The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Best Polymer Clay Starter Kit

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Polymer clay has exploded in popularity in recent years as artists, crafters, and hobbyists have discovered the creative possibilities of this colorful and versatile modeling medium. Polymer clay, which is made from PVC that softens when conditioned and hardens when cured in a standard oven, can be sculpted and molded into almost any shape imaginable. With polymer clay, you can handcraft stunning jewelry, whimsical figurines, elaborate dice sets, and home decor items that make lovely gifts or unique additions to your own home.

If you’re new to polymer clay, purchasing a starter kit is the perfect first step to begin your journey with this fun DIY material. Polymer clay starter kits provide you with essential tools, an assortment of colorful clay, and sometimes helpful learning resources, all packaged together for convenience. With so many options on the market, however, how do you know which starter kit has exactly what you’ll need as a beginner?

In this blog post, we’ll share a curated list of the top 5 best polymer clay starter kits that are perfect for beginners. We’ll also explain key factors to consider when shopping for a starter kit and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these kits and working with polymer clay as you get started. Let’s dive in!

Top 5 Polymer Clay Starter Kits for Beginners

1. Sculpey Polymer Clay Ultimate Starter Kit

The Sculpey Polymer Clay Ultimate Starter Kit lives up to its name by truly providing everything a beginner needs to start creating right away. This comprehensive set includes 5 classic Sculpey colors (white, terracotta, grey, black, and translucent), along with 5 accent colors – plus essential tools like a roller, texture sheets, cutters, and acrylic blocks. With its wide assortment of colors and tools, this kit is a fantastic starter set for artists who want to dive into sculpture and figurine-making. The inclusion of two how-to guides also makes this kit great for true beginners. While it is one of the more expensive kits, the quality and variety reflect the price point.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of 10 different clay colors
  • Includes roller, texture sheets, cutting tools
  • Comes with 2 printed how-to guides
  • Sculpey is a trusted brand for beginners

Cons:

  • More expensive than basic starter kits
  • Does not include clay mixing or storage options

2. Darice 120-Piece Craft Basics Polymer Clay Combo Pack

Crafters who want to work on small decorative pieces should consider the Darice 120-Piece Craft Basics Polymer Clay Combo Pack. This budget-friendly kit includes an impressive array of tools, cutters, molds and acrylic blocks – perfect for making jewelry, miniatures, charms and more. The clay selection is limited to just white, black, red, blue, and yellow, but the focus is really the supplemental tools and accessories. Crafters will enjoy the extensive assortment of flowers, leaves, cutters, texture sheets, stamps and charms, making it easy to create professional-looking projects with dimensional details.

Pros:

  • Contains 120 different accessories
  • Great for making detailed jewelry and miniatures
  • Budget-friendly price point
  • Good variety of cutters and texture tools

Cons:

  • Only includes 5 basic clay colors
  • Does not have instructional resources

3. Sculpey Premo! Clay Mix’n Match Kit

Sculpey’s Premo! Clay Mix ‘N Match Kit is a top pick for beginners looking for premixed clay colors that make beautiful jewelry and decor items when combined. This kit includes blocks of unique premixed colors like emerald, amethyst, amber and turquoise, along with essential tools like an acrylic roller, texture sheets, blades, and a project guide. The clay colors can be blended together to create an endless spectrum, allowing beginners to experiment with color mixing right away. As Premo! clay results in items with a glossy finish and vivid color after curing, using this starter kit is a great way to achieve professional-looking finished pieces.

Pros:

  • Includes premixed, unique clay colors
  • Allows for color mixing experiments
  • Results in glossy, vivid cured clay
  • Comes with roller, texture sheets, blades

Cons:

  • Only includes 4 blocks of clay
  • Colors may be too specific for some projects

4. THE WORKS Polymer Clay Kit

Crafters who enjoy mixed media work should consider THE WORKS all-in-one polymer clay kit, which includes items to incorporate clay into journals, scrapbooks, collages, and more. Along with 8 blocks of clay in essential colors, this kit contains acrylic paints, brushes, beads, fibers, buttons, and even tiny canvas squares so you can create miniature clay art. With its mixed media supplies and inclusion of a DVD tutorial, this kit empowers beginners to use clay in creative ways beyond sculpture. While this kit doesn’t have cutters or clay tools, it still provides great value through its mixed craft supplies.

Pros:

  • Focused on incorporating clay into mixed media
  • Includes acrylic paint, beads, buttons, fibers
  • Useful for journaling, scrapbooks, collages
  • Comes with a tutorial DVD

Cons:

  • Does not include basic clay tools
  • DVD may have limited value to some buyers

5. SCULPEY Living Color Starter Pack

SCULPEY’s Living Color starter pack features a wide spectrum of colors that mimic natural stones and minerals, allowing beginners to craft geodes, agates, and other nature-inspired items with ease. This set includes 7 distinctly vibrant blocks like turquoise, jade, aventurine and more. With special translucent Living Color glaze and handy tools like cutters, texture sheets, and cording, beginners can explore swirling colors and dimensional effects. As Living Color cures very smoothly, the resulting items have a realistic, polished stone-like finish. For those drawn to earthy themes, this starter kit can satisfy your creative spirit.

Pros:

  • Inspiring colors mimicking natural stones
  • Special translucent glaze for finishing
  • Great for creating faux stones or geodes
  • Includes basic tools for shaping and texture

Cons:

  • Colors are bold and may limit versatility
  • Does not have instructional resources

Now that we’ve covered a wide selection of the top starter kits for beginners, let’s discuss how you can evaluate kits and decide which one best fits your needs and budget.

How to Choose the Best Polymer Clay Starter Kit

With the increasing popularity of polymer clay, the number of starter kits on the market has expanded greatly, leaving beginners with many options to consider. Here are the key factors to keep in mind when selecting a polymer clay starter kit as a beginner:

Consider Your Skill Level and Needs

First identify whether you’re an absolute beginner or have some experience working with clay. Complete novice polymer clay users will benefit most from starter kits that include comprehensive instructions or tutorials, as well as more tools and accessories to familiarize themselves with. Intermediate learners may want a kit with higher-quality clay and specialized tools for enhancing their existing skills. Think about the types of projects you want to tackle and choose a starter kit tailored for your skill level.

Look for a Variety of Clay Colors and Finishes

Starter kits typically include an assortment of colored clay blocks, giving you a palette to work from right away. Look for kits that offer an inspiring spectrum of both primary and secondary colors. Neutral tones like white, black and brown are essential, while colors like blue, green, red, yellow and purple allow for enriching color mixing. Starter kits with unique premixed colors or translucent blocks are also great for expanding your options. Aim for 6-10 blocks in total so you have versatility for different projects.

Make Sure Essential Tools Are Included

There are certain basic tools needed for shaping, smoothing, cutting, baking and storing polymer clay. At minimum, a starter kit should include clay roller/rods, a blade set, acrylic work surface, and cutters or modeling tools. This allows you to roll flat slabs, cut precise shapes, sculpt dimensional forms, and smooth surfaces. Look for kits that also include texture tools like stamps or brushes, which add visual interest. Advanced tools like a pasta machine or specialized pliers may be suited for intermediate learners.

Consider Supplemental Materials for Embellishing

Many starter kits expand beyond just clay to include supplemental mixed media materials, allowing you to embellish your creations. This may include items like liquid clay for adhering elements, glazes or finishes, fibers and fabrics for embedding, beads and buttons, or wire for wrapping. If you want to explore mixed media work with your clay, choose a kit containing fun extras. Just be wary of filler extras that may go unused.

Compare Price Points Based on Value

Polymer clay starter kit prices typically range from $20-$75+ based on included contents. First consider your budget constraints. Then make sure you’re getting good value for the cost based on factors like brand reputation, quantity/quality of clay, tools included, and presence of educational resources. Avoid kits with lots of extras that seem like fluff. Seek ones with purposefully curated, useful contents worth the price point.

Look for Kits with Instructional Resources

One of the best ways to teach yourself polymer clay techniques as a beginner is through manufacturer’s guides, handbooks, or DVD workshops often included in starter kits. Even basic printed instructions with tips or technique visuals can be very useful for getting started on the right foot and avoiding frustration. For total beginners, starter kits featuring comprehensive guides or tutorials add value and are well worth seeking out.

Choose a Kit Suited to Your Planned Projects

Your aspirations for what you want to make influence the type of starter kit that makes sense. If you’re interested in jewelry making, look for small amounts of color mixing clays and specialized tools like roller stamps. For sculpting figures, kits with armatures and larger clay quantities are more suitable. Think about your goals and creative interests, and select a kit tailored for that purpose.

By keeping these factors in mind as you compare starter kit options, you’ll be equipped to select the best value set for your skill level and creative interests. Once you have the basics covered in a starter kit, you can then supplement as needed for your projects. The key is finding an entry-level kit that excites and inspires you to explore polymer clay as a new hobby.

Frequently Asked Questions About Polymer Clay Starter Kits

As you shop for the starter kit that’s right for you, you may have some questions about these sets, the clay itself, best practices, and more. Here we’ll address some of the most common FAQs about polymer clay for beginners:

Does polymer clay expire?

Polymer clay has a shelf life of 1-2 years when properly stored unopened. Once you open a package, air exposure starts degrading the clay. Store opened clay in airtight bags or containers, kneading it regularly to maintain pliability. As polymer clay ages and dries out, it becomes more brittle. For best results, use fresh clay.

What basic tools do I need?

At the very minimum, you need a work surface like glass or acrylic, blades/knives, and a roller. However, most kits also provide cutters, texture sheets/stamps, modeling tools, and acrylic blocks. These make shaping, sculpting and adding detail much easier. Advanced tools like pasta machines, wire cutters, and specialized pliers can wait until you gain experience.

How much clay is needed when starting out?

Starter kits typically provide 2-5 blocks of clay, with each block ranging from 2-4 oz. This amount, around half a pound total, is enough to complete several small beginner projects. You can always purchase more clay in specific colors as needed. It’s ideal to start small rather than buy in bulk as you’re experimenting.

What are “canes” included in some starter kits?

In polymer clay, a cane is patterned clay created by stacking and manipulating layers of contrasting colors. Slicing the cane crosswise reveals the internal pattern. Premade canes provide beginners with instant access to intricate designs for embellishing projects. Kits may include simple canes or cane “slices” to inspire learning this technique.

Is polymer clay safe?

Polymer clay is non-toxic in its cured form, as long as you follow manufacturer guidelines on proper curing. Do not cure clay at temps higher than recommended, and avoid putting cured clay in contact with food. Raw uncured clay contains chemicals like plasticizers, so wash hands after use and prevent children from handling. Work on a protected surface.

What temperature should polymer clay be baked at?

Follow manufacturer guidelines, usually baking at 275°F for 15 minutes per 1/4 inch of thickness. Using an oven thermometer is recommended. Underbaking leaves clay sticky and uncured, while overbaking can scorch the clay. Let clay cool completely before handling after baking to prevent burning yourself.

We hope these starter kit reviews, tips for choosing your set, and FAQs give you the knowledge you need to select the perfect polymer clay kit to start your creative journey. With an inspiring assortment of colors, essential tools, and helpful learning resources, you’ll be set up for success. As you gain skills and experience, polymer clay can open up a world of DIY possibilities to last a lifetime. Let your creativity run wild!

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