When we first started in polymer clay over 30 years ago there were no designated tools for our medium. I likened us to the “Pirates of the Crafting World” because we literally plundered tools from so many different crafts as well as our kitchens and garages!
Pasta machines from the kitchen were the first big tool we adopted for helping to condition clay and make even sheets.
But of course along with pasta machines, we used rollers of all sorts – acrylic, wood and even glass.
The first tools we used to cut clay were from our kitchens in the form of the sharpest knives we could locate (and sacrifice to the lay gods because we didn’t want to take them back into the kitchen). Many artists still use a kitchen knife for many things for their clay work (like cutting clay off the block and cutting longer edges on their sheets).
Of course the polymer clay sculptors had a head start since they could easily adapt the existing clay tools to their work. The majority of all clay artists use some version of the ball stylus and rubber tools for both sculpting and other textural uses.
Then there were the colors and textures – this became “open season” for our eye shadows, mica powders and of course, craft paints and brushes. Rubber stamps became a big part of our crafting tables, often looking like some Jenga game project perched precariously on the edges of our clay tables.
The hunt still goes on…we are still hunting for the “perfect oven”, the perfect tool to add life to our sculpts or refine our other clay work. I actually think that this is one of the most fun things about our craft – we never stop inventing, reusing, and learning…always looking for that next big treasure.