Friday, July 24, 2009

Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Polyform Clay ;o)

Well, maybe not quite everything, but Angela's (aka CraftyGoat's) most recent blog entry does bring up some interesting points. She shares her notes from a Q&A session Polyform offered at the IPCA retreat, so this is very fresh information. I highly recommend giving it a look, if you haven't already-- especially if you regularly use any of the Polyform clays (SculpeyIII, Premo, Studio by Sculpey, etc.).

I was surprised to read that Premo no longer contains phthalates. I'd heard that Kato Clay had made the switch, but nothing about (most of) Polyform's lines of clay. I'm not sure how I feel about that. If the phthalates really were a significant health risk, then of course it's good to avoid them, but I always wonder how much things of this nature may be blown out of proportion. I also wonder how much of a reduction in shelf life we should expect, now that so many brands are going phthalate-free... (This makes buying in bulk and/or stocking up during clay sales seem a bit more risky. Better get busy using up some of my more recently stock-piled clay, huh? (g))

It was also interesting to read that the recommended temperature is a little bit lower than what you need for optimum strength. (Apparently the manufacturers prefer to err on the safe side. Can't really blame them there, but it's good to have the facts.) I guess people knew what they were talking about, all these years, when they've said you're ok if you don't go over 300 degrees. I know I often find my oven's temperature tends to creep up higher than 275, but I've only scorched something once, and that was because it was too close to the heating element.

Anyway... Good stuff to know! Thanks for sharing the info, Angela!


Angela M. said...

You're very welcome! I was surprised, too, about Premo. I didn't recall Polyform ever saying Premo had gone phthalate-free. I wonder about the shelf-life too, but since they've given their blessing to leaching and softening clay, the old stuff's probably fixable.

That Q&A session was probably my favorite part of the retreat: great questions were flying left and right, and the Polyform folks were answering everything in a very straightforward way.

Sara said...

About the safety of phthalates:

The link says that a recent study found that women who gave birth prematurely had significantly higher levels of phthalate exposure. Premature births are the leading cause of infant mortality in the US and also cause serious lifelong illnesses. Also, the rate of premature births has increased in parallel to the increased usage of phthalates. I realize that the study found a correlation, not necessarily a causation, but it seems serious to me.

Michael said...

Yes, that's a good point (about softening the clay). And that brings up another question for me. Do the liquid clays on the market (still) contain phthalates? (I assume they did in the past, at least...)

Also, I wonder if the "it releases toxic fumes when it burns" thing is still an issue, with the phthalate-free clay.

Yes, I've heard about those reports. I guess that at this point, the three largest polymer clay manufacturers who supply the US market have mostly made a move away from phthalates. Whether you prefer Fimo, Kato, or a Polyform clay, most of their formulas are now free of phthalates. If nothing else, that's one less thing to scare people away from using the medium.