Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Technique Time: Basic Beads Part 1

Polymer clay can be very easily used to make a variety of beads. I will be doing different parts for this as there are so many things to learn when it comes to polymer clay beads! For this first part, I will show you how to make some common, and basic beads.

Why should I use Polymer Clay Beads?

Many people would rather just make a pendant, and not have to make lots of beads to go with it. Making beads though, especially from scrap polymer clay from a pendant, is an easy way of making sure you have coordinating colors on a necklace. The beads can also make a necklace all on there own for a bold, chunky look. They are great as rings, and bracelets as well as parts to sculptures.

How Do I Make Polymer Clay Beads?

There are several different shapes one can make with polymer clay for beads. We will start out with the most basic, a round bead.

A) Round Bead:

1) To make a round bead one simply takes a chunk of polymer clay and rolls it between their palms, until it is round and smooth all seams blended well.

From the round bead above you can make other beads easily, it is our base bead as it were.

B) Flat Round Bead:

1) Using the round bead you just made you can now make a flat round bead. You will need something flat with an even surface. I used an acrylic sheet, so I could see the results underneath. Tile or glass would work too.

2) Carefully press the acrylic sheet, or whatever you are using, onto the round bead. You do not want to press too hard or else it will be too flat.

Tip: Make sure you press with both hands with even force so the surface of the bead is also even.

3) Lift the acrylic sheet, and you should now have a flat round bead. Put a needle through it to make a hole and you are set to go.

C) Oval Bead:

1) Using the finished flat bead, carefully pinch the sides of the bead with your index and thumb as shown below.

2) Some spots will rise, and make the surface uneven, time to get out that acrylic sheet again! ;) Very gently press the now oval bead until it is even.

3) Put a needle through it once done pressing, and you now have a oval bead! These look great when paired with round beads.

D) Square Bead:

1) Starting with a round bead, one can make a square bead.

2) Pinch the sides of the round bead in with your index and thumb as shown below.

Now pinch the other sides still using your index and thumb until the shape is that of a square.

3) Put a needle through it to make a hole and you have a finished square bead.

One can also make these into diamonds simply by putting the hole through corner to corner, or try making a hole through the top to bottom. Square beads can be very versatile based on how you string them. :)

E) Tube Bead:

1) A tube bead is a skinny, long bead that looks like a tube. You start by rolling clay with your palm into a log or snake.

2) Then cut off a part of your rolled snake. Poke a hole with a needle and you have a basic tube bead.

These really help take up space in a necklace, and at times look like pasta. ;)

F) Twisted Bead:

1) Using the tube bead from above you can make a twisted version. Using your index finger and thumb on both ends of the tube bead twist it, and you shall get a twisted tube bead.

One can also take a different color of polymer clay and roll it into a skinny snake. Then wrap it around a tube bead. The picture below shows a partially wrapped tube bead.

My Final Words:

Polymer clay beads are very addicting, and can be easily made. Now the ones I did in this post are pretty plain, in the next part I will show how one can spruce them up using different materials, tools, and techniques. :)


Mich said...

That looks like so much fun, and one of the things I would like to play with in my jewelry journey!!

CB said...

Thanks Mich, it is a lot of fun. Careful though, polymer clay is also addicting!

PolymerClayTutor said...

One trick for when you are rolling round beads in your palms, is to hold one hand flat and only move the top hand in small circles. This will keep the bead rounder and will prevent you from rolling a football shaped bead. (Unless of course that is the shape you want!)

I agree, making polymer clay beads is very fun and addictive! ~Cindy Lietz

CB said...

Thanks for the tip polymerclaytutor. :)