Sculpting Glossary

What is Plasticine? (4 Ways It’s Used in Art)

August 21, 2023 by

Are you a fan of clay modeling and sculpting and looking for a versatile and easy-to-use material for your projects?

Do you want to learn more about Plasticine and its uses in art? Look no further, as this article will introduce you to Plasticine, what it is, and 4 ways it’s used in art.

Whether you’re a professional artist or just starting out, read on to discover the many benefits and applications of this unique material.

In addition to being popular among artists, plasticine is also commonly used for educational purposes. But what is plasticine, exactly? And what are the benefits of using it? Read on to find out more!

Table of Contents

What is Plasticine?

Plasticine is a soft clay-like substance often used to make models.

Plasticine is putty-like material made of petroleum jelly, salts of calcium, and aliphatic acid. Although it was originally a brand name for the British version of the product, it is now commonly used in English as a product category in some genres.

It is a modeling clay that was invented in the late 1800’s by William Harbutt. Unlike other clays, it is non-toxic and can be easily reused. It is made of petroleum jelly and talc, which gives it a malleable texture that makes it easy to mold into shapes.

Plasticine is commonly used by artists and sculptors, as well as in stop-motion animation. It is also popular with children, who often use it to make homemade toys and simple sculptures. Although its ingredients vary depending on the manufacturer, plasticine generally contains similar materials to those used in other types of modeling clay.

However, its unique composition gives it different properties that make it distinct from other clays. As a result, plasticine can be classified as its own type of material.

Plasticine is clay(model). It is a brand name, as the name Kleenex. We use it to identify any similar product as both were the first on the market.

plasticine molding
playing with clay

Plasticine is known as clay(modeling) made of synthetic materials instead of natural clay, which is made of soil, minerals, and oxides.

What is Plasticine Made Of?

The exact composition of plasticine can vary depending on the manufacturer, but the basic ingredients typically include:

1. Mineral Fillers

Plasticine contains mineral fillers, such as calcium carbonate or kaolin clay, which provide bulk and structure to the material.

2. Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly or mineral oil is added to plasticine to give it its characteristic smooth and pliable texture. It prevents the material from drying out and becoming hard.

3. Waxes

Various types of waxes, such as paraffin wax or microcrystalline wax, are used to improve the moldability and consistency of the plasticine.

4. Pigments and Dyes

Coloring agents, such as pigments and dyes, are added to create different colors of plasticine.

5. Modifiers

Depending on the intended use, some plasticine formulas may include additional additives to modify properties like firmness, elasticity, or texture.

Is Plasticine the Same as Clay?

There are a different number of similarities and differences between clay and plasticine.

Plasticine and clay are identical in that they are both used to model fixed images, and both contain the finest mineral particles held together by the binder.

So, the answer is yes and no. Technically speaking, plasticine is classified as clay. However, it is not traditional clay that has been fired in a kiln. Instead, plasticine is made from petroleum products and other synthetic materials.

As a result, it does not harden when exposed to air or heat, making it the perfect material for modeling and sculpting.

So, while plasticine may be technically classified as clay, it behaves in very different ways than traditional clay.

What is Plasticine Used For?

1. Engraving, Mask Making, Animation

Plastic clay is a vital art material used for engraving, mask making, mold making, special effects, and clay animation.

This clay is not dry which means it can be modified or re-used. Roma Plastolina is a popular choice for professional sculptors around the world.

Roma Plastilina clay comes in several degrees of hardness in almost any application.

Items such as plasticine are attractive to animators because the material can be easily used: they are flexible enough to create a character, flexible enough to allow the surface to move in many directions, and dense enough to maintain its shape easily when bonded with wire armature, and do not melt under hot studio lighting.

2. Design and Crafts

Plasticine clay is commonly used in the design and crafts industry. For example, industrial plasticine clay is a model used mainly for automotive design studios.

The most widely produced product is Chavant. Industrial plasticine clay usually contains sulfur, however.

However, sulfur prevents the formation of various silicone molds.

3. Play and Structure

Plasticine is also used for children’s play and as a model for formal or permanent structures.

plasticine use example
structure made out of plasticine

It is a popular selection of stand-up comedy outlets, including several Nick Park Oscar-winning films.

4. Sports

Plasticine is used in the long jump and triple jump competitions to help officials determine if rivals are officially jumping. Clay-like plasticine is also used in commercial party games such as Barbarossa.

To further explore plasticine and see its uses in action, we recommend checking out this video:

Is Plasticine a Plastic?

Clay is also called plasticine. But it is not plastic.

Plasticine is a product-making modeling clay with calcium salts, aliphatic acids, and petroleum jelly. So it is called plasticine.

Plastic is a broad term, while plasticine is derived from plastic.

How is Plasticine Used in Art?

Plasticine is used in art in various ways:

Due to its quality of molding and changing forms, it can be easily used to make different shapes of different sizes.

1. 3D Art

Plasticine is widely used to create 3D art, but it is possible to draw with it by pressing a few fingers at a time on paper. People do not realize how beautiful a plastic painting can be.

2. Pottery

Plasticine is widely used to make pottery sculptures and make temporary models for mold molding from (throwing other objects) and for children to play with.

3. Animation

Plasticine clay is used widely to give special effects to shapes and clay animation. The best benefit of using plasticine clay is that it can be used repeatedly and turned into any form as required.

FAQ About Plasticine

Is Plasticine a Clay?

Plasticine may be technically classified as a clay, it behaves in very different ways than traditional clay.

Is Play Doh Plasticine?

Play Doh is a soft, pliable modeling compound that has been a favorite among children for generations. Although its exact composition is a closely guarded secret, it is known to contain flour, salt, water, and boric acid. Some formulations also include colorants and fragrance. Unlike clay, which hardens when it is heated, Play Doh remains soft and malleable. For this reason, it is sometimes classified as a plasticine. However, Play Doh does not contain any of the properties that are typically associated with plastics. In fact, it is entirely non-toxic and safe for children to play with. So while Play Doh may resemble plasticine in some ways, it is actually quite different.

Are Plasticine and Oil Clay the Same?

Plasticine and oil clay are both modeling clays that can be used for a variety of purposes, from sculpting to crafts. However, there are some key differences between the two. Plasticine is a non-drying clay, which means it can be reused over and over again. It’s also very soft and pliable, making it easy to mold into shapes. Oil clay, on the other hand, is a type of modeling clay that hardens when exposed to air. This makes it ideal for creating more permanent sculptures. In addition, oil clay is usually less sticky than plasticine, making it easier to work with. As a result, each type of clay has its own unique advantages that make it better suited for certain tasks.

Final Remarks

Plasticine has so many uses and benefits. It can be turned into anything and is renewable.

If you’re interested in using some Plasticine for your next project, we recommend it.

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