In Germany, in the late 1930s, an enterprising woman named Fifi
Rehbinder developed and marketed a clay product, which she called Fifi Mosaik,
to use for doll heads. In 1964 she sold the formula to Eberhard Faber who
developed it into the Fimo we know today.
At the same time, other manufacturers were making products similar to
Fimo. Monica Resta of Italy used a form of the clay called LIMMO in Argentina
in the late 1950s. It was also manufactured by a German company, but not
Eberhard Faber. The manufacturer could have been Rudolf Reiser, who makes
Formello and Modello, but there is no clear trail.
In those early days the clay was used for dolls, modeling and miniatures
for doll houses. As it gained a wider audience, it was sold in toy stores. Pier
Voulkos, for one, purchased Fimo from a toy store in Germany in 1970. Tory
Hughes, who lived in Europe as a child, also discovered Fimo there, and
Kathleen Dustin was introduced to Fimo while she was attending college
In the early 1970s, a family by the name of Shaup, which had immigrated
to the United States from Germany in the 1950s, received a Christmas package
from their grandmother. Inside was a package of Fimo. Mrs. Shaup, immediately
fascinated by the clay, began making ornaments and figures, and soon people
were asking her where she got the clay. Her husband, out of work at the time,
decided to import Fimo, and in 1975, Accent Import began to import Fimo into
the United States. Mr. Shaup demonstrated the uses of the clay to various retail
stores, and sales began.
As the popularity of the clay grew, other American companies, including
Deeís Delights in the 1970s and the American Art Clay Company (AMACO) in the
1980s, also began to import Fimo.
At the same time artists and American companies were discovering Fimo,
an American company was developing its own version of the clay. A product
called polyform has been developed in the 1960s for industrial purposes, but
when itís industrial use didnít pan out, the clay was shelved. One day, a
visitor to the plant played with a lump of the polyform and created a small
figure. The figure was cured in a lab oven, and Sculpey/Polyform was born.
The white Polyform/Sculpey was actually sold on a small scale from 1967. By 1976, Mike Solos, the company founder, was marketing his product at craft
shows and demonstrating its use to small retail shops. Colors weren't added to
the clay until around 1984, and until then artists such as Sue Kelsey and her
sister Cathy Johnson were coloring their clay with ground chalk and Tempera
The popularity of polymer clay soon became evident, and AMACO, which
manufactured natural clays for years, created their own polymer clay, Friendly
Clay, in 1993, which they sold both in single color packets and pre-made canes.
Accent Imports also began selling their own version of the pre-made cane:
Another person interested in polymer clay, Marie Segal, had switched
from creating objects out of bread dough to creating objects out of Fimo. Soon
Segal and her husband were not only selling Fimo, but promoting it and offering
excellent technical support to those who had discovered its charms.
Along the way, the Segals inadvertently became the developers and
promoters of a brand new polymer clay product, Premo. In 1994, the Segals
approached the Scupley/Polyform company with a question: why not have a
high-quality American-made clay? Sculpey needed a little tweaking: more intense
colors and a do-everything formula.
Sculpey/Polyform liked the idea, and the Segals
began working on developing a better polymer clay. Polymer clay artists in the
Southern California area were fortunate enough to be in on the development
process, and many were given beta test products. From these tests, the lastest addition to
the polymer family, Premo, was born.