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Clay Wars: Episode I

The Air-Dry Menace

Special Edition

The following is hopefully the first in a series of articles reporting the goods, the bads, and the uglies about craft clays.  I tried to take the most subjective view, so that you too can feel the deep emotions of CLAY.  Purchasing information is included whenever possible.  Enjoy!  If you feel something needs to be added to any of the following (including new clays), or to be a part of Clay Wars Episode II, please contact me!  Oh yeah, unlike some people we number our episodes in order.

[ Das Pronto | Magic Sculp | Milliput | Mod'lers Mastic | Plumber's Putty ]

Das Pronto (Margot) --
Das Pronto is my tool of choice--at least until I figure out how to work in resins.  I've only used Das in small portions up until now.  The texture is interesting--it reminds me quite keenly of working with shredded papier-mache as a child.  Sandability is excellent, particularly with a Dremel.  It seems quite strong though it seems to be brittle, if that's even a possible combination.  I made a set of breast plates from the stuff, which naturally popped off of the figure when dry.  I was able to san these tiny pieces without any support and achieved nice smooth curves and sharp points.  I was very, very pleased, though ended up covered with white dust.
Instructions for use: It remains pliable for about 30 minutes and hardens rapidly after that.  I find it a bit difficult to get details into the stuff while it's soft, so I tend to make the basic shape and then detail it later with a needle file and the Dremel.
Conclusion: Don't use this stuff for any reason.   With the popping off, cracking, and brittleness, it's range of usage is quite limited.  Despite the cheapness (an appropriate pun) it's not worth the money.  Instead, buy the Magic Sculp right next to it on the aisle.

No offense, but with such a poor product, who really wants to see more?

Magic Sculp (Baldwyn Chieh) --
First off, it's very similar to Milliput.  My 16 oz box cost $9.99 (cheaper than Milliput), and contained two plastic tubs containing the two parts of the putty.  The texture is terrific for an epoxy putty!  While it's a little grainier than polymer clays, it's comparable to extra fine Milliput and much better than regular Milliput.  The other is that I did not have nearly the stickiness problem that I do with Milliput.  This stuff is much better to sculpt with, and cleans up very nicely with just soap and water.  Anyway, I checked it after it dried overnight and can't scratch or chip it.  I haven't tried sanding it, but expect it to be similar to Milliput (easy, dusty, and messy).
Instruction for use: Both parts are gray, with one slightly darker in shade.  I measured out the recommended amounts and started kneading, until just one color remained.  Then, I began sculpting.
Conclusion: Anyone looking to sculpt something from a not-too-pricy air-drying clay should definitely consider purchasing this overnight drying clay.  This is much better for beginners than both Milliput and Plumber's Putty.  It is more durable and easier to use than Milliput, and it has a much longer working time (about 12 hours) than Plumber's Putty.
Try this for more:

I'm not sure where else to go, but has a great gallery page.

Milliput (everyone) --
Well, I scoured, searched, mined, and dug through every possible source from everyone on the CUSTOMIZE list, including the archives for the past 8 months. The following is what I found: (nothing), but there is this:

For good examples of it's uses, check out Bill Burns' page,

Mod'lers Mastic Plastic (Micromark Catalog Online) --
Mod'lers Mastic has the consistency and workability of modeling clay and can be molded, sculpted, wrapped around forms or used for building-up and repairing figures, fittings, ship hulls, airplane fuselages, dollhouse trim, etc.  When cured, this two-part epoxy compound simulates the density, texture and color of real metal, wood and semi-rigid plastic.  Parts A and B are co-extruded one around the other; to start the curing cycle, simply cut off a piece and knead to a uniform color. Smooth with water.  Hardens in approximately 45 minutes; final cure after 24 hours. Each package contains 4.25 cubic inches.  Working time: 20-25 minutes.  Contains a fading blue die.  After final cure, has the density and appearance of semi-rigid light gray plastic.

I don't know anyone who's used this, so I can't link you.

Plumber's Putty (Leslie Hancock) --
The stuff I use comes in a plastic tube on a blister card, like our toys.  The putty itself is a two-part epoxy that looks like a big green Tootsie Roll with a yellowish-gray center.  It can be found in the paint section of most Wal-Marts.  It stays in place forever, as far as I can tell, and it does not crack or cause cracking in the paint.   It's extremely hard and tough, not like Super Sculpey at all.  That's why I like it so much, despite the short working time. 
Instructions for use: Pinch off a bit of the roll (getting some of each color) and knead it together to get the chemicals going.  Continue kneading until the color is a uniform gray, this is the signal to start sculpting... FAST!!!   In 10 minutes the clay becomes almost unworkable, and in 20 minutes it will be hard enough to prime and paint.  Don't do any sanding until it's 30 minutes old, because it could gum up your Dremel bits or sandpaper. 
Conclusion: Plumber's Putty should be used by "expert" or fast-working sculptors, due to the short working time.  The stiffer texture and less maleability can help with small details where Super Sculpey has that annoying tendency to stick to itself, lessening the overall ability for detailing.

Sorry, no pics, but check out Leslie's page for some great examples!

The preceding article was contributed by Trip "DarkMonkE" Somers, based on information gathered from just about everyone, but mainly Leslie Hancock, Baldwyn Chieh, and Tung Nguyen.