Premo Zinc Yellow and Cobalt Blue: A New Perspective on Polyform

I have been doing some research on the availability of Premo Zinc Yellow and Cobalt Blue and I am now convinced that people at Polyform understand that these colors are essential to a complete artists’ palette.  However, they only have a very limited amount of influence on which products large retailers, such as Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Dick Blick are willing to carry.  The decision to stop stocking zinc yellow and cobalt blue was made by that sector, not by Polyform.

As artists and educators, we need to mount an effort to help Polyform give us what we need. What they’ve done for us already is more than most companies would do; they’ve continued to produce small quantities of products for which there is limited demand so that we would have them available to us.  I am convinced Polyform would go back to mass production of cobalt blue and zinc yellow if the large retailers would stock them.

I think what has happened is that one or more major retailers decided they don’t want to carry those colors because they are poor sellers compared to some of the other colors. We need to make them understand that we need a full palette of primary colors in polymer clay the same way painters need a full palette of colors in oils, watercolors or acrylics.  They wouldn’t drop one of the paint primaries because it wasn’t a top seller; we need them to view polymer clay the same way. I suspect they haven’t thought about it that way. I also doubt they understand that we need to have those colors generally available so we can educate the next generation of artists about the full potential of this still-developing medium.

So, how to we make our case? I welcome your suggestions. My opinion is that we should focus our initial efforts on the Michaels chain because it is the biggest art and craft chain in the world. I would like to start by compiling a list of reasons they should do this, so that if we get the chance to talk to their buyers we will be able to make the strongest case possible.

Meanwhile, Polyform gave me this list of online sellers of Premo Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow:
Polymer Clay Express
24300 Kakae Dr, Damascus, MD  20872
800-844-0138; 301-482-0435

Munro Corp.
3954 West 12 Mile Rd, Berkley, MI  48072
800-638-0543; 248-544-1590

Creative Wholesale
(Ken Fallaw)
P.O. Box 2070, Stockbridge, GA  30281
800-347-0930; 770-474-2110

If you know of any other sources, please let me know.

This entry was posted in Color, color mixing, Premo Clay. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Premo Zinc Yellow and Cobalt Blue: A New Perspective on Polyform

  1. Roberta says:

    I would say Dick Blick. They sell real art supplies. If anyone would understand the needs of artists it would be them I would think, rather than Micheals which is strictly craft oriented.

    • clsdesigns says:

      Thanks for the comment, Roberta. Unfortunately, Dick Blick sells mostly on-line; they only have 30 stores, so I don’t think convincing them to carry something would motivate the store-front retailers to do the same. My thought is: Where Michaels leads others will follow.

  2. Chris says:

    I think it would take the polymer clay artists banding together and emailing/writing to the Michaels headquarters, much like what was done to Polyform products when it was first announced that they were going to dicontinue zinc yellow and cobalt blue.

    Unfortunately it still may come down to numbers. If the sales aren’t there for zinc yellow and cobalt blue, Polyform will eventually quit producing them. With these colors available from only 3 online sources, low sales is a definite probability. I believe the 3 online stores you mentioned are the only place to purchase zinc yellow and cobalt blue. Overseas sellers of Premo are out of luck as they can no longer purchase these colors wholesale.

  3. We can try to influence Michaels, but I’m not optimistic. I don’t think real artists are all that important to them. Plus, I was in a store today and was astonished to see how much more private label stuff they are carrying. They already have their own brand of polymer clay and scads of stuff is now called Recollections. I think they are sending all kinds of things over to China to have it copied and/or they are forcing manufacturers to private label for them.

    Perhaps the Int’l Polymer Clay Guild could organize a petition or an email campaign. Maybe all the guilds could have their members sign a petition and forward it to the Int’l Guild.

    If Polyform is selling to wholesalers overseas, they could sell the cobalt blue and zinc yellow to them as well, the same as they are doing for the three retailers here. I guess the European retailers would have to ask for it.


    • Sue Heaser says:

      Hi Carol – and everyone,
      I am as worried as you all are about this situation – and thank you Carol, for the clear analysis – it is indeed vital that we somehow get the big buyers to stock these vital colours.

      And Polyform is selling the colours overseas – to Britain anyway – have told me that they will be continuing to stock it – thank you Zama! I will be working hard here to get the big stores to keep stocking it. Overseas sales are significant – so we all need to do as Carol suggests. Is anyone there from Aus, NZ and Europe????


      • clsdesigns says:

        Thanks for the response, Sue. It is good to hear you are working on it in England, too. Let’s keep each other posted on progress..

    • clsdesigns says:

      I think we have to try. It’s too important not to.

  4. “If the sales aren’t there for zinc yellow and cobalt blue, Polyform will eventually quit producing them. With these colors available from only 3 online sources, low sales is a definite probability.”

    I agree with Chris- While I do know a few fellow artists that have stockpiled these two colors…I am loath to book a workshop that is dependent on the availability of a double Premo Primaries and then send out a supply list with the caveat that Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow may or may NOT be available from three US online retailers.

  5. Margaret Canavan says:

    I agree about Michael’s, as much as I do not like to shop there! If “someone” (hint) could provide Polyform with the idea of a small free handout about those colors (perhaps even a draft), to post at the sales racks, that might encourage hobbyists to move up a notch. This may not be the economy for such a promotional item but it’s worth suggesting. Something like “1001 things to do with 3 colors”. Polymer clay teachers could also encourage students to show up for classes with those primaries.

  6. Emma Ralph says:

    Just wanted to say “congratulations” first on spearheading this campaign. It is sad how everything is decided by the “bottom line” these days – I guess you need to convince these stores that their overall sales of Premo will drop if they don’t offer a full colour range? But maybe that is what they want if they are also selling their own brand of clay now?
    What surprises me is why these colours? OK – they are not huge sellers for me either tbh. But there are other clay colours that don’t sell nearly as well as those two – so could it be they are more costly to produce in terms of raw materials than their other blues / yellows I wonder?
    Just for the record – I still carry Zinc Yellow and Cobalt blue here at in the UK and will continue to do so all the while they are available to me.

    • clsdesigns says:

      Thanks for the compliment Emma. The problem is not a difference in production costs. The retailers are making the decisions about the colors they carry and all colors cost the same for them. We need to get them thinking about polymer the way they think about paint, that is, recognizing that there are certain colors that are essential, no matter which brand we are talking about.

  7. Joan Brenner says:

    The important factor in this cobalt blue/zinc yellow issue is their availability in the future. Retail stores, such as Michaels or AC Moore, carry thousands of products, many of them are seasonal. To expect large retail chains to commit to carrying a limited item in hundreds of its stores nationwide does not appear to be realistic. I have spoken with the folks at Polymer Clay Express whose business is focused on polymer clay and who want to keep providing those colors now and in the future. The three internet retailers are available to anyone anywhere. If my local Michaels runs out of the dozen or so cobalt blue it might carry they are not restocking it for x amount of time, and I have wasted a trip to the store. Polymer Clay Express and the other internet retailers carry the clay in bulk and are constantly monitoring their supplies. Polyform is the key-they either will manufacture these colors or not. Unlike the petitions that were generated when Polyform made its announcement to discontinue these colors, we should call them at 1 847 427 0020 and make it known that we have looked at the negative consequences of not having these colors available and would like to work with them and the internet retailers try to develop a solution in which all three parties can participate; that is, the manufacturer (Polyform), distributor (internet retailer), and user. The question is does Polyform have a quantity of these colors that need to be sold for them to continue to manufacture them and can the polymer clay community support this number?

    • clsdesigns says:

      Excellent point, Joan. We shouldn’t “drop the ball” on the Internet providers while working on the retailers (although I’m not convinced that convincing retailers to carry them is entirely unrealistic).

  8. Carol,

    I know Michael.s has classes. Perhaps If we get some instructors in to teach polymer color theory classes. This would help to create a “market” for the colors in Michael’s clientele and a bigger demand.

  9. Kay Vincent says:

    Great article Carol, thanks! In the UK I buy most of my clay from, and I notice that there are still some of the discontinued Premo colours available (e.g. zinc yellow) at the moment…..

  10. Lisa Heller says:

    Michael’s does not have classes in polymer clay in the Oklahoma City area. I contacted them about teaching a class- even doing some traveling to other stores and they were only interested in teaching knitting or crocheting- if I wanted to teach that (I don’t- I do polymer!)) From what I understand about Michael’s, their stores are just all cookie cutter stores- all stocked exactly the same. For me, I am OK with mail ordering my clay. I know exactly what they have and no driving!
    I know this is not a great idea for all, but maybe some in guilds could do an order together. I am not sure that michael’s really cares about us- maybe if more stopped buying ANYTHING from them they might listen? Maybe a letter writing campaign -snail mail- where all the letters arrived in the same week?

  11. Jill says:

    When the discontinuation of these primaries was announced the first thing I suggested to Polyform AND to a Michael’s VP face-to-face, was POS project and how-to sheets. The VP looked at me as though I were speaking Martian. I’m all for getting classes into the stores that require these colors but the issue is then how to get those colors into the hands of students if Michael’s doesn’t carry it. The stores in my area, and there are several, were virtually out of stock on ALL Premo colors, or only stocked sporadically, for nine months starting October 2010. So now we’ve got a chicken-egg situation. First they need stock, then they need demand, for which they need stock. I’m sure there is a strong case to be made, but it’s a matter figuring out what that is and to whom it needs to be made in order to get anywhere.

  12. Melody says:

    Carol, it might be useful to start with the CEO. I work in the corporate world and find that things sent to the top person often at least get a read – not necessarily by that person, but read. If a lot of the same thing go to the top person, attention is sometimes paid 🙂
    John B. Menzer , CEO
    702 SW Eighth Street
    Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611
    Perhaps of we coordinated and blitzed the office with our pleas?

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