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All Lined Up for the Hammer TestIn my previous Studio by Sculpey review, I linked to a couple of folks who mentioned their Studio by Sculpey projects turned brittle a few weeks after baking. That hadn't been my experience at all, but I was still basing my long-term strength conclusions on the clay packet I got from a preview sample. I decided to run a few tests to see how the new off-the-shelf stuff stacks up.

The Setup

Studio by Sculpey Strength TestA month ago, I baked 5 sheets (thicknesses #1-5 on my Atlas pasta machine, where #1 is the thickest) of each of these clays:

  • Premo!
  • Studio by Sculpey Sample -- the sample pack I received several months before the official release of the product
  • Studio by Sculpey -- the official stuff

Each sheet was 3.5" × 2.5", and I used the same basic turquoise color of each to make sure color differences weren't affecting the results.

The Tests

Folding TestThe only polymer clay "strength test" I've seen mentioned is folding it repeatedly to see how many folds it takes before it breaks. (Anybody got other suggestions for testing clay's strength, by the way?) I tried the folding thing, but I wanted to try a few other methods too. Since I'm a little on the accident-prone side, I made a list of some of the (many) ways I've broken things in my life and tried those on the clay samples.

Here are the tests:

  • Drop clay from 6 feet in the air onto (the hard) kitchen floor
  • Toss edge of clay sheet at edge of countertop from about a foot away, allowing it to ricochet off and hit the kitchen floor
  • Hit clay with a hammer
  • Fold clay back and forth (til edges meet) at least 5 times
  • Tear clay

The Results

All of the clay sheets (every brand, every thickness) did just fine on the dropping, ricocheting, and hammering tests. After each of these tests, I'd flex the sheets gently to see if any weaknesses had developed. They were all fine.

On the folding test, I was pleasantly surprised with all the results. I hadn't expected to be able to flex the thickest sheets til their edges met, folding back and forth. As long as I went slowly (& allowed it to curve, not bend), the sheets did fine. I had one Premo sample (#2) break during my first folding tests, but I suspect it was my hurrying the process that caused this as much as anything. All the samples were very strong.

After I'd done the initial folding tests, I decided to use the #5 sheets for some more rigorous testing. I folded back & forth at least 10 times, then I put pressure on the fold itself (like folding and creasing a paper sheet). When I did that, the Premo clay snapped. Both of the Studio by Sculpey samples broke as well, but theirs were more of a slow tear than a snap.

For the last test, I pinched the clay between my fingers and tried to rip it apart. I wasn't able to tear any of the #1 thickness sheets. I was able to tear the #2 thickness on both of the Studio by Sculpey sheets (I couldn't do a thing to the #2 Premo sheet). Any thinner than that, I was able to fairly easily tear the clay for any of the brands. For Premo, it was more of a break or snap; for Studio by Sculpey, it was more of a tear.

My Conclusion

I didn't see any difference in the strength of the Studio by Sculpey sample and the off-the-shelf stuff. They both seem equally durable to me. I saw no evidence of it becoming brittle several weeks after baking.

I also didn't see a significant difference between the strength of Premo and Studio by Sculpey. There's a difference in the way they break. Premo cracks or snaps, while Studio by Sculpey tears. To me, Premo seems to behave more plastic-like in this, while Studio by Sculpey is more paper-like. But they both seem similarly strong.

I'm sure there are lots more things to test in this -- for example, these were all flat sheets of even thickness. What about sculpted items that have weaker areas? Still, I don't feel like concerns about Studio by Sculpey becoming brittle should keep anyone from giving it a try.

Course, it all comes down to finding the clay that works best for you for the task you're working on. As Craftymule said, if you're happy with your "tried and true favorite clay products," then "stick to what works."

At the same time, you don't want to "stick" with good enough. I spent way longer than I should have settling for the weak & brittle Sculpey III. I got so frustrated when it broke -- but I stuck with it because I'd invested all that money buying all those colors, plus I was unsure about trying something new. Switching to Premo was very worthwhile. Fewer breaks meant less frustration, plus it allowed me to take my work more seriously. (You don't get too attached to something if you're expecting it to break quickly!)

Sometimes it pays to keep an open mind. Experimenting with new products may create whole new worlds for you, giving you options you didn't know you were missing!


Cool info. But could you edit in your conditioning techniques? I keep wondering if differences in conditioning (or baking, maybe) have something to do with the different results people report. If your approach works, maybe other people can improve their success by doing it the way you do.

Good point -- conditioning techniques could make some difference. I baked these well over a month ago, so I can't give you any particulars... but I generally do a mix of kneading, twisting & passing it a few times through the pasta machine.

Thank you so much Angela for the great info. I have been meaning to try Studio by Sculpey but have not done so yet. I really like the colors and heard the texture was more suede-like. I agree with your opinion of Sculpey III and getting better results with Premo. I had so many beautiful beads made of Sculpey III break I was ready to throw every bit I had in the garbage! Now I only use it in canes in very thin slices where I can put Premo underneath for strength!

Thank you for updating with the stress tests! I found your blog in my search to learn more about studio and have been following since your first post. I honestly haven't even opened my 5 blocks of studio yet because I've been nervous due to the mushy and brittle reports. I can't wait to dive into them now!

Did you say earlier that you made some test sheets with a premo/studio mix? If so, how are those doing?

Thanks for the comments, Cindy & Ashleigh.

Ashleigh - I did mix Premo & Studio for some Artist Trading Cards, and I liked the resulting texture & workability. But I sent those ATCs off almost immediately, so I can't say how they held up. Didn't occur to me to make sheets of that -- it would have been a good test, too!

Good luck trying out your Studio clay -- let me know how it goes.

Thanks for the scientific study! I've had some students mention that their pieces made at home where breaking, and they all were Sculpey III. Glad to have someone else back that theory up. Keep up the excellnt claying, Jenny at CraftTestDummies.com

Was good to see you at our guild meeting today! Thanks for joining us. :) This is an interesting stress test on the clay. I have also found that the studio holds up quite well & seems much stronger than other clays I've worked with.

Jenny: I'm sorry to hear your class members' Sculpey III items broke -- I hope they didn't get too discouraged! I'm thinking of putting together a newbies guide to clay for folks who visit my guild for the first time -- including info such as the strengths/weaknesses of various clays. I'll make it available here, since it might be useful for folks who teach classes too.

Laura: Great to meet you all too -- what a nice group! Thanks for your wonderful lesson. And I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who's found the Studio clay to be strong. :-)

Cindy: I originally considered throwing out all my Sculpey III clay, too. I tried keeping it around for "suitable" purposes, but found that I didn't like trying to keep track of the different brands separately. I ended up selling all mine on eBay & getting a pretty decent price for it (enough to buy more of the good clay!). So that might be another option for folks who get frustrated with their Sculpey III.

Thanks for the info on Studio by Sculpey. I didn;t realize any one else had done any tests. I tested mine by throwing it hard against sidewalk cement about 30 times or so (didn't really count how many times but did it for about 10 minutes.) Then I flexed the same piece for 45 minutes. I used Studio clay techniques to shape my clay for testing so I had thin edgs and thick center, just like the leaf technique. Absolutely no damage dings or otherproblems. I have heard of people testing the clay by shaping like I did and driving their H_# over it. If it doesn't break then I sure don't think it will.

As for soft well yes you are definitely right its sure seems like a cross between S-III and Premo. Maybe some of the best of both. I live in Ohio and it worked well over the summer months last year.

Thanks for sharing your tests, Gwen -- sounds like you really gave it a workout!

I tried it with my bead molds and like it but then I've pretty much sculpted marshmallow.


Definitely not for all artists or design considerations.

I still love it, but then...I was wishing for colored Ultra Light Sculpey and this is the closest I've seen to it!

Thanks for sharing your results, Karen.

I think your blog post hit the nail on the head... it's great for the types of projects the Studio by Sculpey people teach in their classes. It's less ideal for sculpting -- but as you've demonstrated, it can do that too. It just requires some extra skill and patience!

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