Picture of Sculpting with Polymer Clay
Polymer clay is wonderful stuff. It's inexpensive, easy to find, and can be molded into anything you can dream of. A few years ago I started playing with the clay as a way to focus my creative energy away from video games. In this instructable I'll be sharing a few of the sculpting and finishing techniques that I've picked up while sculpting with oven-bake polymer clay.

The type of clay that I've always used is Super Sculpey, which can be found almost anywhere that has some kind of craft section. Joann Fabrics is where I've been getting mine lately.

Clay that you can bake in your oven has been around for years, but it seems like the popularity has ramped up recently what with the social medias and diy shop websites and all. Through those sources I found several artists that really inspire me; I see their work and can't help but be envious and mystified by their skill.

Monster Kookies - The Mad Scientist of Polymer Clay (
Beastlies - Adorable Mini-Monsters (
Beat Black - Polymer Clay in It's Most Visceral Form (
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Step 1: Tools of the trade

Picture of Tools of the trade
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Although you don't absolutely need a set of sculpting tools, there are a few that are incredibly useful, especially for creating fine details. Over the years I've gotten several sets of tools but 90% if the time I only use four or five of my favorites.

Royal Sovereign Clay Shaper Sets
I love these little rubber tipped brushes. They are just flexible enough to work on a surface like a tiny finger. These guys are kinda expensive though (a set of four costs about $30,) but they are absolutely worth it.

Dentist Pick
You know the pointy ones that they poke around your mouth with? They also work great for sculpting and you can get them dirt cheap from American Science and Surplus.

Wax Carving Metal Tool Set
Similiar to the dentist pick, these usual come in a set of a dozen tools with all kinds of odd shaped tips

Loop Tools
As the name suggests, these tools are made from loops of bent wire ribbon. The edge of the wire cuts through clay and removes it from the sculpture and are useful for hacking out the subject's general shape. They can be used to create large grooves, or for shaving away small flakes of clay.

Kemper Circle Pattern Cutters
These small tubes behave like cookie cutters, but for clay. They are pressed down into a flat sheet of clay to cut a circle, which could be done with any metal tube, but these cutters have a clever button on top that lets you pop the newly made, clay disk out.

Pasta Machine
The classic style, hand crank pasta machines are perfect for pressing clay flat and for mixing colors. I've also seen people use these for making noodles, but you shouldn't do that after using one for clay.

Improvised Tools
I consider drinking straws and sewing needles essential parts of my tool set. Old toothbrushes can be carved into chisels and wire can be hammered flat to make knives and scoops. Plastic toothpicks also work very well as the ultimate multitasker.

A long while ago I was working on a  zombie mutant thing who had exposed portions of muscle, I ended up gluing a half dozen sewing pins to a piece of wood to create a small rake. I then scraped the rake over the surface of the clay and smoothed it out with alcohol. The striation texture made the muscles look absolutely spot on, take my word for it (sorry, no pictures.)

A very informative Instructable on how to work with clay! Nice job!

What were the cats whiskers made out of I didn't really get that part

i know you were not talking to me, but i think it may be wire.

nintenbro642 months ago
It's so adorable! You did an amazing job! :)

Thanks for the tip about the alcohol!

Rider Girl11 months ago
So cute! It looks great:)
deblon1 year ago

I'm so glad I saw your instructable before venturing into clay crafts. I learned some very helpful tips and also have been inspired by your texture techniques. Thanks!

It's like totally adorable
kgirl55231 year ago
Thanks for the great tips!:)
rimar20001 year ago
This is a very useful instructable.

But I totally lack artisticness, where do you can buy it?
You can buy polymer clay in craft stores. I use Hobby Lobby and Michaels. If you're starting out they have variety color packs and large single-color (usually white or peach) bricks. If you are looking into buying the small colored bricks instead of painting the final pieces, try to catch a day where all packs of polymer clay are on sale. I consider a 'good' price ~$1 per block.
Thanks Tomdf, polcipalma and GryphonixXIII.
Tomdf (author)  rimar20001 year ago
Practice, practice, practice is the best way. Also, who is to say what art is anyway, if people don't like your artwork they probably just have bad taste ;)
En La Plata, en Polibol: 44 2 y 3, y en Batik de calle 7. 26$ los 50gr. Saludos!
26 $ argentinos. Marca comercial: FIMO de Staedtler.
Pattymouth1 year ago
Oh baby! This is just brilliant. Thank you for sharing. I would love to try this, but I'd end up making YOUR sculpture over and over because I just don't have the vision to come up with my own stuff. Unless ... uh oh. I am now off to google idea books.
Tomdf (author)  Pattymouth1 year ago
Well, hey, it's not like that was an original design. The cat, Pusheen, is from a popular webcomic, and the other sculptures are from video games and magic the gathering cards. I don't think there is anything wrong working off of someone else's design as long as you give credit, aren't trying to make money off it, and you have fun doing it.

And, if that philosophy doesn't work for ya, copy nature (she doesn't copyright or patent anything.) Sculpt a bear, a pig, a bumble bee, a shark, whatever; sculpting is a lot of fun, you really should try it!
Thanks Tomdf - I did go to a craft store today but their Sculpey was crazy-expensive compared to, so I'm gonna order it. I just need to remember that it's okay to start with a shark if I can't immediately create Rodin's ballerina sculpture!
Very Nice work and the tutorial was very well put together with tons of useful information. Thanks so much!
Tomdf (author)  Charmed4blue1 year ago
Ty for the kind words, happy you liked it!
Zanaji1 year ago
love Pusheen :3
One of the best articles written about polymer clay EVER, informative and cute sculpture. Awesome.
Tomdf (author)  HerArtSheLoves1 year ago
Ty, I really like your use of mica powders btw. I'll be using your instructable to learn how to use them soon.
Thank you so much.
ynze1 year ago
Wonderful and extremely useful. Great i'ble!
That cat is the cutest clay cat every!
Tomdf (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
<3 Pusheen
To nice! Thanks!
cool website and awesome kitty