Depending on the bead that I’m making, sometimes I use a roller to smooth out the clay and get rid of the larger lumps. This clear plastic roller and the rolling mat came from one of the beadmaking supply sites and were only a few dollars each. Since the mat is flexible and coated in Teflon, it’s easier to peel the piece off of it when it’s rolled out. And, the smooth plastic on the roller helps prevent the clay from sticking to it, although if you press too hard when you are rolling it will stick to the roller or mat (or both!). I have read that you can coat the roller and mat with oil to help stop the clay from sticking to them, but I’ve always been a bit afraid of ruining the clay by adding oil, so I never have.
But, why the playing cards?
This time, the cards aren’t to give you an idea of size; the cards are part of my rolling tools. When I started, the tutorial that I used mentioned that a good thickness for your clay is about 1.5mm so that it dries quickly but is also solid enough to wear. Having something to use as a guide for the thickness helps you make sure that you roll the piece out to an even thickness and that you don’t roll it too thick or too thin.
Enter the playing cards.
Each playing card is about 0.3mm thick. So, five playing cards make a stack that is about 1.5mm high and perfect for the main part of each bead. The 0.6mm (two card) stacks give me the right thickness for pieces that I add onto the main body of the bead without making the combined piece too thick. Sometimes I add an extra card to the two-card pile to make it just a bit thicker, but the 1.5mm and 0.6mm stacks usually do the trick.
And, a pack of cards is cheap, so it makes for a very affordable tool! I taped the cards in each of the stacks together so that they don’t slip while I’m rolling out the clay, and the numbers on the cards are a quick reminder of the thickness of the stacks. Not such a big deal since 1.5mm and 0.6mm are easy to tell apart, but when I started I wasn’t sure whether I would need more stacks of varying heights so I wanted to be able to tell the stacks apart at a glance.
Have you developed your own trick for remembering something?