Usually beginners like you ask their teacher to supply them with a basic polymer clay toolbox! What are the basic things you need so you can begin working with polymer clay? It can be confusing – after all, it seems like you can use pretty much everything in your toolbox but before investing in every tool, it is nice to go over the most basic toolbox.
A work surface – This protects your table top and provides a good flat working surface. Ceramic tile, marble, tempered glass, formica – all of these are good surfaces. Formica is preferable. It is very lightly textured so the clay will be easily lifted off of it without sticking and stretching. Some very soft clays will benefit from the coolness of marble. If you live in Arizona and it is 90 degrees, marble is a very good choice!
Blades – A long, flat blade is a definite necessity. Not a craft knife or a wallpaper scraper blade, but a razor-sharp blade for cutting is what you’ll need. Many manufacturers sell these blades now in the Sterling Silver Earring Findings nz section of most any craft and hobby store. The preferred blade is the Nublade – it’s rigid and sharp.
Acrylic rod – To pre-flatten your clay you should use an acrylic rod. The clay you might use could be stiff and if you pre-flatten clay from the package – before you run the clay through the pasta machine – conditioning is not only much faster but it also saves wear and tear on your pasta machine.
Pasta Machine – You should consider the pasta machine to be a necessary tool in this basic toolbox. You should not imagine working without one! Conditioning the clay, rolling flat sheets, it’s such a time saver, and makes so many tasks so much easier and faster. It lowers your frustration level! The best machines can be quite expensive so you may decide to make a small investment in a less expensive machine (use a coupon at Michaels or Hobby Lobby). This investment can be as low as $20. If you catch the polymer clay bug, you’ll invest in a better machine.
Needle Tools – For drilling holes in beads or even cutting shapes, you will need a sharp needle tool. The preference is the Kemper Pro Tool. The needle comes straight out of the handle so you will drill straight through any mass of clay.
Scalpel or Craft knife – This is what you’ll use to cut out shapes from a flat sheet of clay and for fine trimming.
Curing – Also, you should have a dedicated oven but that’s not what you’ll want right off the bat. Buy an aluminum pan, fill it with baking soda or polyester batting and slide it into an oven roasting bag. This is a curing chamber that you will slide right into your home oven and will keep out-gassing from collecting on the sides of your oven (it will collect in the bag!)
Polymer Clay – There are many brands of clay out there to choose from.Your choice depends on what you intend to do with the clay. Ideally, you will try them all! The recommendation is a consistently durable clay – Kato Polyclay, Fimo, Fimo Soft. Certain Premo colors are very durable but others seem to be weak (white, translucent) so bear that in mind. Sculpey III is the most fragile of all polymer clays so, generally speaking, it’s not one I recommend. Cernit is very strong but the colors are translucent, not opaque, and without adjustment may not yield the best canes.
Whatever you choose, purchase colors in the same brand to begin with. If you cane, you’ll want clays of the same texture and feel (as much as possible) and clays that cure at the same temperature. You don’t need to buy all the colors, remember that you can mix colors – Magenta and Blue make Violet (not red and blue!) Yellow and Blue make Green. Red and Yellow make orange. So, you could begin with as few as 3 colors, and black and white.
For just about any beginner project, this is all you should need – it’s a basic toolbox. So, if you’ve always wanted to know what you need to start that journey in polymer clay crafting, here’s a good start. All you need now is to put those tools to good use.
Donna Kato is passionate about art and is the owner of CraftEdu Online Art University. She is the author of 3 books and has multiple shot videos and dvds.