Low-Tech Tools

One of the things I love about polymer clay is that there is no fancy equipment needed to create beautiful work. Aside from a pasta machine, tissue blade and toaster oven here are some low-tech tools I can’t live without.

1. Mini Drill – I picked it up for a song from Harbor Freight and have to say I don’t know how I got along without it. I like things low-tech, this is easy to use and gets the job done for my smaller beads.

2. Knitting needles – I love these for poking larger holes and as a sculpting tool. (Look for the double pointed in the thinner sizes.)

3. Old playing cards – I used these as disposable palettes to mix up small batches of liquid Sculpey.

4. Rubber gloves – I roll all my beads one last time with rubber gloves to get rid of any finger prints, seriously cuts down on the sanding.

5. Handmade bead mandrels – I cut 6″ lengths of thick gauge copper wire as larger bead mandrels.

5. Wet-dry sandpaper and my blue jeans – I give my beads a quick once over with the sand paper and buff them on my jeans.

6. Cardstock -it’s my work surface of choice.

7. Acrylic rod – great for shaping canes and rolling out thicker slices of clay.

8. Two little mirrors – used for making lentils and flattening beads.

That’s it, my whole beadmaking studio in a nutshell. What tool can’t you live without?


  1. says

    I have to add:

    – sharp blades, my old (no motor, no name brand) pasta machine and stacks of old white tiles from a past home reno project

    And enough little plastic containers that I support that whole industry I am sure.

  2. says

    Rubber tipped Clay Shaper and stylus (cheap art supply item) for help in sculpting.

    Bamboo skewers for poking holes in beads, they make a slightly larger hole than a ceramics needle tool. Found in the grocery store, they are a couple bucks for a lifetime supply.

    Parchment paper (grocery store) for baking flat polymer pieces on. I use it on a cookie sheet and the paper keeps the bottom of the polymer from taking on the shine of the cookie sheet. Obviously cardstock is stiffer, but the parchment paper can cover an entire cookie sheet if you have larger pieces to bake.

    Boy it’s amazing how little you can get by with to make polymer art. I love the fact that no expensive items are needed. I did splurge on a Foredom bench lathe to polish my beads, and I absolutely love it.

    I’m going to blog about my favorite texture tools in a day or two on my beadbunny.blogspot.com blog.

    Thanks for asking, Heather, I always enjoy your blog entries.

  3. says

    I don’t do enough PC to say, but the gloves idea might work with my metal clay. I’m bad about the finger prints! I guess that shows it’s hand-made 😉


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