Van Aken

Van Aken Plastalina Color Guide

Let's face it, the colors of Van Aken Plastalina are not accurately represented with the swatches given online.  They're represented as being just about pastel on many sites.  And while your screen may not be calibrated perfectly, this is a much more accurate representation of these colors.

Although it is easy to see and purchase White, Black, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Turquoise, Gray, Flesh, and Ivory in stores, some of the more nuanced colors are available solely online.  This color guide can help you make the decision to either mix up a batch of a color yourself or if the pre-made tint is worth ordering and waiting for.

Click to enlarge photos, hover to see consistency descriptions.

Getting the best deal on clay

30% off all clays at Hobby Lobby is a terrific way to stock up, but they generally don't have much on hand for large projects.  However, If you're willing to wait, I learned you can place a raincheck at Hobby Lobby and have them ship in bulk amounts if you ask for it.  They won't deliver to your home, so you have to pick it up at the store. The advantage is if there is a sale on clay, they will give you the discounted price as long as you place the order during the sale.  The only drawback is that it will take around a week to ship to the store.

Buying in bulk online from Dick Blick is your best option if you have to rush to get a shipment of clay.  If you get 4 1/2 pound bricks, you have to buy 4 bricks of one color to get the bulk discount, which drops the price from $13.07 at Dick Blick ($13.99 regular price at Hobby Lobby) down to $11.76.  That's the everyday bulk price.  If you buy over $100 dollars of merchandise, your order comes with free shipping.  Personally, I've found it worth paying the $4 or $5 more for expedited shipping.  I had a recent order of 109 pounds that cost only $5 for shipping.

The Rundown

1lb @ Dick Blick
Normal Price - $3.29
Bulk Price ----- $2.96

4.5lbs @ Dick Blick
Normal Price - $13.07
Bulk Price ----- $11.76

1lb @ Hobby Lobby
Normal Price - $3.57
Sale Price ----- $2.50

4.5lbs @ Hobby Lobby
Normal Price - $13.99
Sale Price ----- $9.79

TL;DR – it's cheaper if you can wait to get it at Hobby Lobby during a sale, but if you don't have the luxury of time and there is no sale, order online.

Up to 200+ lbs ... Of plasticine

A photo posted by jonathan d. lopez (@clay.alchemist) on

"Cleaning" Clay

YouTube members have frequently asked me how I keep my clay clean – especially since I have kept some of the clay for over 7 years.  The key to saving clay for the long haul when you're frequently using it is to not be stingy and cut out the contaminated clay.  

  • Darker colors (black, grey) and strong colors (blue, red, brown) easily melt down and completely mask any contaminating colors.  

I find it best to melt as much down at one time to further dilute the contaminating colors.  It also helps average out the clay consistency – hard (old) and soft (new) clays melt down into a perfect blend.

  • Once a lighter color (white, ivory, yellow, orange) is contaminated, expect a noticeable difference between that and a new package of plasticine.  Keep it separated from new clay.

Use the contaminated lighter colors to create new colors.  Embrace the fact that that clay will never be the same color again.  Once you are done with a project, you can always melt it down into another color as well!

Clay Potpourri

Clay Potpourri

  • When skinning the top layer of clay that is dusty or contaminated with color, save it in a pile of scraps.  This can later be melted down and used to create gray!  From the entire claylist project (almost 300 pounds of clay) when disassembled, I only had about four pounds of clay that couldn't be used for anything else.  So I now use that clay as a clock stand 🐸
Potpourri becomes a silver gray

Potpourri becomes a silver gray

I must note that when melting down clay, it seems to almost always create a slightly less oily clay, making it a harder substance.  I like it somewhat soft, and will add a touch of mineral oil if necessary.  I wouldn't add it while it is molten as it will just rise to the top,  Just kneed it in when rolling it out into sticks for storage.