A common sculpting question I get is “what tools do you use?” I created a youtube video, but also figured a full article, with links included would be helpful to answer that question.
The awesome part about sculpting is that anyone (yes you!) can start sculpting with some basic tools that can be found at home.
I looked back on my years of sculpting and compiled a list of the FIVE stages of tools that I’ve gone through. If you’re reading this to figure out what you need for MiniezShop How-to-Sculpt videos, I recommend the tools in Stages 3 and 4.
However, if you need more time to decide how much you like sculpting, the tools in Stages 1 and 2 will do for now. Also, I’ve included some links below of where to purchase the tools, but I highly recommend giving your local art store a call to see if they have the tools I’ve named.
I started sculpting at eight years old with nothing fancy, just these easily accessible household items.
A smooth pen tip
A smooth cylinder pen, to use as a rolling pin. Or a dedicated rolling pin, or cup.
A dedicated toothbrush
A dedicated butter knife
Plain paper to use as a work mat
Parchment paper to bake the clay on, if you’re worried about cross contamination on baking pans.
Once you’re ready to sculpt in more detail, these tools are very similar to the ones I used when I stopped using toothpicks and pen tips, etc.
*Disclaimer, if you’re going to put any money into buying new tools though, I recommend going straight to the tools in Stage 3.
Stage 2 tools include a potter's needle, a plastic knife, and a dowel type tool. They’re a little flimsy but still a good option for getting started. The name of this set is the: Sculpey Clay Tool Starter Set.
This tool is called the: Sculpey 5-in-1 Tool. Considerably better than the tool in Stage Two, it comes with five interchangeable heads: a potters needle, a metal knife head, a metal ball ended piece and two silicone dowel sizes.
Along with the potters needle tool in Stage Three, these tools are the tools I most highly recommend using:
Until very recently this tool set was my go to. This tool is called: Studio By Sculpey Style & Detail Tools Set Of Three. It includes three sizes of double ended tools. Each has a silicone dowel on one end and a small metal ball on the other end. Here are some places to purchase them from.
This is the x-acto knife I use when making precise cuts. Though, any x-acto knife will work just fine.
These tools are for when you’re ready to add extremely minute details to your sculptures. I recently upgraded to these tools and they are fantastic.
I often use a clay conditioning machine or “spaghetti roller” to make large sheets of clay. The best brands made for clay are Amaco and Sculpey. Oher brands are cheaper but fall apart quickly.
This Sculpey Work-n-Bake Mat is a great addition to your tool set if you’re using up too much paper. It can be put in the oven, just don't use it with temperatures over 300F.
Also, this thermometer is useful. It helps to ensure that your ovens temperature is correct, since ovens often fluctuate in temperature. The clay I use, Sculpey Clay, bakes at 275F in a normal oven.
*One last note about sculpting tools is that polymer clay bakes more evenly in glass baking pans.
I hope you found this article helpful. If still have questions regarding sculpting I'd love to answer them. Please feel free to reach out to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through @miniezshop on Instagram or Facebook.