R is for Roller (AtoZ 2016)

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?


    1. I can’t take all of the credit, I think I got the idea of using playing cards from somewhere else since it is a cheap item and relatively stiff. :) So far they have worked very well, though!

  1. Genius! If I start with clay I am so stealing this idea :)

    I was using guides at college to roll out some clay this week, quite enjoyed making the panel (which will be used to make a plaster mould, which will be used for me to cast a glass panel… if it all works technically!)

    I am also waiting for my fired work from Flame Off, but that was mostly a bit rubbish but I can’t wait to see it nonetheless!!

    Mars xx

    1. Your panel sounds very exciting! You would think that you could roll out clay fairly uniformly, but it’s surprisingly hard without a guide of some sort!

    1. I feel a little bad buying a whole pack of cards and only using 14 (so far), but the other nice thing about the cards is that they are laminated (or whatever the coating is on them). So, if you do get the moist clay near them you know that they won’t be ruined :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *