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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, i'm just starting to develop ideas for a vertical tank for my crested gecko. I've been greatly inspired by all the threads i've been sifting through on here, some of which were positively brilliant and inventive! I want to build something with aesthetics in mind that I can really be proud of, and so far it seems dendro keepers are the most creative herpers out there when it comes to making an enclosure!

So my question is, in my sifting through threads I found one where an individual made mushrooms from polymer clay. The results were pretty outstanding. I'm a sculptor and have used polymer before, so I was wondering, is it safe to use in the enclosure then?
What would be the required steps in sealing it properly?
Has anyone who has used polymer (sculpey) had any trouble with it crumbling over time?
Also, are there any other types of ovenbake/airdry clays that are safe to use? (preferably not epoxy as it's costly to get here and i've never been very good with working with it)

Thanks guys!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I will definitely provide a build thread. As for the safety, i'd really love to hear from someone whose done it (I know you guys are out there, i've read your past posts! ;) ). I feel like it should be pretty safe so long as I seal the sculpey in a reptile safe sealant. In the past i've sealed reptile decor in waterproof mod podge, and that seems to work really well. My hunch is that if I seal it all properly in waterproof mod podge, it should render the decor safe for my crestie... Still would love to hear from others though! ;)
 

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Hello,

I think if you seal it appropriately with something safe you should be ok. I'm not sure what effect it would have in your tank unsealed but when I used to pierce full time we highly discouraged it being worn in piercings because it could release toxins, same thing with lucite and other acrylics but people seem to use those substances in tanks with no ill effect.
I wish I could give you a more definitive answer. Honestly you would probably be ok either way but I would seal it if I where you.
 

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Im a professional polymer clay artist and I would not use it. yes its easy to sculpt with but it is not good in humid conditions it will break down. Also most people dont cure it properly in the first place with can cause chemical reactions over time as well. I cant think of anything to seal it with that I would use in a viv. Many things get sticky over time on polymer clay. Sometimes it can take years.
I have sculpted trees and a rock planter in my vivs, the trees are pink insulation foam sheets that I glued together and carved and then coated in drylok tinted with acrylic paint and the rock planter is bronze apoxie sculpt tinted with mica powder.
I am planing on sculpting and molding somethings to do in foam for some future projects because I really do hate using apoxie (it annoys me) and carving the foam was very messy.
 

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mod podge on polymer clay will remain slightly tacky. I use it for flocking and glitter coatings, but anything areas not coated in the flocking ot gitter will be a bit sticky to the touch. and can get more so over time especially in humid conditions.
 

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I second not using the mod-podge. I went that way when building some custom "rocks" for my bearded dragons. After awhile its started to break down. Them defecating on it also caused it to turn white in spots. The urates also cause tackiness that seemed to never go away. After all that time and money to make them they didn't last for 6 months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The comments on mod podge surprise me, I used it in a tank for almost a year an a half (I recently had to tear out that display for other reasons) without any issues, but I did use it on an unsanded grout background made of Styrofoam, so I have not used mod podge on polymer itself (to my memory, I may have done at some point).

I understand what all of you are saying, this is why i'm so wary of using it, but I've found some members reporting using it and it doesn't seem like anything bad ever came of it? here are some of the links i'm referring to:

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/plants/70455-real-glow-mushrooms-panellus-stipticus-7.html

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/members-frogs-vivariums/81008-horizontal-viv-6.html

If I shouldn't use the polymer clay, can anyone tell me what else could I sculpt with? Would the two part epoxy you can buy for fixing leaky pipes at homedepot work (after being sealed)? Or perhaps a type of air-dry clay?

I would usually work with styrofoam, but the kinds of details i'm after are too small to use it.

Also, can anyone recommend another sealer or varnish that may be a better choice?
 

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air dry clays can not get wet. Apoxie sculpt will work but I hate working with it. you can us pink foam board insulation from home depot. you can carve fairly fine detail into that and seal it with drylok.
as I mentioned in my other post I am planning on molding and casting in foam for my next project
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have made several attempts with the pink foam but it just doesn't want to work, (with is unfortunate because I have loads of pink foam laying around just waiting to be used!) Casting in foam is a very interesting process, please share you're results =D I was schooled in molding and casting, so I love seeing what others are up to.

With regards to the mod podge That's very strange, I wonder why that happened, cause i'm literally touching the entire background I made in the same manner and I can't feel a single sticky spot (and it was in with a chahoua, so much moister conditions than a beardie). I am not doubting you're results they are just very different from mine, Very strange!

Also I did find a small sculpt I did in sculpey and sealed with mod podge just now and I see what you guys mean (it was tucked away I had forgotten all about it). Unless someone has suggestions regarding a better way to seal sculpey, I guess i'll get my hands on some 2 part epoxy then, after one more attempt with foam!

(I also can't get drylok here, i've searched in vain for the stuff)
 

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It is most likely due to the urates. Yours was a background where as mine was ground level decor. They walked all over and do their thing on it. I think it just ate away at it. I've have not done it for any other conditions so I can't say as to the results of just humidity.
 

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West Systems epoxy resin 105 and 207 special clear hardener would probably make a good clear and stable coating. It is designed to be used in applications like finishing wood for boat work where you want to have a nice clear finish that shows off the grain.
 

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nearly everything will react with polymer clay over time and get sticky. I have heard horror stories from other artists/collectors about the gloss nearly everyone uses to make the eyes shine turning sticky over time, so the new trend is UV set resin for eyes, thus far I have not heard of any reactions but its a new trend.

the bottom line is I personally would not trust anything polymer clay in a viv. I would always be afraid it would react over time. and since we are talking about geckos anytime polymer clay gets over say 90 degrees (like under a heat light) it will give off harmful fumes.

the only things I know will not get sticky over time are acrylic paint, mica powders, pastel chalks, sculpey or fimo gloss, or duncan super matte sealer. and it will still give off fumes when it gets hot even sealed with duncan super matte
 
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