You don’t truly need much to get stared with polymer clay but the things you can use with it are endless. You don’t always need to buy beginner polymer clay supplies, you can use items you already have around the house like tin foil, old toothbrushes, or blush. Once you have used a tool for polymer clay don’t use your tools for anything other than polymer Clay.
It can be hard to decide what to buy for a new hobby. Craft stores have tons of fun accessories that you don’t really know if you need. I’m going to go through what you really need to get started, what I would suggest adding, and what I would leave for later.
Bare Minimum Beginner Polymer Clay Supplies
Clay– Obviously you will need polymer clay. There are many different brands to choose from. I like to use clay that has to be baked including Fimo, Premo, and Sculpey III. I also like CraftSmart from Michael’s. As long as you buy the same kind of clay the brands can all be used together. Don’t buy air dry clay and use it with clay that needs to be baked.
Tooth Picks– These work great in place of a needle tool. You will need something you can use to create smaller details. These are also nice to attach head. I break a toothpick in half and stick it in the body, then push the head onto the tooth pick. This helps keep the head where you want it.
Ceramic Tile– I use a smooth white ceramic tile I bought from a hardware store for less than a dollar. Clay doesn’t stick to the tile so it makes a perfect work surface. They also handle the heat in the oven well so I use it to bake the clay as well. You can get them in different sizes but they can get heavy if you go too big.
Seed Beads– If you are making a figurine with eyes then seed beads are a must. They make great eyes, noses, and even bubbles. I have a few different colors but black is the only one I use with any regularity.
Alcohol Wipes– Technically you don’t need these but if you are using white clay, they are a sanity saver. Just about everything sticks to clay. Dust, hair, other clay, everything. Swiping an Alcohol wipe across the clay will help remove anything you’ve accidentally collected. I also use them to wipe certain colors from my hands before switching to white clay. Red clay is particularly bad for this.
My Suggestions for Beginner Polymer Clay Supplies
These are the things I would add to a beginner kit if you can afford it. You don’t technically need them but they aren’t super expensive and they are worth it.
Sculpey Modeling Tools Set-These are super cheap and come with a tiny rolling pin and 3 modeling tools that are useful for shaping the clay. I use something from this kit for every project.
Needle Tool– This is my most used tool. I use it for everything from shaping to placing seed beads. Needle tools are not always easy to find. When I started, they were with the polymer clay tools, now you can’t always find then there. If you can’t find one look in the quilling supplies.
Mine is metal and I would recommend metal, or wood if you can’t find a metal one. Polymer clay can eat through plastic and plastic cannot handle the heat in the oven. You may want to use it to prop a figure up while it bakes. My tool has a weird textured grip in the metal that quickly filled with clay. I just covered it with clay and baked it, now it has a grip.
Blade– This is a nice tool to have for cutting straight lines or canes. You can wait to buy this if you won’t be doing either. They are crazy sharp so you’ll need a sheath if it doesn’t come with one. Mine did not have any kind of cover so I made one from the cardboard packaging and taped it together. You can use the hole used in the store to hang the package as way to push the blade out of the cardboard. I’ve kept it this way for probably 15 years with no problem.
Tin Foil– You probably already have this in the house anyway and it’s great for propping clay up so it bakes the way you want it to. Any clay touching the baking surface, including the tin foil, will have a shiny spot. To avoid this, you can use tinfoil to prop your piece up off the baking surface. Tin foil can also add texture to the clay or as a filler in a large piece of clay. You don’t want your clay piece to be too big so you can wrap clay around a tinfoil ball to take up space.
Polymer Clay Supplies You Can Buy Later
Once you’ve collected the beginner polymer clay supplies and you’ve decided you like the hobby there are plenty of accessories that would be fun to add to your tool kit.
Sculpey Bake and Bond- This is good for when you need to glue two pieces of clay together before baking. This isn’t usually a problem but it would help if you want to put something in a figurine’s hand or attach a figurine to a clay base. It is not necessary if you are just adding something like leg or head.
Gorilla Super Glue Gel- This is good if you need to attach two pieces of clay after they have hardened in the oven. Things happen and sometimes you’ll need to reattach a piece, this glue will help with that.
Kemper Cutters– I love these little cutters. They come in a variety of shapes and they are super useful to cut uniform shapes. The plunger helps push the clay out of the cutter. I originally bought these from a tiny craft store but you can buy them from Amazon.
Blush– This is great for adding some color to the cheeks of your project. The details like eye lashes and blush are what makes gives your project the cuteness factor. You can use blush you are no longer using or buy it from the dollar store. You do not need to spend a lot for this one.
Fine Glitter– Glitter is great for giving snow a glow and make it more snow like. I would also use it to give a shine to things like mermaid tails. You will need a high quality super fine glitter for this though.
Texture Mats– Anything with texture will give the clay texture. They sell mats for clay and paper crafting that would work if you want to do a large section of clay.
Tooth Brush– Tooth brushes are great for adding texture to your pieces, they give a sand like look to the clay. They are also super cheap, they don’t need to be new, just use an old toothbrush and it’s free.
Molds– You can buy or make molds to shape your clay. I don’t personally use them but if you are making dolls, they would be super helpful.
Cookie Cutters– These can come in miniature size near the clay or you could use normal cookie cutters depending on what you are trying to make. Just make sure that you don’t use them on cookies after.
Miniatures– I love to get things from the miniatures department. These work as accessories for your figurine or to help you mold it. I bought tiny little Christmas cookie cutters that make the perfect size Christmas cookie cut outs. Just make sure that you do not bake any plastic accessories, these will need to attached after baking.
Christmas Hooks– I make a lot of Christmas ornaments so these are a must. I like to make the hook in the clay so it sticks.
Coffee Grinder– If you intend to make anything with snow you will need a coffee grinder. It needs to be new and you won’t be able to use it for coffee afterwards so don’t get an expensive one. Cut your clay up a little and throw it in the coffee grinder. It’ll break it up to make it look like snow.
Pasta machine– These are nice to flatten clay. This will give you much more consistent results than a rolling pin. I honestly don’t use mine a lot but it depends on what you are making.
Polymer Clay Supplies You Do Not Need
I only have one thing in the don’t buy category. Most things are personal preference so I’m sure someone somewhere would like them but this, I really hate.
Clay Extruder– Polymer Clay Extruders look awesome and the possibilities seem endless. The problem is that the clay will not come out of the extruder. It doesn’t matter if the clay is well conditioned, it will not go through the tiny holes. Recently I went through a phase where I decided I would not let a hunk of metal beat me, so I searched the internet for tips on how to use it. The tips were ridicules but I dutifully tried them anyway and it still didn’t work. The ideas ranged from using a wipe to get the inside wet first to using a caulking gun to push the plunger. Apparently I’m not the only one that can’t figure out how to use them. I’m sure there is someone out there who loves it but you should save yourself the frustration and don’t buy one.
As you can see polymer clay isn’t a super expensive hobby to get started. Most of the extras you may want still aren’t expensive and you can use them for years. I bought most of my beginner polymer clay supplies in high school and I haven’t need to replace them.
What would you add to the list?