Your Favorite Bead or Polymer Clay Tools and Why You Love Them

Pasta Machine Settings Knob

An Informal Survey that Can Benefit Everyone Who Participates:

If you look over to the left column of this page and then move your eyes down a bit, you’ll see a Reader Survey box. The total votes for that survey has now past the 1000 mark. [By the way, please do me a favor and cast your vote down there if you have not already done so.]

I pointed that survey out because it’s a good lead in to another question that I would like to ask of you today. This will be more of an informal survey where you can respond in the comments section at the end of the article. And the questions is…

What is Your Favorite Polymer Clay Tool and Why?

An exciting development here at this blog, is the interaction and knowledge sharing that is happening between the more experienced clayers (35% of you according to the Reader Survey over there in the left side bar), and those of you who are newer to polymer clay.

Some examples of these wonderful interactions are referenced here: Learning Polymer Clay Techniques in a Supportive Blog Community

Whether you are just starting out or are a bit more seasoned, you probably love your polymer clay tools and are always looking for reasons to get more of them.

What if we could all draw upon the collective knowledge of this growing creative community, and share some wonderful insights into what polymer clay tools are the best to have in our tool boxes?

So… in the comments section at the end of this article, please share:

  • What your favorite polymer clay tool is
  • Why you love it, and
  • Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced clayer

Interesting Observations About the Reader
Survey Results Over in the Left Side Bar:

  • With almost 1000 unique visitors coming to this site daily, it has taken a few months to get the voter count up to the 1000 milestone. That indicates that only a very small proportion of visitors actually take the time to vote :-(
  • However, as compared to other polymer clay survey’s I’ve seen posted on other sites, getting over 1000 people to vote appears to be quite the accomplishment. So thank you very much to all of you that have participated so far! You rock! :-)
  • The ratio in each of the 3 voting categories has been remarkably consistant. Never straying more than 1 – 2 points from the respective percentage tallies. Very interesting!
  • I actually expected the proportion of more experienced clayers to eventually taper off a bit. But that has not been the case. Also very interesting… and appreciated!

But Anyways… time to hear your thoughts about polymer clay tools. In the comments section below, please share:

  • What your favorite polymer clay tool is
  • Why you love it, and
  • Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced clayer

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Anna Sabina, 07 May, 2009

    Makin’s Professional Clay Extruder because of all the different discs you can use and you never quite know what is the result will be when putting different colors into the barrel. I also use the end as a circle cutter.

  2. Klaykisses, 07 May, 2009

    I would have to say it would be my rubber Speedball roller. It is small and just the right size for any item that needs “a smoothing” and is washable. It smooths out all fingerprints and wrinkles. Even on small items. It also works great for coloring finished products with ink pads. I just roll the rubber roller over the ink pad and when I have a raised finish on the clay, I roll it over that and let it dry. Fast and easy!

    I am an “intermediate” clayer but still have a lot to learn. I will soon be advanced once I keep watching your videos and tutes! I learn something new all the time.
    Very interesting facts about the poll Cindy.

  3. Ken H., 07 May, 2009

    I like the bead rollers from Amaco(sp) when I try to do them by hand, even using the same amount of clay they never seem to match each other.

  4. Charles Seyfried, 06 May, 2010

    Just for heads up if you are looking for set 7 or 8 in the bead rollers they have been discontinued. I found set 8 at and set 7 at I found out after shady clays told me to call Amaco direct.

  5. Phaedrakat, 06 May, 2010

    @Charles Seyfried: Thanks, Charles. I definitely want to get my hands on set 8 before they’re gone. Although I like to hand roll my beads, I also like the idea of making uniform small beads for certain purposes. Like the graduated beads Ken made for his necklace. It’s a really nice look, so I’d like to own the tool that would make it easier to do. Now I just have to get on the ball and order one before they’re all sold-out!

  6. Louise, 07 May, 2009

    My favorite tool and that does not include pasta machine or roller and blade( for me that is a given) is a knitting needle or when tiny a sewing needle. I make a handle. I use it for texturing, placing parts on the clay, smoothing, sculpting, etc.

  7. Carol Ann, 07 May, 2009

    By far is my mini Cuisinart food processor. It saves so much time in mixing colors & conditioning. I got mine at Kohl’s when they were having one of their crazy sales & ended up paying I think $19 for it. Plus, it’s so darn cute!

  8. Maureen, 07 May, 2009

    I would have to say my pasta maker, because beside the roller and cutters I really don’t know how to use many of the other tools. I have the Makins Professional Clay tool Kit and have no idea what most of the tools are used for! And they don’t give directions with the set. Maybe you could do a post on it Cindy? I guess I am a beginner since I don’t know much except to mix colors and make beads.

  9. Natalie, 06 March, 2011


    I am thinking of buying the Makin Professional Ultimate Extruder and it comes with the CLay Tool Kit .Do you get much use out of the Clay tool kit..I know you said there are no directions..but does Makin supply any support for its use.

  10. Cindy Lietz, 07 March, 2011

    @Natalie: Although I don’t have the set you speak of Natalie, you never can have too many clay tools in my opinion. Especially if they are thrown in for free! As far as customer support from Makin’s, if you contact them, be sure to let everyone know, here at the blog, what you find out.

  11. Joyce, 07 May, 2009

    Without the food processor my time for clay would be very limited as Arthritis visits often and without the pasta machine there would be no level pieces of clay to cut from so being very new to polymer clay these items are really necessary. I think I’ll really enjoy my next purchase which will be the Makins Professional Clay Extruder and that may become a favorite. Love this new hobby and your lessons and videos Cindy.

  12. Gayle Thompson, 08 May, 2009

    I don’t know if this is considered a tool, but my favorite ‘tool’ is the thin plastic sheets by Papercon. I believe they are made for cake and candy making but they are great to use with clay. You can wrap your clay in it because it doesn’t leach, you can use it to separate sheets of conditioned clay on your work surface, you can place it over your clay and rub with your fingers to remove finger prints, and best of all, you can put it on your clay and then cut with a cutter and it automatically bevels the edges! I’m not sure where you can find them commercially. I got mine from Marla Frankenberg.

  13. Deborah, 08 May, 2009

    hmmm my favorite too…wow…um, ok gotta choose one…again like some others have said my pasta machine, and acrylic roller are givens. So I guess my favotire tool these days is my double ended ball-stylus. I have several sizes, but my favorite is one from Fiskars that came with my paper embossing kit. it works great for blending 2 colors together and it’s good for texturing too

  14. Anna Sabina, 08 May, 2009

    What I love about this blog is how we can learn from each other. I absolutely agree about the Pasta machines..that is an absolute nessitiy.

    When going to a workshop or clay group I use a long plastic toothbrush travel container to transport my tissue blades in. Got it in the pharmacy section at Walmart for $1.00.

    KlayKisses-What is a rubber Speedball roller. Sounds like a good tool.
    Ken- I have 1 Almaco bead roller an have yet figured out what I am doing wrong. The picture on it shows one round bead and one long bead with two round blobs on the ends. I can’t get any plain round ones to turn out-they all seem to want to have those blobs.

  15. Klaykisses, 08 May, 2009

    Anna, if you can send me your email, I can send you a picture of it. It is actually used for scrapbooking and rubber stamping. By the way, anyone interested in my rubber stamp collection, let me know. I have no time for stamping when there are so many things to clay thanks to Cindy. My brain is smoking with ideas! I know you can use them with clay but I don’t use that many. I have my favorites!

  16. Ken H., 08 May, 2009

    Anna, that is the two styles of bead that particular bead maker makes, there are many many different models in this line, I have several, the one I use most is one where you can get either a round, bi-cone or oblong/oval I “think” it was the first one the company made, there is also a model that makes 5 different round beads from I believe 4mm to 8mm. Check on the website and look for Bead rollers you’ll be shocked at how many there are. I love them. I can’t get the 5 different rounds from either AC Moore or Michaels though, hoping they’ll carry the entire line someday.

  17. Ken H., 08 May, 2009

    Check out Cindy’s December 4, 2008 posting. I thought I saw it one the site.

  18. Jamie, 08 May, 2009

    Hi Cindy. Congrats on hitting the 1k mark for your survey. That is quite an accomplishment for any blog. But no surprise to me. And you have so much good and useful information available here, that it doesnt surprise me with the number of experienced clayers coming here either. I have been claying for 20+ years now and I am always finding new ideas and tips on your blog. Not to mention the lady that runs it is a real sweet gal. XO.

    Now, for my favorite tool? Hmmmm…well I have most of the tools mentioned, plus a bunch I have made or re-purposed from other crafts. But my all time favorite tools are my own two hands. A good set of eyes and a somewhat creative brain are helpful too. But no matter what I make, I always start with my hands and finish with them. So I guess that makes them my favorites. XOXO Jamie

  19. Carolyn Good, 08 May, 2009

    Thought I would join in here — great discussion by the way. My favorite tool should be the pasta machine but seems like I’m always fixing it! lol — I’m still waiting for the ultimate machine that can take all the clay I want to feed it. So my other favorite tool is the Makins Clay Extruder. There are so many techniques you can use it for and I find I use it a lot.

    By the way — that’s great about the survey. I never took it as I don’t fit into any of those categories since I’ve been claying for several years now and do it almost full time. I enjoy your blog though and is nice to see a great place where people can come together and learn new techniques and share. Keep up the good work!

  20. Sue, 09 May, 2009

    I’m an intermediate clayer… and I like power tools. (That sounds like an AA introduction, doesn’t it? :D)

    My top three favourites are all power tools and it’s very difficult to pick just one, but I think the winner there would be my Dremel. Or Dremels, since I have two of them: a cordless 800 which has by far the best ergonomics but not quite enough battery life for everthing, and a corded 300 with flexshaft, drillpress/workstation, etc. Extremely versatile and handy for plenty of things other than polymer clay too, where they’re absolutely indispensible for buffing and drilling. I also use them for sanding, carving, shaping and cutting.

  21. Jamie, 09 May, 2009

    I agree with Sue on the dremel tools. I dont have a cordless one. But I do have the corded rotary unit with drill press/workstation/router etc. And I also have a flex shaft which works off the scroll saw unit I use. Other than my hands, or along with them I should say, I probably use these the most of all my tools. Because I also do small woodworking and other crafts where they are indespensible. The drill press stand is what I use to buff and polish most of my beads. I just lock it in place and then I can use both hands to hold the bead and buff it. I use the flex shaft for carving beads and for finer engraving work where the rotary unit is too bulky for my hand to move freely. XOXO Jamie

  22. Cindy Lietz, 09 May, 2009

    Wow!! What great contributions from everyone! Thanks so much!

    @Anna: In response to your second comment, love the toothbrush holder for blades idea! Wouldn’t have thought of that. About the bead roller, the only way not get those problems you’re talking about is to measure the clay perfectly. If you go to the April 11, 2008 post there is a preview of the video I did on exactly how to use those rollers.

    @klaykisses: I have one of those rollers for block printing but I hadn’t used it with clay yet because I thought the rubber may react with the clay. Sounds like it doesn’t and that it works well! Will have to give it a try! As far as your rubber stamp collection, don’t be in a rush to get rid of them yet (though I can’t imagine ever wanting to, the more stamps the better). I’ve come up with a extremely cool new technique using clay and rubber stamps that I will be releasing asap, that you may want to keep them for!

    @Ken: That is cool you love the bead rollers so much! Have you tried any of those trough style rollers yet, where you can roll more than one size of bead in the same roller? (They look like half pipes of pvc with the top pipe having a handle.) I haven’t tried one yet but they look like they would be fun to use.

    @Louise: A knitting needle is an excellent tool choice! Very useful. Thanks for the tip!

    @Carol Ann: When my big processor dies and goes to appliance heaven, I will buy a mini one! They take up so little space and you’re right about them being cute!

    @Maureen: My guess is you are talking about that tool set with the rollers and shapers and stuff? I haven’t used that set yet but it would probably come in handy for some of the more sculptural techniques. Keep it around and you may come up with your own ideas for using it. If I get it I will pass on any ideas I have for using it.

    @Joyce: I know what you mean. My hands get pretty sore sometimes and the processor sure makes a difference! BTW you could use it for making the faux pebble beads from vol 012-1. Just throw in all the ‘ingredients’ and pulse. The little bits would be perfect for the faux stones.

    @Gayle: That is a great tip! I take it they are a little thicker than plastic wrap? They sound interesting. Will have to keep an eye out for them!

    @Deborah: I have a couple small ball stylus’ but I’ve wanted some bigger ones for awhile now. I bet they are really handy for making flower petals and such. Thanks for the tip!

    @Jamie: Thanks sweetie! I totally agree… there is no better tools than your hands! (And you’re right about the brain and the eyes being a good help too! ;-))

    @Carolyn: I agree about the extruder being an extremely handy tool! I’m going to be testing a different brand pretty soon here and I’ll let everyone know what I think! As far as not fitting a category in the survey, The third choice, ‘know a thing or two about polymer clay’ is the choice for any intermediate to advanced clayers like you. Sorry if that wasn’t very clear. Hopefully anyone else that misunderstood that category will vote there now. I would like the poll to be accurate.

    @Sue: hehehe… I understand your addiction to power tools! Especially the Dremel! Where would we be without them, I wonder? (Back in the 80’s with crappy looking beads I suppose! :-))

  23. Adrienne lindsey, 09 May, 2009

    I am like so many of the others who have contributed their favs, I just love my dremal, pasta machine and food (clay) processor, each saves time and wrists. It is so hard to just pick one. But if I indeed have to pick something I just can not do without, it would be my hands. :-) (have to agree with Jamie about that one) {{hugs}} Adrienne

  24. Ken H., 09 May, 2009

    No I haven’t, my craft stores don’t carry a very large selection of any bead rollers, every so often they have a new one. I just recently brought Amaco set number 4, an oblong bead and one that looks lie a bi-cone with a groove in the middle. haven’t had time yet to try it as I’m finishing a production of The Marriage of Figaro in Wilmington, Delaware. My summer is clear right now so there should be LOTS of time to play after this evening (5-9-09)

  25. Jocelyn, 09 May, 2009

    Shapers. Allows me to remove my heavy handed prints, and give a level of detail I cannot match with any other tools when working on clay. Sometimes I use just a touch of vaseline on the end…..helps ease it and seems to bake out with no problems.

    Got mine on, but for a link and for a look at an art gallery produced with them, check out

    Donna Kato…..don’t you just love this woman?

  26. iris mishly, 11 May, 2009

    If i could choose one tool (except PM, blades, roller etc) i would say parchment paper, this is so useful when brayering canes and moving things around the table with out the “sticking” clay to the tile.
    and of course – my cookie cutters, i am terrible, i need every one, the simplicity of working with them is amazing especially when you have a big wholesale order!

    thank you cindy! great ideas here :)

  27. Cindy Lietz, 11 May, 2009

    @Adrienne: I know… where would we clayers be without our hands? It sure would be a lot trickier!

    @Ken: Good luck in your play, that is very exciting! Glad to hear their is lots of clay playing in your future! :-)

    @Jocelyn: Yeah Donna is the reason most of us are clayers. Without all the public appearances on HGTV people would probably still be making that hideous stuff we made in the 80’s!

    @Iris: Parchment is extremely handy isn’t it! It is so handy, that I can actually use up a whole Costco box of it! (If you don’t know, Costco is one of our super huge wholesale club store where everything comes in boxes big enough for most people’s lifetimes. :-) I love the cutters too… there are so many uses for them and nothing cuts shapes better!

  28. Laurel, 15 May, 2009

    Not really a tool but oh, oh, oh, I love playing with the Pearl Ex powders. You can do so many things with them and they come in such delicious colors. As for an actual tool, I love my Dremel. I used to try to hand buff my beads and I could never get them real good. Now I have totally buff beads. And very shiny too! :)

  29. Cindy Lietz, 16 May, 2009

    I agree Laurel! Pearl Ex is a wonderful polymer clay ‘tool’!

  30. Charles Seyfried, 03 May, 2010

    I recent visited a polymer clay artist. He had a bead roller that make several different mm size round beads. I have searched the web but can not find one. Do you know where I can find one? Thank you for your time and help. Love your site and I am sure i will be back many times. Just beginning to use polymer clay. CHAZ

  31. Sue F, 03 May, 2010

    @Charles Seyfried: Try here (scroll down a bit for bead rollers for round beads):

  32. Charles Seyfried, 04 May, 2010

    Sue F. Thanks for the tip on the bead rollers. They had just what i wanted and more. Spent way to much since I am just getting started. Thanks again

  33. Ken H, 04 May, 2010

    @Charles Seyfried: Your going to love the bead rollers, I own several sets. Check out the April 12th Spotlight, it’s on my faux jade, the red graduated necklace is made with the bead roller you were asking about. The bracelets were made with the tri-bead roller, I love them and will eventually have the whole set of them. Good luck with the rollers.

  34. Charles Seyfried, 04 May, 2010

    Thank you Ken I will own 6 when they get here from Canada LOL I real real NEW this site how do I get to April 12th Spotlight??

  35. Charles Seyfried, 04 May, 2010

    Found it Ken. Those are really cool pieces.I hope I can do as well when I get started. Thanks again Ken

  36. Ken H, 04 May, 2010

    When you come to Cindy’s site it shows you the listing of the blog posts just scroll down to April 12th or do a search on Faux jade and find the result for april 12

  37. Ken H, 04 May, 2010

    It doesn’t take long to get the hang of using the rollers, I do recomend using either cornstarch or baby powder on your fingers to nudge the beads out of the roller to keep fingerprints off the beads, less work to do in the final finishing stages.

  38. pollyanna, 04 May, 2010

    There are so many ‘tools’ I need to get as I am fairly new to PC. So, that being said….I like my small cookie cutters in different shapes. I made my gd a pair of butterfly earrings with embelishments and she loved them.

  39. Linda K., 04 May, 2010

    I’m fairly new to polymer clay, too…just 6 months. I wouldn’t want to do without my pasta machine and I recently got a crank-handled extruder that I really like.

    But my absolute favorite tool is my convection oven. I had been using a tiny toaster oven that would burn everything that wasn’t totally buried in cornstarch. It was just so small that the elements were too close to my clay pieces.

    I have a counter-top convection oven that I used for years to cook food, but it doesn’t fit in my kitchen now. My husband recently built shelves in the mud room off of my kitchen and I was ready to start using the convection oven there. But I got SO exasperated the last time that toaster oven burned my beautiful beads that I sacrificed my convection oven to my clay addiction. It was the best thing I could have done. I can bake large amounts of clay now, I can see what I’m baking, but best of all, my baked pieces come out the same colors that they were when they went into the oven!

  40. Bonnie Kreger, 04 May, 2010

    I love my Ateco cutters. I got a lot of them from I also bought the new Walnut Hollow clay extruder at Michaels. It has a handle on the crank. I’m going to try it out tonight to see how it works.

    Has anyone heard from Carolyn Feine? I sent her an email and she hasn’t answered me. She hasn’t blogged in two weeks either.

  41. Cindy Lietz, 04 May, 2010

    @Bonnie Kreger: I sent an email to Carolyn’s pastor this afternoon because I’m concerned about her as well. The last time I talked with her was on April 18 and she was having some health issues that her doctor said required special tests. At the time she suggested that “…a prayer or two wouldn’t hurt.” When I hear something I will report back.

  42. Cindy Lietz, 05 May, 2010

    I posted an update about Carolyn-F over in another thread. Click on the link by my name to go there now.

  43. Jocelyn, 05 July, 2010

    Hey all. Love bring up these old conversations, so folks will add new results to them… about it?

  44. Sue F, 06 July, 2010

    @Jocelyn: Good idea! :)

    One tool that I got a few months ago, which I now wish I’d bought a LOT sooner, is a Marxit. I always thought it was no big deal to put a ruler next to my polyclay and cut at the relevant markings. I suppose it’s still not a big deal in the overall scheme of things, but it is soooooo much easier and quicker to just lay the Marxit on the top and press it down lightly to see exactly where to cut. My only gripe is that I want a few intervals that aren’t on the Marxit. I could do my old ruler thing, but I like the Marxit so much I’m going to make myself something similar with the additional intervals.

  45. Phaedrakat, 07 July, 2010

    @Sue F: Reeeaally? That’s funny, I always thought the same thing. I figured the tool might add a little bit of convenience to my projects, but I didn’t think it was really worth the money. I’ve been fine using a ruler, or sometimes a comb.

    I use a metal pet comb with evenly-spaced teeth. I can press it in into a log or cane that I plan to cut. Then I count teeth marks—for example, I might cut at every 3rd mark, or whatever thickness I want.

    But now you’ve got me thinking. I do have other “higher priority” items I need to buy first, but I might go ahead and add a Marxit to the list. Unless the one you make rivals it, of course. (And if you tell us about it!) Then I’ll have to consider making my own, too. Thanks!

  46. Sue F, 07 July, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: Yep, really! :D

    The idea of cutting every x-th mark from a metal comb is a good one.

    Unfortunately I can’t do that — i.e. cut every x-th Marxit mark to make up my missing intervals — because of the marks it would leave in the middle of my beads. With some of my favourite techniques it’s impossible to get those marks out: you can make the surface smooth again, but there’d be a visible disruption left. For example, when layers of clay that were so thin to start with that you can half see through them in spite of them being theoretically opaque get pressed more closely together, smoothing the surface again doesn’t reinstate the original thicknesses of those layers; clay is redistributed more at the surface, so some layers end up thicker at the point of former indentation and some end up thinner. Think of what happens with mica shift to envisage what it looks like, although it’s for a different reason. It’s fine if you’ve done it deliberately, but Not So Good otherwise.

    I don’t know about you, but the more I work with polymer clay and other jewellery-making techniques, and the more tools and supplies I buy, the longer my wish list gets. I cross things off, but it keeps growing! LOL

  47. Phaedrakat, 07 July, 2010

    @Jocelyn: Great idea, Jocelyn! I do try to read the old posts and comment on them. There’s some good information out here, especially for beginners, but not only for them. I’ve found some cool tips in these old posts. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, since I haven’t been posting much these last few days. (And I like to read everything!) But after that, I’ll be happy to help you spread the word on adding new info & good tips & tricks to these older threads.

  48. Jocelyn, 07 July, 2010

    Here’s my two latest treats to reduce having to hand manipulate the clay….first is the coffee grinder or food processor for mixing and softening old hard clays. After a spin, pop the “curded” clay in a plastic bag and let it sit. Coagulate it, pound on it with a flat stick (I find wooden spoons or sticks are great) all over, then put it through a non-straining pasta machine on the thickest setting. Have a pounding board already set up, and old butcher block side table.

    Line up the multiple food processors and coffee grinders on a shelf attached to the grid by using those long multi outlet power strips. Keeps things visable and accessible yet up and off the table and table height.

    By keeping all clay in the right bags it’s easier to heat up (plop on the lowest setting of a heating pad, or in hot water) or cool via ice baths or as Cindy used, a pre-frozen plastic resting surface because more surface area is exposed. Great way to recycle those used bags.

    I also keep transparent, white and black curd clay in jars, and add to my color mixes as needed. Watching those colors evolve is such a trip! The only way we could do this before is by working with hot hot glass.

    Sometimes it makes sense to mix a softener in a transparent sheet first, applying that sheet to the rough clay, then start Cindy’s tear and roll. Very satisfying process as it moves along quickly. Especially love the dollar savings, reconstituting and recycling old clay.

    Second treat due to the lowering of price, is multiple pasta machines. One is white only, one is transparent only, one is red only (a tiny one which works great). Just line them up on one side of a table, and can work along at a pretty good clip, even moving the engine from machine to machine if needed.

  49. Jocelyn, 07 July, 2010

    LOL, I agree Sue. My organizer calls it clutter. Boy, these polymer office cabinets are going to be a food fight with her, but, ultimately I swear I wil have a well organized accessible 24/7/365 work area.

    All of us need measuring tools all the time, especially if we are duplicating for a production run. Suggest folks try to make their own marking tools out of polymer clay. These could be quite the ticket, and cut down on a lot of the fuss and muss with rulers.

    You need to measure circumference, volume and space linearly. My Dad used to call these tools “jigs” out in the shop. I’ll bet you all could come up with some excellent time saving customized tools.

    Need object duplication capabilities, and perhaps weight if you go there. Need something consistent and quick for making colors. The harder clays are extremely durable.

    Also consider making polymer clay jigs to assist in other repetitive tasks….holding beads for drilling, balancing, adding weights to objects, final finishing and shaping beyond molding, are all possibilities. Ancient Native American tribes used smooth stones to finish pottery to a high gloss, and the same is remarkably possible with rubbing or shaping tools used on polymer clay.

  50. Sue F, 07 July, 2010

    @Jocelyn: So true.

    I started with my entire polymer clay kit, including all my clay, stored in a single cardboard box. I’d pull it out, set up in my kitchen (good lighting, lots of bench space), clay a bit, then pack it up.

    After a while I left it set up.

    “Somehow” it all mysteriously expanded, and before I knew it half my kitchen was taken over and I had tools and various jewellery-making supplies tucked away in three different rooms, with my art supplies in a fourth. At that stage — and after some very strange looks and rather entertaining comments about the drill press sitting in the middle of my kitchen — I decided to set up a proper studio. And a proper categorised and searchable database of supplies with pictures, reference pricing and so on. The studio is mostly set up and very workable as it is; the database is getting there (some scary numbers in there, let me tell you! LOL).

    Speaking of measuring tools, I made myself some simple gauges for log diameter and circumference, for when I want to wrap a patterned sheet of clay around a log core and have the edges of the sheet butt up against each other perfectly on the first attempt. These are just cured sample logs whose lengths correspond to their circumferences: find the sample log that matches your working log, then use the sample log’s length to cut your wrapping sheet; or, find the sample log’s length that matches the size of your wrapping sheet, then roll your core log to the same diameter as the sample log.

    A centre-finding ruler is also pretty handy. I don’t do a lot of canework, but I use it almost every time I do.

    I agree about the multiple pasta machines, although I only have two. The problem for me is clamping them down, since I like really firm clay and the single dinky little clamp that comes with each pasta machine just doesn’t do the job. I use three, 3-inch C clamps from the hardware store per pasta machine, and they need to sit on a corner to be clamped that way. (That stops them from bucking around or pulling off my workbench entirely, but I still find the 55kg+ workbench that the pasta machines are on moves around a bit when I use them a lot. So I’m going to attach that workbench to the 80kg+ workbench behind it, and hopefully everything will finally stay in place!

  51. Natalie, 06 March, 2011

    @Sue F:
    I like your idea about making gauge log rolls to use to measure the sheets of clay needed to wrap around a new cane..that takes the trial and error out of the processes.

  52. Phaedrakat, 07 July, 2010

    Oh, why did I read this post? My wish list is longer, and I have “tools” I need to make (love the log diameter & circumference tools!) Not only that, I apparently have even more organizing to do than I thought. —and I have my stuff in boxes at the moment!

    I also have two pasta machines. I use extra C-clamps, as well. I have a new table that I haven’t used for clay yet, so I’m not sure how everything’s going to work yet. I bought some extra clamps just in case. The inexpensive pasta machines are totally worth it if you’ve got room for them. I’ll see if I do when my set up’s complete. But Jocelyn, you’ve really got a lot!

    Thanks for the tips, ladies. I’ll get to these new “must haves” when I can, I suppose. Still trying to get my neck pain to a tolerable level, and then I’ll tackle my new set up. Can’t wait to clay “properly” this time, with an organized studio where there’s a place for everything, and blah, blah…. (Unfortunately, once you find a place for your stuff, you get new stuff, and that needs a space too! I need to make sure my organization leaves “room to grow.”)

    As for measuring with my comb, I’ve also used cheap plastic ones where I bent & cut off the in-between teeth. These tend to be disposable after a few uses, unless I do a really nice job and want to clean them good enough so the clay doesn’t eat into the plastic. I guess if you found some cheap metal ones, you could create a cool tool. Or you could impress the “cut-off metal teeth” sideways into a log at perfect intervals to make a marxit of your own. I guess little bits of metal, like duct flashing cut small, would work the same way. There are lots of ways to do it. I hope you’ll share what you come up with, Sue!

    Thanks again, ladies. For real! This is some cool info here…

  53. Jocelyn, 09 July, 2010

    Let me tell you, the best investment you will ever make is good clamps. I clamp down everything, pasta machines, work boards, Dremel attachments, and occasionally and unintentionally, myself.

  54. Phaedrakat, 11 July, 2010

    @Jocelyn: I didn’t know you were into that! I thought you disliked your pain…?? ;D

    Yeah, clamping’s awesome, and cheap. The hardware store has clamps that aren’t as expensive as I thought they’d be. And they have several types. Just a good strong C-clamp is good for me I use 2 for each machine, but I bought extras to have on hand in case I ever get some Kato clay to deal with…

  55. Marion R, 08 March, 2011

    A bit late responding to your invitation for ‘favorite tool’, I’m only just learning my way around your blog. But I simply had to respond – without any doubt my fave tool is my computer, to begin with I wouldn’t have found your site Cindy, which has brought back my interest in polymer clay after some years neglect. I’m loving it all again, in fact I’m getting far more out of it now that I can check on your videos each Friday – which has now become my favorite day of the week! And so many great suggestions and tips from members about the best way of doing stuff. I’ve come to the conclusion that clayers are all such nice people, all so willing to help and share their knowledge. What other field of activity can make that boast?!

  56. Debi S, 08 March, 2011

    My favorite tool out of all of them has to be my clay extruders. I have the one from Walnut hollow and I have the Makins clay extruder. My fav is Walnut hollow, because I noticed that the Makins brand has a small tiny disk covering the push bar and it kept coming loose until one day I noticed I couldn’t get a log of clay into it and I kept measuring and measuring and got really upset! I was about 2 inches too much…yet it lined up just right! My husband grabs it and looks at it…takes it apart and in the barrel behind the push plug….was a glob of muddy clay! It was oozing past the “o” ring because that little metal disk came off! It was covering a teeny tiny screw that was also kinda mutilated!

    I didn’t see anything on all of the posts here about .. so I thought I would leave a link. So far I don’t think there is anything I needed clay related that they don’t carry. And if you call “Rob” he will get it if he can. Awesome people to do business with. Shipping and handling is very reasonable as well.

  57. Phaedrakat, 02 April, 2011

    @Debi S: Hi Debi, glad your hubby found the muddy clay glob. I’m pretty independent, but I miss my ex’s super-troubleshooting skills! Anyway, I just wanted to agree with you about Polymer Clay Express. I’ve ordered from them a few times, and it’s always been a positive experience, with low S&H. Others members (even international) have left similar comments, so I think it’s safe to say this site is truly a good choice when ordering online! Thanks for the tip about “Rob” — good to know if we come across something they do not carry (might be difficult, though, as they really DO have lots of clay goodies!)

  58. Elaine Faulks, 26 July, 2011

    Just been reading all the comments about fav tools and since I signed up with Cindy a few months ago I’ve been adding to my collection.(No more new shoes for a while, boo hoo)

    Pasta machine (brilliant) Flexi shaft (wow my beads now shine like they should). Wallnut Hollow clay extruder, this is soooo good, (I destroyed my Makins but keep it as a spare and have adapted it to work) Had crossed threaded it but turned the barrel the other way round so it still works (kinda)
    Clay shapers (had these as used to do ceramic beads). Cookie cutters, again have stolen them from my sugar-craft days. Stamping tools, have a great set of BossButtons from New Zealand, used to do leather work and these are great for Polymer clay, leather, pottery etc. But strange to say my fav tools are found in nature.
    Shells, leaves, stones, sea urchins, seed pods, nuts, fan coral, fossils, bone, wood and pearls, semi-precious stones and chrystals, oh! and I nearly forgot, feathers!!!!!
    But I think my greatest “tool” is my subscription to this unique site. The videos are the greatest (even I can understand “how to”,) and if I get it wrong I can go to my library and pull out the one I am having trouble doing and start again “even at 3am when I cannot sleep)

    The BLOG (can somebody tell me what these letter stand for?)I “waste” hours reading all the tips and tricks from members old and new.Going back to when Cindy started.

    The UK members are really helpful in knowing where to buy and it is great to read comments from members from all over the world. I’m sure Cindy wouldn’t be surprised to get a membership request from an Alien from outer space. (That would be cool!!)
    Man from Mars or woman from Venus?? Not sure if they could get the supplies though??
    Not claying tonight as hit my finger hammering a copper bookmark and have now got a huge blood- blister,(It hurts) but have four great new bookmarks. Loved this tute Cindy. Would be great to have more male orinentated (is that spelt correct?)items, just glad you embrace copper wire (very macho)
    My leather-work always is snapped up by ladies for their “men” and now I can add chunky polymer clay (beads) to enhance the leather-wear.

    Here in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex we are an “Arty community,” many festivals including the “Art Trail” where artists display their work in the various local shops and you can wander and pop in to see without being hasseled to buy.

    The old town has some amazing shops and on the beach is where the cockle sheds are. The cockles are collected, cooked and sold from the sheds as well as being loaded and sold in London and other places. Just thought you would like to know a few facts about my home town!!! Well back to Cindy, just want to say, what a brilliant idea to set up this site.I’ve still got a lot to learn, including using my lap-top, camera etc. but know I will get there one day!!So in the meantime will get back to “sorting my stuff and getting organised. Looking forward to CF (Cindy Fridays) xx

  59. Marion, 27 July, 2011

    @Elaine Faulks: Hi Elaine – found this explanation of ‘blog’ at

    Basically, the website tells us, ‘blog’ is an abbreviation of ‘weblog’ which is a journal or diary on the internet. I didn’t know what it stood for either, so I’ve learnt something, thanks Elaine!

    I also love your term ‘CF’, I think we should adopt this! Sadly there won’t be a ‘CF’ on Friday (29th of July) as there are 5 Fridays this month. How are we supposed to last a full two weeks without our ‘CF’ ? I always get withdrawal symptoms…!

  60. Phaedrakat, 27 July, 2011

    @Elaine Faulks: Hi Elaine, I enjoyed hearing about your hometown, tools, etc. I had to smile when you mentioned the hours spent reading articles & comments here at the blog (and thanks to Marion, everyone knows what BLOG means, LOL!) ;-) I did the same thing when I joined — read as much as possible…couldn’t get enough of this unique, wonderful, friendly & informative site. I agree that Cindy’s idea to set it up was brilliant, and I’m oh-so-happy she did! Her videos, as well as all the articles & information in the comment threads can keep any polymer clay fan interested & busy for a LONG time… Have fun, Kat

  61. Natalie H, 18 September, 2011

    My new favorite tool is the Makin Hallow Extruder. The handle for turning is much easier than the other extruders around and has 20 discs just like the Wallnut one. The cans that come out of it are great. I use the end of the barrel to make discs of different colors for the aurora beads or any other cane color combo.

  62. Dawn Hutto Butts, 09 June, 2012

    My pasta machine. I have so many that I reach for, but this does the most work, besides my hands (which are most important).

  63. Christl Pelikan, 12 April, 2013

    Just now came across this old blog, great comments, but itching to say: My favorite “tools” are “Cindy and Doug”!!!
    Well, that sounds really funny, but you know what I mean ………

  64. Cindy Lietz, 16 April, 2013

    :) That is a cute thing to say Christl! It is very nice to hear from you. It has been awhile! Thanks for your comment. It is great to see that you are reading through some of the older posts on this blog. There is a treasure trove of information buried within these pages. When someone comments in an old thread like you have, it brings it back to life! Which is great for all of those who may have missed it the first time.

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