When the polymer clay first comes out of the packet it can be quite hard. Warming the clay will soften it and the easiest way to do this is to wrap it in cling film and wear it your pocket for 20-30 mins. Take care not to overheat the clay (such as leaving in direct sunshine) as it will begin to cure (harden) and become unusable. Some clay manufacturers have made softeners to blend with the clays and liquid polymer clays will do the same job.
A Non-porous Surface
If you are going to do a lot of work with polymer clay, a most valuable tool is a pasta machine. Feeding the softened clay through the pasta machine ensures evenly rolled sheets of clay which can be used to create blends or to make canes (find out more about these techniques from the Fact File). The pasta machine makes light work of conditioning clay for detailed modelling.
A Sharp Blade
Detailed modelling can be achieved with the point of a darning needle or a thin knitting needle. The needle can also be used to pierce the hole in beads (see how to make a simple polymer clay bead from our Fact File).
Do not use a sharp ended needle or pin as they will tear the clay rather than smooth and shape it.