Polymer Clay Tip: Kleenex!

Here’s an example ofΒ a polymer clay tipΒ that’s 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.


  • 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 alcoholΒ 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 SurfaceΒ – 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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28 thoughts on “Polymer Clay Tip: Kleenex!”

  1. What I’ve found recently is that the store brand Kleenexes are not folded to “pop up,” which is disappointing. Still, these are great ideas!

  2. I have a small square empty tissue box I saved, and now I use it as a toilet tissue dispenser in my craft room. Talk about super cheap! I just cut the bottom loose on 3 sides, so I can slip in a roll of toilet tissue. Then I slip the start of the roll through the plastic opening, place the roll inside, and close it up.I use it the same way you are referring, and it’s just as simple to grab. You want the toilet tissue that is easy to tear off. I’ve found Scott is pretty good for me. My friend uses a paper towel holder! Love the idea of an extra box for the used tissues. Great idea!

    1. Oh my gosh, that is utterly brilliant! I am going through kleenexes way too fast and that is just fantastic. I will have to try that. Thanks for the excellent suggestion!

  3. When I have ‘down time”, I actually sit with a roll of paper towel and tear off each sheet. I then take a pile and cut it into fours and have another pile that I cut in half. I use these quarter sheets of paper towel for most of the same things that you’d use the tissue for, only it’s a little sturdier.

    1. Michelle, you crack me up. Down time? What’s that? πŸ™‚ But it is a good way to use smaller pieces. I do that with those full-sticky post-it notes. It gives me tiny ones for my calendar. πŸ™‚

  4. Now isn’t that just a great idea!!! During the winter when someone has a cold, I always make sure to save a few old Kleenex boxes. Then I use a rubber band to stick a full box to an empty box so you always have a place to put your used tissues. Hope this helps in the studio also!

    1. Brilliant idea!! Really it is. When I’m busy working at my desk, I just end up throwing my used kleenexes in the general direction of the trash can so it looks a bit like a sick ward. πŸ™‚ And I edited your comment…you’re funny. I just assumed you were from the UK and wondered what erasers had to do with it. πŸ™‚

  5. Hi Ginger πŸ™‚
    Lol when I was in the city last week I was lucky to be there when there was a sale on and managed to grab a handful of tissues for a dollar a box πŸ™‚ I find they are so handy with cleaning up and much more when it comes to the polymer clay πŸ™‚

    I still need to get a bottle of rubbing alcohol but I have found the hand sanitiser is great for cleaning my hands and tools and working glass and it’s cheaper than baby wipes anyday πŸ™‚ and a small bottle goes a very very long way I have fund πŸ™‚

  6. Ginger, I made those beads and I did use a store brand tissue to stuff inside them. Worked beautifully. What really surprised me was the wonderful texture I got using crepe paper on the outside of them! Thanks so much for all your tips.

  7. Thanks Ginger! I always faff around with kitchen roll and wish I would have at least ONE extra hand while I’m faffing….Tissues (kleenex!) so obvious but not so until now!!

  8. DragonzWench (Lynn)

    thanks for this,I always have tissues nearby for so many things.
    Thanks for the tutorial I have tried without success to make similar flowers and now I know the trick, thanks.

  9. this is a lovely way to do the hollow beads. I know what my next project will be…with some matching earings or maybe even a brooch for non necklace days. Agree the Keenex brand has gone off and others are better. I use baking paper and foil in the oven though for propping up or support, frightened tissues might just go up in flames and ruin everything.

    1. Nope, tissues will not burn at the temperature which clay bakes. It seems like it would, but really we don’t bake clay very hot. You couldn’t bake a cake at the temp we use for clay, for instance.

  10. Ginger, I have found that Kleenex, the brand, is no longer absorbent enough to be useful to me. When I have a cold it just smears around the products of my runny nose. When I spill at work, the same, it just smears my spill around. I did a Ginger-like test of every brand available and found the the Safeway brand, Softly, is super-absorbent. I called customer service at Kleenex to discuss this. She said that they had reformulated Kleenex “to save money” and offered me a coupon for more. I had to laugh. I took all of my Kleenex boxes to church and restocked with “Softly”.

    1. Hmm, I haven’t noticed that. But I buy the super plain ones in the large multi-pack. I’ll be they have ones with lotion now. Isn’t it funny how a simple thing like facial tissue has been reformulated into dozens of variations by Kleenex alone? Commercialism. Geesh.

  11. I use a white tissue to wipe the PM scrapper blades between colors. It always amazes me how much clay gets stuck to those scrappers.

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