Pottery Clay vs Polymer Clay. What is the Difference?

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Clay art modeling is a fun activity that involves the molding and sculpting of modeling clay into a variety of shapes and objects. Humans have been making objects, like pots, plates, bowls, sculptures, and many more, out of clay for ages. The versatility of clay allows us to use it in so many different ways. If you’re looking forward to creating something new with clay for your house, then it is the best way to give a shape to your creativity.



However, which clay you use for your crafting plays a vital role. From oil-based clay, water-based clay, polymer clay, dough clay, ceramic clay to paper clay, there is a wide range of clay available in the market. Though each clay type can have different properties and usages, many people commonly make mistakes when it comes to pottery clay and polymer clay.


The major reasons behind this misconception are as follows:

  • They both are used in commercial applications, like decorative items for backyards and galleries.
  • Even though they are cured at different temperatures, their thickness remains the same.
  • Both show the long-term effects of exposure to specific plasticizers.
  • They are versatile and available in the market at the same price.


Though both pottery clay and polymer clay may share similar properties, they are not the same. What makes them different from each other. What are the pros and cons of using pottery clay and polymer clay? Well, before we dive deep into the article, here are the major difference between Pottery and Polymer clay.


Pottery clay

Polymer clay
Naturally occurred and mined from the Earth. Man-made; created using polymers and resins
It provides a non-glazy, rough appearance. It provides a glazy appearance and is available in different colors
Suitable for manufacturing kitchen utensils, dinner wares, and large vases Used for model making and other commercial applications like Jewelry


How is Pottery Clay Different from Polymer Clay?



Although pottery clay and polymer clay both are used for crafting, they are suitable for different applications. The major differences between pottery clay and polymer clay include:



Pottery clay is the first-ever occurred clay on earth. Pottery clay is a natural product dug from the earth. This type of clay formed from rocks that are weathered over millions of years. The rocks are decomposed into extremely small particles to form natural pottery clay. On the other hand, polymer clay is made up of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC); this clay is man-made. It is a blend of polymers, resins, artificial colors, and fillers. However, there is nothing like polymer clay; it is usually called as clay because it has similar properties to pottery clay.



Pottery clay and polymer clay, both have their own properties and uses. Pottery clay is suitable for crafting various kinds of dishware, pottery or sculpture, while polymer clay is widely used for small-scale projects. It can be used in an assortment of crafts, including jewelry, home decorations, scrapbooking, sculpture, etc. Polymer clay is suitable for kids and beginners. Since pottery clay is fragile and brittle as compared to polymer clay, it is crucial to handle pottery clay with care.


If you’re a beginner and want to try pottery, you can start with Magicfly polymer clay for DIY projects. It comes in 45 colors with 5-different modeling tools and 40+ jewelry accessories.



Like pottery clay is baked in a kiln at high temperature, polymer clay can be baked in an oven. However, the intense heat can cause the polymer to release harmful, toxic fumes. Hence, it is recommended not to use polymer clay for the manufacturing of cups and plates that are going to be microwaved. You should use pottery clay if you’re making something that is going to use to hold hot drinks and food.


Storage and Maintenance

Polymer clay requires less maintenance as compared to pottery clay. Unlike pottery clay, polymer clay won’t dry out if left open in the air and can be used for many years. Pottery clay is fragile and brittle. Hence, it requires special attention and storage. While pottery clay needs kiln for baking, polymer clay can be baked in a domestic household oven.


What are the Pros and cons of Polymer Clay?



  • Polymer clay is a more suitable alternative to the regular clay. The beginners who are interested in clay modeling can initially practice with the polymer clay.
  • While you can paint polymer clay easily, using acrylic or poster colors, you can purchase pre-colored polymer clay with various effects. Metallic and glittery clays are more common nowadays.
  • Since, the polymer clay is flexible, versatile, and does not shrink when heated, people can have a lot of fun working with it. It gives the perfect finishing with the glaze.



  • Few potential health hazards may occur with polymer clay. Unlike ceramics, they leave a powdery layer after heating, which can cause long-term health issues when consumed or inhaled continuously.
  • Even though polymer clay is non-toxic, it is not suitable for kitchen items.




What are the Pros and Cons of Pottery Clay?



  • Regardless of skill level, pottery clay is a great way to start your pottery lessons. They are very easy to use and can make mass production.
  • Starting from small cups to pretty large vases, there is no limitation of making. You can create numerous products with pottery clay. You can also use Arteza Pottery Clay Sculpting Tools to give unique designs to your craft pieces.
  • They are ideal for cooking wares. You can make use of pottery clay utensils for the entire cooking process. They are non-toxic and do not harm your health.



  • If you don’t heat the pottery clay properly, they leave a glaze and become less durable.
  • They are reactive to the climate. As the temperature changes, the pots start to crack.
  • The wheel for making pottery is expensive, and you need patience for shaping them.



While there are many differences between polymer clay and pottery clay, which one you choose, it only depends on your personal choice. For kids and beginners, polymer clay is the right option. If you want to use clay for your kitchen utensils and you know how to handle the pottery wheel, then pottery clay is the right option. Hence, choose the right clay as per your skill level and project and start creating your pottery objects.



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