.
This product is actually a type of laminating film that can be used to create three-dimensional objects. These are made from absorbent paper and a variety of other products that are layered to create a unique look. The artwork created with this medium can be bent, twisted, or curved in any way and is very adaptable. The final product can be sealed to protect it from damage, or you can use it to cover items and reuse the packaging.
Pros: The paper used in these products allows for a very smooth surface, so you can create a variety of designs. You can also change the texture of the paper after it has been used to create different effects.
Cons: Since it is made of paper and not clay, it is not as durable as polymer clay and there is also no way to store it or reuse it with your other projects.
This is an inexpensive polymer clay alternative that is made in small kilns that use air pressure, so you can make beads with ease. You get the most flexibility with tools when creating these pieces because they are not baked in the kiln, but they do harden once they dry.
Pros: This is an inexpensive material that you can use to make decorative pieces very easily. You can make beads, charms, and buttons with this material and as long as you have the right tools, you can create intricate patterns with it. There are also many tutorials for making these items online, so if you are interested in creating your own piece, there are many instructions available online.
Cons: As with a traditional polymer clay alternative, the dried beads only last for a short time before they start to break apart. You cannot store this material once it is made, as you will need to make your pieces while the clay is still warm.
This is a clay that is made from earth, sand, and limestone, which makes this product both beautiful and practical. It can be used in projects for both functional and decorative purposes. It is very strong, durable, and lightweight. It dries out fairly quickly but can be used on a variety of surfaces without becoming brittle or cracking. Terracotta is a type of ceramic material used for both sculpture and decorative art.
Pros: you can make decorative pieces for your home that are very durable. It’s also not very expensive, and you can find this material in a range of colors, so you can create something that fits your style.
Cons: It becomes brittle when it dries out, but you can rehydrate it by leaving water on it for a few hours. You will need to buy Terracotta from a local store, so you can see how it reacts to the heat in your area.