Polymer Clay Tip: Kleenex!

Here’s an example of a polymer clay tip that so simple it’s almost not worth mentioning. But on the other hand, sometimes the simplest things are like…well…duh! We all have supplies that we regularly use in our polymer clay work and one of mine is that most humble of things…Kleenex! Of course Kleenex is just a brand name for facial tissue and you can use any brand that you prefer. But why do I use so much Kleenex when I work with polymer clay? Read on!

Pop-Up Box

When one hand is holding something delicate and the other has just spilled some ink, it’s not the time to fumble with finding the edge of a roll of paper towels and trying to rip one off without knocking things over. (You can just see the ink spilling everywhere, can’t you?) So my box of Kleenex is sitting right there at my workstation. Super fast, I can grab one tissue or as many as I need to mop up the spill because they come in a pop-up box. So easy! Even though I have my roll of paper towels handy for bigger spills, I find that I grab tissues more often because it’s just easier. Grab and go.

One of my simplest polymer clay tips is that I use a pop-up box of tissues for general cleaning, blotting, and removing of paint from polymer clay projects.

Uses

  • Cleaning Spills – Anytime I spill anything, it’s super easy to grab a tissue for fast cleanup. They’re absorbent and because they’re small I’m not wasting a whole paper towel on a small spill.
  • Blotting – Sometimes when I use alcohol ink with polymer clay, I add too much. It’s easy to do that. So I just use a Kleenex to blot up the extra before it soaks in and gets too dark.
  • Wiping Paint – When antiquing a polymer clay bead with paint, you need to use something to wipe the excess paint. A tissue seems to be the right size for me.
  • Texture – A sheet of polymer clay directly from the pasta machine can have an undesirable texture. So I’ve found that laying a tissue on the surface and rubbing it can give just a bit of a subtle texture that makes it look more matte.
  • Cleaning Tools – I use a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol to clean my tools. Just spray it on a tissue and then wipe. It is excellent at removing clay residue and remnants of any alcohol ink or color on my tools. It works better than baby wipes and it’s much cheaper.
  • Cleaning Work Surface – I work on glazed ceramic tiles and when I’m all done I find that one Kleenex is just the right size to wipe it clean.
  • Baking – Use tissues to cradle or support polymer parts that might droop in the oven. You could also use tissue (or even scrap copy paper) under clay to keep it from getting shiny spots on the bottom during baking. (And yes, you can bake paper!)

I use tissues to clean up spills and mess in my polymer clay studio.

Make Hollow Beads

You can use tissues structurally, too. In this video by Rusalina, you can see how she makes bell-shaped hollow flowers by using a wadded up tissue first. She then removes it after baking. (That technique was originally published by Lillian de Vries, but Lillian used compressed paper balls. No need, you can use Kleenex!)

Which Type of Tissues to Buy?

I like to use plain, inexpensive Kleenex brand tissues because they give a good balance between strong and not having too much lint. But other brands can work well. Most groceries or dollar stores have their own brands for a really low price. Make sure you get tissues that don’t have fancy coatings like lotion infused in them. I also prefer to get white ones because then I can see if I’ve actually removed all the alcohol ink when I clean my tools.

Toilet Paper Works as Well

Recently Christi Friesen wrote about how she uses toilet paper similarly in her work. Toilet paper works just as well and is even cheaper. The only thing is it doesn’t come in a pop-up box. Christi uses toilet paper to prop up delicate arms and tentacles during baking of her creatures.

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