Comparison of Polymer Clays in Making Veneers

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Last week I showed you how I cut polymer clay with my Cricut- basically, I made a very thin sheet of polymer clay and cured it, making a veneer that I could then cut with an electronic cutter.

But I got to wondering- which brand of polymer clay would make the best veneer? You need it to be strong, but flexible, and not too brittle. So I took three common brands of polymer clays- Premo, Sculpey III, and Pardo Jewellry Clay- and tested them out with manual punches, manual dies, and the Cricut E2 die cutting machine.

Just a note on how I conducted my tests: I conditioned each brand of clay thoroughly, then rolled it out on the thinnest setting on a sheet of deli wrap. I cured each sheet according to manufacturer’s directions. Each brand of clay has been in my studio for a year, as I just I used what was on hand.

First, I tried each sheet of PC veneer with a manual punch.

The first punch is a simple design.

Next, I used a more detailed manual punch- this one by Martha Stewart Crafts:

This punch has much more intricate detail.

As you can see, this punch has much more detail, and the Premo and Pardo clays were too brittle to handle it. Only the Sculpey III captured the detail without breaking.

Next I tried three manual dies: a Spellbinders Nestabilities (diamond) a Cuttlebug die (Scallop Flower) and a Sizzix die (5-petal flower.)

All performed well with simple shapes.

With these simple designs, all performed well. I also tried using a more complex Sizzlets die, but that one couldn’t cut through any of the veneers- the die was simply too shallow.

Lastly, it was time to load them up into the Cricut. The results were so surprising that I left it all on the mat so you could see for yourself.

The only success was the Sculpey III.

Again- the Premo and Pardo Clays were too brittle to handle the machine cutting. But the Sculpey III worked like a charm. Here’s the cut I got:

Our winner for the Cricut Die Cutting test!

I hope you’ve found this helpful- I know that I have. It’s great to know which is the best clay for the job, whether your are punching, die cutting, or using a digital machine to cut your polymer clay veneer.

 

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15 Responses to “Comparison of Polymer Clays in Making Veneers”

  1. jengd Says:

    I’m thinking that some of my Sizzix dies may need to do a Sculpey run some day soon.

  2. Susan Holloway Says:

    Thanks for the results. looks like Sculpey III is the winner hands down. Now I need to play.

  3. Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor Says:

    Wow Jenny, your results were almost opposite to what I expected. From the test strengths I have done myself and ones I have seen others do, I would have put Pardo as the strongest, then Premo them Sculpey III at the weakest. I am wondering if the difference is because the stronger clays don’t cut as easily with the die cutters as the weak clays do and therefor actually break while cutting this way and the weaker Sculpey III clay cuts nicely? Now I am curious… of the veneers you baked, which are the easiest to break with your hands? I wonder if my theory still hold through? Thank you for doing these tests. A die cutter is one of the tools I have been wanting to get for my studio but just haven’t done quite yet. (So many tools…so little time!)

  4. Jenny Says:

    Cindy- the Premo and Pardo were both brittle at that thickness, and broke easily in my hands. Surprised me, too!

  5. Carolyn Says:

    I too was surprised with the results you came up with and from personal experience found Sculpey clay not strong at all.

    I’m wondering how Kato clay would work with this machine as I have made thin sheets and baked it like you have and cut with the fancy paper punches.

  6. Jenny Says:

    Carolyn- feel free to try it with Kato & leave another comment. I won’t use Fimo or Kato for my tests because a) it’s very crumbly and difficult to condition and b) they are not widely available.

    Also, the Premo was a mica formulation, so that may have been the reason it wasn’t as strong as the Sculpey.
    Thanks!

  7. slenz Says:

    Thank you for the test samples. I am an avid user of SculpeyIII despite all the warnings from seasoned polymer-holics. I found them to yield very crisp cut from the ($1.)shape punches from the craft stores. But after punching polymer clay veneers, the punches are no longer sharp enough for paper but would continue to do well with polymer clay. There really are no clay to be disliked. It all depends on our intended use. Your test and posting are truly appreciated.
    Happy testing.

  8. Carolyn Says:

    Just getting back to the use of Kato clay. They have reformulated it quite a while ago and it is very soft now — as a matter of fact almost as soft as Premo. I honestly don’t think that the clay with mica in it should make much difference but more if it was conditioned enough before hand as conditioning is what helps improve the strength. When conditioned properly, Premo clay as well as Kato are actually quite flexible after baking.

  9. Jenny Says:

    Carolyn- thanks for chiming in. I haven’t used the ‘new’ Kato clay- it isn’t available in my area. Might have to hit Donna up for a sample to review! -Jenny

  10. Kay McKinnis Says:

    Hi Jenny,

    I Googled “veneer” to see what I could find. Your site was one of the listings.
    I bought an ebook by Dan Cormier (Cor-mee-ya)called “Relief Beyond Belief.” He uses polymer veneer patterns to cover beads and other projects. He uses a special diecutting product he invented to cut out the shapes. A senior moment has left me blank on the name of his company. You can find him through the title of his book. I have a Cricut machine but rarely use it since I don’t do as much scrap book work. Now I know NOT to sell it. I will try some of your ideas when I go back to play with my clay. Oooh, Oooh, Oooh What fun I shall have. Thanks. Kay

  11. Jenny Says:

    Kay- the difference between my veneer and Dan’s is that I cure my veneer before I use it projects, so it is flexible but firm (kind of like wood veneers). Dan makes a thin decorative layer that he puts over a mold of scrap clay before he cures it. Does that makes sense?

  12. Tonja Lenderman Says:

    I am quite surprised at the results of the Premo. I have solely used Premo for over 12 years. I have often baked very thin sheets and they were always flexible. Just to be sure, have you tested your oven to see if it is really baking at the temp the knob says it is? I’ve never had an oven that didn’t need some adjustment. (IE: set knob to 300 degrees to bake at 275) The sample you show of Premo looks like a piece that wasn’t fully cured, which will make it very brittle.

  13. Jenny Says:

    Tonja- I use an oven thermometer to ensure proper baking temps. Don’t know what to tell you.

  14. Heather Says:

    I haven’t tried this, but primo needs to bake for at least 30 mins – 45 mins. Will give this a try this week and see what results I get.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Cut Polymer Clay with the Cricut | Craft Test Dummies - August 15, 2011

    […] have also written a follow-up article on what brands of polymer clays are best for making the thin sheets of clay, or “veneers”, for using with punches and both manual and electric die-cutting machines. That may help you out, […]

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