If you make jewelry or add beads to your craft projects, you know that shopping for beads can be fun and is a great source of inspiration for new projects. However, you don't have to limit yourself to using beads that are readily available. Why not elevate your craft by creating beads of your own to use in your projects?
Polymer clay is a versatile material that can be used to create a variety of objects, including beads. We've gathered some of the most fun and creative ideas that you can try your hand at making yourself.
Handmade beads don't need to be limited to one-of-a-kind, creative applications. You can ensure that you never run out of the most popular colors of your bead essentials by making them yourself too.
1. Seed Beads
These tiny beads are widely used in handmade jewelry. They can be spacers between bigger beads, or they can be used by themselves in a variety of techniques. Make these beads on your own by shaping tiny pieces of polymer clay into uniform sizes and shapes. Poke a hole through each bead and bake them according to manufacturer instructions. Repeat with each desired color.
2. Flat Beads
Flat beads are another easy basic that you can make yourself. Similar to the seed beads, shape pieces of clay in a color of your choice to create uniformly flattened discs. Create a hole in the top of the discs, keeping in mind the way you'd like to string the beads in your pieces. These simple beads are perfect for complementing a statement bead.
3. Round Beads
Round beads can be as simple or intricate as you'd like to make them. Use polymer clay to form round balls and drive a hole through them before baking. Using this method, you can create basic round balls of all different colors to add to your base bead supply.
For fancier beads, you can paint details onto your round beads or create two-toned beads like the image above. You can paint your beads with acrylic paint before you bake them. Painting before baking allows the paint to bond better with the clay. When they are out of the oven and cooled, seal them with an acrylic sealer to prevent chipping.
4. Shaped Beads
Another type of bead that can be valuable in your everyday arsenal is shaped beads. Simply sculpt your clay into whatever shape you desire, poke a hole for stringing, and bake. This bead type requires some sculpting skill, and you must be mindful of the way you want the bead to hang when strung before adding the hole.
5. Carved Beads
Many things can be added to paint to create designs, but don't underestimate the value of carving designs into your beads. From letters to intricate designs, carved beads are can be created for any project and are a good addition to natural looks.
6. Molded Beads
Don't be afraid to use molds to create the perfect bead. Silicone molds used for fondant or resin can also work well for clay. While silicone is oven safe, you don't want to bake the bead inside the mold. Shape the bead using the mold, then take it out to bake. You can use molds to create details for beads too.
7. Spiral Beads
Add some shape and depth to your jewelry pieces by adding spiral beads. Create the spiral out of clay and lay it on your baking sheet. Once the bead is cured, it will retain its shape. Make plain spirals to add to everyday pieces or decorate the spirals so they can be the stars of their own jewelry.
8. Donut Beads
These are perfect to have on hand, especially if you create earrings. You can add some interesting elements to this basic shape by experimenting with colors or details.
Polymer Clay Art
Polymer clay is most well known as a medium for sculpting creations. It is used to make figurines, details for bigger projects, and charms. As a jewelry maker, you can take advantage of this application by creating more detailed beads.
9. Coordinating Collections
In the image above, a collection was created out of large leaf and disc beads with coordinating flowers and round beads. Following this example, you can create your own collection by making some larger statement beads and creating simpler coordinating beads to match. This is a great way to create a signature piece for your brand, if you have one, or plan a coordinating piece.
10. Sweet Treats
While these beads require some sculpting skill, you can create a bead version of any treat for a dessert themed bracelet or necklace. Polymer clay does not harden until it is cured so feel free to experiment and practice before baking the final product.
11. Marbled Beads
Use two colors of clay to make a marbled look that can then be formed into any bead shape. Like with playdoh, overworking the clay can cause the colors to completely mix, so blend with an easy hand. Your end product will look best if both colors can be seen in the bead.
12. Polymer Paintings
Treat your clay like a blank canvas and create an interesting design using coordinating colors. You can create these beads similar to cutout cookies. Roll out the clay and use cookie cutters or a knife to cut out bead shapes. Remember to add your hole before baking. This method is perfect for pendants or statement beads.
13. Peace, Love, And Polymer
These peace sign beads can be created in two ways. You can create the peace sign and the surrounding color using clay, or you can create a basic single-colored bead and paint the peace sign onto it before baking. Create seed beads in matching colors for a full bracelet or necklace.
14. Flower Spacers
You can use these flowers as pretty spacers between beads or by themselves to create a simple jewelry piece. Simply sculpt your clay into 3D petals and add your hole to the middle. You can create a more solid flower by using yellow or orange clay to create a flower center. Then, your hole can go through the entire flower and create a bead that lays flat.
15. Realistic Fruit
These orange slice beads look good enough to eat! Thread the beads as is or add coordinating beads on either side. You can create similar looks by creating beads that look like other fruits.
16. Seasonal Beads
Making your own beads is an especially good idea around the holidays. When you create your own, you don't have to be limited to the ideas that are available in the store. Put your own spin on your holiday offerings by creating beads that are unique to your pieces.
17. Kid-Friendly Beads
Kids love jewelry too, and the vibrant colors of polymer clay make it easy to create beads for the kiddos. Whether you create jewelry pieces for the kids in your life or make them beads they can string themselves, they will love the whimsical colors and shapes.
If you have decided to create your own beads using polymer clay, that doesn't mean that you can't use other materials to create your beads as well. These ideas combine polymer clay and other findings to create unique beads.
18. Textured Hearts
These beads use black and red polymer clay to create to basic heart bead. Then, seed beads are added to outline and highlight the heart, adding some interesting texture. You can further expand this technique by varying shapes and colors.
Keep in mind that polymer clay needs to be cured by baking, so glass beads are recommended for this project. Glass can withstand the high temperature needed to bake the polymer clay.
19. Ornamental Beads
Create these ornament-style beads with coordinating-colored clay, metal accents, and even fabric wrapping. Make your round beads in the sizes you desire, then add your accents and details. You can try the design shown above or experiment with your own details. Sculpey, a leading polymer clay brand, encourages the use of various materials when working with polymer clay and makes it easy to determine what can and cannot be baked.
20. Metal Leaf
Add some interesting texture and flair to your beads by adding a metal leaf to any bead shape. You can create this look by painting silver or gold leaf onto your clay bead and then baking it to cure. Because the leaf will not expand while the clay will, the end result will be a crackle effect. For intact metal leaf details, use a small amount on a smaller bead.
21. Beads With Bling
Create a simple round bead of any size and bedazzle with rhinestones. These beads can be used to elevate any glamorous look. Be mindful that plastic rhinestones will likely melt in the high heat necessary to cure the clay, but glass rhinestones or crystals can withstand high temperatures.
Whether you make jewelry as a hobby or as a business, creating your own beads will elevate your pieces and separate you from your competition. Polymer clay is the perfect medium for getting started, and each of these ideas allows for your own creativity and style. Grab some polymer clay, kickstart your imagination, and see what beads you can create! Don't forget to check out these articles for more bead inspiration: