Studio Work Surface Mats – 3 Brands Compared

Polymer Clay Work Surface MatsVideo #335: Each of the different mat surface products has plus’s and minus’s. Which features are most important to you?

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Comparison between 3 different non-stick work surfaces for use with polymer clay and mixed media projects:
    Sculpey Work’n Bake Clay Mat[11.5″ x 15.5″]
    Ranger 15-Inch-by-18-Inch Inkssentials Craft Sheet[15″ x 18″]
    Rings & Things Fiberglass Work Surface [9.5″ x 12″]
  • Differences between each sheet in regards to:
    – Size
    – Cost
    – Porosity
    – Ease of use
    – Smoothness of surface
  • If I were to design the perfect work surface for use with polymer clay it would have:
    – The size, look and smoothness of the Ranger Craft Sheet,
    – the sticky non-skid backing of the Sculpey Clay Mat and
    – the cheaper price of the Rings & Things fiberglass work surface.


As you saw in the video, each brand of polymer clay work surface mat has it’s own set of pro’s and con’s. In the comments section below, please let me know which features are most important to you.

By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

Oh and don’t forget to give these videos a Thumbs Up click at YouTube if you are enjoying them. The more Likes a video gets, the higher it rises in the searches. And that means even more people will be able to join in on this polymer clay journey of a lifetime.

Also, by subscribing to our YouTube Channel directly, you will receive notifications as soon as new videos are uploaded. To subscribe, click here… Polymer Clay Work Surface Mats. The Subscribe Button is right near the top of that YouTube page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
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Comments

  1. Hi All
    Just watched Cindy’s newest YouTube video – Loved the last tip about lining your bead rack :)

    Also wanted to mention there were over 20 views and only 4 “Thumbs Up” It’s real easy to sign up, all YouTube wants is an email and password. Cindy or Doug mentioned that voting ‘Like’ is good for our PCT family….So lets all remember to vote because what is good for PCT is good for us.

    One last thing- Michael’s has ALL their polymer clay 2oz packs for $1.25 now til Jan. 19th

    Stay well during this flu mess that’s going around :/

    • Thanks Sherry for adding the pep talk about doing the thumbs up “Like” thing.

      Those little votes really do go a LONG way to helping these videos show up high on the list when people do a search for specific polymer clay topics in YouTube and Google.

      And the fact of the matter is… if you don’t rank high in the search results… then the number of people that click to watch the videos goes WAY down.

      So thank you again for reminding everyone about this important point. It really is a simple and easy thing to do.

  2. Cindy, this was an excellent comparison of the products. I like the idea of using pieces of it to protect from spiking in the oven. Being the clutz that I am, with the room I have, taping down stuff and getting texture on the clay is not worth the investment for me. I need something heavy and stain proof .

    For years, I’ve purchased the mirror tiles from home stores, put two back to back, then used tape and copper foil to seal them together and prevent rough edges. The mirror tile is about 12 inches square, heavy so it stays in place, leaves no marks on the clay, can take any kind of slice or dice, and wipes clean with alcohol.

    I have a few of them, so if the project needs space, I can move them around or place them next to each other. I do not do large projects, so the tiles are great for one project at a time, and if I want to set them aside for a bit, I just cover the work with a piece of Glad Wrap to protect from dust. The clay does not interact with the surface, nor are the plasticizers in the clay leached out.

    The disadvantage is that they are glass, so caution applies, but even if one is broken, it is easy and cheap to make more. Won’t work if you need a larger surface, but, you can go to your local glass store and purchase remnants of any size, and they will grind the edges if you prefer not to tape. More expensive, but they last forever. If you get the clear glass, you can place graph paper or measuring guidelines under or between the layers.

    I like the mirror surface because it reflects the colors, and if you need to find a thin edge of clay, the mirror reflects back the edge well.

    In the past in a pinch, I have also used wall mirrors and glass framed pictures, the framing keeps the materials from rolling off. I would not place a pasta machine on the glass, too much pressure, I think. Hand rolling is fine on them.

  3. This is another great video, Cindy. I’ve always used kitchen-type glass cutting boards (in different sizes), but those non-stick mats look very tempting for some.

    Monique U. (A Half-Baked Notion)

    • Oops, not sure what happened to the rest of my comment :( I meant to say: the mats would be great in projects where it is best not to move the pieces after cutting out. I have a problem with small items like buttons that are easily distorted. I find with just paper under them they may not bake as flat as I like. I am going to put a mat on my wish list, Cindy!

      Monique U. (A Half-Baked Notion)

  4. Hi, Cindy!

    I bought the Sculpy mat before I saw this video – and, unfortunately, cut into it, both with my blade and my round metal cookie type cutters – on the first day I used it!
    .
    I have several cuts on the mat, and they show because the clay then leaches into the cuts and leaves a stain.

    But, the mat works great. I like the sticky back and I use it right over my glass cutting board, so I can move it around without taking it off the work surface.

    Now I am extra careful with my blade and cutters.

    Walmart sells a mat for use in the oven, it’s called a teflon baking mat. You put it on the floor of your oven, and it keeps the oven clean – remove the mat and clean it, instead of the floor of your oven. I wonder it that mat would work for polymer clay. It is quite large.

  5. Hi Cindy, Like the idea for the rings and things mat using on top of paper and for a shield. One question and I guess I could test for myself but hoping you know. If you cook on the mat does it leave a shiny surface on the bottom of your items?

    I myself for years have used the Cutter Bee 13″ X 13″ Glass mat with small gripper feet in corners for secure usage. It has 1/4″ photo grid lines that I love for a lot of my measuring. It also has the polished edges and rounded corners. I got mine at Jo Ann’s with a 50% off coupon. Think it cost around $8. I have 2 of them one I leave in my camper and the other one in studio.

    Last I have an idea for a tutorial. I belong to the facebook group Just for Polymer Clay Tutorials. Recently I asked if anyone knew of a tutorial for covering the nicer metal pens. I got a list of places to go and purchase pens but this is something I have only done with the bic plastic pens. When you go to purchase the kits it mentions purchasing bushings and extra tubes even something about a pen press for putting the pens together. I have purchased a couple of the twist pen kits from Boston Clayworks. I was also wanting to try some of the other pens that are also used for wood turning pens. I just thought you always make things so much easier to understand and do, perhaps you would consider a tutorial on them and the different kind of kits. Just a thought. I am wanting to make some for a few Graduation gifts so I will have to figure some things out on my own before you would do a tute. Maybe if anyone else would like a tute on this they can comment on it also.

    This is way too long sorry for the babbling. Uuuuuggggs to all!

    • Thanks for the tutorial request Peggy. I will look into it. Whenever I do a tutorial, I do want the materials to be as easy to source as possible. If I can work that part out and come up with some good ways of making the pens, I will. They really would make fantastic Graduation Gifts!

      • Oops sorry Peggy, I forgot to say that yes the mat can leave a shiny spot if it is pressed down onto the sheet before baking. It is usually very light and since I always sand the backs as well as the fronts of pieces, the shiny spots are easily removed.

        • Thanks for letting me know about the shiny spot on the bottom of clay pieces Cindy.

          Also Karon and Jocelyn thank you for the information on the instructions for covering pens and suppliers.

          I will keep my fingers crossed Cindy will do a tutorial for us. I know then I will be able to assemble my pens with no problem at all. All of Cindy’s tutorials are perfect and so easy to follow no problems at all. What once seemed impossible is incredible. I really hope this works out for you to do this tutorial Cindy. I can’t think of anyone better to have a tutorial for this. Like I said keeping my fingers crossed. I so want to make these for Graduation gifts.

          Inspired from the best.
          Many Uuuuuggggs.

    • Peggy,
      The bushings they mention are for making sure the material (wood) is turned down to the same diameter as the fittings for the completed pen. The pen press is for final assembly of all the parts. The parts are very tight fitting therefore you need the
      press to put them together without marring the finish on the parts. You can buy the pen kits with screw on fittings where you do not need the press.

  6. Just did some googling on pens and it seems like Boston Craft Works has a great selection. Mechanical pencils, fountain pens, pens with stylus conversion to use on PDAs, flashlight pens, regular pens, you name it. They have the wooden pen setter and ink refills, too.

    They also have a large variety of other objects which can be used with polymer clay. Definitely would check them out if you were looking for tute supplies.

    I would love to see a tute on this.

  7. Great tutorial! I have the mat by Ranger and just love it! Love the size. I bought it at Michael’s and used my 50 % off coupon.

  8. It was interesting seeing the three craft mats, but to be contrary ;), I actually don’t see the point of using one for polymer clay compared to other work surface options!

    I normally use a very large tile as a work surface, with pieces of non-slip drawer liner glued to the back so it doesn’t damage (or slip on) the surface I put it on. It has a nice smooth surface, is non-porous so that inks, paints, etc. don’t leave marks, is easy to clean, doesn’t move around when I’m manipulating the clay, can be cut on however I like, is heat-proof and safe both for heat gun techniques and for resting hot items on, etc. If I want to sit the clay on something I can slide around and/or stick directly into the oven without lifting the clay from it, I either use a second tile or a piece of non-porous baking paper on top of the main work surface tile.

    Tiles are cheap and are readily available in all sorts of sizes… it seems to me that for polymer clay, craft mats only have disadvantages compared to them.

    • Sue.

      I love my craft mat for specific things. I too, use tiles regularly. However, the mat is awesome for my flower work. The petals each have to be picked up several times as I work. And they tend to stick to the tiles. Also when I am cutting out the petals I find that the cutter cuts cleaner around the edges on the.mat, with the tiles I sometimes get “hairy” looking edges . because the clay does not stick to the mat as well as it does to a tile.I like different surfaces for different projects.

      • Many thanks for your input, Karronkay! I must say I hadn’t considered flower-making as flowers are totally not my thing, and I can see your point there. :)

        I guess because my preferred clay (Kato) is less sticky than other brands like Premo and Pardo, and because any multiple-time picking up and putting down that I do is generally with cane slices, I haven’t had that issue. So far. Touch wood!

        If I do try making flowers some time — which is not very likely other than maybe calla lilies, perhaps, one day ;D — I’ll keep your point about lifting petals in mind. (But I’ll probably just use a bit of non-porous baking paper because I have big rolls of that for cooking!)

        Thanks again!

    • It is perfectly acceptable to have contrary opinions Sue. I would be a terrible Tutor if I thought my opinion was the only correct one. There are a million reasons why one person would prefer one tool/method over another one and a million more for why you may want to use something entirely different for another purpose.

      You make some excellent points about using a glass cutting board. I have a glass cutting board that works very well, but for some reason I prefer to work on the non stick sheets more for most of my work. Maybe it’s the ‘scritchy’ factor of working on glass… you know that ‘nails on a blackboard’ thing that bugs me? Who knows?

      The thing I like to do on this site is present options. Describe how I like to use them and what I personally think about the experience. It is up to everyone to decide for themselves if they agree or want to make their choices as to what they prefer. It is certainly not a case of ‘my way or the highway’. LOL

      This world would be very boring if we all had to do things the same way…

      I am your Tutor not your Master. :)

  9. Hi guys, loved the mat comparisons. I think you need to have a variety of things to work on. I went over to the habitat store and got used tiles in 4 different sizes, the largest one 18×18 being my main work surface. I also use the Ranger ink sheet when I work with inks and powders because it cleans so nice. When I’m done with the mat, I just slip it under my tile and it stays nice and flat. One thing I wish I could find is a small turntable 6 to 8″ that I can set on my table top. This would be so convenient for sculpting or when I need to work from different angles on my projects. It also would take a lot
    of stress off my neck and shoulders. If anyone knows where I could get a nice one, please let me know.

    • I was given a cake decorating kit once which had a turntable in that size range, so shops that supply that kind of thing could be an option.

      I also remember seeing them on the Polymer Clay Express web site while working on my wish list.

      There’s this one, which looks nice and stable and is probably a suitable size, although it doesn’t give dimensions.

      There’s also this one which is taller, which might be an advantage depending on your work surface height, although it looks a bit unstable to me (no dimensions for this one either).

  10. Loved the video – well done Cindy! I love these tips videos that you do, I *always* learn something. I like to use ceramic tiles but recently had an old glass shelf top that I wasn’t using and used that (I needed to be able to see through it to use a measuring grid) and it worked well also. I do understand what you mean about those surfaces having a “scritchy” sound. I get that too sometimes and will cringe!

  11. Hi, All!

    I was using a tile sample from when I worked for a decorator years ago. It was about 12 x 9″ and was driving me crazy. Bought a professional marble pastry board about 21″ x 18″ x 3/4″ a couple months ago. It was about $48 from Amazon and free shipping. It is awesome! Lots of room, has padded feet and it’s too heavy for it to move unless pushed. Also, it keeps the clay from getting too soft, which is a problem for me, and it is very easy on the eye, at least for me.

  12. I’m with Andrea, to start with I used a round marble slab that was originally a tabletop for my clay. It stays cool in the summers here in Georgia, too, and is too heavy to easily slip around on its own. I bought a square marble tile from Home Depot a while back, but I found it was too easily cracked and broken (too thin, I believe). I also have the pastry marble board I’ve had for a zillion years, so I may have to give it up to polymer clay instead since I don’t do much pastry anymore. However, it is too big to go directly in the toaster oven, so I’ll still need tiles and such to bake on.

  13. Doing some more thinking about using one of these mats that allows you to pick up clay pieces that are thin or specially cut without the “stuck onto the glass, cut free first with blade” approach.

    New work space set up as a result of a unit inspection, and now using some glass round microwave plates as work surfaces.

    As I try some of Cindy’s new tutes, I find myself wishing for a surface that would not stick as much, and allow you to move thinner pieces (like thin booked mirror slices ala the Natasha bead tute) without the distortion you can accidentally inflict if you forget to loosen the piece from the glass surface after using a roller, or run into a problem doing so….

    So grateful for a site that makes you think about changing techniques then provides product alternatives to send you on a new direction.

  14. Hi Cindy (and Doug). I was thinking of buying the Ranger craft mat. Now I was just wondering how you solved the problem with it not staying in place. Does it really work with scotch tape? I’m a little sceptical to it not being enough to hold it in place and I think? I could be a bit rough when I condition my kato (I’m beginning to think it’s time for me to change clays). Anyway, now I have a piece of glass with a anti-glider under (you know the kind you place under a carpet (or mat) to keep it in place.

    I was also wondering since the Ranger mat is so smooth if you think that? wouldn’t be such a good idea because you would feel it through the mat.

    many thanks
    Cecilia

    • Hi Cecilia! If you have a smooth glass surface that works for you, that should be just fine for rolling your Kato Clay on, since it will handle the heavy rolling better. If you still want a mat, you can tape it down with masking tape or scotch tape if you want. That would work too. Hopefully I was understanding your question well enough. Let us know if you need anymore help!

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