There are a few tools and pieces of equipment that I couldn't live without when it comes to mixing artists' powdered pigments into polymer clay and creating my own beads and earrings. I'll list a few here and I'll write some further posts about them so I can explain how I use them in more detail.
Pasta Roller - for me, a pasta roller is an indispensable piece of kit. I am currently using a Marcato Atlas 150 and I think it is brilliant. Polymer clay needs to be conditioned before using - this means you need to knead it like dough to soften it up and make it more pliable before you mix pigments into it or shape it into beads. Unconditioned clay can be brittle and impossible to work with. This can be tough on your hands and wrists and I have often bruised the palms of my hands after several hours of clay conditioning! It's hard work! I use the pasta roller on various thickness settings to help condition the clay and to help blend the pigments into the clay. I also use it to create sheets of polymer clay that are an even, smooth thickness. I would advise getting a good quality pasta roller as it should last you years and make life a little easier when working with polymer clay. I started with a Judge pasta roller which I got in the local kitchen shop in the sale and it lasted for about ten years before the knob fell off and one of the rollers came off! You can get clay rollers from Sculpey and Fimo but I've never used one.
Baking Sheets and a Good Acrylic Roller - I use non stick baking sheets - mine are made by MasterClass and are heavier so they withstand multiple goes in the oven and don't buckle like some of the thinner sheets. I use them to roll out my clay, mix my pigments and I use them in my mini oven. A good quality acrylic roller is also essential - mine is made by Sculpey and it has lasted me for years. I use it to condition polymer clay, to roll pigments between sheets of polymer clay and it's invaluable.
Tissue Blades, Scalpel and Tools - you can get all sorts of tools, cutters and blades for using with polymer clay and I've got a fair few that I've collected over the years. The essential tools for mixing pigments into polymer clay are minimal for me and I use a scalpel (sometimes a pestle and mortar) to chop up some of the lumpier pigments and I use a small polymer clay tool that is shaped a bit like a small flat rectangular spoon - I have no idea what it's called - there's a photo of it below with the pigments and I use it to measure out tiny amounts of pigment to add to my clay. I won't go it to details on this post about tools, cutters and ovens so, for now, I'll just stick to the items I use to mix pigments into polymer clay.
Polymer Clay - I've used so many different brands of polymer clay over the years. At the moment, I use Fimo Professional Porcelain polymer clay in large 1lb blocks or Cernit Opaline White for all of my polymer clay work. I particularly like the finish I get with the Fimo Porcelain clay. I'm less keen on the translucent clays as I like my colours to be quite dense and very matt. If you're thinking of trying pigments; I'd certainly recommend giving these two clays a try.
Pigments - I have a large ever growing collection of powdered artists' pigments. They last a life time and a little goes a long way. I have many different brands of artists' pigments including Cornelissen, Sennelier and Jacksons. Always check the toxicity levels before buying - I always choose the lowest toxicity which means they are the safest to work with. Some pigments are hazardous and would require a respirator to work with them and I don't use these. The exception has been natural indigo for which I need to don the face respirator. I also choose not to use any pigments that might contain any animal products. The three suppliers I have listed all provide detailed information about what the pigments are made from and if there are any safety requirements.