My On-the-Go Clay Kit

What’s inside this kit, how I use it, and where I like working with this kit.

In my earlier blog from the week before, I mentioned taking my clay out to work on the go, and one of the questions I get asked the most about is- “How are you working outside with polymer clay?!” I think the idea that doing art and working with a medium like clay requires a fixed studio space or something more permanent. So let’s talk about it! 

Yes, I have a dedicated studio space in my home for working with clay- it’s where I have my pasta roller to condition and sheet the clay, my oven, 3d printer, drilling and sanding tools and several shelves of clay supplies. This is the space that I do most of my work at, it’s a great space for sure but my mind is in constant need for new stimuli and ideas to get creative and make fun and better designs- and for me that’s heading outside to cafes, beaches, and anywhere I can find a table to work on.

While I started out only sketching my ideas while out and about, I realized that with some planning I could do that with clay too! I started out my on-the-go clay kit with wayyyy too many things, but through experience and distilling what I could work on while out, I've managed to narrow down my tools and what I pack in my kit.. So here it is:

These are some of the must have tools in my kit. If I need to carry as little tools as possible, it would be:

  1. Craft knife
  2. Tissue blade
  3. Point tool
  4. Angled Point silicone tool with the ball tip

The rest of the tools are just good to have if I'm making a more complex design. I’ve included toothpicks as they make a great alternative to the needle and point tool, but it’s not my most used because of how it can become blunt after a few uses.

A small case like this is great for storing tools as well as a cutter or two and some washi tape (which I will elaborate on later in this post!)

On to how I pack my clay!

I usually roll out a slab or two of blank white clay ( if I don’t already have a planned design to work on) along with a set of pre-mixed coloured swatch, honestly it’s just like a box of coloured pencils, but clay! This allows me a wider variety of colours to choose from and play around to see what works. I tend to have more shades of greens, because my work largely revolves around having plants in everything - so this helps create more depth and distinction between the different plants.

If I already have a design in mind, then all I have to do is pre-roll the sheets of colours like in the image below. I lay them on a laminated or plastic sheet like this as it ensures that the clay is not being leached and for ease of lifting the entire sheet without it breaking apart. If you’ve tried rolling clay into smaller balls or thin ropes, I'm sure you’ve experienced how it’s just a tiny bit harder sometimes to get an even roll, so I always have a small sheet of paper for this.

*IMPORTANT NOTE! I only pre-roll my sheets and use them within a day or two, anything longer I think it would be better to recondition the clay to make sure that it doesn’t break apart while working or transporting.*

And that’s what my clay-on-the-go kit looks like all packed! I’m using a smaller folder here - B5 sized if i’m not mistaken, there are times when I have more to work on and i’ll carry a larger A4 folder with several layers of plastic sheet that I use the washi tape to secure to the folder to ensure that they aren't just falling and getting tossed around inside my tote, but let’s be honest, I really use washi tape for everything.

If you’re still wondering, how does this work? Just give it a try! Find what works for you and what doesn’t and curate your very own kit. The places you can go with them, the freedom of being able to work anywhere - I've literally tried claying on a bullet train - shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo! Definitely an experience, not the easiest place with all the bumps and shakes but I’d do it again, can’t stop when the inspiration hits am I right?

Images:  Top row : claying at cafes  Bottom row : claying on the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo

Xoxo, Weimin

Ferne Atelier <3

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