‘quick view’ materials info

This is a version of the basic info sheet I provide for teaching sessions focusing on modelling materials for model-making or small-scale making. It represents a small selection chosen for their availability, versatility and ease of use.

Prices shown are from May 2017 and adjusted to include VAT. Full addresses for suppliers can be found in the ‘Suppliers’ section.

Super Sculpey

An extremely versatile and easy-to-work polymer clay. Needs to be heated to harden (usually recommended  in oven, but heat gun treatment will work well). Will not stick to fingers, but sticks well to itself. Forms can be built up or added to in stages, with baking in between. The same piece of Sculpey can be baked many times with no detrimental effect as long as the maximum recommended temperature is not exceeded. Oven: 130 degrees C for c15 mins per 6mm of thickness. Heatgun: a good half minute on medium setting, held 5-8cm from surface, constant but slow movement (make tests because heat guns vary). Available in two colours .. standard ‘Super Sculpey’ flesh-pink or ‘Super Sculpey Firm’ mid-grey, which is harder and more opaque. Obtainable Tiranti; 4D; most good art or hobby shops  Price per 1lb (450g) packet currently ranges from £11-£17! Tiranti price currently £11.57


A white, fibrous plaster mixture similar to papier mache, sold in powder form to be mixed with water.Very useful either as coarse, wet filler or (with less water i.e. 2parts powder to 1part water) as thick modelling paste. Main advantage extremely lightweight, also good adhesion on many surfaces and little shrinkage. Sets in 30mins but needs a long time (days) to fully dry. When eventually dry it is both remarkably light and strong! Obtainable Cass Arts; 4D Price e.g. 1.3kg bag £11.15 (4D)


A 2-part epoxy putty. Equal amounts must be thoroughly mixed and working time is c. 60-90 mins. Small range of different grades and colours available. Will stick to fingers rather badly, but can be smoothed or even thinned with water. When fully cured it is very hard, but can be sanded and carved quite easily. Obtainable most good art or hobby shops; Tiranti; 4D Price c.£2.35-£5.20 (Tiranti) per 113g packet dependant on type (standard to fine grade, and some colours)

http://www.sylmasta.com for cheaper prices i.e. standard yellow-grey £2.34, superfine white £3.84, terracotta £2.76. Prices have remained the same for a couple of years.

Modelling wax

Excellent modelling properties, but cannot be made durable. Normally used for maquettes or when mould/casting is intended. Different hardnesses available. Tiranti’s ‘Terracotta Wax’ has a softness akin to fresh, natural clay but does not stick to fingers and will last indefinitely without changing its consistency. Scopas White Modelling Wax is harder and a little toffee-like, but better for fine detail. Almost all waxes can be intermixed to vary or combine their properties. Obtainable e.g. Tiranti Price Scopas White Modelling Wax £7.15 per 500g, £53.54 per 5kg; Terracotta Wax £8.16 per 500g, £62.70 per 5kg.


Can be made more durable and paintable by coating with PVA. The British version (Lewis ‘Newplast’) does not melt whereas the American Van Aken can be melted and poured. Obtainable most art or hobby shops Price ranges £1.70-£2.20 per ½ kg packet

Dimensional paint

Can also be found as ‘relief outliner’ or ‘relief paint’ for fabric decoration e.g Pebeo ‘Touch Deco’ or as outliner for glass painting ‘Cerne Relief’. Suitable for building up model relief decoration on friezes, ornamental frames and furniture. A version can be ‘home-made’ mixing Polycell Fine Surface Polyfilla with a little water, piping on using a plastic bottle with fine nozzle (£shops). The custom polyfilla mix works very well, and doesn’t shrink as much as the fabric paints, but needs to be used within a few days because after that it starts to lump.  Obtainable e.g. Cass Arts; Atlantis; some hobby shops Price  fabric paints c. £2-3 a tube, glass painting outliner c. £3-4 a tube

The most effective ready-made material I’ve found for this form of decorative piping or ‘liquid modelling’ is Idenden Brushcoat, which is a texturing medium widely used in theatre and film scenic, available either white or grey. There is only a little shrinkage and the medium remains smooth in the bottle for much longer. But Idenden is only available (e.g. from theatrical suppliers such as Flints) in 10kg tubs! But I’ve also recently found that Rosco Foamcoat (another scenic material) thinned a little with latex (which also helps it keep its smoothness for longer) is very promising!

Wire for armatures

Aluminium wire is the best option for large forms (i.e. large trees), easy to cut and bend and available in a variety of thicknesses. For smaller forms (i.e. small-scale figures) plastic-coated garden wire is recommended, twisted for strength.

Obtainable (aluminium) 4D modelshop; Tiranti (larger gauges); Scientific Wire Company http://www.scientificwire.com Price e.g. 3mm (1/8inch) square section x 37metres (1kg) at Tiranti £15.08, or 3.2mm x 1000mm single strip £1.50 (4D)

Garden wire ‘Twist Tie’ B&Q; other DIY or £shops c. £1 per roll

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