From Barbara Knight
Tip: "My 'odds and ends' drawer is full of tools and texture items! Old or new buttons, fabric (like grandma's crochet!), bric a brac, metal spoons for baking on (only to use now for clay), decorative picture frames, wire mesh, cloth mesh bags, plastic mesh for fruit, and sandpaper are all things for texture. I could go on and on! Everything has a dual use to me now."
From Cherol Filbee
Tip: "When covering a sculpted work (one that cannot be rolled because of its shape) with cane slices, I use an empty (washed and dried) roll-on deodorant container to get that smooth finish that I want. Just keep rolling it over the surface till you get the desired finish."
From Judie Yamamoto
Tip: "For piercing beads and also as a rod for baking them on, I use my grandmother's tiny knitting needles, Sizes 0 - 0000(finest). She knit with them, I never could! Also, to glaze beads with liquid acrylic floor polish, I string them on a length of 8# fishline, dip them, then hang to dry. The fishline can be reused many times if you scrape the dried residue off after removing the beads."
Tip: "I have found that a cuticul pusher with a rubber end works great for those hard to get to places and it rubs out all lines and finger prints."
Tip: "I'm not sure what it's called (a hem ruler?). It's a 6 inch ruler with a little slidey thing. I love it for clay work, I use it for everything!!! Also.. I got a clay gun for xmas and was disappointed as it was so hard to use. I found a clay site with instructions using pieces of 2 by 4 and a hinge and now it like butter!!!!"
From Barbara Primous-Jackson
Tip: "My tools are basic and simple as I am new to clay craft. I have the three clay shapers (purple) that came with my Premo art clay pack. I use toothpicks, an acrylic brayer, a tissue slicer, beading wire (for shaving clay), knitting and crochet needles, playing cards taped together to get uniform thicknesses, my children (for conditioning the clay) and my husband (to keep conditioned clay warm, just place under arms or under thighs while he is watching TV). I basically use whatever I have around the house as I am a serial crafter with six children and need to keep costs down."
Tip: "I am a new NEWbie. I had my father-in-law cut me a piece of PVC pipe for a roller. I am not sure yet that I like it. I like the Fimo clay the best, esp. the soft, but I guess it depends on the project."
Tip: "I use 12x12 marble floor tiles on my work table. They always stay cool and I can move them from my work table to a shelf if I need my work table back. Even though I have a room just for my crafts (clay being one of them) I am still able to use my table for other things even when I am playing with clay."
Tip: "The freezer and the microwave are two of the best tools I own. I use the microwave to warm hard clay for a few seconds (SAFETY NOTE: ONLY FOR A FEW SECONDS!!), it makes it more pliable; and the freezer hardens cane, so when you slice them the pattern does not squish or smear... I hope this is helpful"
Tip: "I've been 'playing clay' for about 6 years now. During that time I've accumulated a variety of tools (purchased, handmade,flea market finds and scrounged). As my skills/interests have changed, my tools have, too. Some I never use anymore. BUT, if a newbie is reading, these are my tools that I work with, each time I get things set up, no matter the project.
Tip: "I love to make Fimo models of things I love; like seabeans (Cathie's beans, sea hearts, sea purses & hamburger beans)! I use soft Fimo clay to get smooth textures and evenly blended colors. I have also had success in making beautiful pendants. For the holidays I use small loops of leather cording to hang my favorite beads from the Christmas tree! My most used tools are patience and free time. Just kidding, the real tools I use are: toothpicks, Fimo razor (non-oxidizing)and jewelers awl. I love to make one of a kind beads so I stay aways from cane designs and use more twisting and sculting techniques to arrange my clay to make unique pieces."
Tip: "Never attempt to work on a wodden surface. At least not old ones, the texture and particles from the wood get mixed into you clay and really affects the color. I always tape plain white computer paper down on my work area to avoid changing the clays color."
From Maggie Myers
Tip: "I use an old wooden "lazy susan" covered with wax paper (taped securely on the bottom). The work in progress can then be turned easily without unnecessary handling or finger prints on finished sculpture. Old dental tools, wooden toothpicks sanded down to a rounded edge, and make-up sponges work well as tools."
From Mary Jenkins
Tip: "Empty egg cartons are great for storing small balls of clay. I wrap them in wax paper, they are easy to locate and the lid keeps them from drying out. To varnish small beads, I put them on toothpicks and stick them into a block of soft clay like Sculpy III. I use a rolling plastic container with 5 drawers that I purchased at an office supply store to store all my clay, beads, powders, etc. That way I can roll it into the family room and watch tv with my family without making multiple trips to my workroom. I covered empty small mayonnaise and jam jars with bright polymer clay designs to hold all my tools. To keep track of my colors, I keep a small notebook, which I glue a slice of each cane I create and also make a note of how I blended the colors. I also keep a photo album of each design in case I want to make it again."
Tip: "I am a newbie to poly clays. I ran out of wax paper when I first discovered the clay about a month ago and I found that freezer paper works very well as a surface that can be moved around and even baked on. But I prefer to put the pieces to be baked on parchement paper. I can use it over and over and I don't have to worry about contaminating a cookie sheet!"
Tip: "When I sit down to "play clay" I bring my cup of hot coffee with me, and stick the clay on the side for awhile to help warm it for working (not close to the cup rim!)."
Tip: "I use my pasta machine to do all of my blending. I set it to #1 and send each color through it until it's softer, then I add layers of the colors I want to blend together. As each piece rolls out, I fold it in half and send it through again. It takes about 20 times to completely blend the colors, but I'm not able to knead the clay without arthritis pain, so it's worth it."
From Marieke Vos
Tip: "The plastic end of a Chupa Chup lollipop is excellent for using as a holder while making my own dreadlock-accessories. I also use mica shimmer (make-up) loose powder for shine, and use a needle to perfectly place tiny beads onto the (clay) larger ones."
Tip: "I have been using a coffee grinder (rummage sale stuff--about a buck!) to start to condition my clay. It works really well and is easier to clean than a small food processor. Makes crumbs that can be easily squished together and run through my pasta maker. "
From Bonnie Rogers
Tip: "My basic set of tools include: a needle tool imbedded in a handmade clay handle; hand-cranked pasta machine; kemper cutters; and, of course, my hands."
From Kelly Reynolds
Tip: "I love using a stitch ripper. The round little ball end is great for makings smalls holes, especially for nostrils! The pointed part is great for adding textures."
From Susan Schlyer
Tip: "I had no tools when I bought my first box of clay. I didn't want to make an investment in tools, so I started making my own out of the clay. I used a clear plastic CD container to roll out various sizes of pencils. Some fat, some thin, some curved, with various size tips. After firing I sanded them to refine their surfaces if needed. I also rolled flat sheets of clay on different surfaces to make templates. I have acquired tools since, but the tools I make are my favorite."
From Connie Okdie
Tip: "I found that clay won't stick to a quilter's cutting board, so I put a large one under a glass cutting board, leaving a margin of about 4" all the way around. This way I can easily measure the pieces of clay I need to cut, plus have all the space around the glass on which to place pieces of clay ready to cut, or that are already cut. The cutting board can be cleaned with alcohol when it gets dirty."
Tip: "I use the inner plastic core from a fax paper roll as my rolling pin. Also old dental tools!"
Tip: "I found for rolling out snakes or canes of clay, one piece, self-standing acrylic photo frames make an excellent roller. I purchased a 5x7 and a 4x6. avalible at any craft store."
Tip: "I have found that using jewelry screwdrivers are excellent for the little details."
Tip: "I use tackle boxes to store my clay - the ones with exchangeable slots. I also use an old frosting bag and tips for that extra decoration."
From Marilyn Lyons
Tip: "I'm very new to polymer clay (a couple of weeks and I'm hooked!) I went through my button box and found lots of interesting designs to use when adding texture to the clay. I use the ones with the hole on the back and use a needle through the hole as a handle. Just thought you'd like to hear from a newbie!"
From Ginger Caudill
Tip: "I use old dental tools my dentist tosses out because they're chipped; I also enjoy using unorthodox tools such as my crinkle french fry cutter, teensy cookie cutters, an old fork, spoon and knife, and various parts from my children's toys! When I need new inspiration, I check out my odds and ends drawer. Mom always said there was a use for all those odd things... :>
From Deb Garretson
Tip: "A pastry cutter. Mine has ruler markings on the blade. It's not very sharp, but good for cutting big hunks of clay. Also scrapes clean your surface when finished."
From Jeanna Carroll
Tip: "These are my very favorite tools: Tissue blade, brayer or smooth glass(for rolling out flat sheets or smoothing), pasta machine(for easy conditioning and making great sheets of clay that are uniform in thickness and very smooth), needles of varying sizes, ball stylus tools in various sizes(especially for the sculptor!), toothpicks, knitting needles, exacto knife, linoleum cutters(for carving), clay shapers are great but not necessary, stamps, orange stick, shape cutters, waterless hand cleaner or baby wipes, tile of some sort or glass surface(NO WOOD! The clay will stick!!!). All of these tools are great, however you can make so many things with just the bare minimum and the two most important tools, your imagination and your hands!(And lets not forget that oven!!!) "
Tip: "A clay tile to work and bake on. While working on it, it keeps the clay cooler and when baking on one it holds the heat well. A metal crochet hook, for smoothing. Wax paper on a school lunch tray for a movable work surface, and I couldn't clay without my clayshapers!"
Tip: "I love using knitting needles of all different sizes to smooth out clay in corners or to make marks."
Tip: "When I cover a vase or other object with polymer clay (I use fimo), have to rub it smooth, I use plastic between the clay and the roller. This way, there will be no fingerprints on the clay, the seams will disappear, and the clay will be stay clear. Use transparent plastic so you can see what you are doing, and after using throw it away."
From Karen Clifford
Tip: "Toothpick (for marking and making holes for buttons or string ties)
Tip: "I can't work without a sharp blade, a pasta machine (I prefer the Atlas brand) and it's motor, a brayer, a clay shaper and a beading awl to pierce beads. I love wax paper to keep my clay separated and clean in their containers. I've used unususal pen caps, nails, screws, combs and woven bead jewelry as well as other household items to make interesting impressions in the clay."
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