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New To Clay

Mini Clay FAQ

03-21-03: A new list member, who is a miniaturist asked what she might need to start claying. I wrote this and thought it should go up on the site. 


The Kemper tools and minis: I'd get the smallest plunger types, they
are good for cutting out things like flower petals, hamburger buns and
cookies. They come in multiple shapes, like leaves, circles, hearts,
that sort of thing. Then the medium and larger kemper tools in circle
and leaf shapes. That's for making dishes, pots and pans and making
muscles for your future clay figures.

Clayshaper tools: Zero sized: Cone, wedge, elliptic ends. One size up
... cone. One size up largest cone. I use the clayshapers also for
picking up bits of mini food, like chop sticks.

Exacto knife: use it all the time with mini food cane. You can also
poke your pork chop mini with the tip of the exacto knife and
transport it to the plate that way.

Basic Clay Supplies: Karen Rhodes gives us a discount on Pounds of
Premo and you'll end up using pounds. I suggest folks learn to mix
their own colors for clay does not come in sweet potato pie color or
roasted turkey or lettuce. We got to mix these colors ourselves. Keep
track of your mixes by making Color Cards

and we start with ...

Primary Colors: Cadmium Red, Zinc Yellow and Colbalt Blue
they are translucent so when smeared thin, they'll show light through
it...think tiffany lamps.
From these primary colors we can mix: orange, purple and green.
From those we get brown.

So we only now need
Translucent (which translates to water, lettuce is mostly translucent
with a touch of green, for lettuce is mostly water, same with orange
juice, mini ice)

For the mini food maker: Translucent Liquid Sculpey. If you want
sauces, graveys, whipped cream, frosting, glaze for donuts, salad
dressing, and a whole mess of mini food needs you need something that
pours and spreads, that is translucent and that is clay. This is it.
Oh honey you got to check out the early experiments in
Biz-Archive/food/Diner-Grp.htm and Food Index for the current efforts.

So that's 6 pounds of clay and a bottle of TLS, and from there you can
mix a wide range of colors, that might come between $60 and $70, but
you'd be saving money rather than buying two oz packs from the local
Michaels, and God knows how old those shelf bound clay packs are.

If you want to start getting fancy:
Silver (great for pots and pans)
Pearl... there's never enough pearl in my opinion.

Orange and pearl make nice cooked shrimp stripes or salmon steak.

If you're going to do figures I'd suggest getting Burnt Umber and
Sienna, mix with a touch of white, sometime some yellow or red and get
a whole range of skin tones.

Do you need a pasta press? I didn't get mine until after running this
list for a year. I also cook from scratch and make my own clothing
patterns, not stoic, just cheap. I didn't want to depend on fancy
supplies and tools. They came gradually, but they aren't absolutely

What is necessary is:
Future Floor Polish, to kick up the color of the clay and give our things a shine. Discount acrylic floor polish that starts out milky and dries clear is another option for artists on a budget.

Baby Powder/Corn Starch, for a release agent for our mini molds, don't
need to carve that jello mold more than once, carve a salmon mold as
you want it finished, cure it, make a mold and stuff with salmon mixed
with bits. Dust the mold before mashing clay in it and take out your
finished salmon thing, what's that called? Anyway you get my drift.

I used to use Baby Oil/Mineral Oil to moisten dried up clay. Now I use
Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) which I use like a crazy person,
every chance I get.

Aluminum foil: for storing sheets of mixed clay colors, for bones
inside our figures, for reinforcement in our pond grass and leaves, a
million uses.

Turkey skewers: just never know when you need to have a small hole in

Bamboo skewers: just never know when you get distracted making beads

WetWipes are good, I use the ones that can be used on a baby's bottom,
wipe my face, my hands, the pasta press and work top. All clean and
fresh, nice.

Ceramic Tiles: One can get broken ones for free from places like Home
Depot, because mini things don't take up a big space and we can use
these broken tile bits for a whole mini meal, drinks included. I put
the broken ceramic tiles with stuff on top of it on a pizza pan.

All tools, pizza pans, pie pans and such all that are used with clay
are sacrificed to the ClayPen. It cannot go back into circulation for
use for foods for human consumption. That's the trick of it. Once that
turkey skewer in used for clay, it belongs to the claypen. GladWare
plastic bins are my personal favorite not-necessary but nice items:
store clay, separate projects and put in a GladWare bin, put a lid on
it and it doesn't get dusty and you can stack them on the shelf.

Well that's more than I wrote in the first response I lost to the web

In Summation: What you need to start out with is clay. That's it. A
bobbie pin, or a tooth pick, a butter knife, a craft razor, that's it.
The rest is nice, but not necessary to start mucking about with your
clay. As a miniaturist I'd again stress learn how to mix your own
colors, get cook books and use pictures to help get the shade, make
color cards and keep track of your experimental journey. There's a big
difference between the green of green beans and the green of celery.
You'll save yourself much time and frustration in doing a methodical
step by step experiment and make your color cards. You'll discover
colors you can use for this project or that. That's what we have to do
as mini makers, for we are replicating what is out there in the world,
it's not our choice that an orange or lemon looks thus and so, it's
our task to replicate that in miniature, which means we got to master
mixing clay colors and learning the tricks with translucent clay to
make those oranges and lemons look juicy.

Ya, that's the ticket,


Owner of MSATClayArt and I think I'll put this up on my site, it's a
good over view for the mini clayer


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