Polymer clay jewellery making is all the rage right now, and with good reason; it’s easy, fun and versatile, and if you want to make the process even better there is a whole host of polymer clay tools for beginners out there.
So for those of you looking to get started, I’ve done the hard part for you and created an easy guide to the best polymer clay tools for beginners…
Tools you’ll need:
- cutting tool
- rolling pin
- pasta machine
- needle tool
- silicone mat
- sculpting tools
- wire cutters/jewellery pliers
- small scissors
- a ruler
- a scraper
- oven tray
- baking paper or tin foil
- acrylic paint
- quality paint brushes
Now you’ve got your shopping list, read on for why you need these items and where to buy the best tools out there, with reasonable prices and my thoughts on each…
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What Tools You Need and Why
This is an essential part of any clay maker’s kit for chopping up blocks of clay, tracing over stencils, custom pattern cutting and general precision work. A good cutting tool will go a long way, staying in your tool kit for years to come.
Why not just use something from your cutlery drawer you ask? Cutlery is not sharp enough for precise lines, and it’s also not a fine enough edge – it often has serrated edges too, which will leave jagged imprints in your clay, instead of nice clean lines. You need a dedicated cutting tool, designed for clay cutting, for best results.
What you should look for in a cutting tool:
⦁ A sturdy handle, with good grip
⦁ Lightweight for excessive use
⦁ A sharp enough edge for precise cutting, so the clay doesn’t drag
⦁ Easy to clean and store
⦁ A rubber grip for ease of use
Where to buy a cutting tool:
My preferred brand is FIMO, as they offer excellent quality and durability, with a design tailored specifically for polymer clay.
Staedtler Fimo Cutter Blades (Pack of 3) – buy here
With fantastic reviews on Amazon, this is the top choice for many crafters. Here are some product details:
⦁ 3 piece knife set with particularly sharp blades for effortless cutting without squashing or smearing
⦁ Exact cutting results
⦁ Made of stainless steel
⦁ Particularly suitable for canes
⦁ Rubber grip for preventing injury
You’ll need a reliable and sturdy rolling pin for rolling out your slabs of clay, and getting them perfectly even for cutting. It’s best to use an acrylic or glass rolling pin, as a wooden one will sick to your clay or leave imprints of it’s grain in the clay – not good!
What you should look for in a rolling pin:
⦁ Not too large, 30cm rolling pin or under is enough
⦁ Easy to clean
⦁ Of a good quality with a smooth finish – not lumps or dips in the acrylic that will leave marks in your clay
Where to buy a clay rolling pin:
This is a solid acrylic rolling pin, with high reviews from crafters; it’s my preferred length and is a great price too! Super easy to clean and wipe down, you can’t go wrong with this one. Sculpey are a reliable and popular clay brand, and their tools are specially designed for the job.
Sculpey Acrylic Clay Roller – 8 inch – buy here
Here are the product details, with my thoughts:
⦁ Good weight – 5.28lbs, will press into clay nicely without you having to exert much pressure and tiring yourself out.
⦁ Perfect length for ease of use 3.18 x 8.89 x 25.78 cm
⦁ Fantastic crafter reviews
⦁ Gives a smooth finish, although clay can stick to it a little bit, but that’s the case with all rollers
A pasta machine is a wonderfully easy way of rolling out your clay, if you don’t want to use the rolling pin method. This is a great way of levelling up your clay rolling and is favoured by pro crafters and jewellery makers, as it will roll out your block of clay to a perfectly even slab, making sure all of your cut pieces are a uniformed width.
Plus it saves you the arm workout 😉 This is one of the best polymer clay tools for beginners hacks!
What you should look for in a pasta machine:
⦁ Width of rolling segment
⦁ Any attachments, like a spaghetti maker – great if you want to cut ribbons of clay for weaving or details
⦁ Sturdy with a good weight to it, so it doesn’t wobble when you roll the clay through
⦁ Easy to clean, to get the clay out of the mechanisms
Where to buy a pasta machine suitable for rolling clay:
My top pick is this pasta machine from the Elegant Life Store (on Amazon), as it has great attachments, is of an excellent quality, is a reasonable price for a pasta machine and the reviews are very positive.
Pasta Maker Machine Noodle Cutter 304 Stainless Steel (Silver) – buy here
Here are the product details:
⦁ Stainless steel – easy to clean and a good material
⦁ Comes with a stabilizing holder that attaches to the table – no wobbling!
⦁ 7 different thickness options for rolling – fantastic versatility!
⦁ This pasta machine even has heat-treated gears that will guarantee its long life.
A clay needle tool is a must-have for those who are looking to create details on their clay pieces. Needles tools allow you to add texture to unbaked clay, with bumping, scratching, scoring, stippling, swirls, tracing lines over a slab and pushing a hole into the clay for jewellery hooks.
What you should look for in a needle tool:
⦁ A nice handle with grip
⦁ Made from a high quality material
⦁ A fine point
Where to buy a needle tool:
The below needle tool (two pack!) is an ideal price, and the grip is good for dry or wet hands – not that you want wet hands near your clay, but handy for cleaning so it doesn’t slip! Easy to clean with some great reviews, you can’t go wrong here.
Needle tool 2Pcs Pro Needle Detail Tools Perfect for fine-Point Detail Work – buy here
Here are the product details:
⦁ High quality needle tool, made of aluminium
⦁ Sharp needle is set in a finely textured handle
⦁ Finely textured handle provides a firm grip even with wet hands
⦁ Perfect for fine-point detail work
A silicone mat will ensure you have a great work surface for your clay making, that the clay won’t stick to and is easy to clean. A silicone mat is essential to protect your surfaces, for example a kitchen table or a desk. It’s great for rolling clay onto, it’s easy to roll up and store, and they’re relatively cheap.
What you should look for in a silicone mat:
⦁ First of all the size – how big is the space you’ll be working on?
⦁ Quality and thickness, non-slip
⦁ Smooth, without bumps or ramps
Where to buy a silicone mat:
The below extra large mat is a perfect choice, as it’s a great size for working on, giving you plenty of space for rolling and placing differently coloured blocks of clay out that are already cut and ready to work with.
Wellhouse Extra Large Silicone Mat – buy here
Here are the product details:
⦁ 23.6 by 15.7 inch
⦁ Black colour
⦁ Made of 100% food grade silicone, FDA-approved
⦁ Environmental-Quality: The silicone placemat is free of BPA
⦁ Great reviews
A sculpting tool kit is a useful set to have in your crafting gear, to add details to your creations, scoop clay, and mould shapes! A tool kit can often have a range of items, including some of those mentioned above, and often they are priced very well, brilliant for beginners and those on a budget.
What you should look for in a sculpting tool kit:
⦁ Range of tools and what they are made out of – avoid wood!
⦁ Quality of carry case for easy storage
⦁ Customer reviews
Where to buy a sculpting tools kit:
This is a versatile tool kit, and is a great all rounder for beginners. 24 piece range of tools, a very fair price and a neat carry case – wow! Definitely my top pick.
Powcan Polymer Clay Tools 24Pcs Modelling Clay Tools Set – buy here
Here are the product details:
⦁ 24 tools of different tools that can can meet various needs, including 5 wooden handle ball stylus, 5 colour shapers, 5 wooden clay tools, 4 ball stylus dotting tools, 4 plastic pottery tools, 1 pottery sponge and and a storage carry case.
⦁ Good Quality – the wooden handles are smooth and comfortable, corrosion resistant metal tipped heads are solid and bend but don’t break when pressure is applied.
⦁ Ball Dotting Tools – total 20 ball ends, different ball sizes from double sized dotting tool, all metal tips with wood or rubber handles. Great for blending seams in clay.
⦁ A Carry Pouch for Storage, offering protection and organization.
Top tip: wash your plastic tools in lukewarm soapy water, never immerse in hot or boiling water as they will warp or melt!
Wire cutters/jewellery pliers
If you’re planning on making polymer clay jewellery (my favourite activity!), then you’ll need a set of wire cutters/jewellery pliers for fastening jump hoops, hooks and other jewellery accessories. Buying expensive pliers isn’t necessary in this case, you just need a decent pair that fit the job.
What you should look for in jewellery pliers:
⦁ A good grip on the handles, as you’ll need a stable hold as you fasten jewellery
⦁ Wire cutting blades on the tips of the pliers, so the item has two functions
⦁ Good quality pliers
Where to buy jewellery pliers:
Rolson pliers are great, reliable and of a good quality, and very cheap for what you get – bonus! The below set is very highly reviewed and has all of the features you should be looking for in this tool.
Rolson 21012 Mini Long Nose Pliers with Comfortable Grip – buy here
Here are the product details:
⦁ Heavy duty design with a soft comfortable grip
⦁ Micro plating finish
⦁ Spring action release
⦁ Double dipped handles; drop forged
⦁ Fitted with wire cutting blades at base of plier nose
Very thin layers of baked clay can be cut using scissors, if you wanted to cut out your designs that way and then sand them, rather than using clay cutters on unbaked clay. It all depends on how you want to do things, but a good set of small scissors is good to have in any crafters arsenal.
You can buy a set of small scissors anywhere, and you may already have some in your house! Available online and in craft stores, you’ll have no trouble getting your hands on some.
A ruler is essential in a craft kit, as it’s an easy way of making sure you cut perfectly measured designs from your slab of clay. Need your earrings to measure 5cm precisely? Keep a ruler nearby at all times!
You should have one lying around the house, in a backpack somewhere, or stashed in a pencil case. If not, rulers are sold everywhere, and are a nifty thing to have for clay crafting.
Top tip: store your tools in labelled storage drawers, or if they’re hand-held, in a pencil pot!
Oven – Make sure you have an oven! You can use your home oven but if you want an oven dedicated to clay baking for cleanliness purposes you can also use a toaster oven – here is one I would recommend for clay baking:
Quest 35409 Compact 9L Mini Oven – buy here
Here are the product details:
⦁ Compact– 9-litre mini oven
⦁ Tempered glass door – The oven utilises 650W of energy and features a double layered heat resistant tempered glass door, which will keep all the heat inside the unit when cooking. The oven gets to optimum temperature all thanks to the 2 Quartz Heating Elements inside the unit.
⦁ Adjustable temperature – This mini oven and grill has an adjustable temperatures gauge that allows you to set the heat anywhere between 100°-230°C, perfect for clay baking! There is also 60-minute timer and a bell that will sound when your cooking is finished.
⦁ The size of the mini oven is 22cm x 36cm x 28cm, with the internal cooking dimensions measuring 17cm x 25cm x 21cm, making it perfect for baking batches of polymer clay. It also comes complete with a single aluminium baking tray, a chrome wire rack and handle to attach to both the accessories.
Oven tray – make sure you have one available for popping your designs onto. If you can dedicate an oven try to baking polymer clay even better, as clay should never come into contact with food, and it’s best to not use accessories for both.
Baking paper or tin foil – if you don’t have some already, pick some up at your local shop. Ideal for lining your oven tray so your clay doesn’t stick.
Top tip: Cover your clay with baking paper before you put it in the oven, to trap heat around the design for even baking!
Sandpaper – keep sandpaper on hand for sanding down designs post baking. Sometimes the design doesn’t have a perfectly smooth edge after moulding, and this can harden to an abrasive finish, which isn’t ideal for jewellery making – nobody wants scratchy earrings! Luckily a light sanding can solve that problem, reducing abrasive edges and smoothing a design for painting.
Varnish – adding a layer of varnish to a baked design can provide an extra waterproof and hardened layer over the clay, adding a professional and sturdy finish. FIMO make an excellent polymer clay varnish, that is specifically designed for the material.
FIMO Gloss Varnish, Water Based, White, 10ml – buy here
Acrylic paint – acrylic paint is the best paint to use with polymer clay, as it sticks well to the material, is fast drying, comes in every colour you can think of and is really cheap! Having an acrylic paint set in your crafters kit provides you with the fantastic option to add unique designs to your clay, paint white clay with bright colours and make your work stand out.
Here’s a cheap and versatile acrylic paint set, with all of the primary colours covered:
Quay PSC12 Acrylic Set-12 Colour Paint pots, Multicolour, 12 x 18ml – buy here
Quality paint brushes – quality brushes are a must if you’re painting your clay, as you don’t want cheap brush hairs coming loose and sticking to your detailed designs.
Here is a great brush set of really fine brushes, with varying size options, for smooth strokes and easy painting:
Fine Detail Brushes with Triangular Handles,10 Miniature Brush for Fine Detailing & Art Painting – buy here
Top tip: finished clay designs should be stored away from sunlight and away from unbaked clay!
Where to store polymer clay tools?
Store Polymer Clay tools in a safe place, i.e. a storage container away from children in case of accidents. Keep them organised, in labelled storage drawers.
Where to store polymer clay?
Unbaked polymer clay should be stored in either it’s plastic wrappings, cling film, a zip-clocked or sandwich bag, a plastic storage box or storage drawers made from polypropylene (PP) plastic. Glass storage solutions also work well.
How to clean polymer clay tools?
Warm water and dish soap/washing up liquid is an ideal way to clean tools, however make sure you do not submerge plastic tools in boiling water, as this may cause them to melt.
Are polymer clay tools safe?
Polymer clay tools should be stored in a safe place away from children, and adult supervision should be given during all instances of use in case of accidents.
Is polymer clay safe?
Polymer clay is non-toxic, making it safe to use around children and pets, as it has been tested and certified. Polymer Clay only becomes toxic when baked at extremely high temperatures, for prolonged periods of time. If baked according to the packaging instructions, it’s perfectly safe.
Read more here:
I hope you enjoyed my ‘Best Polymer Clay Tools for Beginners’ article and you found the above information and recommended products useful. It’s my mission to make the world of polymer clay making as simple as possible, so you can create wearably weird jewellery for yourself, your loved ones or even to sell. Polymer clay is a wonderful crafting material that you can make all sorts of interesting and funky creations from; get creative and see what you can come up with!
Happy crafting everyone, and have fun!
I also provide articles on: a How-to Guide for beginners, a Sales Guide for selling polymer clay earrings on Etsy, a comprehensive Cost Guide, and a bumper list of earring Design Ideas, so you’re never stumped by clay-makers block!
For more information on getting started with polymer clay earrings, check out: