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blade_runner
02-04-2009, 01:33 AM
In my never ending quest to discover the perfect scratchbuilding material, I tripped over Studio by Sculpey (http://www.studiobysculpey.com/) last night while looking for local Friendly Plastic carrying stores. There are none, so screw them, but that's not why I'm typing right now.

Unlike the other Sculpey products I've used before that come out of my toaster oven burnt on one side and show stress cracks here and there, this stuff acts more like a "dough" than a polymer clay. It's a taffy feeling polymer when uncured, but only after you "condition" it like the experts say. It sags a little under its own weight, so armatures are a must. Blending two parts can be tricky because surface tension of the product resists true blending.

Now, I had my toaster oven set on "warm", not "bake" so maybe things will change, but the cooled test parts showed some flexibility, but were light in weight. Fingerprints are hard to sand out. In fact, this stuff resists sandpaper. Sharp knives go through it easily, and leave little or no tearout. You get a smooth, clean cut. My Dremel diamond bur bit machined it down fairly easily, but not so fast that you'd be prone to making mistakes. It's a forgiving Sculpey clay.

Thin sheets can be a little easy to break, but not brittle. It's flexible enough that you'd see the break coming and stop trying to ruin your work.

This stuff comes in a good assortment of "today" colors, but I bought white, grey, and two tan colors.

This has to be my twentieth kind of modeling material I've tried, and nothing so far has won the big prize. I know I gave high praise to Activa Plus Clay earlier, but as an air dry clay, it shrinks too much to be fully reliable as a single application product.

Once I get a test armature built, and roll on some base torso, arms, etc., I'll let you all know if it's any good. For now, this stuff looks like a safe bet for model building without the harsh chemicals or shrinkage problems.

One last note: online shops sell this stuff, but it's better to visit your local Jo Ann Fabrics or other retailer first. The price locally is probably not that much higher than online.

Goriyaku
02-04-2009, 11:41 AM
Wow thanks for the info blade.. I saw this stuff on my last visit to the LHS I was curious but not enough to actually purchase it at the time. Thanks for testing it out.:happy:

blade_runner
02-11-2009, 02:37 AM
Further review informaton...

While all the products in the Sculpey family have their strengths, I believe this material is best suited to producing thinner sections for clothing, details, or hair. Although you can still use it for any phase of scratchbuilding production, the cured material is very difficult to sand smooth, meaning those pesky fingerprints will drive you nuts.

I noticed two distinct differences in baking the product.

The first attempt had the toaster oven set to "warm", which I think bypasses the temperature setting. This baking produced a hard, somewhat brittle material that was easy to carve, cut, and drill. Sanding was still a problem. This setting made the material more like stone clay than poly clay.

The second attempt had me set the oven to "bake" @ 275 deg F (specified by manufacturer). This returned test pieces that were not at all brittle (quite flexible, almost indestructable), still easy to cut and drill, but less likely to carve nicely. Sanding was an abyssmal chore, taking far too long to remove fingerprint ridges than I have the patience for. A thin test piece (1/16" or so) was so tough and flexible that it took all the force I could muster to tear it apart.

On my Gurren Lagann Yoko redux project, I built a scaled, aluminum wire armature and fitted it with bulk buildup sections of Studio to act as placeholder/filler material. Although the Studio resisted clinging to the aluminum, smearing it a little did the trick. The two clays I've since used to form the torso and legs are both water based (DAS Prang white (http://www.dickblick.com/products/prang-das-modeling-clay/) and Activa Plus Clay terra cotta (http://www.dickblick.com/products/activa-plus-clay/)), which are incompatible with the surface of the Studio clay, as the cured Studio clay resists water. Surrounding the bulk filler parts yielded good results, given that the Activa Plus clay shrinks quite a bit when dry.

This material is now less attractive to my needs than initially thought. The light weight and strength of the product are big pluses, but the ridiculous sanding requirements are a big minus.

I'll update this thread with more info as time warrants. As always, thanks for reading.