The newest miracle product invented in an LSU professor’s lab is begging for a late-night infomercial.
Video would roll of a sculptor molding a lump of clay into a whimsical lizard. In the next shot, the clay would be used to fix a chip in a wood floor.
“It’s for artists,” the announcer would bellow. “No, it’s for DIYers,” another would exclaim. “Try Pojman Polymer Products’ QuickCure Clay!”
However you might want to use 3P QuickCure Clay, the product is remarkable, its users agree.
Created by LSU chemistry professor John Pojman, this revolutionary new material can repair a cup, patch drywall and be crafted into beautiful art.
It never dries out, even after four years in Pojman’s garage. Unlike most sculptors’ clays, it doesn’t need a kiln to harden.
And the finished product won’t shatter when dropped.
“One eighth-grader described it as a self-baking clay,” says Pojman, 53. “Which is actually a really good term.”
To make the 3P QuickCure Clay harden, a heat gun is aimed at one spot, and a reaction begins that spreads throughout the material. In seconds, it’s as hard as a rock.
The product definitely has a future in the art world, says Mike Stumbras, 27, a graduate student in ceramics who teaches a new class at LSU devoted to experiments with the QuickCure Clay.
“With traditional clay you have to go through great lengths to make sure it doesn’t dry out,” Stumbras says. “With this, you can forget about it and come back and cure it.”
Pojman could certainly star in his own commercials. A dandy dresser with a penchant for bright bow ties, he’s a born pitchman, smiling as he talks in rapid-fire sentences.
The youngest of five children, he says he knows how to get attention.
“I tell my students, you can disagree with me, but you do not ignore me,” he says.
Pojman came to LSU eight years ago. Previously, he taught at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he began researching the materials that became the QuickCure Clay.
His interest in certain kinds of chemical reactions led him to independently discover a process called frontal polymerization that was invented by Russian researchers in the 1970s.
This “self-propagating” reaction occurs when a certain mixture of chemicals is heated and then spreads, giving off heat that causes other areas of the materials to heat up and continue the reaction. Pojman’s work on that type of reaction led to his QuickCure Clay invention.
Over the past decade, Pojman invented a quick-curing material that could fill in holes and chips, and even gave it to maintenance workers at LSU to repair walls in his office building.
In 2011, an artist in Portland, Oregon, saw Pojman’s lecture on his research. The clay would be perfect for artists, she told him.
“I never historically have had any real interest in art,” says Pojman of how he felt before the artist called. “When I went to the museum, I would see what kind of chemicals they use.”
But he created a material for the Oregon artist and then worked with some students at LSU to figure out what they needed. Students used it to craft textured paintings and then sculpted small figurines.
They led him to create a stiffer, less sticky material. It is safe for anyone to use, but cannot be ingested, so elementary schools and youth art classes might not be interested. Pojman is still working on that.
“A big part of the (LSU) class is figuring the material out, learning what it can and can’t do,” says Stumbras, the instructor.
In late March during the class, Allison Bellingham, 23, sprinkled gold dust in the QuickCure Clay and used it to mend broken tea cups, a repair technique inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi, in which artist repair broken pottery using elaborate lacquer.
“It’s phenomenal,” says Bellingham, a junior graphic design major. “Something that can cure in a minute is perfect for artists.”
With assistance from the Louisiana Business Technology Center business incubator, Pojman started a company to market his invention. He called it 3P for Pojman Polymer Products, a nod to the 3M corporation, which he admires.
One New Orleans art store carries the QuickCure Clay, which is also available online at 3Pllc.com.
Pojman plans to continue improving the clay with help from the young artists at LSU.
“My dream would be something edible and completely non-toxic,” he says, “but I don’t know how to do that yet. It would be nice.”