Irene's Hints and Tips for Beading and Polymer Clay

There are many resources on the web that go into details on these subjects; these are just a few highlights from my experience.

Jewelry Tools

Must Haves

  • Two pair small flatblade chain nose (or flat nose) pliers Make sure insides are smooth so they don't scratch the jewelry. I use two pairs to open and close jump rings.
  • Small good quality diagonal cutter or nippers or both.
  • Small round nose pliers
  • Crimper (with "c" crimp and round crimp) (A microcrimper is nice too sometimes)
  • Small lead clips from Radio Shack (to clip on ends of wire or string so you don't lose beads.)
  • A good light, preferably with a daylight bulb.

Also good tools to have

  • Magnifing visor and/or magnifying light
  • small clear ruler (with inches and mm) or caliper
  • Bead reamer
  • Tweezers (for picking up beads and for knotting)
  • spoon (if you work with seed beads) to scoop them or transfer them and possibly a triangular bead scoop.
  • sand paper (to smooth off rough findings)
  • split ring plier (only if you work with split rings, I hardly ever use it)

Bead & Finding Choices

Jewelry Techniques & Design Considerations

Polymer Clay Choices & Tools

All clay items must be used for clay only, not for food.

  • Use Premo. Easier to work with than Fimo. Cures more durable than Sculpey III and most importantly is firm enough to build canes with. (Some real pros use Fimo - it's not worth it to me.)
  • Manual pasta machine - I cannot emphasize how much easier it is with this. You use it to
    • condition clay
    • make even layers
    • mix colors
  • Tissue blade (long thin single edge razor blade)
  • Large needles/skewers for making holes in beads
  • Baking sheet
  • Plastic smooth work surface

Also good to have

  • Assortment of small cookie cutters
  • Small Molds (You can make your own out of clay too) & use cornstarch or WD-40 for mold release agent
  • Small clay press (extruder) like a really little cookie press.
  • Impression stamps (like for sealing wax)
  • Things to make texture on the clay
  • Acrylic roller
  • Metalic powders
  • Foils
  • Glitters
  • Sculpey finish/sealent
  • Sculpey dilutant
  • Liquid Sculpey
  • Sandpaper in fine grades (You can wet sand baked items for smoother appearance if there is no external texture or finishes like metalic powder or foil.)

Polymer Clay Hints

  • Keep weight and durability in mind when making pieces. For example earring parts shouldn't be very heavy. Yet pieces need to be thick enough they don't easily break.
  • Keep back view in mind. Doesn't matter for pins but does for pendants, earring components.
  • Let the clay rest when making canes before reducing. Rest again before slicing. There is less distortion.
  • Let clay rest before putting holes in. There is also less distortion. Make sure your holes are smooth and large enough for your intended purpose.

Favorite Polymer Clay & Jewelry Books

  • Benson, Ann - Beadwork Basics
  • Benson, Ann - Beading for the First Time
  • Benson, Ann - Beadweaving
  • Kenzle, Linda Fry - The Irresistible Bead
  • Starr, Sadie - Beading with Seed Beads, Gem Stones & Cabochons
  • Heaser, Sue - Making Polymer Clay Jewelry
  • Heaser, Sue - The Polymer Clay Technique Book
  • Kato, Donna - The Art of Polymer Clay
  • Roche, Nan - The New Clay

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