Getting Started with Polymer Clay, Sculpting Tools & Equipment | Beginner Tutorial | Clay Disarray | Skillshare

Getting Started with Polymer Clay, Sculpting Tools & Equipment | Beginner Tutorial

Clay Disarray, Artist & illustrator

Getting Started with Polymer Clay, Sculpting Tools & Equipment | Beginner Tutorial

Clay Disarray, Artist & illustrator

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9 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class outline

    • 3. Sculpting tools

    • 4. Equipment

    • 5. Armatures

    • 6. Baking

    • 7. Polymer clay brands

    • 8. Getting started

    • 9. Class overview

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About This Class

If you're interested in polymer clay or sculpture in general but aren't sure where to start, this is the class for you!

Join me as I explain what sculpting tools and equipment I use in my studio. From sculpting tools to pasta machines, it's all here. I'll also talk you through which materials to use for armatures, along with some polymer clay and baking tips.

I'll also assign a project for you to experiment with mark making and basic sculpture. If you haven't any polymer clay or sculpting tools at the moment, don't worry as I'm sure you might have items around the home that you can use in the meantime.

Meet Your Teacher

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Clay Disarray

Artist & illustrator


Lizzie Campbell, who uses the pseudonym Clay Disarray, is a professional clay artist and illustrator based in the UK. She studied at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design where she graduated with a degree in illustration. Although Lizzie has been drawing for almost all of her life, she discovered polymer clay in 2012 and has since used the material for all of her creative work. 


 John Lennon 'Imagine' sleeve for Secret 7" 


Specialising in character design, her work explores the area between sculpture and image-making, often with a pinch of humour thrown in for good measure. Lizzie has worked on a number of projects including editorial illustration, advertisi... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello there. My name's Lizzie on Dime. A polymer clay artist and illustrator, I studied at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design here in the UK, where I graduated with a degree in illustration. I think that was in 2013 on it was during my studies that I discovered my love of play on its potential was created medium. And although it was kind of a drying clay that I used to work with in the early nineties, it was probably a few years later that I discovered polymer Clay and I've been working pretty much every day on my craft since. Man. I specialize mainly in character design, so I'm always working on models of little people. But I enjoy experimenting with Clay in a number of ways, so I really enjoy working on polymer paintings on mixing play together with illustration. I've been lucky enough to work on a number of really exciting briefs through the years, so I've worked on some editorial illustrations and had some appetizing projects, too. But when I've not got any commissions on, you could pretty much guarantee that I'm always working on a personal project. All Teoh 2. Class outline: It can be a bit of a minefield trying to start something new, and I know that I found it quite difficult in the early days of polymer clay, knowing what tools to use on equipment have. So in today's class, we're going to be looking at how to get started with polymer clay. So it's real beginner level today. Don't worry. I know how daunting it is to get started. We're going to be looking at some mark making, perhaps with some spare que you've got around. If you haven't got any polymer clay, some plus the scene will do on to look at some Keitel's that I have and will look at some bits and bobs around the home. Actually, if you're not quite ready or don't feel that, it's the time t by in some Plato. So it's just about getting started today, so let's crack ob 3. Sculpting tools: so his mind everyday box of polymer clay tools and I'll just go three. What's in here very quickly. First up, there's my accredit roller, and I think that was made by female Andi. That's pretty much an essential tool. It's obviously just rolling out. Okay, on next up on my Bortles. Andi, I believe these air by Skull P, and they come in a set of three Aunt the's a really useful for creating eye sockets and for creating texture, too. Next up are another set from school P and I used my needle tool pretty much all the time. It's definitely my number one go to tool, but your favorite all might be completely different to mine. It's really dependent on what you're aiming to do with your project work. So there's a little plastic knife as well, and I have no idea what this tool is. Actually, I don't think I've ever used it, So if you find out what it's good for, let me know. On the's blade cutting tools come in a set of three and thereby stately FEMA, but they're really useful, this one in particular. Actually, you can cut out shapes from sheets of play and it bends as well, which is really useful. So enables you to to create different shapes. And it also comes with, like, away be version. So I don't know if you wanted to create a wavy effects or something like a postage stamp, who knows? But it might be good for that one. Next up on my scalp falls on their really important as you can see by how dirty they are. I used them all the time. You can also buy some kind of cheaper alternatives online. I found these think from eBay on their their cake decorating tools, actually, so they lend themselves pretty well to polymer clay. I don't know that I've used these very often. I tend to keep them for workshops, but again, there really useful. You can create all kind of different mark making techniques from those. So it might be worth the next time that you were in a home worst or just to grab a few kind of cheap heightens and see how you get on with them again from homeware stores. You can get all sorts of things, really, That sounds just some cookie cutters here that our star shapes, but you can get hearts. All sorts of shapes, really so depends again what you want to do with your polymer clay project work. You can also get hold of play. Extremes is, I believe, that calls on DSM, their designs. Fugitive pop clay in there and speed eater that what? They've only gotten attachment on the top, actually, so it will push the clay through askew push from the bottom into really thin kind of strands. But to be honest, I've never found these particularly useful. This one in particular is is really tough on the hands. So I just wanted to really draw attention to them if that was something that you wanted to to look at yourself later in your project work. But I prefer just to kind of 100 role strains of play and for some tools you might have around the home thes bamboo sticks? A really good Actually, they allow you to kind of draw into the play like a pencil. If you wanted to do that great. A bit of texture. Bit of mark. Making on a good old toothbrush is a really useful, too, so don't throw them away. Once they used their just really good for creating a bit of texture. If you wanted to go for something other than a really for smooth surface. So yet there really goods and also cocktail sticks so good they work in a similar way to the bamboo stick. So I don't think I've got any most studio today. But I'm sure you know what they looked like. And last day you can get hold of thes many cookie cutters as well. I think I got these online. You get tiny ones that come in various shapes as well, so they're really good for little elements that you might want to Monte Baldo making. 4. Equipment: So one of the first pieces of equipment I'm gonna mention is thes skull P glaze here, and I believe it comes in two types. There's gloss and there's Saturn that in all honesty, I don't notice a huge amount of difference between the two. So I just have one on the go any one time. This is the glass version, and I tend to use it. Really, Just two highlights elements on my work. I very rarely will blossom Ah, whole item because I think it could be a bit too much. Really. So I'm just going to use this little cats here I made earlier. I made a long time ago. Actually, I generally go for two coats. It doesn't take very long for it to dry on, and it's just a really nice bit of kit toe having your polymer clay studio. Be careful with the brushes, though, aren't always ensure that you wash them afterwards because it drives pretty solid. On next up is liquid FEMA on. This is really great for baking. Actually, it's probably not very well known to beginners, but you could re bake politically and numerous times, actually, and I find this to be really useful in securing two items together. So I'll no doubt be discussing this more in future classes to come. And I don't know how well you can see this, cause some makes quite old, so it's not very clear labelling anymore. But this is clay softener on this again, it's really useful. It's obviously softens clay or helps to soften Play. A zit gets hard pretty easily, particularly in the winter months, but it's also useful for bringing to West elements together as well. It just enables you to kind of mold them in quite neatly. But again, it's something that will no doubt discuss in future classes. On Next up is an item that I honestly just couldn't be without its a pasta maker on Do you can get various times thes. Some of them are also known as clay conditioning machines. School P do one theme. Oh, do one, Um, but this I've found to be the best. It's Savall, Cotto Atlas machine. And I'll no doubt be mentioning this in in various classes that I'm just gonna give you a heads up of which kind of machine is so I'm just gonna put some play through because it's important for the next thing I'm going to show you. So now I've got nice Shia Parliament play. I'm just gonna demonstrates one of my texture sheets that I have here, and these are made by Skull P, and they're quite useful, actually, the various projects. So I've just sprayed this with some water and I'm just gonna place that just over the top of the play grab my acrylic roller on Just roll. It's on the water helps it come away pretty easily. But you'll just see that that it's it leaves a nice texture when you play. And if you wanted to get all fancy even use, um, Meka powder just very lightly over the top of the clay just gonna cut out. And this is pretty messy. But, you know, it gives you an idea of how first star players and the kind of things that you can do with us on next up. Probably the most important since piece of equipments, Certainly in my studio is good old wet wipes. I go through absolutely loads of these and to be honest, there really important because I think the needle you can get your politically work, the more successful it's going to be. So it always ensure that you have these on standby because you're going to get through a fair few of them earns. The last item for today is your surface. I work with the glass surface that I think I got from a homeware store quite some years ago now, and I wish I got another to keep spare in case this one breaks any points. But you can also work on tiles or anything that has kind of like a shiny surface that will allow the clay to come away pretty easily. So make sure you've got a great surface toe work on. I'd also ensure that it's a surface that you don't share with anything else. So certainly don't have any foodstuff being things like that. It's something that will need to be kept just for polymer clay 5. Armatures: So for model making with polymer clay are much is a really important because it adds extra level of security on where you're placing two items together. It just ensures that there's a really nice sort of tight grip Germany. So, for instance, on this half model that I'm quite in stock for some reason, not sure why didn't finish this one off. But it's got some gauge wire coming out of its trousers as you'll see there, and it's nice and sturdy, so that will allow me to add some extra clay to. That's at some points, and it will feel nice and secure. So it's really important to have wire. And I tend to use anywhere between one gauge and three gauge, depending on the models that I'll always talking through that in in classes as to which is most appropriates. Okay, it is also possible to use cocktail sticks. Actually, if you prefer that tow wire so again it be just the case of popping that into the trousers instead of the wire, so yet just keeps it nice. Insecure oil is also really useful when it comes to model. Making because it acts is a really nice base for smaller models. So if you want to put your sheet of play over the before, like so it creates a really nice base, and it means that you're not wasting all of your polymer clay. And also it allows a really nice even bake throughout the piece as well. So it's really worth having some oil kicking around in your studio, your creative space. 6. Baking: Okay. Now for some quick tips on baking with polymer clay Andi, I strongly recommend that you get hold of a bacon sheets. Just just a cheap one will do and use it just for your polymer clay work and without recommend that you also get some grease proof paper parchment paper in your studio because it's really useful not only for model making, but it will ensure that your models don't stick to your bacon sheet. So it's really useful also with regard to baking, Um, I find books and cups really helpful. So, for instance, what I do with um with this pair of trousers or pair of legs is I didn't sure that the mug here is secure in it. So it's right. It's not gonna fall over, so that will be positions from like, so I'm sure you get the idea there. It's just really that it's not touching the cup directly so it doesn't stick to it. The parchment people will ensure that it comes away easily, and it's also got some parchment paper underneath. If I wants to be baking a full model, demonstrate with this the old lady here, um, I'd again use a similar kind of method. So she's she's not actually on the cup itself, which is being supported by its and for an extra level of security. Sometimes I'll put a little cup just at the front here again, just so that she's been kind of supported. But she's not actually touching too much, so it doesn't cause any indentations. And for taller models, I'd probably use another cup Act of the soul cups and Marks isn't a hung and that words just nestle into the cup there and obviously a user longer sheet of parchment paper so that words come up to the top there. So it fits quite well, actually, so that she's being supported in a number of places because any models will, as your finds if you're interested in model making, have difficulty when they're being baked. If they're not, pets have been supported. In the early days, I didn't know anything about really supporting work, so I used to have disaster after disaster. But yet I soon lands that they just need a bit of support, and afterwards, actually, so after say, this models come out of the open. What I do is just to make sure that she's She's also got some support going on while she's calling so again. It would be a very, very similar process. So should be on surface. That's not the bacon sheets just so she could call down on Bond. Yeah, just very similar kind of stuff, really. And she should call quite nicely and be a nice, strong model. But you know, that's just for model making. If you were making kind of small models again, it's just a the case of popping them on the parchment paper on just baking in a preheated oven on and follow your polymer clays baking guidance, and you should have a really good model then. 7. Polymer clay brands: so time for a quick discussion on polymer clay and specifically polymer clay for beginners . I use female professional clay for most of my project work just because I've become kind of used to it over the last few years. In the early days, I do's chemo soft as it's kind of well known for beginners, so it's very similar to be made professional. But it's a lot softer on the hands because you'll find as you go on, that some polymer clays can be really tough. So I'd really recommend that you try out chemo soft if you're new to polymer clay. Unless you've been experimenting already and you now have your own favorite brands of polymer clay sculpting, do some great plays as well. And I should mention. Actually, Kato Clery is a really nice play, and I wish I could use a lot more. I do try and use it where possible, because it has a vegan formula. So it's just nice to know that there's no animal materials, and that's unfortunately, that's not the case with female and Skull P. So I just need to be transparent about that's. I believe that there's another clay called CERN, it's or Kern. It's clay that's also vegan, but unfortunately you can't get it here in the UK, so I've not been able to try that. But certainly if you are able to get hold of fats, I'd recommend you try out. In fact, I would recommend that you try a lot of places you go on because you might well find that you get on better with the different brands. You know, this like differences and all of them. I think when it comes to making kind of people, models, female professionals, definitely the best. But, you know, for smaller I terms and for jewelry making skull P sculpted primo Um, pretty good. So So, yeah, just experiment and see what is good for you in terms of how I store my play, even all my secrets away. Now here's my box of clay that you'll see in the end. They're all wrapped individually, just in them. New food bags on this blue bag of play is really just where all my old pieces of clay go, so it's just useful toe have just it will come together, and there's always projects where I need some play that I don't need a specific color. So this is the bank will go to because it seems to change. Be using perfect polymer clay when you don't need to. So I really suggest that you have a similar system on the go. So collector were all pieces in there, and you can use them for experimentation. So you don't feel that you're wasting your polymer clay. 8. Getting started: So I'm just going to spend some time in, just kind of experimented with my clay here just to give you some ideas for what you might like to do with yours. So that's nice. And plants just gonna use my credit, roll less, flatten it some more. You haven't got a roller how she could use a little bottle or something like that, just as long as you're not using it for anything else. So I'm gonna make a basic fish shape. I think on this one aunt, I'm really not being need to tall. It's really just about understanding your material. And this tool is really interesting. It came in a really cheap pack, I think, from car. Remember if it was homeware store or online, one of the two. But you'll find that your toolbox will grow as the time goes on. Certainly after a few years, I imagine that used to have acquired quite a few. So I'm just going to make some scales with this because it works really well for that. It's just kind of little sunny circles. I don't know how well you can see that's but it gives you an idea of the kind of different kinds of mark making that you can do. But, you know, it doesn't have to be flat work. So I just got a basic ball of clay here or a little bit flatter than a ball. You find that you can Platini clay actually on your surface quite nicely so I could make a little face with my cocktail stick here. Just getting creative with your tools. Really, I'd be interested to see what you come up with in terms of tools from around the house, because I'm always learning to. I will give him a nose, just not some here. Ondas mentioned before. I don't really like using X treaters. I think they're really a bit too tough on the hands, so I just tend to roll mine. It's easily done, really. Just have to make sure that is of a consistent thickness. Today you go. I think you get the idea. You could kind of feel drowned with your have. It's model Making isn't really thing. He could perhaps try experimenting with the you play to make letters or numbers. It's always quite a nice project. Teoh just rolling out under the length here and that kind of lends itself well to making a letter a did he wanted to. You could decorate that as well at a little dots. We could perhaps use different colors, actually. Or you could go around the piece just with their Baltzell if you have one toe hands or cocktail stick. So I think this gives you an idea of what you could do with the Clooney on, Hopefully provides a little bit of inspiration as to how to get started. You don't have to consider model making. You could perhaps creates a clay illustration. Or if you're interested in jewellery making, perhaps you could make a little pendants that you could make a later stage. It's entirely up to you as this assignment is really about, getting to know your material and working in three D because it's obviously very different to two D work. If it's something that you haven't done before, 9. Class overview: Well, I hope you found that useful and you'll fit in a lot more confident when it comes to polymer. Clay. What I'd like you to do now is to spend some time and getting to know the material on your plate tools. And again, you don't have to buy any clay tools in at the moment. If you're still deciding if this is something for you, you can use bits and bobs from around the house. And again, you don't have to use polymer clay at this stage. Perhaps you've got some plaster seen or some play dough or something like that. It's really just about working with a tactile material at the moments and getting to know how to use the material to make marks or to make creatures, you know. So what I'd like you to do now is just to spend some time experimenting with your play and your play tools ons. Perhaps you'd like to make some faces or again a weird and wonderful creature to share with thistle. I'm really interested to see what you come up with. This is my very first class for school. She s so I hope to be back really soon with some new classes, I'll be focused in primarily on beginner level, certainly for the first few classes, so be sure to check those out when they're available. If you have any suggestions for any classes in particular that you'd like to see from me, by all means, let me know I'd be really interested to hear. But I think that's it for now, so I'll see you soon, but by