I thought id share some of my experience so far mistakes i have made and what i did to rectify those mistakes.
One always use a strong armature ( wire skeleton frame ) if you are making your own twist and intertwine two pieces of wire together especially the trunk and the legs. I have found using only one wire for the legs leaves the legs more likely to bend during baking. As the clay is unstable while baking and will bed and bow with gravity. This means your sculpture will have legs bending inwards and the body leaning forwards. Strong legs equals strength while baking and of course afterwards.
Two ( rant) ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i hate fluff /dirt annoying particles that stick to your clay like magnets. Always always clean your hands before and after you use the clay. Never us a tool until it has been cleaned. Check the surface your using for dirt particles and remove . A trick i have learned is use a bit of junk clay to sweep over the surface this removed more fluff then a cloth would, also use that to clean your hands in between your crafting session. I wear man made fiber clothing while crafting as natural or mix blend clothes can cause fluff transfer onto your clay. Use a room that is away from the main body traffic and not near a window.
Three DONT mix colours under artificial light and always make more then you need of a mixed colour store and label in case you need it later. I have made mistakes with sculptures and needed to re do an arm of leg went to make another and realised i do not have any spare clay. Mixing clay colours to create the right blend is time consuming and hard to recreate the same blend a second time. I have also made the mistake of thinking two pieces of clay looked the same shade blended unbaked onto baked thinking they matched then baked the fresh clay on. Then in daylight gone ahhhhhhhhhhhhh when i've realised there not a match ones darker then the other.
I have no choice to do most of my crafting at night, but i now make sure to find time during the day to mix the clays store it and label the various shades separately.
Now for me this a rule hard to keep to due to time constraints but its a good one
Dont bake your model evening/ night under artificial light always check it during daylight hours . As any speck of dirt ,fluff finger prints, scrapes, cuts and marks will show up. You can then remove dirt, smooth down marks and finger prints. If you bake at night under artificial light you will be unable to remove mistakes like this, once baked your stuck with them.
Five Always bulk buy clay in various colours make sure you have a few of most colours. I found with my first topper i used a lot of black made a mistake with the legs needed to re do them ,but to my horror realised id ran out of black clay and had to rush order more. Having more then you need is better then finding yourself short. With polymer clay you cant just pop down to the shop and buy it so plan ahead and include extra clay as back up.
I will add more top tips at another time hope this helps other budding clay craftes out there :-)