How to Make Beads


How to make beads for a bracelet or necklace using polymer clay.

When you start to get into making polymer clay jewelry you will discover there are many different ideas. The only limit is your imagination.

There are many techniques that can be used. There are endless shapes, textures, sizes and colors. Adding the right combination of colors and using these ideas can really add a lot of dimension to your work.


Age: 12+

Difficulty: Easy

Time scale: 3 out of 5

how-to-make-beads

Supplies:

  • 2 oz. package of black polymer clay
  • Craft paint in:
    metallic blue
    metallic green
    copper
  • pasta/clay machine
  • 1 inch circle cutter
  • needle tool
  • stretch jewelry cord
  • jewelry glue
  • small paint brush
  • future floor wax
  • thin Wire
  • paper towel


There are directions on the internet on how to make beads that look like torquoise, quartz, jade, opals, wood, and the list goes on.



Instructions for How to Make Beads


Do you know how to make beads the same size? Run the clay through the pasta machine and then use a circle cutter to cut out the pieces. Another method is to run the clay through an extruder and then with a ruler, measure and slice into lengths. This takes more time and it is harder to get the pieces exactly the same.

Condition the black clay and run 1/2 of it (1 oz.) through the pasta machine. Start on the thickest setting and work your way down to about a #6 setting. 

Lay the piece of clay on your work surface and paint little bits here and there with the metallic blue paint. After that is dry, do metallic green, dry again and then paint on the copper paint.

Paint-random-metallic-colors-on-black-clay

When this is completely dry, run through the pasta machine on the thinnest setting. This should give the paint a bit of a crackled effect.

Pull the clay to stretch it even thinner.

Run-clay-through-pasta-machine

There is a really good video on you tube by Jackie Newton. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiyvrlfeBQw
Although I have done this slightly different, the idea for the paint technique originated from this.

Put the remaining black clay through the pasta machine on a #4 setting.  Cut out circles from the clay using the 1 inch circle cutter. If you want the beads smaller, roll the clay out thinner, or use a smaller circle cutter.

A 1 oz. package of clay on a #4 setting, using a 1 inch circle cutter, should make 15 beads. I have a very small wrist, so I needed 13 beads for a bracelet. Most people will probably need 14 or 15.

Fold up the circle and roll it in the palm of your hand, with your fingers. Go around and around, to shape it into a ball. This is how to make beads round. It takes a bit of practice.

Do all the circles that you have cut out.

Roll-small-black-clay-ball

Now rip tiny pieces off of the painted piece of clay and start putting them on a bead.

The more jagged the edges are when you rip the clay, the better.

Some pieces can overlap a bit.

Pull-off-small-colored-clay-piece-from-sheet

When the ball is all covered, put it in the palm of your hand and roll it around, to adhere the pieces.

If you want the texture to remain, roll only a bit. If you want the pieces to blend in more on the bead, roll more. I made some both ways.

Attach-pieces-to-black-clay-ball

Now repeat, covering all your beads until you have enough to make a bracelet or a necklace. 

Sit the ball on your work surface.  Holding the needle tool straight up and down, poke it through the top. Turn over and find the hole on the other side and put the needle tool through this direction to even up the hole.

Reshape the bead if it ended up a little flat from poking at it.

Poke-hole-using-needle-tool

To bake your beads, string them on a thin wire and hook it across a shallow baking pan with a lip. The wire can be hooked around the sides, so the beads don't touch the pan.

Bake-beads-in-oven

Bake according to the instructions on the package of clay. This may vary depending on the type of clay you are using.

Now here is how to make beads shiny: When cool, cut a piece of wire about 4 inches long and stick though the hole of the bead. Make a loop on the end of the wire so it won't come off.

Dip into a bottle of future liquid floor wax. Tap the wire on the edge of the bottle to remove excess.

Now, to keep it from making a drip spot, bend the wire so you can poke it into the top of a roll of paper towel and hang it over the edge. Make sure it doesn't touch the edge of the paper towel and it is hanging straight down.

Coat-with-future-floor-wax-hang-to-dry

I know this is really high tech (ha ha) and quite amazing. It seems to keep drip marks away. The future runs down to the end of the wire instead of having the drip sitting at the bottom of the bead.

Let dry and then dip again. Remove from the wires when the second coat has dried.

Now, how to make beads into a bracelet: String them on to stretch cord and measure to get the correct size for your wrist.

Cut the stretch cord leaving a bit extra length for tying. Make a slip knot and pull tight.  Add a drop of jewelry glue on the knot. Cut the cord, just out from the knot a bit and pull to the inside of one of the beads.

Once you learn how to make beads like these you may want to try different sizes, shapes and colors. There are never ending possibilities. Have fun and see what you can come up with.

Poppy-seed-shape
Carved-lines-in-clay
Texture-on-texture-clay
swirled-snail-shape-design
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