Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Clay review - Super Sculpey

Super Sculpey was the first material I ever used so it makes sense that all comparisons should be made against Sculpey, it's also the clay I will review first.

This list of pros and cons are observations I've made while working with Super Sculpey some of you might not agree with some of these observations which is fine, but it's my personal opinion and experience so here are my thoughts.

I personally like Sculpey a lot. I find it's a very good clay to use when first starting out it's very forgiving and needs no special treatment or conditions and you can save your results by baking them.

I buy all my Sculpey through ebay as I find deals on it without the packaging. The more you buy the cheaper it gets but it's not the cheapest clay on the market. Super Sculpey is available in 1 pound, 8 pound and 24 pound boxes lots of online stores sell it. If you do a google search you'll find plenty of stockists.

This is the product description for Sculpey

"Super Sculpey is a very unique polymer clay, loved by artists, dollmakers and animation studios around the world. With a ceramic-like feel, Super Sculpey is available in a semi-translucent beige that, once baked, captures the glow of real skin. It can also be mixed with Premo or Sculpey III to change the color. As with all of our polymer clays, it is easy to condition right out of the package and stays soft until you bake it. Super Sculpey features fine tooling and detailing characteristics, and does not “fill in” after tooling. Because of the fine tooling and detailing characteristics of Super Sculpey, it is frequently the chosen clay for making prototypes from which molds are made from the Super Sculpey sculptures; then reproductions are made using the molds. Additionally, artists are producing finely detailed finished sculptures using Super Sculpey. After curing in the oven, Super Sculpey can be sanded, drilled carved and painted with water-based acrylic paints."


Sculpey is a great material for beginners

Sculpey can be mixed with other polymer clays to achieve different consistencies and colours

Sculpey won't air dry

Sculpey can be cured by baking it in a regular oven

You can put new soft Sculpey over hard cured Sculpey

It has no nasty odour and is non toxic to handle

Older Sculpey can be rejuvenated with petroleum jelly (Vasoline)

You can boil it to harden it, which I've found to be more effective then oven baking as it tends to cure and cool more evenly and reduces the chance of cracking.

Cracks can be filled and sanded with fresh sculpey and then re baked or heat gunned and smaller cracks can be fixed with glue.

It can be further refined once baked by carving sanding and polishing.

It holds very fine details and is very smooth.

If you are making humans or creatures the pink colour is a good base to start painting from.


If the sculpey too thick in areas it is likely to crack when baked as the centre is still not cured

If baked too long it looses some of the forms as it shrinks a little bit

Super Sculpey is pink and semi-translucent which makes seeing your sculpted details harder

Sculpey is a polymer oil based clay so when you brush down the details you have to use thinners and unless you get odorless thinners they smell bad and can be harmful if inhaled for long periods of time.
Different thinners affect the clay in different ways some cut the surface a lot more then others. I found low odour thinners to be the best, the type used for oil painting as it doesn't degrade all your details too badly and blends the surface well.

Building up forms can take longer with Sculpey as it needs to be softened by hand.

Sculpey doesn't stick very well to armature wire so you have to spend more time on your armatures to compensate for this. The best way is to bind the larger wire with much thinner wire so the clay can grip to it.

You need to be slightly more heavy handed with Sculpey as the clay has a springy quality to it, so it resists the tools more than other clays do.

Texture stamps don't work so well with sculpey as it's a little bit too firm and you have to push quite hard to transfer any detail, so you risk distorting the sculpture

It can be quite expensive when you start making larger models

When all is said and done I really like Sculpey, it's a great clay and I think the positives out weigh any negatives it might have. I found many work around solutions for the problems mentioned, it's really no big deal.

I mix the Super Sculpey with Sculpey firm 50\50 by eye so I have a grey surface to see all my details on and it stiffens the clay a bit more. Regular Sculpey can be a little bit too soft. If you have a very fresh block you might find it a little bit to soft in which case put it on some baking paper or even regular paper and it will draw out some of the excess oils making it a little firmer.

Go and try it for yourselves and most importantly don't worry, have fun.


SikArtist said...

Super Sculpey was one of the first clays I began using. When I entered the "professional world" I found out about other clays, premo, castalene, chevant and wax of course. Sculpey was typically scoffed at for being a beginers clay, but I always thought It was very versatile. Not the cheapest but for its price and availability It's a good clay. Good review. I agree with just about everything you said.

illtempered Artist said...

Nice work!

I was randomly bouncing around and read the clay review. I started on Sculpey myself and while it has certain properties I love I had to move on.

If you ever get a chance try this stuff out. It's really amazing clay and rarely have I never needed an armature.

Honestly the best stuff I ever used.