Basic Tools for Polymer Clay

Polymer clay tools

Basic tools for polymer clay

Maybe you’re a polymer clay beginner gazing at new packages of clay and wondering how to get started. Or you’re going on a trip, travelling light, and want to play with polymer clay at your destination. Here are what I consider the bare essential polymer clay tools:
Work surface. My preference is a ceramic tile, 12″ x 12″– probably not something you want to pack in a suitcase. Use an acrylic cutting mat.
Scrap paper. There are several uses for scrap paper. One is to place it on your work surface so that clay doesn’t stick when you roll it out. Just don’t leave clay sitting on paper too long as the paper will leech the plasticizers. That said, sometimes you want to leech plasticizers from overly soft clay. Just place the clay between two clean sheets of paper, and weight the sandwich with your tile or a heavy book for a couple of hours. Scrap paper is also used on your curing tile to prevent the clay from getting shiny freckles. And scrap paper makes a good tent to prevent clay from turning dark in the oven. Pearl and translucent clay are especially susceptible. The paper won’t burn at temperatures for curing clay. Just make sure it doesn’t come in contact with heating elements.
Craft sticks.
¬†Use a pair of craft stick guides to roll uniform sheets of clay. (Here’s an example of how they’re used.) You’ll want several pair of varying thicknesses. Playing cards or index cards taped together make decent guides as well.
Acrylic roller. Use an acrylic roller made for polymer clay to condition clay and roll it in sheets. I’ve heard of people substituting a glass tumbler, but I’m such a worry wart that I picture a trip to the ER, not to mention a project ruined by glass shrapnel.
Curing tile.
A ceramic tile makes the best curing surface for most projects. Just remember to cover it with paper to protect the appearance of the back of your work. Cardboard makes an OK surface as well.
Blade.
A blade made for polymer clay is best. Ideally you’ll have two blades: one flexible and one stiff. If I could have just one, I’d choose the flexible style.
Oven thermometer.
Cure your work at the temperature specified on the clay package. Make sure your oven holds the correct temperature.
Oven
(not pictured). Your home oven or toaster oven will work just fine. Always pre-heat it before curing your clay. Travelling? Don’t try to cure clay in the motel microwave. Protect your work from dust and dents, and wait till you can get to a proper oven.

2 Comments on Basic Tools for Polymer Clay

  1. Suzanne
    December 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm (3 years ago)

    Are you going to put on facebook soon? Hope so

    Reply
  2. Zan
    December 15, 2014 at 6:33 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post! I sure wish I had this info when I started claying. These tips are good reminders for the experienced clayer as well. Gotta travel with the clay!
    Thanks!

    Reply

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