less pleased with the scythe, is there anyway of making very small pieces like that more sturdy without making it thicker?
Yes, basically you'd want to use a stiff armature under the clay, and/or you add one or more coats of liquid polymer clay or polyurethane (water-based), etc, once baked.
"Sturdy" can also have more than one meaning re polymer clay too, so just to make an item less brittle (breakable
) you can use a "stronger" brand/line of polymer clay if you're currently using original Sculpey, SuperSculpey (flesh), or Sculpey III for items which have thin areas... the other brands/lines will simply bend if stressed, where those 3 would break.
If by sturdy you mean rigid
though, you'll probably just want to use a stiff armature underneath the clay.
Long, thin armatures would be items like toothpicks, short metal rods or thick wire (perhaps 2 wires twisted together, etc.), but could be anything rigid that's bakable at our low temps and that doesn't contain petroleum-based solvents.
Other shapes for armatures can be things like tightly-wadded aluminum foil; wood of all types, metal, glass/ceramic shapes (woods must sometimes be painted or coated with white glue or water-based sealer first though or the clay won't stick well to large areas), fine wire mesh that's been shaped perhaps, etc.... and some plastics will even work, particularly if they're inside the clay. Even a DIY tube of paper would work as long as it had enough revolutions to make it rigid. And actually for rigidity
, the 3 clays above would also work (iow, a rod of Sculpey) even though it would be brittle... when covered with a stronger clay, the final result would also be strong.
Some of the other parts of that sculpt would be susceptible to breakage too since they're thin if using those 3 clays. If the sculpt never receives much stress they'd be fine, but if not, you'd probably want to use additional measures for strengthening them.
There's more on using armatures and on making miniature items on these pages at my site, if you're interested.http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/armatures-perm.htmhttp://www.glassattic.com/polymer/miniatures.htm
For making hands, feet, tails, etc, in particular, check out this page too:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/sculpting_body_and_tools.htm