DIY Clay Tools

The other day Lisa of Polka Dot Creations wrote about some of her DIY tools she uses in her clay work. I plan on nipping a few of the ideas – like the button hole placer! – and I had used a few others myself, already. She goes on to challenge her readers to show their own.

Well, I’ve done the handles for tools like she has. I have a stack of transparencies I use for measuring skinner blends and cane segments – I’ll put those up as a PDF download one day. I have colour chips. I have templates for covering pens like she does for bracelets. I have a string of ‘beads’ that are the beads made from a specific cutter size on a pasta machine sheet setting – say, a 5/8″ circle cut from my #1 setting on my atlas.

baking rackOne that I actually took a picture of is a rack I made to help cook items bigger than my beads or that may have texture on them. I’ve never had much luck with fiberfill or cornstarch. The plus side is, I use this rack for drying items I’ve varnished, as well. In my poinsettia ornament post you can see the ornaments on the skewers in the rack. I baked them on it then varnished them there and then baked the varnish on. A very similar, albeit shorter, rack is sold by PolyTools and was the inspiration for mine.

The rack is made from aluminum flashing – essentially, glorified aluminum foil, in the flashing / siding section at your Home Depot, pretty cheap – and I’ve included a really basic how-to for this thing below:
You need:

  • aluminum flashing(i got a 12″ by 10ft roll for very cheap)
  • aviator or tin snips (sold in the same aisle usually)
  • ruler, permanent marker, household pliers

A note on flashing – the stuff is sharp on it’s edges. You may want to wear gloves and glasses while working. The stuff can spring back more than you’d expect. Dress so that edges don’t cut you. My rack has crimped top edges to avoid my slicing my hands along the most used edge. 

baking rack diagram


  1. Cut a piece of flashing the right size for your rack
  2. Mark the fold lines as indicated – first line, half an inch in, second is 6 inches in, third is 12 inches in and 4 is 17.5 inches in. This makes a rack that is 5 1/2 inches tall, 6 inches wide and 12 inches long. Mine lets me work on 7 ornaments at once.
  3. Fold the first line towards the center so that it makes a neat fold edge. I had to use my pliers to do this. Fold the last line the same, towards the center. This gives you two crimped edges.
  4. Fold the second line about 90 degrees (right angle) to form one edge. Fold the third line the same. You may need to over-fold a bit then straighten it back to get a good crease.
  5. Measure out where you want your notches on the top edges. Mine has 7 – my small rack has 12.
  6. Cut the notches in where you marked. I made triangle dart shapes. This takes work with the snips and pliers. Use the pliers to flatten the metal edges as they pucker where you cut.

Voila! A rack! I use bamboo skewers for my big rack and hard temper wires for my small one.

5 Responses

  1. Hee… yeah, I alternate between paranoid and apathy. But for this stuff I did wear gardening gloves the first few times I worked with the snips and flashing until I was used to how it reacted.

    The little bead racks were not the initial reason I bought the flashing – this is the same stuff inside my bangles. That was much pickier cutting.