I saw a TV program on the History Channel where the editors of "Popular Mechanics" came up with their choice of the “101Gadgets that changed the world”. I thought it would be fun to come up a list of my favorite 25 polymer clay studio tools, gadgets and glues that changed MY world. I discussed it with my husband, trying to figure out what I would include on the list. He happened to be holding his camera at the time and he told me to hold up my hands. HUH? Click, click...........and he then proceeded to photograph my 10 fingers and told me, "Now you've got your first 10 items on the list done!" Moving on........
I plan to divide this into two separate blog posts over the next few weeks........................and here's the countdown starting at #25
|Ball bearing tools|
#25 I made one of my favorite tools from ball bearings purchased at our local hardware store and glued with epoxy to the ends of a pieces of dried bamboo-like plant material that was growing locally. I have a variety of sizes and use them for sculpting, softening angular lines and making eye sockets in my cat jewelry.
#24 I use two part epoxy to glue my silky cords into cord-ending findings and also to adhere anything metal (like bails, wire hangers and pinbacks) to polyclay. So far I have never found it to fail, except on Kato clay (which may need the surface roughed up a little and/or a brief alcohol wash with a cotton-tipped swab). I use the "Epoxy 220" because it’s ultimately stronger than its counterpart, "Epoxy 320", even though it takes longer to dry to full strength. It needs 24 hours to be fully cured. I found these directions and hints for mixing/using the two part epoxy very helpful. (located near the bottom of the www.satincord.com home page)
|Crafter's Pick "The Ultimate" glue|
I live in a dry climate and have finally figured out a way to prevent the glue in the bottle from drying out so quickly and to also make working with it more manageable. I never use the applicator part of the glue bottle, but unscrew and screw the entire applicator top instead. I keep a wooden skewer inside a weighted empty plastic bottle and use the skewer to take out more manageable glob of glue on the skewer tip to work with. If I need to use a lot of glue I use the skewer as an applicator. If I’m gluing tiny areas I usually apply the glue with a toothpick, taking off tiny bits of glue from the glob on the skewer as I work. This way I have to open the bottle much less often. The nice thing about using the wooden skewer is that I can use my utility scissors to cut off the gunked up end many times before it needs to be discarded and replaced.
|Ott Lite CFL full spectrum replacement lights bulbs in ceiling fan|
#20 Deli Patty Paper sheets (greaseproof, waterproof and non-absorbent) easily provide a non-stick, non-leaching surface to any polyclay work area. I tape them around tiles or self healing mats for a strong and non-stick work surface. I like to use them so the pieces I'm working on won't get stuck to the tiles on my work surface. I used to use plain paper, but it leached the clay if the polyclay pieces sat on the paper too long. I also sometimes use deli sheets over trays of work waiting to be finished to protect the pieces from dust and also sometimes use them to help smooth polyclay surfaces as I work. While I currently use "Quicksheets" that I purchased several years ago from Polymer Clay Express, they are now stocking Papercon CP-8 (and scroll down) instead and I have heard good things about the brand.
|Amazing mold Putty|
#18 ArmorAll spray protectant is intended to be used to lubricate and protect rubber, plastic and vinyl and is primarily used on the interior of autos. This product is also very effective as a mold release when a very small amount is applied to a mold with a cotton tipped swab. Polyclay mold-pulls just slide out.
#17 Colour Shapers are rubber clay shaping tools from "Royal Sovereign, Ltd. They are usually available in sets of 5, but I only ever use the flat chisel and the taper point. While they do come in FIRM, I prefer the kind labeled SOFT because they leave less marks behind in the clay and in the smaller 1/8" wide mini size #0's because much of my work is detailed. I find they are invaluable for shaping and smoothing clay.
#16 Olive Oil (I use extra virgin organic) in a dropper bottle. A TINY VERY SMALL bit rubbed into a finger tip and then almost all blotted off with a tissue is all you need. It helps lubricate the finger for more effective finger tip smoothing of a polyclay surface. I also apply some olive oil to my hands before I start working in my studio. It helps keep the hands soft, isn’t expensive……..and I love the faint aroma associated with PIZZA that it imparts!
|Self Healing Cutting Mats|
#15 Self-healing craft or rotary cutting mats provide a flat cutting while protecting the sharpness of a the cutter. The Fiskars brand comes in several sizes and they are usually available in craft, quilt or sewing stores. I have a large 18" X 24" one that is on the center of my work table. I also use two smaller 9"X 6" ones that I use I use when I cut out clay pieces or use Kemper cutters. I wrap in a sheet of deli wrap around the small mat and anchor it with drafting tape.
|Ceramic or terracotta tiles on curing tray covered with plain paper for curing|
|Cocktail straw hole punch|
EDITED:After I published this blog post I read a clever blog post about using a coffee stirrer (shaped much like a cocktail straw) to punch out the holes and a skewer to push out the extra clay pieces by BJ of Knightwork Studio. So, now I'm using a very thin knitting needle to push out the pieces of clay from the cocktail straw. Thanks BJ!
I'm going to leave you hanging at #13. For the remainder of the list please check out the oh so creatively titled, Part 2 My 25 Favorite Polymer Clay Studio Tools, Gadgets and Glues .
You also might enjoy reading my tute:Varnishing Polymer Clay with Rustoleum Varathane ©
If you'd like to see the finished pieces that were made using the tools listed above, I invite you to visit my shops MelodyODesigns at ArtFire and MelodyODesigns at Etsy