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Modelling clay is a malleable substance used in building and sculpting. Modelling clays have been used by man for thousands of years to produce pottery, buildings, and artistic sculptures.
Firing clays are water based substances made from naturally occurring clay minerals. They can be dried and baked at high temperatures, in a process known as firing to create ceramics, such as terra cotta, earthenware, and stoneware.
Oil-based clays are made from various combinations of oils, waxes, and clay minerals. Because the oils do not evaporate as does water, oil-based clays remain malleable even when left for long periods in dry environments. This also prevents the clay from firing into ceramics. Because the viscosity of oils are inversely related to temperature, the malleability can be influenced by heating or cooling the clay. Oil-based clay is not soluble in water. It can be re-used and so is a popular material for animation artists who need to rework their models. It is available in a multitude of colours and is non-toxic.
Oil-based clays are referred to by a number of genericized trademarks. Plastilin, was patented in Germany by Franz Kolb in 1880. Plasteline was developed by Claude Chavant in 1892, and trademarked in 1927.. Plasticine was invented in 1897 by William Harbutt of Bathampton, England. Plastilina is trademarked as Roma Plastilina by Sculpture House, Inc. According to their website, their formula is 100 years old.
Being readily worked in fine detail, Oil-based clays are also suitable for the creation of detailed sculptures from which a mold can be made. Castings and reproductions in a much more durable material can then be produced.
- Main gallery: Polymer clay.
Polymer clay is a type of clay that will thermoset, that is, harden permanently when baked at a low temperature. Despite being called "clay", it generally contains no clay minerals. Polymer clay hardens by curing at temperatures created in a typical home oven generally at 265 to 275 °F (129 to 135 °C) for 15 minutes per 1/4" (6 mm) of thickness and does not significantly shrink or change texture during the process. Polymer clay is sold in craft, hobby, and art stores, and is used by artists, hobbyists and children. Polymer clay is also popular in animation since it allows static forms to be firm and not be deformed by things like fingerprints and toolmarks while modifying the scene. Leading brands of polymer clay include Fimo, Premo, Kato Polyclay, Sculpey, Cernit, Formello, Madello, Das.
- Main gallery: Paper clay.
Paper clays are cellulose based substances which air dry firm. The finished sculpture is extremely lightweight. There are two major groups of paper clay/paperclay users: those using paperclay as an unfired body and those using paperclay in the ceramic studio to make sculptural and functional studio pottery. Commercial air drying clay does not shrink noticeably when drying. This type of clay cracks more easily.
- Papier-mâché (paper-maché), construction material made of paper and a wet paste.
- Salt dough, used for modelling, such as Play-Doh.
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