Polymer clay may seem like a trendy new craft but it actually has its roots in the 1930’s wartime shortages. Read on to find out the roots of one of our favorite crafts.
One of the first inventors of polymer clay stumbled across the material out of necessity. A resourceful German doll maker named Käthe Kruse invented a plastic clay that she passed along to her daughter ‘Fifi’ Rehbinder. Fifi used this early modeling material to make her doll heads when there was a shortage of other materials and called her material “Fifi Mosaik.”
She eventually sold this formula to a company that used the medium to create the Fimo brand of clay. Sold as a kid’s craft all over Europe, Fimo eventually made its way to the US by way of German immigrants and artists. These early adopters admired the material for the endless ways that it could be manipulated into different forms and objects.
Polymer Clay Reaches the United States
Simultaneously as Fimo was growing in popularity in Europe, a chemical lab here in the US named Zenith Products Company accidentally developed what will come to be known as Sculpey. Sculpey is the most popular polymer clay brand today and it’s also what we use in our ready-made craft kits!
First called Polyform, Sculpey was developed to use as a thermal transfer compound for a lab project. When this project eventually failed, the material was put to the side. Then, in a stroke of luck, the owner’s daughter found the “failed project” and sculpted a small elephant out of the clay. This little sculpture got the lab thinking about how the material could be used for arts and crafts.
The company Polyform eventually split from Zenith and came to form their own brand of polymer clay. Since the 1960s Polymer clay has exploded in popularity recently due to its unlimited artistic possibilities.
Arts and Crafts in the Digital Age
The growth of small makers and artists has expanded due to the rise of digital social and shopping platforms. Coupled with the pandemic, as more people turn their side hustles and hobbies into profitable small businesses, polymer clay has officially taken off in a big way. As the number of artists and makers increases, the creativity of polymer clay continues to increase with knowledge sharing across platforms like TikTok.
A large part of the market share is jewelry making. Due to its durable, affordable, and lightweight features, polymer clay makes the perfect medium for statement earrings.
How to Start Creating with Polymer Clay
Due to its limitless possibilities and new techniques popping up overnight, polymer clay is an overwhelming medium to start creating with. That’s why we’ve created absolute beginner and intermediate polymer clay workshops to get you started with this incredible medium.