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Working with Polymer Clay…..
I have realised that no matter how many hours I work with my clay and how many supplies I have around me I always reach for the same tools.
I mainly make jewellery, cute animal keyrings and Christmas decorations and these tools cover all these different techniques.
If you asked me, as a beginner to polymer clay, what my most recommended and essential tools were then it would be these top 5 without a shadow of a doubt…….
My top 5 tools for polymer clay
- Cutting Blades
Not the most exciting photo but these are my absolute essential when making anything with clay. I tried using a sharp knife when I began making polymer clay jewellery but when I was cutting a cane the blade was too dull to make a clear cut. A proper blade will always give the best finish. I highly recommend starting with good blades that will give you the best finish from the start. Getting poor results at the beginning will only put you off trying again.
These are the Sculpey blades and they come with several different blades in the pack. I use the two straight edge ones all the time; the more rigid one (pictured with the handles) for cutting blocks of clay, cutting straight lines and to scrape under a sheet of clay that has become stuck to my work surface. The flexible blade is great at cutting curved edges and making slices from my canes.
You can find these blades here in the UK and here in the US (*Affiliate*). These are an updated and prettier version of the ones I have. I have also used these Fimo blades in the past and they are just as good.
The third blade with the wavy edge cuts a decorative edge as pictured below in these earrings.
There is a great tutorial here showing how you can make your own unique jewellery using just clay, cutting blades and a basic cutting shape (pictured below).
2. Polymer Clay Machine
Again, not the easiest item to make look pretty in a photo but I would honestly be lost without my polymer clay machine. This is the Makin’s brand but when I began with polymer clay I bought myself a cheap pasta machine and had many happy years using that one.
This is used for helping to condition the clay (the process in which the clay is softened before use) and for rolling out uniform thickness of clay to work with. The thickness of the clay can be altered by turning a knob on the other side of the machine and the clay is rolled through by turning the green handle. I believe there is a motor that can be attached to this machine too but for now I’m happy turning it by hand.
3. Polymer Clay Cutters
These don’t even have to be specific to polymer clay. Any little metal clay cutters will work. I can do so much with these from making clay slabs to making long polymer clay canes. A little selection to begin with can be great to get you started.
I began with a small tin containing a selection and then bought as I needed them. The flower cane below was made using the shapes in this tin of cutters. You can find the full easy flower cane tutorial here.
The tin of shapes can be found here in the UK and here in the US (*Affiliate*). I think I have used them for pretty much every project I have ever done and the kids enjoyed them in this Fimo Kids Project. From here I bought these smaller cutters UK and US (*Affiliate*). Both sets give a lovely cut in the clay.
Top Tip – They are also useful for making beads of a uniform size. I roll the clay out on my clay machine and cut circles in it for beads. That way the beads always come out the same size
4. Oven Thermometer
This is pretty much self explanatory. There is nothing worse than spending hours on a project only for it to burn in the oven so an oven thermometer is essential.
This one is from Staedtler and is handy as it shows the temperature I need for hardening my Fimo (not leather effect though!) in red. A new and improved version of this here for UK (*Affiliate*) If you use this link though have a look whilst you are there at other options though as this one is quite expensive.
5. Polymer Clay Extruder
I have left this to last as I class this as a little bit of a luxury but non the less a tool I use frequently. Clay is fed into the bottom of the clay extruder and a handle is turned at the top to force the clay through the disc at the bottom. The resulting clay comes through in the shape of the chosen disc. The set comes with several different shape discs and is a great starting point although I must confess that I have now expanded on my disc collection.
Check out my step by step tutorial showing how I used my extruder to make this gorgeous blue and white flower cane and beads shown below.
Top tip – store discs on a magnetic sheet and that way it will be easier to see the disc you want.
That’s my top 5 polymer clay tools….. nearly…… I will sneak an honourable mention in for my ball tools and paper piercing tool.
I have really pushed the boat on the exciting photos in this blog post!
The piercing tool is a throw back from my card making days but I now use it for making holes in beads and adding small details. Mine is super old but there is a new lovely looking one here in the UK and here in the US (*Affiliate).
The ball tools were bought very cheaply as a tool for dotting nail varnish but I find them far more useful for polymer clay to add details and smoothing joins! You can find them cheaply here (UK) and here (US).
If that has got you even more interested in polymer clay then have a look through my polymer clay tutorials for more inspiration.
A quick note on affiliate links – it just means that by using my link to purchase an item I get a very small commission allowing me to make more free tutorials. I have marked every affiliate link for the sake of transparency and only linked products that I use every time I make something with polymer clay.
Are there any tools you just can’t live without? Or maybe tools you have found that are not really meant for your craft (like my nail dotting tools)?