Sophie "Fifi" Rehbinder-Kruse, Sunflowers, 1940s, FIMO, photo: Staedtler

FIMO from the beginning


The story of how polymer originated generally begins with Fifi, her mother, Kathe Kruse, and a by-product from oil production late in the 1930’s. Kathe Kruse, a well-known German doll maker, had experimented with the strange new compound in hope of finding something new for her doll heads, but found it did not suit her needs- so it was set aside. A few years later in 1941, Kruse’s daughter, Sofie, rediscovers the discarded substance and began to re-examine its properties. Sofie adds both plasticizer and color to the material and eventually developed an easily workable modeling compound. When she finally decided to market the product, she created a brand name, by combining her nickname, “Fifi” with letters from the words for modeling and mosaic, her particular interest. Initially, the modeling product “Fimoik” was sold in toyshops since the family had connections through the doll business. In 1964 it was acquired by Eberhard-Faber. In 1967 FIMO, the revised brand name was introduced to the public. A decade or so later (1978), E-F was absorbed by Staedtler.

Now, at long last, Staedtler has provided a detailed time line, complete with facts, dates, names, faces, and images on their web site. Combined on a page with an announcement of FIMO”s 50th anniversary and a collaborative celebration, the illustrated account of FIMO”s history appears in the lower part of the page. Early applications for this material were for modeling and mosaic work, as pictured in the mosaic by Sofie “Fifi” Rehbinder-Kruse above. Some of Fifi’s other art is pictured, as well as a page from a 1961 newspaper article about Fimoik, the cover of a 1967 FIMO “how to”, product packaging and photographs of Fifi, her mother and her children. Further down the time line, there are dates for when different FIMO products were introduced up to 2015. It is all part of the on-going FIMO story, but the information about FIMO before 1990 is a particularly important addition to polymer history. Thank you, Staedtler.  Check it out!

Sofie Rehbinder-Kruse  (1904-1989)