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a. Starter Kit for Polymer Clay

We are often asked what you need to get started in working with polymer clay so have put together this article to assist beginners to know what is essential and also the optional extras.  I would also encourage you to checkout a lot of different polymer clay related websites where you can find various tutorials and information on the subject as it is a huge art-form nowadays and there is just so many approaches and ways of using it.  We don’t have a starter kit made up as everyone has different needs but I can suggest a list of the basics you will need to get started.


  • Polymer Clay – I would recommend either Premo or Fimo Soft – both are good and strong clays that you can mix to create unlimited colours.  Sculpey is a bit weaker and more liable to break than the other brands so not good for delicate or thin pieces, however it is great for children or people with arthritis.   Kato Polyclay is great but needs a little more work to condition than Fimo or Premo.  Kato however is excellent for Millefiori (Caning) as it holds detail very well.  Premo & Fimo Soft still need conditioning but not quite as much as Kato.  Clays can be mixed together and even different brands can be mixed so long as the baking time is similar.
  • Clay or Pasta Machine – Either an Italian Atlas brand machine or the Makins Clay Machine are both advised.  Stay away from the cheap asian imported pasta machines as the gears strip with the stress of using them with polymer clay so that they don’t usually last long.  Used to condition clay, to mix colours and to create graded colour “Skinner Blends”.
  • Clay Slicing Blades – essential for crisp clean cuts and for slicing millefiori canes.  There are flexible blades and firm blades - use a firm blade for slicing canes as it will be much easier.
  • Clay Roller – A tubular acrylic tube which is one of the basics of making shaped beads.  You can also get a brayer with a handle that is very handy as well.
  • Work Surface – Glass, Marble or Granite are the best but you can also use acrylic or laminex.  Not wood however as it will stick to the clay.  We also stock the Sculpey Work Mat which can be used both to work on and to bake on.
  • Baking Tray – a metal or glass tray to bake your beads in – line with stiff paper to prevent the beads from picking up the texture of the tray, or bake beads with holes on skewers suspended in the tray. 
  • Needle Tool – a general purpose tool which is essential for all kinds of techniques and for making holes in beads.  We also have bead piercing pins which are fine pins that can be used to make holes in beads and for them to bake on.
  • Oven – you can use your domestic oven but consider purchasing a polymer clay dedicated convection toaster oven if you are doing a lot of baking as it is safer long-term to avoid build up of plasticisers inside your home oven.
  • Oven Thermometer – purchase one of those to put inside your oven to ensure the temperature is correct as often ovens are not accurate.
  • Clay Modelling Tools – The Sculpey Starter Tool Kit is a good one with a variety of tools for the beginner.  There are also other packs with a variety of other modelling tools available.
  • Optional Extras:
    Glazes or Gloss – You can either sand & polish your beads using wet & dry sandpaper and then buff using a dremel style hand-drill and a muslin buff.  Alternatively you can use one of the gloss varnishes on the market but make sure you use one that is designed for polymer clay.  For a glass-like high gloss use Lisa Pavelka Magic Glos, for a shiny but not as glass-like shine use Sculpey or Fimo Varnishes.
  • Metallic foils - tissue paper thin sheets of foils that can be crumbled and applied to unbaked clay before baking - also can be applied in sheets and then run through a pasta machine to give a crackled effect.  Need to be sealed after baking with a varnish suchas the Pearl Ex varnish.
  • Pearl Ex Mica Powders – can be applied to the surface of unbaked clay sparingly to create metallic effects.  Seal with varnish after baking to prevent it wearing off.
  • Shape Cutters – great for cutting out pendants, small shapes, brooch shapes and so on.
  • Clay Extruder – use for extruding various shaped tubes of clay that can be incorporated in your bead designs – we recommend either the Makins Ultimate Clay Extruder or the Walnut Hollow Clay Extruder.
  • Texture Sheets and stamps – used to create texture on sheets or pieces of clay.
  • Pin Vise or Hand-drill to drill holes in your baked pieces.
  • Paints – you can paint your finished pieces with most acrylic paints however the Lumiere & Neopaque brands are compatible with polymer clay and give some great effects.  For a more watercolour effect you can also use the Adirondack or Pinata paints which are alcohol based paints
  • Bead Rollers – used to make perfectly shaped beads with polymer clay in various shapes and sizes.

  • Books:  Lots of books and publications are available on the subject – but I would personally recommend Polymer Café Magazine, From Polymer to Art, and Polymer Arts magazines which all have a wealth of inspiration and techniques in them.  For a starter book on making beads I would recommend “Making Polymer Clay Beads” by Carol Blackburn which covers lots of different techniques in beadmaking.  Then for Millefiori and for Surface Design information I would highly recommend Donna Kato’s two books – ‘The Art of Polymer Clay – Surface Techniques’ & ‘The Art of Polymer Clay – Millefiori Techniques’

Products related to this article:

35055  Makins Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder Gun
35055 Makins Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder Gun
ASCTV01  Sculpey Clay Tool Starter Set
ASCTV01 Sculpey Clay Tool Starter Set
T-6 Kemper Pro-Tool - Aluminium Needle Tool or Awl
T-6 Kemper Pro-Tool - Aluminium Needle Tool or Awl
PE-VMC-12  Premo! Sculpey - Classics Sampler Kit - 12pc
PE-VMC-12 Premo! Sculpey - Classics Sampler Kit - 12pc
ASBSET  Sculpey Super Slicer - 4 Blade Set w/Handles
ASBSET Sculpey Super Slicer - 4 Blade Set w/Handles