You know that sample of Studio by Sculpey clay I won from Polymer Clay Productions? The one I said all those nice things about? Well, I liked it so much I decided to buy a whole bunch of the stuff.... and boy am I regretting it now!
How I Came to Own Every Color in the Studio by Sculpey LineI'm not usually an impulse buyer. I carry things around the store, trying to decide whether I really want to spend my money on them. Or I price-check every possible website to make sure I'm getting the absolute best deal once shipping's factored in. My momma taught me well.
But after weeks of not finding any Studio by Sculpey clay in my local stores, I decided to check eBay. And what do you know...? There was a huge lot of Studio by Sculpey clay -- one with every clay color, some antiquing medium, & all the texture sheets. I decided to watch the auction, do some cost calculations, & obsess about it a bit.
Except I forgot. On the day the auction ended, I was out running around all day. In fact, I got back to my computer something like 2 minutes before the auction ended. I panicked and did all the dumb things eBay likes you to do -- and with just seconds to spare, I placed a winning bid to become the proud owner of a whole bunch of Studio by Sculpey clay.
Well, maybe not proud. I was a bit ashamed to tell my husband, actually. But he was happy for me, knowing how much I'd liked that sample. And it wasn't a bad price per package -- more than the $0.99 sale price I normally pay for clay, but far less than the retail price on the new stuff. And, as he helped me rationalize, I'd definitely use it. (I like it when he helps me make excuses!)
Fast forward to last week. I got my clay and finally had a chance to sit down & dig my fingers into it. And guess what I found...?
It's Useless!The new packages I purchased are too soft to work with. They distort with the tiniest nudge. They're impossible to work with!
The first time this happened, I thought I had over-conditioned it. So I tried conditioning it less -- for only a minute, then only 30 seconds, then only 15 seconds. Even when I only conditioned it for 15 seconds, it was too soft to use in my molds without major distortion.
Molds were one of the things I tested my old sample with -- and it worked great before. In fact, I pulled out that old sample pack again and it still works beautifully in the very same molds that don't work with the newer Studio packages.
So What's The Deal?I wish I knew. It's possible that they changed the formula after they sent out the sample pack that I got via last summer's CHA. If so, they really messed things up in the process.
I'm hoping that's not the case, though. I'm hoping it's an age thing.
My older packages of Premo (we're talking several years old) are much harder to condition now than they were originally. They're usually crumbly (a drop of mineral oil helps cure that), and they make the new packages of Premo I buy feel incredibly soft by comparison. When I pulled out my "old" Studio by Sculpey sample pack to test it again, I noticed it had already started getting crumbly. I've only had it about 5 months -- though I have no way of knowing how old it was when I got it. I'm wondering if perhaps this clay goes very quickly (faster than other brands?) through these consistency changes -- from extremely soft to crumbly.
If that's the case, maybe this too-soft stuff will be perfect in a couple of months. Here's hoping.
What I Still LikeThe news isn't all bad. It still doesn't stick to itself & it runs through the pasta machine nicely. I think it'll be good for thin sheets -- allowing for the fact that when you cut it, it's likely to distort.
And of course, I love the finish. The Polyform folks are calling it suede-like, and I think that's very accurate. It looks (& feels) gorgeous without any sort of glaze.
In Other News, StrengthI was surprised to read on some of the forums that folks found their baked pieces became brittle -- not immediately, but after a couple of weeks. This was not my experience at all. I have several thin (4-5 on my Atlas pasta machine) ATC-sized (2.5" × 3.5") sheets I baked in September, and they are still as strong as they were originally. They're flexible like paper -- much more flexible than the Premo sheets I baked at the same time. They're certainly not brittle. In fact, they're more likely to tear (like paper) than break.
But those sheets were from my sample pack, so I can't say whether those results are consistent with the new off-the-shelf stuff. I've baked a new batch and will report back in a couple of weeks with a new comparison of their strength.
My Recommendation, RevisitedIt appears this clay is a little unstable in its aging process -- or else Polyform may be running into variations in their production batches. Either way, it's probably a good "wait & see" clay for now. If you're wondering about buying some of the clay to try out, I'd say go ahead... but do so in moderation. :-)
More Thoughts from the Clay WorldHere's a few more thoughts on the Studio by Sculpey clay from the claying community...
- The Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild reports problems with Studio by Sculpey's strength.
- Kraphti-Dez tries Mokume Gane with Studio by Sculpey.
- Polymer Clay Zen and PC by Susan share their results from caning with the new clay. (And in case you missed the link in my last post's comments, Jenny of Craft Test Dummies also has a review that includes caning.)
Course, I always love to hear your thoughts. Got anything to add...?
Update: My Studio by Sculpey Strength Test results are now available.