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Starting out in polymer clay.

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  • Starting out in polymer clay.

    Following on from the other thread, I thought it might be useful to start a new thread covering what one needs to start up in polymer clay.

    I hope that everyone will add to the thread, showing what tools and supplies they use most for whatever type of polymer clay work they do? Because obviously - what you need to start out with very much depends on what you want to make!

    But I can start off by listing what I think is most useful if you want to try basic polymer clay bead making and jewellery projects.




    1. Polymer Clay. Sounds pretty obvious doesn't it. But with some clay, your own two hands and a kitchen oven you can already be making cool things.

    If you get a basic palette of white, black and some mixing primaries (such as red, blue and yellow or yellow, magenta and turquoise) you can mix most colours for yourself. Add white clay to lighten colours and black clay to darken them.

    If money is tight, try just getting 3 blocks - 2 in different tones of the same colour and some white. So maybe a very deep blue, a pale blue and white.

    This will allow you to try out different techniques like marbling, or simple cane making as the 3 colours will give you enough contrast. But if you hate what you make, you can squish it all together and still have a nice colour to use another day. (Incidently, always keep all your scrap clay. Even if it mixes into a yucky colour, it is very useful in some projects. Nothing is wasted with polymer clay!)



    2. Something to roll out clay sheets. Pasta machines are great and we all end up with one eventually. But in the beginning a simple acrylic hand roller will do the job just fine. Roll it along rolling guides to get evenly rolled sheets.

    The acrylic roller will always be a useful tool to have, even after you get a pasta machine



    3. Something to cut the clay. Craft knives are good for detailed cutting out, simple modelling etc. For many clay techniques though, and for cutting millefiori canes, you need good sharp cutting blades.



    4. Something to pierce holes. I just use wooden cocktail sticks, satay skewers etc (the bamboo satay skewers can double up as rolling guides for your hand roller!)

    They are also useful to hold beads when you varnish them etc.



    5. An Oven thermometer. This really is a useful investment to ensure you are baking your clay at the right temperature.



    6. Ceramic tiles - these make fantastic work surfaces. You can work on the tile and then pop it straight into the oven to bake your clay project in situ when making flat pendants and embellishments.

    For beads, bake them on a concertina of thin card on a baking tray, or stand them up on the tile, putting a little peice of baking paper first to stop the tile leaving a shiny spot on the bead



    And really - that is it.

    There are many further cool tools, supplies and embellishments you can add as you go along. But I think with the above you can certainly have a go at quite a few clay jewellery projects and see if you like the medium or not without breaking the bank.
    Last edited by ejralph; 12-01-2010, 07:49 PM.
    Emma
    www.ejrbeads.co.uk - unique art beads & more
    www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop - beads, polymer clay, glitters and inks oh my
    www.facebook.com/EJRBeads - Like me at Facebook!

  • #2
    Thanks for that Emma,
    I am just starting out and tose tips will be really useful,
    emma

    blog http://enfysangel.blogspot.com/

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    • #3
      Good advice Emma. I'd also like to add that you can buy a lot of tools for polymer clay but in my experience most of them are no better than much cheaper options such as the cocktail sticks. For beads a pasta maker is a must in my opinion.

      Caroline
      silver jewellery at The Silver Jewellery Workshop
      bespoke handmade jewellery
      Silver Jewellery blog
      Handmade Jewellery Blog

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by silverjewelleryworkshop View Post
        Good advice Emma. I'd also like to add that you can buy a lot of tools for polymer clay but in my experience most of them are no better than much cheaper options such as the cocktail sticks. For beads a pasta maker is a must in my opinion.

        Caroline
        This is so true - I have just a core few tools that I reach for every day, but oodles of other "auxilary" tools that I seldom use.

        Luckily most polymer clay tools are quite cheap anyway, even pasta machines now only cost a few quid. When I started claying ahem years ago, they cost stupid money - like 60 or 80 quid. So believe me, I did without one just fine for many years!

        And it is perfectly possible to do blends and everything else without a pasta machine by just using a hand roller. But it is SOOOOOOO much easier and quicker with a machine. So I would have to agree and add a pasta machine on to the "must have" tool list if you plan on your affair with polymer clay going beyond the holiday romance stage.

        I think pasta machines and clay extruders are two tools that I did without for years and years, but when I got them I thought "how ever did I live without this?"

        Emma
        Emma
        www.ejrbeads.co.uk - unique art beads & more
        www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop - beads, polymer clay, glitters and inks oh my
        www.facebook.com/EJRBeads - Like me at Facebook!

        Comment


        • #5
          Can I ask what kind/ make of pasta machine you all have? Looking into getting one... BTW Emma, I have placed 2 orders on your site for tools and things- it's fab and I love your beads

          Amanda xx
          Amanda xx

          Once Designer Jewellery


          Website:http://www.oncedesignerjewellery.co.uk

          Blog:http://oncedesignerjewellery.blogspot.com/

          Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Once-D...6671459?ref=ts

          Folksy: http://www.folksy.com/shops/microburt

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          • #6
            I'd also add to Emma's wise words above you could do with some project sheets or basic book on Polymer Clay to give you ideas and advice. I bought one of Emma's books a while back and found it was a great source of inspiration. Places like Hobby Craft have, or at least had, some free Polymer Clay project sheets you could help yourself to, so you probably can find others that are free if money is tight.
            Helen
            www.silversnature.co.uk
            http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Le...e/283460511653

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            • #7
              Hi Amanda

              I can't say as I every give much thought to the make. I have used them all at one time or another and broken them all through overwork and my general lack of respect towards them. For some reason, they don't seem to like wads of clay as thick as a cow being forced through them.

              When I next shop for a pasta machine though, I want to try to find the widest one possible as the narrower ones are just a bit too narrow for me.

              Really though, any type will do - ask around before buying one. Loads of people have these pasta machines sitting at home in the cupboard un-used. They are often really happy to give them away because it relieves them of the guilt of never actually making fresh pasta with them. I have scored plenty this way from extended family members.

              Car boots, charity shops - all worth a look too.

              Emma
              Emma
              www.ejrbeads.co.uk - unique art beads & more
              www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop - beads, polymer clay, glitters and inks oh my
              www.facebook.com/EJRBeads - Like me at Facebook!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Helen Olliver View Post
                I'd also add to Emma's wise words above you could do with some project sheets or basic book on Polymer Clay to give you ideas and advice. I bought one of Emma's books a while back and found it was a great source of inspiration. Places like Hobby Craft have, or at least had, some free Polymer Clay project sheets you could help yourself to, so you probably can find others that are free if money is tight.
                Good point (and so glad to hear you liked the book!)

                Also, there are LOADS of free tutorials online. I mean so many it makes your head explode. So often the trouble is knowing what to try first with polymer clay I think!

                Emma
                Emma
                www.ejrbeads.co.uk - unique art beads & more
                www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop - beads, polymer clay, glitters and inks oh my
                www.facebook.com/EJRBeads - Like me at Facebook!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ejralph View Post
                  Hi Amanda

                  I can't say as I every give much thought to the make. I have used them all at one time or another and broken them all through overwork and my general lack of respect towards them. For some reason, they don't seem to like wads of clay as thick as a cow being forced through them.

                  When I next shop for a pasta machine though, I want to try to find the widest one possible as the narrower ones are just a bit too narrow for me.

                  Really though, any type will do - ask around before buying one. Loads of people have these pasta machines sitting at home in the cupboard un-used. They are often really happy to give them away because it relieves them of the guilt of never actually making fresh pasta with them. I have scored plenty this way from extended family members.

                  Car boots, charity shops - all worth a look too.

                  Emma
                  Cool, thanks. I bet there's a free one lying around in one of my friend's houses!
                  Amanda xx

                  Once Designer Jewellery


                  Website:http://www.oncedesignerjewellery.co.uk

                  Blog:http://oncedesignerjewellery.blogspot.com/

                  Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Once-D...6671459?ref=ts

                  Folksy: http://www.folksy.com/shops/microburt

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Great guide, especially for peeps like me just starting out
                    Many thanks
                    http://www.samigailsgifts.co.uk/
                    Handmade personalised gifts for all occasions created by the art of pyrography
                    My Facebook

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                    • #11
                      Thought I would add a pic of my tools I use. None are intended for clay LOL.
                      1 A small sturdy glass to pop them all into, and for rolling clay.
                      2 Wire cutters.
                      3 crochet hook.
                      4 My own made, wire loop attached to a cocktail stick. ( most used, and both ends)
                      5 Very soft makeup brush.
                      6 & 7 foam tips of eye liner pencils.
                      8 Sharp blade. I use another blade thing that I cant find at the moment grrr.
                      9 masking tape.
                      10 a darning needle. (The eye makes finger nails too)
                      A ceramic tile , Clay of course, Wire, Kitchen foil, baby wipes, And bags and bags of scraps of fabric, beads, Glitter etc etc.
                      Also a very useful link to all kinds of inspiration and tutorials.

                      http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/

                      These tips will have you there for hours LOL http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/masterindex.html#tips


                      Folksy shop http://www.folksy.com/shops/Fairyweb

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                      • #12
                        Great tool list!

                        Just goes to show how different the tools will be for each individual too, depending on their own style of work.

                        It always amazes me though, that actually - however many tools we accumulate, we tend to stick a core set of very few for most of the things we do with clay.

                        I would urge you to reconsider using the glass to roll your clay though. However sturdy it is, glass is unpredictable and can break randomly with no rhyme, reason or warning because of minute stresses in glass. I knew a clayer who ended up with lots of stiches in her hand and permanent nerve damage through using a glass to roll the clay. I even see some books recommended it and cringe when I read it. Acrylic rollers are way safer IMHO.
                        Emma
                        www.ejrbeads.co.uk - unique art beads & more
                        www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop - beads, polymer clay, glitters and inks oh my
                        www.facebook.com/EJRBeads - Like me at Facebook!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          your right about the glass Emma. I really should invest in a proper roller or pasta machine. I really don't do much rolling with it the way I sculpt, never the less your warning is heeded darl thanks. xxx


                          Folksy shop http://www.folksy.com/shops/Fairyweb

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                          • #14
                            Eek - very good point about the glass for rolling Emma, not something I'd have thought about (common sense never was my strong point ).

                            Just wanted to say I'm very pleased with my new tools, especially my cutters and acrylic roller from Emma's shop. Oh and Emma's book is absolutely brilliant for a beginner like me, I'd highly recommend it, have learned so much already x
                            Lorna x

                            http://twistedspiral.wordpress.com/ - I've finally ventured into the world of blogging!

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                            • #15
                              Lol, can't say as I am always too careful myself in my own studio. But I think the polymer clay educator in me leaks out whenever it comes to being careful with eyes, hands and lungs - cos we only get two of each.
                              Emma
                              www.ejrbeads.co.uk - unique art beads & more
                              www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop - beads, polymer clay, glitters and inks oh my
                              www.facebook.com/EJRBeads - Like me at Facebook!

                              Comment

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