The Different Kinds of Polymer Clay Tools for Beginners

If you’re new to the world of polymer clay crafting, welcome! With so many tools and resources to choose from, we understand it may feel a little overwhelming, so we’ve created this easy-to-follow list of recommended tools just for you, curated by seasoned Sculpey® clayers.

This beginner’s guide to polymer clay tools will help you simplify and improve your clay sculpting skills, even if you have zero experience. We can’t wait to see the incredible crafts you make using these six basic tool types.

6 Types of Polymer Clay Tools and Supplies for New Clayers

Non-toxic, soft and easy-to-work-with, our Sculpey® clays are ideal for beginners of all ages. These user-friendly tools are ideal for new clayers and kids with small hands. Just remember to always supervise young children when using blades.

1. Tools to Condition Clay and Make Clay Sheets

Before using polymer clay, you’ll need to condition it by kneading and warming it up. In addition to hand kneading, the following tools quickly condition clay and create uniform sheets for your projects:

  • Rollers: Roll clay into flat, smooth sheets with a rolling pin or roller, like the non-stick Sculpey Tools™ 8-Inch Acrylic Clay Roller.
  • Pasta machine: Do you have a pasta maker hidden in the back of your kitchen pantry? You can use this tool to condition clay, mix colors and create smooth sheets.
  • Clay conditioning machine: Don’t have a pasta machine? No problem! Our beginner-friendly Sculpey Tools™ Clay Conditioning Machine will help you condition clay quickly and easily. This tool is helpful for young clayers and crafters who may have limited hand dexterity.

2. Beginner Tools to Cut Clay

Kitchen knives are useful, but whenever you need to reveal the inner layers of different colors — a feature polymer clay is known for — it’s best to use tools designed to slice the clay without warping its shape. Cut clay with confidence with these beginner-friendly tools:

  • Cutting blade: Dual-handled Sculpey Tools™ Clay Blades effortlessly cut decorative, straight or curved clay sections.
  • Shape cutters: Use cookie cutters or our clay-friendly Sculpey Tools™ Cutters to create organic, geometric and graduated shapes in ornaments, jewelry and more.
  • Scissors: A pair of sharp scissors is a handy cutting tool — you can even cut baked clay if it’s thin enough. Paper-crafting or sewing decorative-edge scissors can cut wavy or zigzag edges in clay sheets. 
  • Other cutting tools: Look around your kitchen and workshop to find useful blades right under your nose. Utility and craft knives cut precise details, and rotary cutters are great for long cuts.

3. Tools to Shape Clay for Beginners

Explore your home to find creative “tools” to shape your clay. Add texture with crumpled aluminum foil, toothpicks and kitchen gadgets. Make sculpting even easier with tools designed to improve your process:

  • Sculpting tools: The ergonomic Sculpey Tools™ Clay Tool Starter Set includes three double-ended tools to help beginners shape, cut and detail a wide range of projects.
  • Needle tool: The Needle End Pointer from the starter set is another must-have tool to texture, scratch and poke holes in clay jewelry, keychains and ornaments. 
  • Ball stylus: Want to create a dimpled texture or add smooth ridges without dragging the clay? Use our Ball End embossing tool from the Sculpey Tools™ 5-in-1 Clay Tool set.
  • Flexible tip shaper: Connecting two clay pieces, like adding a nose to a figure’s face, can be tricky — but with the right tool, blending is a breeze! Our Flexible Tip Shaper from the Sculpey Tools™ Dual End Detail Tools smooths seams in a snap.

4. Beginner Polymer Clay Jewelry Tools

New to jewelry making? You’re in luck! Our products are super simple to work with, so even if you’ve never worked with clay, you can make that statement necklace on the first try using our polymer clays:

  • Sculpey Premo™: With granite, glitter, pearl, opal and metallic finishes, Premo™ is a jewelry maker’s dream come true.
  • Sculpey Soufflé™: This super-soft clay is perfect for fine details and has a suede-like, flexible finish after baking.
  • Liquid Sculpey®: This liquid-form clay is lightweight and ideal for jewelry molds.

We recommend these jewelry tools for wearable art:

  • Piercing tool: Use a toothpick, skewer or our Needle End Pointer from the Sculpey Tools™ Clay Tool Starter Set to pierce holes in beads and charms.
  • Jewelry molds: The Sculpey Tools™ Oven-Safe Molds: Jewelry mold includes six shapes to make earrings and pendants.
  • Wire cutters and pliers: Use jewelry pliers and cutters to add hooks, wires and clasps to your clay pieces before assembly.

5. Tools to Protect Work Surfaces and Bake Your Clay

Avoid placing unbaked clay on furniture or countertops as clay ingredients may stain or damage finishes. Always use a protective surface beneath your work — aluminum foil, metal sheets, parchment paper, ceramic tile, granite or glass. We recommend supervising children younger than 8 to ensure tools and unbaked clay are used and stored correctly.

Protect your surface and harden your clay with these tools:

  • Ceramic tile: Inexpensive ceramic tiles, found at most hardware stores, grip the clay while you work. Shape your clay on top of the tile.
  • Work mat: Use our silicone Sculpey® Oven-Safe Work Mat to protect your table. Easily transition from shaping to baking by sculpting creations on the mat and then placing both mat and clay into the oven.
  • Oven: Cure polymer clay using a conventional oven or toaster oven. Bake the clay according to specific brand instructions. 
  • Oven thermometer: We recommend using an oven thermometer as oven temperatures are not always accurate.

6. More Essential Polymer Clay Tools

The longer you play with clay, the more polymer clay tools you’ll want to add to your arsenal. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Sandpaper: Press sandpaper into unbaked clay to replicate natural finishes like stone and skin. Smooth sharp edges in baked clay with wet/dry sandpaper. Our Sculpey Tools™ Sandpaper Variety Pack provides four grits for all your sanding needs.
  • Tweezers: Tweezers can pick up and place pieces too small to move with bare hands.
  • Ruler: Keep a ruler within arm’s reach to cut straight lines and check clay measurements.
  • Paintbrushes: Skip the cheap brushes with shedding bristles. Get a few high-quality paintbrushes to apply powders, paints, Sculpey® glazes, sealers and varnish.
  • Playing cards: Use a standard set of playing cards as a guide to roll clay sheets and ropes evenly — two stacked cards for a thin sheet, up to eight cards deep for a thick sheet.

Workspace Setup and Storage

Set up your work area to inspire joy! Clear the clutter to reduce stress and improve creativity. An organized space saves you time looking for tools so you can focus on shaping the clay to bring your ideas to life.

You’ll likely work with the clay for several hours at a time, so use a comfortable, ergonomic chair. Set up near a window for natural light or add bright lamps to view clay details with ease. Keep your tools and other supplies visible and within arm’s reach using a colorful mug, pegboard wall or shelving above your table. Before starting, remember to protect your table or countertop with a polymer clay-safe surface like the Sculpey Tools™ Oven-Safe Work Mat

Don’t let your works in progress or materials dry out — make sure you place all unbaked clay in an airtight container or bag made of polypropylene (PP) plastic. Avoid storing polymer clay in direct sunlight or hot environments. Always store your clays in a cool, dry and dark place, or refrigerate or freeze your unused clay to extend its shelf life considerably.

Discover Exciting Polymer Clay Tools for Beginners With Sculpey®

If you’re looking for tools to start your polymer clay crafting journey, you’ve come to the right place! Sculpey® has helped hobbyists bring their ideas to life in clay for over 50 years. 

We supply the tools, you supply the creativity! Sculpey® thoughtfully designs all our tools to make working with polymer clay easier, so even if you’ve never worked with clay before, you can craft beautiful keepsakes from day one. Shop our wide selection of clay tools to texture, cut and shape your creations, and visit our how-to page to discover how to make home décor, chic wall art, jewelry and gifts.

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