How to make polymer clay beads

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How to make polymer clay beads

There are many different types of polymer clay beads, and any small sculpture made of polymer clay can be turned into a bead by creating a hole through which string may pass. Some common types of polymer clay beads include plain beads, millefiori beads, and stamped beads. Polymer clay is a very flexible medium, and artists often create unique beads that do not conform to any predetermined type.

The most basic kinds of polymer clay beads involve rolling clay into a ball or other three-dimensional structure. These beads can be in any shape and are often strung in lines. By using more than one color of clay, these beads can become more interesting. It is also possible to create patterns on the surface of these beads using toothpicks or other textured items.

One of the most interesting types of beads is made by a unique technique called millefiori. This process involves rolling bars of clay together to create logs, which display colors in beautiful patterns when sliced apart. These slices can then be placed on the surface of the bead to create a pattern covering the entire bead. While millefiori is traditionally used to create floral patterns, it is possible to create many different images using this technique.

Polymer clay beads are often created as small sculptures that can be used as pendants in necklaces and other jewelry. Any small sculpture can become a bead, but those that are not too heavy are easier to incorporate into jewelry. Pendants can also be abstract and may not represent any particular object.

One interesting technique that can be used to create polymer clay beads involves incorporating wax into the soft design. When the beads are baked, the wax melts out and leaves hollow spaces. This can be used to create beads within beads or even to suspend beads around other beads. It is also possible to include materials other than clay in polymer clay beads, although sometimes these must be applied after the clay is hardened if the other materials are sensitive to heat.

The possibilities for polymer clay beads are limited primarily by the artist’s skill and imagination. Most of the time, these beads differ in terms of their shape, color, and texture more than anything else. Shape can be modified by sculpting the clay, color can be changed by using different colors of clay together, and texture is modified by pressing on or otherwise marking the clay. By making changes along these three parameters, it is possible to make a nearly infinite number of different beads.

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Discussion Comments

@browncoat – I don’t know, the figures might be better either way. Polymer clay is quite expensive. Making your own canes would be fine if you are really going to make quite a few, but if you only need them occasionally and you don’t do anything else with the clay, it might not be worth having to buy all the different colors you’d need for even the most simple kind of cane.

High quality polymer clay can cost $5 or more per slab and that’s only if you’re buying the smallest available kind.

If you’re making, for example, Fimo clay beads you’re going to end up shelling out quite a lot, particularly if you’re trying for complex patterns.

There’s a reason so many people sell canes online. They are able to buy the clay in bulk and pass the savings on to the people who only need it in small amounts. I wouldn’t discount it as an option if you are doing this as a hobby, or maybe as a small crafts person. browncoat May 4, 2012

@KoiwiGal – It’s not all that difficult to create a millefiori cane for yourself. There are plenty of tutorials to choose from online.

If you are only planning to use millefiori once or twice it might be worth getting a cane. But with all the shipping costs (polymer clay is heavy!) and the fact that you don’t have full control over colors and shapes and so forth, I think it’s really worth just learning how to do it yourself.

It might take some time to figure out how to do the more complex patterns, but I think it’s almost definitely going to be worth it in the end, particularly financially.

And it will be much more satisfying to know that you know how to make polymer clay beads from scratch. KoiwiGal May 3, 2012

If you like the idea of using millefiori beads but you don’t want to make them yourself, you can find unbaked logs online that incorporate all kinds of colors and patterns. They call them millefiori canes and they are often fairly cheap.

That way you can position the bead holes where ever you want, or you can use the same design to create different kinds of beads, rather than straight circles.

You can, for example, layer thin slices of a cane around a central shape in order to create a larger focus bead.

Or you might want to create something else with the cane. Polymer clay jewelry is so diverse, it really is up to you.

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Make your own polymer clay beads and create bold, statement jewellery pieces. From necklaces to earrings, experiment with designs, shapes and colours and bring your jewellery designs to life – it’s a fun hobby and a great way to make bespoke jewellery. Discover our beginner’s guide on how to make polymer clay beads today.

What do you need to make polymer clay beads?

Using the right tools and equipment will help you to create high-quality polymer clay beads. We would recommend using:

  • Fimo clay – in the colour(s) of your choice. Using clay as fresh as possible will help to prevent cracking.
  • A hard, flat surface – like a workmat, tile or sheet of glass
  • A needle tool or toothpick
  • A ruler, to size your beads
  • Sand paper
  • Varnish and a clean brush (if you wish to seal your beads and make them shiny)
  • A clean work surface: dust and clean before you start, as polymer clay is soft and will pick up anything that it comes into contact with

How to make Fimo clay beads

One of the easiest ways to make polymer clay beads is to start with a polymer ‘snake’, which can be made by cutting your block of clay into strips and rolling it out into a snake-like shape.

To create a simple bead design, take two sticks of coloured polymer clay and twist or roll them together to get a marbled effect – then form this into your desired shape. Play around with wrapping, folding and rolling different coloured clays together to create new designs and patterns. When making smaller beads, keep stretching the clay out into a longer snake – using your first and middle fingers to keep a uniform shape and thickness throughout.

How to make polymer clay beadsOnce you’ve reached your desired width and shape, cut the clay into equal pieces to create your individual beads – a ruler will help you to be more precise and will result in more evenly sized beads. Rolling the clay between the palm of your hand and a flat, smooth surface will help you get a round ball, or use a Fimo Magic Roller for an even easier solution. Simply take your ball of clay and place it in one of the shaped slots, gently moving the cover back and forth to create an evenly shaped bead.

Use a cocktail stick or a needle tool to put the hole in the top of your bead to attach a clay jewellery finding later – or, use an electric drill with a small drill bit to add the hole after baking/curing. This way, you’ll avoid distorting the shape of your bead.

Once you’ve baked your polymer clay beads (see below), use the sand paper to smooth the surface and remove any rough edges.

How to bake polymer clay beads

Bake for around 10-30 minutes, depending on the size and thickess of your polymer clay bead and always bake at the temperature specified by the manufacturer. You may benefit from using a thermometer for a more accurate reading of the temperature.

Head to our blog for more guidance on how to bake polymer clay.

How to make polymer clay beads shiny

How to make polymer clay beadsCoating your polymer clay beads with a layer of water based varnish will add a glossy sheen to the surface. Before you apply the varnish, make sure that the surface of the bead is dry, clean and free from grease, dust or any other speckles of dirt. The varnish will be touch dry after 20 minutes, but fully dry after 24 hours, so make sure you varnish in plenty of time before putting together your jewellery pieces.

Creating patterns in your polymer clay beads

The millefiori or ‘caning’ technique allows you to create a distinctive, decorative pattern using several polymer clay tubes that are stretched and manipulated together. Used widely in glass working, building up your pattern in a cross-section will reveal the image when the clay is sliced – picture a stick of rock! Whether you’re using thin slices of clay to shape around a base bead, or free-handing your polymer clay to create your own free-style bead, ensuring that you’re not rolling too hard or quickly will help to maintain the pattern of the clay.

Looking for more texture? You can stamp or impress different textures and patterns into the raw clay to create interesting effects, such as old fabrics and wooden objects. Play around with glitters and other powders to add more colour and sparkle to your designs, simply brushing it on before you bake. Using gold leaf metal sheets or silver leaf metal sheets will help you achieve a unique pattern and finish to your design.

Our top tips when making polymer clay beads

  • When combining other materials with polymer clay, it is important to check that the resources you are using are compatible. How? Do a test on a scrap piece of clay to check that the two materials don’t react badly with one another.
  • When working with white clay, always clean your hands first – as it will pick up every speck of dust and can leave your design looking dirty.
  • Remember, the heavier the bead, the harder it will be to use in jewellery making. Experiment with designs and shapes, but it’s best to keep to lighter pendants/beads.
  • When baking, thread your beads onto a length of wire or a cocktail stick to suspend over the oven tray – that way you’ll avoid the clay sticking.
  • If you have trouble removing your clay from a surface, use a flat knife.

Now you know how to make polymer clay beads, pick up everything you need from Cooksongold. From Fimo polymer clay tools to Fimo polymer clay sets containing all the coloured clay you’ll need. Get started on your polymer clay bead project today.

How to make polymer clay beads

I’m so excited to show you all How to Make Polymer Clay Beads today! These are so much fun to make and the designs are endless. If you haven’t worked with polymer clay before, make sure to check out my Introduction to Polymer Clay post for the basics and some tips! Today I’m going to show you how to make both basic and marbled beads, so let’s get started!

How to Make Polymer Clay Beads

How to make polymer clay beads

Supplies:

  • Plain copy paper or an index card. Folded accordion style.
  • Gold clay. Or whatever color you want for your plain beads.
  • Teal and black clay. Or whatever two colors you want for your marbled beads.
  • Needle tool.
  • Blade or plastic cutting tool.
  • Porcelain tile or other work surface.

How to make polymer clay beads

Let’s make the plain gold beads first. Start by rolling your clay into a ball, then into a snake. Use your blade to cut the snake into equal sections. Roll each section into a ball using the palms of your hands.

How to make polymer clay beads

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Now take your needle tool, and push it straight down through the center of your bead. Pick it up on the tool, and gently rotate the bead until the tool goes through to the other side. Remove the needle, and push it in gently from the other side. This create a clean hole all the way through the clay. If you mess up the first time, don’t worry! Just re-roll the clay into a ball and try again!

How to make polymer clay beads

See how neat and clean going in both sides makes the hole? This helps you be able to more easily string the beads on thread later. When you finish each bead, set it into one of the channels in the accordion folded paper. Using the folded paper to hold the beads while they bake keep them from having any flat or shiny spots.

How to make polymer clay beads

Now, let’s make our marbled beads. Take your two colors. If you’re using a darker and a lighter color, I recommend using less of the darker color for a balanced look. Roll out each color into a long snake. Then twist them together. Fold this twist in half, and twist it again. Repeat this two or three times until your colors are well blended. Do not mash, knead, or squeeze the clay. That will cause the colors to mix and become a new color rather than marbleizing.

How to make polymer clay beads

When you’re happy with your marbleizing, go ahead and roll your clay into a ball, then out into a snake. Cut it into equal portions, and roll it into balls like you did for the gold beads.

How to make polymer clay beads

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Go ahead and create the bead holes the same way, and add your marbleized beads to your folded paper. Bake them according to your clay manufacturer’s instructions. I used Sculpey clay and my beads were just above 1/4 inch thick, so I baked mine at 275 F for 30 minutes and they turned out great!

How to make polymer clay beads

Here are the gold beads.

How to make polymer clay beads

And here are the marbleized beads.

How to make polymer clay beads

I prefer not to coat my polymer clay projects, but if you want your beads to have a shiny finish, I recommend using a polyurethane sealer on them for the most durable glossy finish! I hope you enjoyed learning how to make polymer clay beads with me!

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How to make polymer clay beads

If you ask, you may just get exactly what you want… Flower petal inclusion video, a full tutorial:

The following dialog is is from an email conversation I recently had with a subscriber about how to make beads from flower petals.

CYNTHIA (aka cynister): I signed up for your Guest List & began looking through your site. I wanted to watch the video on flower petal beads but I can’t seem to find where I do that in its full version. I can only see the preview. Where do I find that?

CINDY (aka polymer clay tutor): Thanks for your interest in my bead videos. Many of the polymer clay tutorials I produce are designed to go into courses that are available for purchase. However, that flower petal video will likely be released at some point down the road in my free video newsletter. Sorry I don’t know exactly when it will be released, so stay tuned…

CYNTHIA: Thanks for the quick response. I enjoy watching your videos & look forward to there being more topics available. I really hope the flower bead video is released soon as I am very interested in that in particular. Thank you!

Well cynister, this week’s free newsletter video will be all about mixing dried flower pieces with translucent polymer clay to make a rose petal bead or any other type of flower bead you choose. They can be used as memorial beads, prayer beads, rosary beads, or for unique jewelry to celebrate a special occasion.

If you use Fimo Classic Translucent clay, your beads will have a whitish color to them whereas Premo gives the beads a yellowish glow. Some petals and pot pourri contain dyes in them and these can sometimes bleed into the clay for an interesting effect.

So if you have ever wanted to make some special beads as a memento to a special event, the upcoming video is worth seeing. Here’s a link to page where you can get subscribed: Polymer Clay Tutorials Guest List

And here’s a link to a sneak peak clip taken from the full video that will be sent out in a few days: Beads From Flower Petals

Oh and feel free to tell your friends about subscribing to my video newsletter as well. I’ve already been receiving emails from non-subscribers asking how to get access to the bead making videos released in previous weeks. Sorry, but you have to be on the guest list to receive them. I promise to make it worth your while 🙂

Introduction: How to Make Polymer Clay Beads 🙂

How to make polymer clay beads

In this tutorial I will explain how to make polyester beads to create a beautiful necklace or bracelet.

Polymers are materials made of long, repeating chains of molecules. The materials have unique properties, depending on the type of molecules being bonded and how they are bonded. Some polymers bend and stretch, like rubber and polyester.

In my childhood I used FIMO to create thost beans and make presents to my family and friends.

There are many colors of FIMO, which allows a variety of special and interesting works. With FIMO you can also sculpt characters of animals, foods, and many more..

FIMO can be hardened in the oven at 110 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature should not exceed 130 degrees

Hope you enjoy this guide and create beautiful beads!

Step 1:

Take a small piece of FIMO and make a cylinder- 5 cm height and a radius of 0.3 cm.

This cylinder is going to be at the middle of a flower.

Step 2:

create 5 more cylinders, from different color (it could be one color or few colors) – to create the flower petals.

Step 3:

Put the first cylinder in the center, and put the other 5 cylinders around it (the petals).

Now we got a long tube in the form of a flower.

Step 4:

Now we want to take the flower and make a bead from it,

Take another color of FIMO and create a very thin roll so it can fit in between the flower petals.

Step 5:

Take a piece of FIMO of the same color and flatten it until it is a quarter inch thick.

Wrap the flower in this layer and roll the entire flower up to form a thick cylinder.

cut the cylinder by the size of the beads you want to create, and make each such piece with your hands into a ball shape.

Pass a toothpick in the middle to create a hole – and here’s one bead ready 🙂

Now you can put it in the oven to make it hard- FIMO becomes hard when it is cured – the color and shape of the models remain virtually identical.

Step 6:

Now you can make a necklace or bracelet, and read online how to make more cool beads

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How to make polymer clay beads

How to make polymer clay beads

The Natasha bead technique is quick, easy and fun, and a great way to turn your leftover polymer clay into something unexpectedly beautiful. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how easy it is to do.

This technique works best with leftover cane ends, but can be used with just about any polymer clay scrap. You can create endless kaleidoscope type patterns, and no two beads ever come out looking exactly the same. It’s fascinating to go through the process and see what you come out with at the end. Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll love it.

You will need the following supplies:

  • Leftover polymer clay
  • A tissue blade
  • An acrylic roller
  • A Cutter of your choice

To create these polymer clay beads you’ll need a bunch of leftover polymer clay. I’ve found that cane ends work the best, but any scrap will do.

Steps To Making A Natasha Polymer Clay Bead

  • Ball up your leftovers and roll them into a compact cylinder. Make sure there aren’t any trapped air bubbles.
  • Start to twist the tube.
  • Twist until it feels rigid in your hands.
  • Stop at this point and roll the polymer clay against your work surface. This will loosen it up again. Then proceed to twist some more.
  • Carry on twisting until you are happy with it. The more you twist the more mixed up the clay with become. Lots of twists will result in a busier pattern, while less twists will cause a blockier pattern.
  • Once you’re happy, you’ll need to shorten the snake. Do this by squishing both ends of the roll. This will shorten it. Don’t worry if there’s some distortion. You want that.
  • Now that it’s short you have to square it up like you would a square cane. To do this, roll along the top of the snake with your acrylic roller to flatten one side. Turn the roll a quarter turn and flatten that side. Repeat for the last two sides.
  • Now you need to convert the square into a rectangle. You do this by rolling along the top of the square until the square squishes into more of a rectangular shape. The rectangle should be around 1/4″ thick. The width of the top will depend on the size of the square you started out with. Turn the rectangular cane and roll each side repeatedly until you have nice, sharp edges.
  • Cut the piece in half lengthwise through the 1/4″ side with your tissue blade. You’ll find that your two pieces have the same image.
  • Lay the two pieces flat and line them up to form a mirror image.
  • Gently push the pieces together. Roll once or twice with your acrylic roller to level the clay out. Be careful to avoid distorting the pattern.
  • You should end up with a polymer clay sheet around 1/8″ thick. Cut a Natasha bead using your choice of cutter.

And that’s the Natasha bead technique. It can be hard to explain, so I recommend that you watch the video tutorial for the best results.

I also show how to make a four sided Natasha polymer clay bead in the video.

Natasha Beads Polymer Clay Tutorial

You can do almost anything with polymer clay. You can impress patterns into it, mold it, sculpt it, blend it, embed mixed media, paint it, embellish it with glitter or resin – in short, it’s fabulously versatile. And you can make polymer clay beads with it!

ABOVE: See how easy it is to make a custom polymer clay bead!

This ability to manipulate polymer clay into whatever you need it to be makes it a great medium for making beads. Mix up that elusive color, texture to your liking, and add surface effects to make that perfect accent bead. Here’s how!

What You’ll Need to Make Polymer Clay Beads

Gather a few items to get started:

  • Polymer clay
  • Texture sheets (affiliate link) or other items such as silverware or filigree that have a pattern you’d love to capture
  • Toothpicks
  • Colorful or sparkly powders
  • Clear sealant (affiliate link) that matches your brand of clay

You’ll also want to have some handy wet wipes nearby and an oven to bake your beads in.

How to make polymer clay beadsWhy stop at just one?

Shape, Texture, and Color Your Clay Beads

There’s something about playing with clay that promotes such a feeling of satisfaction. So jump right in and start mixing your colors! If you have a clay-conditioning machine (a.k.a. a pasta machine), that can be a great help – but if not, your fingers will get the job done just fine.

Once you’re happy with the shape of your bead, use a toothpick to bore a hole through it. Leave the toothpick in place as you gently press your bead onto the texture of your choice.

Now comes the fun part. To make that beautifully imprinted texture stand out, use your fingertip to apply a tiny bit of powder to the bead. The colored surface will contrast nicely with deeper crevices.

To cure, bake your beads according to the directions on your package of clay, either in a conventional oven or a tabletop oven. To prevent any flat spots on your beads, you can leave them on the toothpick and suspend them on blocks of foil, paper, or clay.

How to make polymer clay beadsChristi Friesen recommends great tips for baking beads in her online workshop Learn 10 Beads and Charms.

After your beads have cooled, all that’s left is to apply a clear sealant to protect the surface powders. To make sure it’s compatible with your polymer clay, use a product that is made by the same brand.

Keep Experimenting!

To read more about making polymer clay jewelry, check out these blog posts:

Go be creative!
Tamara Kula
Producer, Bead & Jewelry Group