Birth in Europe
These masses were born in Germany in the late 1930s at the hands of Fifi Rehbinder, a dollmaker who had trouble finding her usual supplies due to the political turmoil of the time. This inventive woman then developed a plastic clay that she called Fifi Mosaik, and used it to sculpt doll heads. It was not until 1964 that Rehbinder sold the formula to Heberhard Faber, who used the formula to make the FIMO brand (acronym for "FI" for FIFI). Rehbinder and "MO" from Mosaik) that we know today and sold it in toy stores in Europe, where it was mainly seen as a children's toy or a means of sculpting dolls and dollhouse miniatures. At the same time, other manufacturers made similar products For Fimo, for example, the artist Monica Resta used Limmo in Argentina in the late 1950s, which was also manufactured by a German company.
Appearance in the United States
Today, the largest variety of polymer clay brands is made in the United States, where it made its first major appearance in the 1970s. The Shaup family, who had emigrated from Germany in 1950, received Fimo as a Christmas gift from a grandmother who lived abroad. Shaup creations were soon admired by friends and neighbors, and in 1975, the family began importing Fimo into the United States. In a short time, American companies followed suit.
Meanwhile, other people were also experimenting with polymer clay. So, in the 1950s, an illustrator named Gordon Swenarton, who worked with clay, used a vinyl mass obtained by his father, who was a chemist, and in the 1960s the Cernit product company, Polyform, created by chance. Her own version of the product, which she wanted to use for industrial purposes but did not work, and while working at its intended industrial capacity, the owner's daughter sculpted a figure that she baked in a laboratory oven and thus illustrated that the material had great potential for the arts. In this way, Polyform was the original version of what is now known as Cernit polymer clay. The white mass of this brand began to be sold on a small scale in 1967, but did not achieve its current bright line of colors until 1984. Until then, artists had to add their own pigments to color the clay.
Other American companies like American Art Clay company in 1980 also started importing Fimo.
From the 90s to today
By the 1990s, the popularity of polymer clay in the United States was significant, and other manufacturers took action. Sculpey, departing from its existing line of natural clays, developed the so-called Friendly Clay in 1993 and also manufactured ready-to-cut grinding wheels. Premo emerged in the late 1990s, when artists who went from creating with breadcrumbs to baking with Fimo, informed the makers of Sculpey that a better quality clay was being sued. The newer variety of polymer clay was developed in 2001 with the collaboration of an artist and the manufacturer Van Aken.
Today several brands of polymer clay are manufactured to be able to choose, as well as other applicable products and special masses. Polymer clay continues to gain popularity year after year and new techniques are still emerging in this new medium.