Just like there are several types of modeling clay to choose from, there are an array of handy tools that many find essential for clay sculpting endeavors. However, unless the youngsters are a group of aspiring Donatellos, the average project should only require a few basic tools in addition to kid-safe clay and pliable fingers. All of these items are easy to find at local crafting and hobbyist stores, but many can be found around the house. Here clay modeling tools to add to the tool kit.
1. Basic Wooden Modeling Sticks
Wooden sticks for clay modeling are a staple for any crafter’s kit. These often come in sets with multiple widths and a variety of curvatures and shapes on the end, though one could easily argue that they are glorified popsicle sticks. However, they are extremely helpful in creating smooth curves and edges on three-dimensional shapes and can also be used to cut lines in clay materials. In a pinch, go ahead and use popsicle sticks, toothpicks or a wooden cuticle pusher.
2. Rubber or Silicone Tipped Shaping Tools
Like wood modeling sticks, rubber and silicone tipped clay shaping tools typically come in sets. They also have several different angles, firmness and sizes concerning the tips, so determine the project size before investing in the right set for your needs. These handy tools make it possible to implement highly controlled shaping with most types of modeling clays. Often used to fill gaps and make small repairs on completed or pieces in progress, these shaping tools are a must-have.
3. Wire Loop / Ribbon Tools
Other essential clay sculpting tools for beginners and experts alike include ribbon- or wire-loop tools. These can also come in sets and are available with either single loops on one end or as dual-ended tools with multiple size options. Typically, these are used to smooth out curves and corners and level material areas; ribbon tools also come in handy for applying and drawing materials to fill in gaps. Just be certain to use these carefully and know the rules for polymer clay safety.
4. Dental Tools
A basic dental tool set is typically available at grocery stores, and they tend to include sickles and curettes. Those plaque removal picks that look so scary at the dentist can be invaluable for carving out cured bits of clay or creating fine details and lines on creations. One thing to note is that dental tools work best on harder styles of clay or soft clays that have been partially cured.
5. Rolling Pin
A rolling pin is the ideal tool for creating thin layers of clay. While a standard household style will suffice, they are often too large for most children’s projects—but they’ll do in a pinch, as will small glass jars or other household goods. If possible, find some pocket-sized acrylic rolling pins that are ideal for small hands and projects.
6. Flexible Blade Knife
These aren’t actually knives. Rather, they are thin strips of flexible metal or aluminum that are used to cut rounded shapes into clay. They often come with handles that are removable to make them more pliable and versatile for projects. Flexible blades are often utilized to score lines into clay and to cut through large pieces.
Need help finding the best clay modeling tools for beginners? Visit a local hobby shop or craft store and talk to the pros today.