Other useful equipment for working with Polymer clay ( part 2)

When I was thinking about the next most important tools to have for working with Polymer clay I realized it all depends on what you want to do.

For instance if you are making beads you will need a piercing tool or a drill to make holes, but if you are making canes to cover pens then a smoothing tool would be much more useful.

I like to do a variety of things, such as making canes and beads for jewellery, covering drinking glasses, and combining polymer clay with leather to make cuffs.

So with that in mind I thought I would share with you what equipment I find the most useful, in addition to the essentials I mentioned in the last post.

CUTTERS friday 19th sept 055
I use biscuit cutters, pen lids, pieces of copper pipe, and anything else that when pressed hard will cut a shape .
It is possible to cut all your shapes with a paper template and craft knife, but certain shapes such as circles are much neater when you use a cutter.

Stamps and tools for texture tuesday 7 014

You can buy texture sheets specifically for polymer clay, but I make my own with lino, some green material called adigraf, erasers and a lino cutter.
I also occasionally use stamps that are used normally in card making.

tuesday 7 015
Ialso make some great patterns and textures using materials that are free .
I use leaves, odd earrings, bolts, screws, onion bags, scraps of material, pizza trays , and corks that I cut patterns into with a craft knife.
Just look around and see what you can find. You will be surprised at how many odds and ends you can find.
PIERCING TOOL tuesday 7 017
This is very useful if you are making beads or want to put holes into pendants before curing .
I use a large needle which I have pushed into a cork )and a cocktail or a kebab stick, depending on the size hole I want.

BEAD RACKtuesday 7 011

I made one from a foil tray and kebab sticks. If you want finer holes for the beads then you would need to thread them onto wire, instead of kebab sticks

DRILL I have an old small craft drill, which is really useful. I find it much easier and neater to make small holes in beads, pendants, and earrings by drilling into the clay once is cured.
tuesday 7 012

BASIC JEWELLERY TOOLS . If you are wanting to make polymer jewellery then you need to have a pair of round- nose and flat- nose pliers, and a pair of wire cutters at the very least.

MODELLING TOOLStuesday 7 018
I have not used these that much, as I have not done that much modelling with my clay,( although I want to do more) but if you want to make figures or flowers then they are essential.
They are also useful for drawing into the clay, for smoothing edges, and adding textures and stuff. You can pick up ones for cake making really cheaply.


1. Sandpaper – for smoothing edge of cured clay, or for creating effects
2. Glue- for adding brooch backs , and earring posts
3.Paints , chalk, metallic powders & eyeshadow -all great for creating surface effects
4. Wet wipes- for keeping tools, hands, roller, and work surface clean

So that is my list of what I think are the most useful things to have when starting out.
There are many other items that I have not mentioned, but I would suggest rather than going off and buying lots of shiny equipment, start off with the essentials. Have a play around and once you know what you want to make then just get the tools you need for that.
Also be imaginative, and see if you can use tools you might already have.

When I got back into working with polymer clay a couple of years ago, I went off to buy some basics. As well as clay and some cutting blades, I bought a bead roller that was hanging up saying BUY ME !
I thought it would be useful, as I knew I would be making jewellery .
Well ,after the initial excitement of playing with it wore off, it went into my tool box and has hardly seen the light of day since.
It makes small uniform beads in 3 shapes, which I find quite limiting .
I tend to like my beads a bit bigger and more individual than the roller allows, and I get better effects using my hands, a piece of Perspex, shape cutters, and a kebab stick .

As with most things, the more equipment you have does not mean the better your finished piece will be.

In my opinion that comes with time, practise, experimenting, and using your imagination.


This week I was told about someone who was interested in doing a polymer clay workshop but thought that if she enjoyed it, it would mean she would have to pay out loads of money on a kiln to make it a hobby .

This is not the case , although I can understand her thinking that.
When you see the word clay , it probably takes everyone back to school days, and of making pots out of grey or terracotta sticky worms of clay, which the teacher packed into a big kiln. This was then left on for hours until the pots were “fired”

Polymer clay does not need a kiln – it is not fired, it is “cured” in a conventional electrical oven at about130 degrees C.

Any way I thought I would briefly explain what equipment you need to start creating with Polymer clay, and show that you don’t need to a spend a fortunate to create something beautiful and original using this material.

1. CLAY friday 19th sept 056

There are many brands, but they all do a similar job and are similar in price. Here in Portugal I have only found FIMO SOFT clay. To start out I would recommend buying a RED, BLUE, YELLOW , BLACK and WHITE . From these colours you can make many variations, and get an idea of what colour preferences you might have. It is also a good way to learn about colour mixing .

2. OVEN friday 19th sept 052

An electrical oven is needed to cure or bake the clay. DO NOT USE A MICROWAVE OVEN
A small toaster oven is ideal . I think you can pick up a small one for around 20- 25 euros ( and a second-hand one for less)
I would recommend having one just for polymer clay. If you decide to use your regular oven DON’T CURE CLAY AT THE SAME TIME AS COOKING FOOD ! and seal the clay inside two foil trays when curing

3 CRAFT KNIFE friday 19th sept 053
There are some blades that are made specifically for Polymer clay ,but they are very expensive. To begin with I would buy a small width craft knife that has the extending snap off blades . The blade is great for most cutting tasks , and when extended it can be slid under rolled clay to separate it from the work surface.

4. WORK SURFACE friday 19th sept 050

A non porous smooth work surface is essential. I tend to use a large ceramic tile or a piece of plate-glass , but you could also use a formica board or a table mat ( as long as it is smooth and non porous).

5. A ROLLER friday 19th sept 051 There are rolling pins made for polymer clay work, but again they seem quite expensive ,and I have not seen them for sale here in Portugal . I use a heavy piece of steel pipe that I smoothed off at the ends. You can use any other smooth non porous round object. I know some people use jam jars.
(I also use a pasta machine for lots of my rolling but this is not essential !)

6.HANDSfriday 19th sept 058
The best tool of all !

So those 6 I would say are the absolute essential pieces of equipment you need . .

As you can see the equipment needed to start with is pretty inexpensive.

In my next post I will look at what other tools and other bits and pieces I think are very useful.

My extruding experiment – making patterns with “worms

For the last few weeks I have been busy sorting out a programme of workshops for this Autumn have not had as much time in my workshop . I finally managed to get the information on the workshop page ( HURRAY ) and so I can get back into creating , which is much more fun !

I have been messing around with my new little extruder tool and seeing what it can do.

First I played around with different thicknesses of round ” worms and used them to make some patterns on flat clay and around small beads of clay.
I liked the way the beads came out , they looked quite earthy and textured. Before I baked them , I brushed some green metallic powder on them to enhance the texture .

This is what I made with them.
20 august 005

I think it’s not bad for my first necklace using extruded clay.


I have been trying in vain to put this information on my workshop page,but unfortunately after 4 hours of trying , it still will not go where I want it to .
So for the time being it will be staying as a post.

If anyone can explain how I can move this table from my blog post onto a permanent page and still look like it does here, I would be very happy.





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One to one workshops are available- 60 € per day

Polymer clay – Adapting a clay extruder to use with polymer clay.

For quite a while I have been wanting to get a clay extruder for using with polymer clay .To try out a few ideas , and see what It  can be used for.

I did some  research and found that the cheap clay extruder that can be bought in the UK is difficult to use with Polymer clay. The ones that are best come from the USA and are about 5 times as expensive ,( without the delivery charge )

As my parents came  on holiday from England recently I decided to order a cheap version that  they could bring with them,  and see if it was as  difficult as I had read it was.

Well, it ]was  !! It was almost impossible to push the plunger manually. After googling I  found some options  which involved  either cutting the gun or making a metal frame to hold it in place.

I had a few other ideas of my own,  but decided to chat with my Portuguese neighbour Manuel , who has such an inventive brain, and seems to be able to see things differently than most of us.

I was so pleased that I did !

He came up with a solution in about a minute,which  did not involve cutting or changing the extruder or the mastic gun ! Not only that but within 10 minutes he had my £2.99 extruder working a treat.

I have not seen this idea on line, so I thought I would share it with you. it is simple and effective .



Over  the next few weeks I will be showing  you what  I have been doing with this latest little gadget .

Bead making with Polymer clay – Aqua & Silver .

The great thing about making jewellery with Polymer clay is you can make something to match an outfit.

I decided to cheer myself this week (I have been a bit under the weather) and make myself some beads to match a summery top I bought recently.


1. I Made aqua coloured clay using turquoise and yellow .
2. I added varying amounts of white to make several tints of the colour.
3. I put metal silver leaf on the clays and rolled it through my pasta machine, which makes a lovely flecked effect
3. I rolled out some beads using leftover clay ( also known as MUD ) in a variety of sizes
4. I covered the beads in the aqua clay and played around with different shapes
5. I baked them.
6. When they were cooked , I decided not to sand or varnish them as I liked the matt effect
7. I drilled holes in them, and made a bracelet , necklace and earrings.

Now I just need a chance to wear them!

Kaleidoscope cane Part 2 -The finished pieces

I was quite happy with how my first kaleidoscope cane turned out
20th July 2014 015

Here’s what I made with it

Kaleidoscope – A simple and effective cane using 2 colours ( part 1)

Making a kaleidoscope cane has been on my list of things to try for a while. Although I had no end idea in mind, yesterday I needed a bit of creative therapy, and to get back into a bit of work routine, so I decided to give it a go.

My personal style is more towards textures than busy patterns, so although I loved my multi coloured kaleidoscope when I was a child, I thought I would keep the colours simple and chose dark blue and beige.

1.The first step was to make very simple jelly roll canes( in English it is called swiss roll) , bullseye canes,and striped canes, and put them together to make a right-angled triangle shape.

2. Then I reduced it down in size using my hands, and cut it in half, giving me two identical pieces

3. These were then joined together to make a square, by putting the sloped sides together(the hypotenuse if I remember rightly from maths class).

4.This can be the finished cane, but I wanted to make it more detailed, so I reduced it until I had a square sausage, which I cut into 4 equal pieces.

5. These I then stacked to make a square.

It is important to get the pattern right, and that they mirror each other.
There is a choice of which way to put them, as long as the 4 corners that fit together in the centre are the same pattern

6. I reduced this and… Voila, a finished cane .

In my next post, I will be showing you what I made with it.

Get busy crafting, or get busy blogging ….

After my last post , I was pretty busy getting everything ready for my exhibition which started on July 1st, and did not have time to write.
Everything was ready in time , and I was satisfied with how it looked for my first show.

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I was also pleased that it started before my parents arrived on the 4th July, as once they arrived all making and creating ( and blogging) came to a stand still.

exhibition gois 2014 009

My workroom has been my bedroom for the last few weeks, but today it is back to being a work room again. I am looking forward to getting back in there tomorrow.

Since my last post I have started a Facebook page called Art & Craft Portugal where I will be posting regular updates on what I am up to. Please take a look by clicking on the Facebook link to the top right hand side of this post. Don’t forget to ” Like” my page whist you’re there.

Please have a look at my Facebook page , and give it a LIKE  . Just click on the link on the to right hand side of this page .

Please have a look at my facebook page , and give it a LIKE . Just click on the link on the right hand side of this page .

Mosaic Revisted – Part 1

Every so often I get the desire to smash tiles, and I started to get the urge a few weeks ago . I have not done any mosaics for a long time, and I fancied mosaicing a table for my terrace, however until I find a suitable old table, that plan is on hold.

So, in the meantime I have been making a house sign.

Here is how it looks so far.
The next step will be to grout it .