Well let me start by saying all the polymer clay brands out there have different properties and a purpose. It is helpful to become familiar with them. The clays have been undergoing many changes in recent years and the properties are changing so be attentive.
First thing you need to do is ask yourself, what do you want to do or make out of the polymer clay.
Do you want the kids to play with it but don’t care if it breaks later?
Are you making items that are smooth to the touch with no protrusions? like smooth bead or pens
Do you want to make dolls or Fairies
Or will your items that have detail or pieces that protrude off the surface of the item you are making. Like the flower petals on this vase,
Here is a break down of some of the information I have gathered through different resources such as online searches, classes, experience and other resources. I hope this helps.
Sculpey and Sculpey III ; These are the least expensive clays and also the weakest clays. After baking they become brittle and you project may break or crack. If it is thin or protruding. Generally these are used by kids crafting projects especially you don’t mind if they break, and you want an inexpensive crafting experience.
Super Sculpey– flesh tone, low cost, soft and ready to use out of the box. Excellent material for dolls- many professional doll makers use this material exclusively. Disadvantages: after baking it can have a fractured appearance, not as hard or strong as Fimo or Cernit. You can have lots of broken fingers.
Fimo- Classic and Fimo Soft Offers many colors . More expensive than Super Sculpey. Good basic all around clay. Some Reds and Oranges tend to darken when baked you can work with this by blending in white while conditioning. At a ratio of ½”ball to a 2 oz block.
Fimo Classic is stiff and crumbly until kneaded An easy Fix is : Fimo mix quick medium is available to help mix thoroughly- especially when it’s hard and crumbly.
Film Soft is rubbery when working it tends to bounce back instead of forming to your fingers. Smooth even texture after baking. Works very well with very small pieces. To rubbery Fix: You can also leach the clay if it is too rubbery.
Fimo Quick mix Is a kneading aid for mixing into clays making it easier and faster to softening firm clay. It is a clay softener that will improve the texture of dry, crumbly clay creating the perfect consistence, without the stick yucky mess that other liquid clay softeners cause.
Cernit- used for many years by European doll artists. A more expensive polymer and is rubbery and stiff until kneaded and then turns very soft as it is worked. Waxy and translucent appearance after baking. This clay is very strong. You can always blend it with Fimo Classic to stiffen it up a bit. But when blending clays you have to watch you temperatures use the lower of the two package temps and bake longer.
**Kato Poly Clay- developed by Donna Kato. This is a very strong clay. It can be mixed with Super Sculpey or other clays. It shows little to no finger prints in most cases. It can be “rearranged” when it’s warm. In other world it does not stick to its self so you can move it even after you have touched it to itself. It has minimal to no colors shift after baking. ** updated Kato has reformulated their clay, so if you have the new fresh Kato clay it will be much more malleable out of the package and ready to use. The consistency is now very similar to Premo. But still offers the wonderful professional benefits of Kato. But beware your source there are still companies out there selling the out there old formula .
Premo- a strong clay developed by Polyform. Offers many colors choices and is usually available at local hobby stores. More expensive than Super Sculpey. Some Reds and Oranges tend to darken when baked you can work with this by blending in white while conditioning. At a ratio of ½”ball to a 2 oz block will keep it close to the color original color after baking. This is my over all go to clay. I do a lot of caning and although I need to allow plenty of rest time prior to reducing my canes, I enjoy the ease of conditioning and some of the colors available.
ProSculpt- a sculpting clay developed by Jack Johnston. It has many advocates who love this clay. It has come out with a light flesh that works very well for dolls. It has a higher cost and is only available through Jack or distributors on the internet. It also can be mixed with S.S. or other clays.
Pardo- Is a new clay on the market It has no phthalates and is made with beeswax and other natural ingredients. It appears to be more costly but the package size is larger. Pardo also needs little to no conditioning. Because of it’s newest on the market we are still learning about it but it’s strength seems quite good. It also appears to hold up well for caning purposes as well.