A review of the Fimo Air Light modelling clay from Staedtler.
My mother and I have been having a lot of fun lately making 3d things with silicone molds and paper clay. We had a small quantity of two sorts of paperclay, but wanted more.
One of the ladies in our local craft shop said they didn’t have paper clay, but that Fimo Air Light was “just as good, if not better” and so we bought a 500gr block.
When we first got home and read the packet we were a bit dismayed. You have to microwave it! There was a bit of English tutting. (We later noticed you can actually air dry it, it takes 24 hours to harden on its own).
And then we tried it.
Working the clay
The clay is very soft and easy to manipulate. It does not stick to your fingers, which some paperclays do. I am pleased to say that it only needs a very little bit of kneading before use, if any. I am impatient and like to get to work quickly rather than have to knead for ages.
It is very light, like paperclay, but has a slightly denser sort of texture – it is a bit less airy looking, if that makes sense.
We were using the clay with silicone molds. It is easy to press into the molds. I squish it a bit, flatten one side then press this into the mold. Then I push with my finger tips to force the clay into all the extremities of the mold. I then rub over the top to remove any excess clay. I have found this technique gives consistently good results.
“Cooking” the clay
The instructions for “cooking” the clay is clearly on the front of pack. We were using an 800w microwave.
We found that it was better to leave most of the items in their molds for cooking. There is no apparant damage to the silicone mold doing this. Taking the pieces out of the mold whilst they are still wet is a bit tricky – it is easy to bend it a little, or get a finger print or nail mark on it. Leaving the clay in the mold during cooking also meant we were able to get ridiculously delicate and fragile molds (designed for sugarpaste) to work fine with this clay.
We placed the filled molds around the microwave plate, added a glass of water (important) and then cooked for 4 minutes on 70% (800 watt oven).
I strongly recommend experimenting with the cooking time to suit your microwave and mold size.
It turns out that cooking it is much better than waiting for paperclay to dry. You can create a molding and have it ready to paint or gild in just a few minutes this way!
Below is the beautiful Unicorn mold from Katy Sue Designs. You can see that the Fimo takes the detail very well and gives a great finish.
The end result is looks more like plaster than paperclay usually does. It is very smooth, very pure white and crisp. The dried clay is also very light. It seems to be just as light as paperclay, at least it feels that way.
The finished moldings are quite strong. They are not flexible like many paperclays are, so “pokey out bits” like the unicorns horn could be broken off if not used with care.
Finishing the clay
I have been painting the cooked Fimo Air Light with acrylic paints. Just as with paperclay it is best not to get the finished molding too wet as the Fimo Air Light is water soluable.
You can precolour the clay with acrylic paint, pigment sticks or any other waterbased colourant.
We have had a lot of success with painting the moldings with slightly diluted black or dark brown acrylic paints, then, when they are dry, rubbing gilding polish or gilding wax over the raised surfaces with a finger tip. This gives a great result that looks like an expensive metal molding.
We have now bought more of this clay. It gives such fantastic results, allows for quick turnaround of moldings and is so clean and pleasant to work with.
Fimo Air Light is available in a variety of size blocks, we buy the 500gr because this is the biggest we have seen. It does seem a bit more expensive than some of the paperclays available, but it goes a long way and gives such good results. Some paperclays are excellent, but others can be messy to work with and very slow to dry.
I highly recommend Fimo Air Light modelling clay, especially for use with silicone molds.
Fimo Air Light Modelling Clay and Accessories on Amazon
Here are links to the Fimo Air Light clay and some of the other products mentioned in the review. If you buy from these links I will get a small commission from Amazon for sending customers to them. This is at no extra cost to yourself. Thank you.
Fimo Air Light on Amazon.com
Fimo Air Light on Amazon.co.uk
If you like using polymer clay, you may want to see my reviews of fun polymer clay craft books.
If you fancy modelling some animals from scratch rather than using a mold, I recommend Creating Life-Life Animals in Polymer Clay by Katherine Dewey. Although aimed at polymer clay, many of the modelling techqnies could be used with other clays too. There is a review at the link.