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Question on Article: What is Plasticine?

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  • Question on Article: What is Plasticine?

    I am reading the long article, "Investment Casting for the Home Shop" by Ted Hansen in the May/June 2020 edition of The Home Shop Machinist. I'm not quite finished yet, but it is an excellent read with a lot of great information. And it is part one so there is more to come.

    But one thing has me puzzled. He mentions the use of a substance he calls Plasticine. He even gives a recipe for making it but that did not help me to understand just what Plasticine is.

    Ingredients:
    Microcrystalline wax or bee's wax
    10wt oil
    Automotive grease or petroleum jelly
    Clay

    And it also requires heat in the process of making it.

    He also states that we played with it as children and it can be purchased at a toy shop. I notice that my spell checker wants to capitalize the word so it may be a trade or brand name.

    I suspect he is from England or somewhere in Europe. Does anyone know just what we would call Plasticine on this side of the big puddle? Or did I miss something when I was a child?
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

  • #2
    Play Doh it looks like.
    21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
    1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

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    • #3
      Plasticine is or was a UK product; it was a sort of children's 'toy' to make rudimentary shapes and figurines etc. It was non-sticky, the consistency of glazier's putty, available in a range of colours and was used by, or for, young kids to make small model etc. as an endlessly reusable sort of modelling clay which never set. When you had made your model, you just squashed it up in your hands, and made something different. You could mix strands of different colours to get stripy effects and eventually it would amalgamate into a dull bluish colour. Remarkably, over quite a wide range of ambient temperatures it retained more or less the same pliability. It was cheap and unless ingested in large quantities, non-toxic! I was also quite difficult to separate from the fibres of carpets and matting when trodden into such floor coverings - as a consequence, my Mother hated the stuff!

      I think that Play Dough maybe a similar US product.

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      • #4
        Plasticine is/was an English product made by Harbutts of Bath - their factory was on the banks of the Kennet and Avon Canal, and we used to walk past it in the fifties and delight in the mingled stripes of bright colours running down the bank and into the canal. It was a Secret Recipe, and none of their competitors ever succeeded in making a product quite as good, a bit like Heinz tomato ketchup. I expect it's owned by a multi-national conglomerate and made in China now.

        It's wax/grease/oil based and never dries out or goes mouldy, unlike water-based Play-doh, which does both in time. It's very much used in school Science lessons for holding optical pins, lenses and the like in place and for other purposes which need something firm but mouldable, like rubbing into each other's hair, flicking round the room in small pellets and so on. I always used to publicly weigh the Plasticine before and after any experiment, and demand that any large discrepancy be corrected before the class was let out.

        Do you have Blu-tack or similar sticky putty in the States, for putting posters on walls? Plasticine is similar to that, but not sticky.

        George B.

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        • #5
          Oil based modelling clay aka plasticine very different from play doh, it’s still freely available but often called modelling clay
          mark

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          • #6
            AKA modeling clay
            Sole proprietor of Acme Buggy Whips Ltd.
            Specialty products for beating dead horses.

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            • #7
              I have not seen the article, but looks like I should as I am just starting to get into lost wax. However I have done a ton of resin casting with silicone rubber molds. One thing I learned early on is artists modeling clay contains sulfur and silicone will not cure against it. You need to get a sulfur free variant if your using it with silicone rubber.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Paul Alciatore View Post
                Or did I miss something when I was a child?
                I thought it was universal, clearly not...never too late too make up for lost time though.....another way to play with it

                in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                • #9
                  Wikipedia has a nice writeup:

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasticine

                  from which:

                  "During World War II, Plasticine was used by bomb disposal officer Major John P. Hudson R.E. as part of the defuzing process for the new German "Type Y" battery-powered bomb fuze. The "Type Y" fuze has an anti-disturbance device that had to be disabled before the fuze could be removed. Plasticine was used to build a dam around the head of the fuze to hold some liquid oxygen. The liquid oxygen cooled the battery down to a temperature at which it would no longer function; with the battery out of commission, the fuze could be removed safely."

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                  • #10
                    Google is your friend; https://www.google.com/search?client...d&q=Plasticine
                    Len

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                    • #11
                      In 1st and 2nd grades we played with what we called simply "clay" which I've later come to think of as modeling clay, though I'm not sure they're the same items. This clay we played with was a sort of pink-ish tan color, about the color of a pencil eraser ....there were no color options that I recall, it was all the same. It had a distinctive, pleasant smell that I would instantly recognize today. Just as with Crayola crayons, the smell is forever etched in the brain.

                      Our "clay"was much more durable than the later Play Doh that my kids had, which has a more rubbery feel and texture.
                      As for Plasticine, I don't remember when I first saw that term, but it was years ago, and I've always wondered if it is the same stuff as my childhood "clay." When I read that casting article Paul mentioned I thought about making some with that recipe, just to see how it compares to that of my youth.
                      Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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                      • #12
                        At the start of the year the new clay was in multi coloured sticks, by the end of the year it was all dog****e brown, the remedial class was often called the clay class, the guys doing car mock ups use it by the ton
                        mark

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                        • #13
                          In Canada Plasticine was a very common play toy both at home and at school. I'm 79 years old so that somewhat dates the era of Plasticine. Play doh has a completely different texture and feel when handling it.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lynnl View Post
                            In 1st and 2nd grades we played with what we called simply "clay" which I've later come to think of as modeling clay, .
                            Did it dry out or harden? Plasticine doesn't, but I recall in my recent thread on the EDM someone suggested modelling clay does

                            in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post

                              Did it dry out or harden?
                              As I recall, it didn't, at least not rock hard. But that was 70 years (circa) ago, so I may be mis-remembering. After use, the teachers would gather it up and store it in some airtight manner. Of course we weren't using it every day, but it would last and remain pliable, more or less, through the whole school year, replenished with a few new sticks from time to time, to replace that dropped on the floor, contaminated, or lost (or eaten) by a bunch of careless 6 or 7 year olds.

                              What I do remember is that dabbling with the clay was one of our favorite activities. Also, after googling and reading about the various clays, I'm positive this stuff was oil based. That was no doubt the source of the distinctive smell I mentioned.
                              Last edited by lynnl; 07-23-2020, 02:58 PM.
                              Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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