Hello everyone! Back with my helpful post for the week. I’d like to share with everyone a “Shopping List” of sorts to help you take the leap if you want to get into the polymer clay hobby for the first time! If you’re a newbie you might think all you have to buy is clay, but there are other must-buy tools that are important that you might miss out on if no one tells you what you must buy! That’d be disastrous! Imagine having lots of clay but having no tools to work with them! D: So I decided to make this list, hopefully to help out newbies!
I’m going to break this “shopping list” into two sections: First, the “OMG MUST HAVE” zone, and the “Optionals”. As a general rule, you can buy most of the tools listed here in the shops that I listed on my “Where to Buy Polymer Clay” guide (click for link!). ^^
OMG MUST HAVE: POLYMER CLAY
Hah! I bet you didn’t see that coming! *sarcasm* Here are some brands I currently have on hand. There are some I’ve worked with that are not here but I don’t have any on-stock to take photos of. ^^
Which brand should you buy?
- Sculpey Bakeshop (P65-66ea) is by far the cheapest clay out there. It’s marketed as children’s polymer clay and never dries out. Very soft and you barely have to condition it. Good if you’re making items that don’t have to hold much detail. But otherwise they’re too soft and squishy for more detailed work. It’s always a great idea to have this brand on stock, but I wouldn’t recommend having it as your only brand. Limited colors that are mostly bright colors.
- Sculpey III – (P100ea) Great clay for beginners. Your entire stash of clay can be this brand and it’ll be all good. Easy to condition. Wide variety of colors.
- Sculpey Premo! (P105ea) Premo is recommended mostly for those who plan to use clay for business. I think it’s also good for beginners! These are just as soft as Sculpey III, and the colors are gorgeous. The metallics here look better than the metallic colors in Sculpey III, and honestly it’s just a 5-peso price difference and I don’t mind it. I mostly buy this one now unless the color I want isn’t available.
- Studio by Sculpey – (P138ea) For a P40 price increase you get more clay than usual Sculpey bars. This clay is also recommended for those who want to get into business. There are limited color selections but the quality is good.
- Fimo Classic / Fimo Soft – (P120ea) These clays are top quality and great for business. But they’re very firm and a bit more difficult to condition (even the “soft” is a bit hard ^^) so you’d need some oil or clay softener or a clay mallet for them.
- Nendo Firm/ Nendo Flexible – (P85ea) Nendo is a brand that’s good if you want to make flexible pieces. Even their “firm” brand is very flexible once baked. It can be rubbery and more plastic-y than other clay brands due to this though so avoid leaving it unbaked on top of finished surfaces too long. ^^ It’s also stickier than the other clays, so there’s no need for liquid clay to adhere two clay parts to each other with this clay.
You can make your choices based on the prices and the properties that I described. Personally the Sculpey lines are a good place to start. ^^You can purchase clay from us by viewing our list of available polymer clay and then filling up the order form. 🙂
Or you can also buy their 30-color sets. I bought this when I was just starting out and it cost me about P1500-ish if I’m not mistaken. ^^ But if you know what you want to concentrate on (ex, sweets deco, florals, etc.) then I suggest not buying this pack and instead just buy a colors that you think you’d use in the bigger sized blocks. I still have a few colors from this left over that I hadn’t touched. D:
It’s always great to have these following colors: WHITE, BLACK, and TRANSPARENT/TRANSLUCENT. You can simply mix them into your other colors to lighten/darken them. ^^
OMG MUST HAVE 2: ACRYLIC ROLLER
This is how you “condition” the clay, by beating it up and rolling it with the acrylic roller. Without it I don’t know how you plan to flatten your clay (maybe a heavy book??)
Acrylic rollers cost anywhere from P180 (local or China brands) to P400-ish (imported from Sculpey). With the local brands though, hardly any physical shop sells them so you’ll have to order them online and consider the shipping costs. Deovir only carries the Sculpey brand which is expensive. -_- But this is a long-lasting item which will last almost forever! Unless you’re a klutz and keep dropping it, it can chip and ultimately break.
Other “cheat” alternatives are a wooden roller, except cover it with parchment/wax paper so the clay doesn’t stick to the wood, or the plastic rollers that come with kids kitchen toy-sets. Be careful not to leave clay sticking onto the latter though, as the clay will probably melt it if it’s stuck there too long. (Unbaked clay can melt certain plastics!)
OMG MUST HAVE 3: LIQUID CLAY
Liquid Clay can either be any brand–Sculpey’s TLS, Kato’s Liquid Clay, Fimo’s DecoGel are among some. You need these to secure two pieces of unbaked clay together. Unless you’re using Nendo or Bakeshop (which are pretty sticky), your clay can be stubborn and not stick to each other. It’s also good to use as a gloss and protective coat–brush some over your unbaked pieces before baking and then bake. You can also make clay frosting with it, and other uses.
Kato and Sculpey are around P300-400 for a bottle. It’ll last you years and years and yeaaars unless you make frostings often (I don’t xD) Online shops sell repacks in smaller quantities for as low as P200.
OMG MUST HAVE 4: YOUR OVEN
NOTE: OVEN TOASTERS ARE A NO. YOU NEED AN ELECTRIC OVEN (like mine) OR A “FOR REALZ” OVEN. Using a big La-Germania oven for making a few pieces is probably okay if you’ll only do it one time, but if you plan to craft regularly, I say invest in a small, tabletop electric oven. You can conveniently adjust its temperature too and feel safe that you’re not baking clay in the same oven you bake muffins in.
Are there other ways to bake clay?
- You can bake clay in a microwave oven as long as you submerge the piece in water and make sure the water does not run out. The heat in the water will cure the clay. Never place the clay as-is into the microwave.
- Likewise you can cure it on stovetop as long as the clay is submerged in water. Heat water in a pan until it’s of suitable temperature and then dip/submerge the clay onto it.
Tabletop Electric ovens cost anywhere around P1800-3000 in appliance stores. I wouldn’t buy the 3000 if I was just using it for clay. ^^
YOU PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE: METAL FINDINGS AND SETTINGS
I have an entire horde of Metal findings potentially more than I actually have clay D: Understandably because I have a business based on making replica cosplay jewelry. But if you want to just craft and stick to basics–jumprings, eyepins, cellphone lariats, alligator clips, keychain rings, stud earring bases, fish-hook earrings and ring bases are a good place to start. I buy all my metal findings in Wellmanson in Quiapo. The stores next to them might have better prices but a few pesos, but they’re always so disorganized (no prices on everything, etc) that I just stick to Wellmanson.
The boxes I organize them in are cute boxes I buy from Daiso/Japan 88/Saizen. <3
PROBABLY MUST-HAVE: BLADES, X-ACTO KNIFE, PLIERS
I assume you need something to cut up your clay with. Ordinary cutters will work well, but I lean towards and LOVE buying a set of spare blades to cut them with instead! Spare cutter blades can cost as low as P15 for ten blades, so it’s a great save! If you plan to work on more intricate detailing and cutting, get an “X-acto” Knife. “X-Acto” is a brand but anything shaped like above pictured (actually a Maped brand cutter with around 2-3 extra blades at the same price as X-acto) will do.
Pliers are necessary if you want to make jewelry pieces. ^^ Here are some long-noose pliers and a wire cutter. ^^
PROBABLY MUST-HAVE: ADHESIVES
Of course you’ll want to stick your clay pieces onto your metal settings. Cyanoacrylates or Superglue works fine on them. The first brand, “Kronyo” works very well and can be bough for P60 at Wellmanson. The second, Maxi Bond, is terrible (and was expensive too at P90) and it doesn’t set quickly. Basically, avoid it. The last type, “Shoes Glue” is economical and can be bought anywhere at P10-15ea. You can also use Greco, which many swear by. Make sure you get new stocks as old stocks (past 6 months) will barely make anything stick.
A good thing to know is the stickier/slicker the superglue liquid seems, it means it has more glueing power. Anything too watery/runny is meh.
Others also use E-600 industrial glue, or epoxy glue. They’re more expensive but I hear they work really well. ^^
Unbaked clay can greatly damage finished surfaces, so never leave it as-is on top of a table/counter/tray etc. I use me one of these cutting mats when I have to work with clay (they sell from around P180-300) so my work table is protected. For a cheap alternative take a thick carton board and put wax paper/parchment over it to prevent the clay from sticking to the surface.
OPTIONAL: ACRYLIC PAINTS, SHARPIES AND ALCOHOL INKS, SOFT PASTELS, FADE-PROOF INKS
These are pigments and paints that work with polymer clay. Acrylic paints work on cured clay. Since white is damn difficult to maintain I tend to put gesso over the whites and repaint them white. Once you’ve used Acrylics on clay, do not bake it again! The paint will crack. Soft pastels / Artist Chalks will work on uncured clay best. Just finely grind off powders from the chalk and rub/brush them onto your clay. Sharpies or any other alcohol-based ink are great for drawing on baked clay surfaces. Just make sure to give them a lot of time to air dry. ^^
OPTIONAL: METAL POWDERS AND COLORED LIQUID CLAY
Most “metal” effect clay still looks far from actual metal, so enter metallic powders! I have Jacquard Pearl-Ex (P100) in this photo, but there are other brands like Nendo Pixie Dust or Beadlady Sparklers. Colored Liquid clay can be used just like Liquid clay for sticking clay pieces together, but colors like Brown or Pink are great if you want to easily have fake chocolate/strawberry sauce for your fake sweets.
OPTIONAL: VARIOUS TOOLS YOU CAN FIND AT HOME
When I started out I bought this set of plastic shaping tools… that I found are pretty useless except for a few pieces. ^^ (But hey the’re only P88 so why not) Instead I lean more on toothpicks or pins now if I need to detail anything. Cotton buds and alcohol are extremely useful for erasing the fingerprint marks over your unbaked clay / cleaning the clay before baking it. You can also use household bleach (not pictured) to make your baked clay pieces brighter if you accidentally overbaked them. Just look at what you have at home and use whatever you can think of.
That concludes what I think you should consider for your great polymer clay shopping trip! Like any hobby, it is expensive in its own way, but in due time you may also be able to profit off it. If not, the simple joy of creating something is priceless enough! Soon with more experience and practice you can go off and buy materials and tools beyond the basics in this list to help your crafting be more fun and easy.
– Aki / kageshoujo