So, you saw some impressive polymer clay works and would like to try some projects yourself. Where shall you begin?
Do not run to a craft store (at least, not yet). Although, there is quite an impressive list of tools and materials you can acquire for this new hobby, you will not need all of them (not right away, at least). This is good news, isn't it? Each little gadget does not cost much, but they add up very quickly. To make it easier for your budget, buy only the tools you need at the moment.
How do you decide what you need?
First of all, find a project or two that you would like to start with. There are many places on the Internet where you can look for those projects. I would recommend picking one that is graded For Beginners.
A project description usually contains a list of tools and materials. Take a good look at this list. You will obviously need some polymer clay.
Most project descriptions avoid mentioning specific brands, yet you will find at least a few different types of polymer clay in a craft store and even more on the Internet. So which ones shall you buy? If you are starting out then I would suggest Fimo soft as this type of clay takes less conditioning than Fimo classic which is a much firmer clay. However if you find that your sculptures and getting squashed to easily, then you will want to change to Fimo classic.
Before you go to the store, decide what colours of clay you would like to use for your project. You may have to buy more than one block if multiple colours are required for your project. Keep in mind, however, that different colours of clay may be mixed just as regular paints, so if your project calls for yellow, orange, and red, you can simply buy yellow and red (and mix them to obtain orange).
A Work Surface and an Oven
Another thing that you will definitely need for any project is some sort of work surface. It is NOT the surface of your dining room table, for at least two reasons – raw polymer clay may stain porous surfaces and it is better to keep it separate from your food. The best surfaces for working with polymer clay are a smooth ceramic tile or a sheet of glass.
To complete your polymer clay project, you will have to bake it. This means, you will need something to bake it in – a regular oven will be fine.
General Tools and Materials
If you are doing other crafts, chances are you already have some of the tools and materials that are required for your first polymer clay project (such as stamps, brushes, mica powders, various paints, etc.). Cross them out from your list. Some other tools may be borrowed from your kitchen or throughout the house. These include knives, spoons, cups, and so forth. However, to be safe, it is wise to designate these tools for polymer clay only, so if you are ready to consider them lost, you may cross them out as well. Now take a look at your list. What is left? Most likely some of the following things.
A Pasta Machine and a Roller
A pasta machine is used to roll out the clay quickly and accurately. They are the bee’s knees for every polymer clay artist as it saves so much time when a flat sheet of clay is needed. This is a great piece of kit when you cut out a lot of shapes using cutters.
If, however, you are savvy and/or not sure about this new hobby of yours, I would suggest getting a roller for now.
A good clear plastic roller can be found right next to polymer clay in a craft store. If you decide to buy the machine later, the roller will still be useful, so your money will not be wasted.
There are two main types of shape cutters. The first ones look like cookie cutters. They come in various shapes and sizes and may be found in the polymer clay section in most craft stores. These shape cutters are sold in sets, and the price varies a lot.
The others are plunge cutters and are widely used in sugar craft art but work wonderfully with polymer clay
Blades for polymer clay are available in craft stores, but for some projects they may be substituted with a disposable cutter from a home improvement store (if there is a handyman in your house, check with him first – I bet he has a few of those already).
For safety, I suggest marking the dull side of the blade with some nail polish. Trust me – these things are very sharp, and grasping a wrong end of them is not a good thing.
A Ripple Blade
Sorry, no substitute for this one. Which can be purchased in a set by Sculpey where you get two ripple blades and two straight edge blades for fine edge cutting?
A Clay Extruder (or a Clay Gun)
No substitute again. The ones used for cake decorations or in PlayDoh sets will not work (no, I did not try them myself, I just heard about other people's experience). Use: limited to special projects. If you decide to buy one – take my advice and buy a metal, but not a plastic one.