For clay sculpting, it's very VERY important to have a proper tool to cut or slice the clay into pieces that you need. Honestly, I really can't imagine doing anything without any tools with sharp edge!
Hence if you are starting out and would like to buy some tools, I would recommend the x-acto knife and blade to be of priority!
Below are the knife and blades that I have, and I'll explain how I use them 😀
This x-acto knife #2 is the first and only knife that I have, and I use it for everything! (Even cutting paper, opening things etc - very convenient to have). I think I got it at Art Friend, a local art store, and it should be relatively easy to find!
It comes with a cap, but I don't use it and have no clue where it is now.......especially since I don't bring it out, it's alright for me haha.
There are lots of hobby knives available in the market, but I recommend x-acto as they have a lot of different types of blades available and sold separately, which makes it very easy to replace them! Blades can rust/dull after a period of time, and even though for clay making you don't need exceptionally sharp blades, it's nice to replace them after awhile.
When I mean there are different types of blades....there really is A LOT. But this particular one is the one I use. I really should try other blades some time! (If I do I'll update this space!)
Anyway, it's not THAT expensive, so might as well get one with higher quality than those penknives! (Really, it feels very different when you use it!)
For blades, even though they are sharp (and meant to be sharp), if you know how to use and control them, it's very rare to cut yourself:
NEVER DO THIS
Blades are actually quite safe ON THEIR SIDE. So if you get clay stuck on them, you CAN remove them without hurting yourself from the side!
Here's an example of cutting a clay piece with my x-acto knife! You will not be able to do this with anything else other than a blade! (even flat piece of wood or plastic knife, let's say, would "squish" the clay instead, or it would leave some clay residue at the end)
My favourite part about the x-acto knife is how precise it can be for certain things. One of the most common usage for the knife for me is to use the knife to trim off unbaked clay ON baked clay.
You don't have to use strength to do this btw! You might accidentally scratch the baked clay at the bottom. It takes a little bit of practice but very easy to get use to 😊
In this video, I use this technique most of the time! (Video is timed at the exact moment)
And of course, textures! Hahaha as long as it's there, might as well use it! (Although I still haven't used it for anything yet hmm)
AmericanLine Wide Scraper Blade:
THIS is my favourite blade ❤
I got it from PolymerClayExpress.com in Feb 2015 and it's not expensive at all??? Plus, it comes with like 5 blades or something and I still have one extra now haha.
I also got a blade case from them to store all my blades, which makes it much safer to store them, and also helps to prevent oxidation which keep the blades as new as possible. Putting a packet of silica gel helps too! Silica Gel is everythingggggg.
Btw the current blade I'm using IS rusting, and unfortunately it will rust very fast especially if you're lazy like me and don't store the current blade you're using properly all the time.. Look at the comparison of the new blade (top) to the one I'm currently using (bottom) 😅
Rusting will happen as long as it's stainless steel, and if the blade ISN'T stainless steel, it's very difficult to have that quality of sharpness so I guess you just have to see what your priority is!
It really is no big deal though, just wipe it and make sure it doesn't stain your clay and usually it's still sharp enough to do its job!
This blade does its job VERY well, and I think the length of the blade really helps! I can also cut bigger pieces of clay properly with this! (x-acto knife is a weird angle for such things)
When using the blade, you want to be careful and use the blunt side of the blade to press the blade down. Otherwise you're just going to cut yourself and the clay doesn't cut through properly 😶 So yes please be careful.
SHARP SIDE OF BLADE
BLUNT SIDE OF THE BLADE
Here you'll see how I use the blade to make straight lines as "textures". That's when I don't push the blade down all the way, and only making an indent with it.
Usually the sharp side of the blade is rarely used for such things, but I think it's nice to mark things with it.
The blunt side is more useful for such techniques! Look how easy it is to make a chocolate bar?? Hahaha. (I need to make one soon 🙃)
I also use the blade to make sharp edges round if needed, by pushing the clay with the blade. It can cause some unevenness to the clay's height, but you can always flatten it again!
Aiclay's Pocket Kitchen blade:
I got the tiny blade with a handle from Aiclay's Pocket Kitchen, and I don't use it as much! Like I said, I prefer the blade above, and I'll show you why.
Aiclay's blade to me is a safer blade as there's a handle on it. Makes it very easy to see where the sharp side is (especially for beginners, THAT'S really very important), so you get a much more kid-friendly blade with all the sharpness you need there!
It's very short so it's compact too, BUT for me I'd rather a longer blade so I can cut bigger clays better! (Aiclay's Pocket Kitchen tutorials' are all miniature food, so you really don't need long blades for that)
One of the most important technique I use with the blades is to scrape flattened clay pieces out from the working surface. If you try to pry it up with your finger or fingernails, you'll most likely going to distort the clay!
For this, you need to make sure you go in a swift, ZIGZAG motion while moving to other side. If the clay piece is too big, you need to "catch it" and hold it while continuing the motion. (YOLO! Don't ZIGZAG too slow otherwise it might get stuck on the blade)
So for Aiclay's blade, because it's so small, I have to hold it really close to the part where the blade cuts through the clay so it's quite hard to manoeuvre the blade for one.
You can see the clay kind of distorting for huge clay pieces like this (which I work with most of the time), and the handle kinda makes it so that I have to "hold the clay" earlier compared to the first blade.
I think it's quite difficult to understand what I mean unless you try it out yourself, but hope it gives you some sort of idea.
This is what I mean when I say they clay gets stuck ON the blade!
For the small blade, it's hard for me to go through the clay (zigzag) all the way as I subconsciously think about the handle (and how the clay might distort if push itself against the handle). Hence you will tend to go slow when it's reaching the handle of the blade, but what happens is part of the clay that is still stuck on the working surface gets distorted anyway because it's still attached while the others is moving!
That's why going fast is important haha. (Or at least have the habit of "catching" the clay piece halfway and move along with the blade like I've shown)
If the clay gets stuck, you can remove it like this! (Remember how the sides of the blades are safe? This is why it's important!)
Sooooo, like I said, it's really more of a convenience thing. Aiclay's Pocket Kitchen's blade is still very much useable and you might even like it better! I'm just stating my opinion on the type of tools I use and prefer, and I still stand by my opinion that Aiclay's Pocket Kitchen Kit is the best and completed polymer clay kit in the whole world.
SHARP SIDE OF AICLAY'S BLADE
BLUNT SIDE OF AICLAY'S BLADE
The handle for Aiclay's blade made the thickness of the blade thicker, hence the indent is thicker too! I kept this blade for this sole purpose because it can be quite useful.
Fimo Cutter Blade Set - Flexible blade:
I bought this fimo blade set reaaaaaaaaally long ago, and I must say, I actually forgotten about them until I took out my blade case and saw them inside HAHAHA. I kept them as I thought they might be of use, but obviously I didn't need them... 🙃
This flexible one is interesting. Somehow I always thought blade is ALWAYS hard (penknives, razor blades etc) so when I saw this I was quite amused.
BECAUSE it's bendable, it doesn't stay straight very well 😂 So it's actually pretty useless unless you really need whatever you're cutting to be curved. (But you can shape the curved part with normal blade like I've shown...so......🙃)
Also, there's only up to a certain extent where you can bend it, which isn't much when it comes to miniatures..... 😶
So yes. Useless for me. Might be useful for other things though, and if I find out what I'll update!
Fimo Cutter Blade Set - Flexible ripple(?) blade:
The fimo blade set also came with this flexible blade with textures on it, so you can cut the clay and leave this neat triangles at the edge!
But the thing with this blade is that the texture is FIXED. I can't adjust the size and it's quite limiting? I've also never found anything that I can use this with, although the texture IS very cute hahaha.
So yes, until I find some sort of use to it....it will remain useless for me. Sorry fimo!
Alright, so that's all I have for knives and blades. Will update if there's anything I missed out, or if anyone asked me questions that I can answer here!
If you find this article helpful and would like to read and learn more about how I use certain tools etc, do check my Patreon out! I write one such article weekly, with real time gifs and detailed explanations 😊
Above is the contents section of what I will write about in the future in "The Secrets" section available exclusively for Patrons in my Patreons. As long as I explore new things and further my clay journey with your help and support, I will continue to share what I learn and my secrets with anyone who would like to know! ❤