It is very easy to make your own beads from polymer clay, and it’s SO MUCH FUN to do! And it’s very addictive too. (So don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!)
So here’s the scoop on how to do it. You’ll need some clay, polymer or fimo will work. Choose colors that have a good contrast in color, about three or four and make sure you are using the same brand of clay for one project.
Make the clay supple and roll it into long worms. (If you can roll clay, you can make beads, trust me.)
Cut them in bits of about 6″ or so and press them together. Roll a flat bit of a contrasting color (a pasta machine is very useful for this process, but you can do without) and roll that around it. Continue to roll it until it becomes a neat roll of about a centimeter (a bit less than half an inch) in diameter. It will look like this:
You probably have a long roll of that now so cut it into six even lengths. Press them together again, one in the center and five around. Press them carefully together and continue to carefully roll again until they become about 1 cm in diameter again. That is called a cane. You can also press them together until they become longer.
It will then look something like this:
Let it rest for a couple of hours till it cooled off. Then you can go and make beads with it. Take a cane and use a papercutter to slice very thin slices. You’ll see the pattern in every slice.
Then take a bit of regular clay (it’s okay if this is leftover clay) and roll small beads. Take a slice and carefully fold it around the basic bead. Continue to use slices until all of the basic bead is covered. Then roll it between your hands so the seams melt together. And voila: a bead!
Pierce a hole in it with a needle or with a wooden pin (for a bigger hole) and bake the beads in the oven for about 35 to 40 mins, heat at 130 celsius degrees. And they’re done! They will look even better if you give them a nice varnish for a polished look.
This is what I made with these beads:
This is the basic idea but the possibilities are endless. Other artists have made this into a true artform and they make beads with exquisite and very intricate patterns.
For myself I particularly like the fact that I can make beads in the exact right color and shape that I had in mind for a certain piece.
I combine handmade beads with gemstones and sterling silver for a truly one of a kind piece.
About the author
Armande Borghardt is a European jewelry designer who creates one of a kind jewelry pieces with materials such as gemstones, handmade beads and vintage beads. Armande’s unique jewelry can be purchased online: www.inspiredjewelry.net