From art to industrial purposes, an LSU professor has developed a new multiuse polymer product that he’s now preparing to distribute internationally in Canada, Mexico and Australia.
LSU Chemistry Professor John Pojman’s company, Pojman Polymer Products, took off like a steam engine slowly gathering speed as it moves down the tracks. He began working with the polymers in the early 1990s.
What makes his art clay and putties unique is that they can be molded and hardened with a relatively low level of heat that does not require a kiln. The technology behind his invention relies on the reaction of polymers and heat that makes the product harden to a substance that’s both lightweight and strong.
“The original idea was to make a rapid wood putty that you could apply, hit with a heat gun, and it would be solid in a few seconds,” Pojman says. “But it’s hard to break into. So I was thinking as an adhesive, and I targeted model rocketry. But then someone suggested I use it in art.”
About four years ago, Pojman started working with former LSU graduate student Shelby Prindaville to mold his mixture into something useful to artists, and began selling it online. Now 3P QuickCure Clay can be found in art stores in New Orleans and New Mexico.
The clay they developed allows artists to bypass much of the difficult and tricky parts of sculpting, eliminating the need for a kiln. Also, 3P QuickCure Clay is strong enough to build sculptures without first creating wire and paper “skeletons” or armatures.
Prindaville is now art program director at the University of Saint Mary in Kansas, and uses 3PQuickCure Clay in her classroom because students can use a heat gun to cure their work before the class period ends. She orders it by the pound from Pojman, who produces it from his office space at the Louisiana Business and Technology Center at LSU—a step up from his garage where he used to mix it on weekends.
“I think it’s a really interesting and innovative medium,” Prindaville says. “The great things is, it gives instant results. With regular clay you have to be careful about the moisture, and you can’t apply wet clay to a finished product, but with 3P you can apply wet to dry.”
Prindaville says 3P QuickCure Clay is not without its flaws: The substance irritates skin requiring the artist to wear gloves. It can also get very hot. But she says her students enjoy using it to create new things, adding that it’s a different way to go about sculpting than using other clays.
Pojman says his main problem is people are not sure how to use the 3P QuickCure Clay.
“With the art stuff, it’s really about trying to build up the market,” Pojman says. “I go down to New Orleans and do demonstrations because someone picks up a jar and they’re not sure what to do with it. It’s just completely new.”