[I realize this doesn't fit in the Beyond Satire theme. Consider this our holiday present to you.]
Children have been clamoring for Floam™, a micro-beaded modeling clay that has been heavily and attractively advertised. Unfortunately, people who have ordered Floam™ report long delays and deceptive business practices. Instead, make your own Floam™-like clay in whatever quantities and colors you like.
We found several anonymous recipes online. My husband Keith Golden tried three different recipes, then refined the best one. The result is virtually identical to Floam™ (except for smelling better). My major contribution was tracking down the polystyrene beads. (Note that the text on this site is covered by a Creative Commons license permitting reproduction with attribution for non-commercial purposes.)
Floam™ is made with polystyrene (aka Styrofoam™) beads ranging in size from about 1 mm to 1/8 inch in diameter. You can make an approximation of the beads at home by grating polystyrene cups, packing material etc., although we did not try this. We bought two different types of beads:
This should produce a hard clay well suited for sculpting; for a more malleable clay, use fewer beads and optionally less of the borax solution.
If you make some and have photos or suggestions, we'd be happy to post or link to them.
Update (January 7, 2006)
Some commenters have reported problems with this recipe. If the recipe worked for you, could you reply, so I get an idea whether this works for most people. It would also be great if you have any advice for the people having problems.
Update (January 8, 2006)
We added some details to the instructions, such as that the two solutions should not be mixed together in step 3. (They are mixed in step 5.)
Update (January 15, 2006)
Readers have reported problems when using "PVA glue" but success when using glue that lists "PVA alcohol" as an ingredient.
Update (April 24, 2006)
In December, I tried buying beads over ebay from 246daisy246. I never received the beads, and she got nasty when I asked to see the proof of delivery she claimed to have. I only got a refund after complaining to PayPal. I believe she has been posting misleading comments recommending herself. I replied to the first and have been deleting the rest.
Update (May 20, 2006)
Today I disabled further comments on this article. While there have been some excellent comments, there have also been many flames and spam I've had to delete, especially from sleazy ebayers. I repeat my recommendation not to buy floam beads (or anything else) from 246daisy246.
Update (June 15, 2006)