Finding the right medium to make your designs before electroforming is an important part of the process. Most artists use epoxy clay to design their creations, mostly because this is what is recommended to start with. In fact, when I started electroforming I didn’t even know you could use polymer clay to design your creations. Now, I’ve tried and used both for all my projects. So, read on to find out which medium is best between polymer clay and epoxy clay for your electroforming designs.
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What are polymer clay and epoxy clay?
Polymer clay is essentially PVC, polyvinyl chloride. Until it is cured, it is very malleable plastic. In fact, polymer clay can be shaped and reshaped indefinitely without any deterioration. It’s a very versatile, easy to use a medium that’s very popular among crafters. Polymer clay comes in many different colors and needs to be baked to cure. If stored properly, polymer clay can be kept for years.
Epoxy clay is a self-hardening clay that combines the features and benefits of sculpting clay with the adhesive power of epoxy. This clay adheres to nearly any surface and can be cured in 24 hours. It’s smooth, easy to use, and mix – it comes in two parts. Epoxy clay is really great for bonding things together. Once it’s cured, it’s extremely solid. Like polymer clay, it comes in many different colors.
What’s the difference between polymer clay and epoxy clay?
There are two main differences between polymer and epoxy clay. Polymer clay needs to be baked to cure when epoxy self-hardens. Also, polymer clay comes in one part, when epoxy clay comes in two parts and needs to be mixed. Other than that, both media are pretty similar. Polymer clay is probably best used when making detailed designs because it’s so easy to use. When epoxy is great when you have to bond things together in your design. Here is a comparative table of polymer clay vs epoxy clay:
|Polymer Clay||Epoxy Clay|
|Curing time||Needs to be baked (around 10 minutes for a small creation)||24 hours|
|Colors||Many colors and textures available||Several colors available|
|Sealing before bath||Not required||Not required|
|Shelf life||> 6 months||> 6 months|
|Best used for||Designing||Bonding|
What I like about polymer clay
- It’s soft and can bend easy. It’s easy to use and great to make details.
- It can be cured quickly after just 10-15 minutes in the oven at 100 degrees.
- You can mix it with other colors, add pigments in it or create textural effects
- Ideal for jewelry making or home decor
- It doesn’t have to be mixed and is ready to use when you receive it
- It doesn’t need to be sealed before electroforming
I’ve been using the Sculpey polymer clay for years now, and I just love it. I specifically use Premo clay. I’ve used others before, but ever since I found this one, I never changed. It’s my favorite polymer clay to use and I mostly use it to design my electroformed creations.
What I like about epoxy clay
- It’s perfect for bonding two crystals together or bails to your design.
- Epoxy clay is very strong and adheres to nearly any surface
- You do not need to bake it, itself hardens in just a few hours
- Epoxy clay has years of shelf life unmixed
- It comes in many different colors
As for epoxy clay, I use Apoxie Sculpt. It’s the most popular epoxy clay, I believe. Most electroformers recommend getting this clay when you start. It’s perfect for electroforming.
Polymer clay vs epoxy clay: which is best for electroforming?
Honestly, I would suggest getting both. I don’t think one is better than the other for electroforming. It just depends on what you’re going to do. When I first started electroforming, I only got epoxy clay. And it was enough for months. But, I wanted to make more elaborate designs and found that I couldn’t make as many details with epoxy clay, especially because it starts hardening after half an hour. That’s the main reason why I also use polymer clay.
With polymer clay, the design possibilities are truly endless, and you can take your time to make what you want. You can shape it and reshape it as much as you want for hours, you can create patterns and just do whatever design you want. Epoxy is more of a bonding tool. It’s not as malleable as polymer clay, and you can work with it for more than 30-45 minutes after which it’ll start to harden. None of them needs to be sealed before electroforming, so really you just need to figure out what kind of designs you want to make and which medium you feel more comfortable with.
See also: How to copper electroform safely at home
In this picture, you can see two wands I made with polymer clay and epoxy clay. The one on the right (polymer clay) has more details and thinner lines. As you can see, the one on the left doesn’t have as much detail. But the end result is pretty similar. I think it mostly depends on what you prefer working with!
Polymer clay and epoxy clay are both amazing media to use for designing your creations. They are easy to use, come in many different colors, and do not need to be sealed for electroforming. If you get both, you can even use them together. The best way to find out which one you prefer is to try them out! So, do you use polymer clay or epoxy clay for your designs? Let me know in the comments below!