Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs
Polymer clays by Sculpey, Cernit, and Fimo have been around for years, but now there’s a new player on the field: Pardo polymer clay by Viva.
Originating in Germany, it’s main distinction is that it’s beeswax-based (and therefore somehow more environmentally-friendly) and phthalate-free. It comes in 70 colors, which are supposed to reflect precious metal and precious gemstone colors. I was told at CHA that they also closely align with the Swarovski Crystal bead colors.
It’s sold in 1.2 oz mini-pack (which contains 6 balls) and 2.7 oz plastic jars, which the company is also touting as being more earth-friendly. This seems really counter-intuitive, as instead of being wrapped in cellophane like most clays, it’s packaged in hard plastic containers. However, they hope that people will reuse or recycled the containers instead of pitching them (I think they are being overly optimistic here!).
It’s billed as “jewelry clay”… so that’s what I set out to do with it. I opened the package, and sniffed. SNIFFED? Yup, sniffed. Some brands of polymer clays have an odor, and I’m pleased to report that Pardo had no real smell. Good for you sensitive folks out there.
As I stared kneading the clay, I noticed a faint stickiness- very comparable to other soft clays, such as Sculpey III. It’s not bad, but you do feel some residue on your hands, and there were fingerprints in the clay that needed to be smoothed out. It went through my pasta machine like a dream, and in 2 passes it was ready to work. This is GREAT news for folks with fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc.- more playing, less conditioning!
I used Olivine (green with glitter inclusions) and gold. I will say that the colors are saturated and rich, and some of the “transparent effects” clays have no equal in the market.
The first project I made was a little holiday pin using cookie cutters. It cut cleanly and layered well. The fingerprints left behind needed some smoothing, but no biggie.
I then attempted to make a Skinner blend using the two colors. I’m not sure if my technique was just off or what, but I was not pleased with it’s ability to blend smoothly. I also tried caning… and dearies, I’m not even going to dignify that with a picture! The clay is so soft that it just doesn’t hold up well to constant manipulating. I tried reducing a bulls-eye cane, and it was just kinda mushy and wouldn’t slice cleanly. (I also offer up that my studio is on the cold side and I have cool hands- so it wasn’t the conditions, it was the clay.)
So I baked up my little holly pin, and it cured as advertised, taking 30 minutes in a 275 degree toaster oven. (Tip: ALWAYS use a thermometer to make sure you’ve really got the right temp, most ovens are not calibrated accurately.)
After it was all cooled off, I buffed it with a felt buffing wheel on my Dremel, and it came up to a lovely luster. Like most sparkly things, it was hard to capture the shine in a photo. But I DID love the green glitter… it’s a winner!
Now, for the bad news. This clay is 1) hard to find, and 2) it’s pricey. I’ve heard rumors that Hobby Lobby is carrying it, but it hasn’t shown up at my other favorite craft stores (of course, it’s available online if you Google it.) Even if you DO find it, you might want to wait for a coupon. On the whole, it averages TWICE the price per ounce. Ouch.
On the whole, I would use this clay for jewelry, but I probably won’t go out of my way to buy a lot of it unless the price comes down. It may be the new player on the field, but it’s not “MVP” in my book.
- Lovely color selection
- Easy to use out of the package- great for folks who have hand problems
- More “natural” ingredients (beeswax)
- Packaging easier to recycle
- More expensive than other polymer clays
- Not widely available at this time
- Plastic packaging may end up in landfills
- So soft that it’s not great for cane work
If you’ve played with Pardo Clay, feel free to leave us a comment and let us know what YOU think! Happy claying, and craft on!
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