Choosing the best Polymer Clay for Beginners - here's what I've learnt

2 rows of unbaked polymer clay earring components. The stud tops are a semi-circle shape in a bright colour. The main component is arch shaped with a 3D abstract design on a dark base and the bottom component is a scalloped frill shape.

Not all polymer clay is made the same...


When I decided to start making polymer clay earrings in 2018, I did absolutely NO research beforehand. I’m an impulsive, spontaneous and rather impatient individual and that’s not always a good thing! 


I simply jumped in the car, drove to my nearest Spotlight store and bought 6 blocks of very overpriced (and probably out of date) Sculpey III in what were quite frankly, the worst colours I could have possibly chosen and definitely not colours that are representative of my brand today! 


That would be the first of many rookie errors I made!


In this article, I'll take you through what I've learnt about polymer clay brands that I've tried in the last 5 years. I'll share my personal recommendations and tell you why I think some clay is more suitable for beginners than others.


PLUS as a bonus, if you scroll to the bottom of this article you can download your own FREE printable shopping checklist as you build your own polymer clay beginners starter kit!

Sculpey III

Just to be clear: I’m not knocking Sculpey III - it comes in an array of wonderful colours. This a good quality, well established brand and it’s great for adding the odd detail to your designs or blending in small quantities with another of the clays I outline later.


BUT if you use it for your main jewellery components or the base of your polymer clay slab, the strength of each piece may be compromised. 


Its softness and stickiness makes it harder to work with and once baked, I find Sculpey III too brittle for something as delicate as earrings, because of how thin they need to be.


If you drop an earring, it may break more easily.

Sculpey III is great for making figurines but this is not a clay I would use on its own for earring making. 

A portrait of a woman wearing glasses. She is smiling and has her hand resting under her chin. She is wearing dangly earrings and a colourful abstract pattern dress in a design she created. She has a tattoo on her wrist and is wearing nail polish.
Gracie Face​​

What about the cheaper brands?

With a rise in people taking up hobbies during lockdowns in recent years, polymer clay is now readily available in dollar shops and other discount stores. If you’re just wanting to have a little tinker before committing to using a more credible, professional product, brands like these are fine BUT they are nowhere near the standard they need to be if you’re planning to sell your jewellery or you want it to stand the test of time.


My advice? Don't waste your money.


So which polymer clay brands should you be using as an absolute beginner who's looking to make a dent in the magical world of statement earrings? 


The overviews that follow are in order of my personal preferences. You may have already tried some of these options and have your own stories to share. I’d love to hear from you if you have! Without further ado, let’s jump in!

A row of 9 brightly coloured hand-formed pieces of polymer clay, organised neatly on a plain background along the right side of the image.
Gracie ​​Face

Sculpey Soufflé

This is my goto. Sculpey Soufflé is available in 28 flat colours with some lovely rich pigments. It's strong and flexible (I wish I could say the same about myself these days), making it perfect for jewellery making. 


Another bonus is that it's easy to condition because it isn't too firm straight out of the pack (more on conditioning another time) and holds its shape well when handled after cutting. I love Soufflé for detailing, free-cutting sharp edged shapes for 3D slabs and for cane making (except on a warm day) so if these techniques interest you, you’ll love this clay. 


I particularly love the suede-like texture of Soufflé when it’s rolled out. After baking and sanding, the surface of Soufflé is beautifully smooth. This is a very tactile clay with a luxe feel and 5 years on this is still my one true love.

Sculpey Soufflé

A dark coloured polymer clay slab, photographed at an angle with an additional layer of hand-cut multi-coloured components in the shape of humps of different sizes. Some humps are textured and some are stripey.
Gracie ​​Face

Sculpey Premo

The finish to Sculpey Premo polymer clay is more shiny than its sibling, Soufflé. However, it blends nicely with Soufflé colours too if you’re still chasing after that sexy suede feel. It has a firm enough consistency to hold it's shape when raw but it's soft enough to easily condition. 


This is another great clay for jewellery making with an impressive range of 60 colours and effects, including their core range of flat colours plus metallics, glitter, opal, neon, granite and translucent finishes. I'm not the biggest fan of the translucent clays though and favour Cernit Translucent over these.


Beware of some Premo colours that can behave differently when cured; Beige, Fuschia, Alizarin Crimson and Translucents can all be prone to plaquing (when visible bubbles appear inside the clay as it cures). The risk of this can be minimised by taking precautions before you bake (there’s a whole other blog article right there!).

A single block of brightly coloured Sculpey Premo polymer clay in its cellophane packaging with a small circular flat piece of the same coloured clay shown next to it without packaging,
Blackbird and Violet Creative ​​Supplies

Heavily pigmented polymer clay colours

Something else that you’ll learn over time with any of these clay brands, is which polymer clay colours within each range are more heavily pigmented than others. When combining colours, you may not need quite as much of these as you think you will, so go easy!


Quick tip: if you're mixing a custom colour yourself, start with small amounts of each of the colours you plan to combine and roll down to approx. 3mm deep. Use a square or circular cutter of 30/35mm diameter so you can easily divide into equal parts and note down the ratios before you commit to mixing larger quantities.


You’ll also notice significantly more colour transfer onto your hands and your tools with more heavily pigmented clays - this will serve as a gentle reminder to always clean your hands, tools and surfaces before handling the next colour to avoid contamination! 

A group shot of 10 thinly rolled pieces of brightly coloured polymer clay arranged randomly.
Gracie ​​Face

The FIMO fam

A good friend of mine and fellow clayer Robyn, from Kaori has worked almost exclusively with FIMO for over 30 years and swears by this brand. It’s also brilliant if you’re wanting to do cane work. You only need to look at Robyn’s extensive portfolio of cane designs on her Insta feed and in her polymer clay Patreon subscription to see evidence of this.


I might be a little bit nostalgic about FIMO. It's the first brand I worked with when I was 17. I wish I could remember the consistency of FIMO back then and whether it’s the same as their products now, but that was wayyyyy too long ago! Fast forward to 2023 and not all polymer clay in the FIMO family is the same.


If you're a beginner, FIMO Soft is the entry level for jewellery making in the FIMO family. This is still a very strong polymer clay, making it ideal for earrings and necklaces.

Flatlay image of 3 pairs of brightly coloured polymer clay dangle earrings designed by Australian maker, Kaori.
Kaori Studio​​

FIMO Soft

I find that FIMO Soft is a little stronger than Sculpey Souffle and Sculpey Premo but this is purely based on my own experience.


The range includes 24 main flat colours plus 6 ‘trend’ colours. You can then choose from 36 additional colours/ effects through the FIMO Effects range, which extends to pearls, metallics, neons, pastels, stone, glitters and translucent clays. 


So if I think this is a stronger clay, why is it not my number one? 


Well, it will take more work to condition than Sculpey Soufflé and Premo Sculpey as it is much firmer (and as I mentioned earlier, I'm very impatient!), but if you put in the effort your hard work will pay off with your baked components being more robust plus the finish is gorgeous and the colour shift from raw to baked is minimal.

A prorgress shot of some soft coloured polymer clay canes and cane slices with assorted leaf and floral designs.
Kaori ​​Studio

Cernit

Cernit has an extensive range of the most stunning colours, finishes and effects in their polymer clay armory. There are 7 main ranges and in their Cernit Number One range of opaques alone, there are 42 colours. Once cured in the oven, my earring components are always robust.


With Cernit though, you have the polar opposite challenge to FIMO: if you handle it too much, its consistency becomes too sticky to work with and for this reason it’s not good for caning, I’d also avoid it for layered slab work because when rolled thin, it’s difficult to cut and move without distorting your work.


There is a trick to address this issue, by leaching  the clay in question (sandwich your sticky clay between sheets of paper to absorb some of the excess oils and plasticiser) but honestly, don't you just want to have fun when you're so early into your clay journey?!

Image of opened packs of Cernit polymer clay in bright colours with other broken off chunks of assorted Cernit clay colours on a white stone effect background.
Blackbird ​​and Violet Creative Supplies

...Cernit continued

Living in Australia doesn’t particularly help when you’re working with much softer polymer clays. For me, this one is more suited to use on its own in the cooler months of the year or when a block is not completely fresh.

Otherwise, Cernit + a 40 degree Summer’s day = a hot mess!


I’m not suggesting that you avoid using Cernit polymer clay completely as a beginner, but if it’s hot where you live right now, there are better options for you to start with - at least until you build up your experience.


I do love to mix Cernit colours with Soufflé and Premo though - this is a great way to utilise some of their gorgeous hues, whilst minimising that sticky feeling. 

The Cernit Nature range have a lovely stone effect and you actually don’t need a huge amount mixed with another clay to still enjoy the effect, meaning that 1 block can go a long way.

Group shot of 3 polymer clay slab designs, all created using the same multi coloured polymer clay cane but executed using different techniques.
Gracie ​​Face

5 is the magic number!

Still undecided on which polymer clay is for you? Then you may want to consider buying one block of each so that you can really experience the difference for yourself.


Just remember: You only need to buy 5 colours when you start, not a brand's entire range!


As long as you have the following colours, you can create every possible hue that you can imagine:

  • Bright red
  • Bright yellow
  • Bright blue
  • Black
  • White 

For more on this, check out my article 'Everything you need to begin making Polymer Clay Jewellery'

Ariel short of 16 blocks of 57 gram polymer clay in different colours, wrapped in cellophane and under the brand names of Sculpey Souffle and Sculpey Premo. The blay packs are tightly arranged up against each other in a 4 x 4 configuration.
Blackbird and Violet Creative Supplies​​

Get your FREE printable polymer clay jewellery making shopping checklist! 


Are you as excited as I am about beginning your polymer clay jewellery making adventures and starting to experiment?!


To help you get organised, I've created a shopping list for you to print and tick off as you build up the supplies in your polymer clay toolkit. Simply click the box below, pop your details in and you'll receive an email with a link to download this handy checklist.


Don't forget to check out my other articles too. Happy claying!

Linzy x

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