Beginner Tools

tools in detail for beginners

I wanted to write this just as a supplement for the Craft Time article. i'm not making myself out as an expert on this, but here's my two bits on the matter :) Hope it helps


Nowadays, there are a lot of clay brands available locally. The most popular and widely available brands being Premo!, SculpeyIII, Studio by Sculpey and Fimo. Other brands include Kato, Clayzee and Klayola. Each has its own distinct characteristic. Experiment to find the best brand that suits your needs.

Personally, I use Kato (for caning), Premo! (caning and sculpting) and Klayola (for armatures and anything that needs to be strong and bendy, it's also nice to soften old crumbly clay).

Avoid eating while handling clay, polymer clay may be certified safe and non-toxic, but it’s still not edible. Wash your hands after working with clay.
TIP: i use Wipe Out (National Bookstore & some groceries) use it like lotion all over my hands then follow up with soap and water.. works like a charm :)

*store your clay supplies in a cool area away from heat since clay cures at a low temperature. You don’t want to be stuck with blocks of hard, useless clay. Also, cover your clays. Opened clay packages are natural dust and animal hair magnets

Here are some online shops you can visit to buy clay:


Of course you’ll find clay blades wherever clays are sold. However, if you just need a straight and rigid blade, regular box-cutter refill blades work as well and are way, way cheaper. In my years of working with clay, I’ve only bought one clay blade and I haven’t even used it yet. I always buy mine at National Bookstore. if you need a ripple blade, wavy cheese cutters work just as well.

TIP: when using your blades to cut cane slices, clean your blades with wet wipes or alcohol-soaked tissues after every few cuts to ensure flawless cuts. And change your blades when they get rusty, nicked or blunt.

*please dispose of your blades responsibly. Wrap them in masking tape and place in a sturdy container.

Needle tools and awls

Primarily for poking holes on beads, it's one of those tools that do a lot, like making marks, securing a tiny piece onto a bigger piece. these needle tools i just made from scrap clay, but you can buy needle tools in craft stores.

Chopsticks or Knitting Needles

Very handy when you're sculpting or working with cane slices. Clean them with baby wipes and dust with baby powder once in a while so they don't stick to your work.

Acrylic Rollers

This is a great substitute if you’re still thinking about getting a pasta machine. Use it to condition your clay, make thin sheets, or to reduce square canes. Acrylic is good.

* use popsicle sticks on either side of your clay when making uniform thin sheets.

Pasta Machine

Invest in a pasta machine if you intend to do a lot of clay pieces. Your hands will thank you for it. Pasta machines are also indispensable when it comes to caning.

Pasta machines are available in big department stores, in the household section. For help in cleaning your machine or for removing the top plates, refer to my previous blog entry HERE


If you’re only planning on baking a few pieces, using the home oven is ok. But if you intend to bake more pieces in bigger batches, investing in a clay-dedicated oven is very practical. Small ovens with thermostats are now available in appliance stores. Just choose one with a built-in thermometer. Or, if they allow you, test the oven by bringing an oven thermometer to make sure it maintains the required temperature. Temperature spikes can result in brittle or burnt pieces--- based on innumerable experiences.

When baking, always keep the area well-ventilated (open window/s and electric fan/s) since clay emits fumes.

Baking surface

Baking your piece on a glass or metal surface will result in a shiny spot where it touches the surface. Lay a piece of paper on your baking surface to avoid this. Again, once you use a pan, sheet or tile for clay, don’t use it again for food.

Steel ruler

For cutting equal lengths of canes, or sheets for a skinner blend. It’s better than plastic rulers which are easily cut by blades. A tape measure also comes in handy when measuring rounded or angled objects.

Alcohol and wet wipes (groceries and drug stores)/wipe out (national bookstore, again )

When you work with clay, it tends to leave a residue on your hands, on your blades, work area pasta machine and other tools. Any of these work well to remove all that residue—but my favorite is wipe out since it doesn’t dry the skin and the residue practically melts off. Finish by washing your hands with soap and water.

Glaze or varnish

There are a lot of varnishes available. You can opt to use the ones manufactured by the clay manufacturers themselves, or find varnishes available in hardware stores that are clay compatible. Never attempt to use clear nail polish.. you’ll regret it.

Varnishes are available in a number of finishes, like matte, satin and glossy. Again it’s up to you to decide which one best suits your needs.

Also in this photo is Kato polyclay which, to me, is indispensable.

An Assortment of Brushes

For applying varnish, applying an antique finish on your work (use acrylic paint). I use the toothbrush to remove excess baby powder from molds. You can use the cosmetic brush to dust off the remaining powder on your work. Paintbrushes are also useful if you're using mica powders, chalk or make up for effect.

Then there are other tools too that you don't think you need, but become staples when you realize how useful they are. These include:


For placing rhinestones, pearls and teeny tiny eyes on faces.

Small Craft Scissors

Here's a perfect example. Didn't know i needed it until i bought one and now i can't do without it. sometimes it's easier to cut with scissors than use a blade, especially when you're cutting curvy sheets of clay.

Alcohol and Water in Spray Bottles

The alcohol for cleaning the work area, blades and other tools. The water to spray on thin sheets on clay while i work on them so the don't stick to my work surface.

Assorted Sculpting Tools

These are some of the tools i use when i sculpt. The tools vary on the person and the purpose. Feel free to experiment to find the perfect tools that work for you.

* TIP go to detal supplies stores. you'll find sculpting tools perfect for clay but they don't cost as much as special clay tools.


I make most of the molds and textures i use, depending on the need, but of course you can buy commercially available molds in craft stores.

Making a mold of a piece is worth the effort especially for bulk orders.

"Cheat Sheets"

If you plan to make a piece, or a particular cane design in the future, you might want to make a cheat sheet for it, with color chips and step by step instructions, so even if you forget, you alsways have the cards to remind you :)


lhoche said…
wow...a total rundown on the necessities of clay making :)

purpleluggage said…
thank you, che :) Happy New Year!! i just started reading the book you sent me.. ang ganda, thank you!!

Popular posts from this blog

purpleluggage floral headbands

New Canes