Instructables
Picture of How to Make Polymer Clay Beads
I love to make rather large polymer clay beads but the bigger the bead, the heavier the weight, which is no good for jewelry. I decided using a wood "filler" bead might help cut down the weight. Turns out it did and it also cut down my expenses b/c I wasn't using nearly as much clay! And that translated to selling the beads at a better price as well! Everyone wins! :D

Here's how I make inexpensive and light-weight polymer beads...
 
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Step 1: What you'll need.

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-Pre-made Cane
-Tissue Blade
-Knitting Needle or Exacto-Knife or Stylus
-Wax Paper
-Liquid Polymer Clay (preferable)
-Wood Beads (size is up to you)

If you don't have a "pre-made cane", look for an instructable on "how to make a polymer clay cane". I'll probably have one out in a couple of hours. ;)

Step 2: Workstation.

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Something to remember is polymer clay is soft and will pretty much pick up anything it comes into contact with, so keep your work area as clean as possible.

Good lighting is important too. Especially when working with smaller crafts like beads. And have all your tools within arms reach.

Now, tape down your wax paper, making sure you get all the corners pulled snug so the paper doesn't crinkle in the middle. Move your hands around on the paper after taping just to make sure it's secure.

Step 3: Slices.

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Choose your cane and begin cutting slices from one end.

The slices should be thin but not so thin they are see-thru. Slices should also be fairly even in thickness.
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hschwartz11 month ago
What can be used in place of the liquid polymer clay?
great instructable. Your beads look very pretty. I also make clay beads and came up with an idea for suspending beads, that can not roll around on the pan. I purchased an inexpensive pan and drilled holes opposite of one another on the upright sides....this way i can thread my needle or skewer through one side....string beads on and then thread through the other side of the pan....easy and awesome everytime....thanks for the great step by step. i never thought of covering wood beads.
M.Hawse8 months ago

Beautiful. Just beautiful. I am starting to think of so many possibilities with this line of crafting. Thank you for sharing!

astrovoid1 year ago
Mmmm... it's cool!!! Sleds Can-Am No Limit Motors
maidensolo1 year ago
I stick my beads on a toothpick and stick the toothpick in an apple.  i put them there the minute they are made and they are not disturbed until after they come out of the oven! I set the apple in a cake pan. This is so simple but so successful. You know the more you handle a bead prior to baking the more messed up it gets. This way is flawless. After baking and cooling, remove the bead and toss the apple in the trash. I usually bake a set of 25 beads on one apple.
maidensolo
Kalaus5 years ago
An even better alternative to wood beads is kitchen foil -- cut or tear it into approximately equal pieces, crumple and roll tightly into balls. Practice to see what size works better for you. Don't forget to make holes (use a needle or a toothpick) before they are covered with clay -- poking a hole through tightly rolled foil is not as easy as it may seem, you will need to hold it very firmly between your fingers.
great idea!
HI, IM NEW AT THE CLAY BEADING THING I HAVE A QUESTION.... HOW STRONG IS POLYMER CLAY AND CAN IT GET WET?                              
thickneckarts (author)  craftymama115 years ago
Polymer clay is basically a mixture of clay and polymer (also used in plastics) so it's pretty durable. However, it is not indestructible and the thinner it is, the less durable it is, just like earth-clay. It can get wet, in fact, to get rid of fingerprints and other unwanted marks, you can use a fine grade sandpaper with some water to buff them right out! :D

Polymer clay is not a mixture of "clay and polymer". 

Polymer clay is made up of fine particles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) suspended in plasticizer.  It is a completely synthetic compound.

 

Unfortunately your information in Step 7 above about the baking temperature for polymer clay is not correct. 

You state, "Most polymer clays bake for 10 mins at around 200 degrees" ....

There is NO major brand of polymer clay that bakes at a 200 degree temperature.  This is far TOO LOW and will result in a weak and brittle product that breaks easily. 
When polymer clay is baked at the proper temperature (normally between 250 to 300 degrees depending on brand) you get a strong, long-lasting product.

You are correct however in directing folks to read the instructions on the clay package.

thickneckarts (author)  Sweet2Spicy4 years ago
I bake my beads at around 210F and have not had a problem with brittleness.

I've never head of clay that bakes at only 210 degrees - that's way too low to bake out all the plasticizer and give a hard, strong product.

Here are the correct baking times for the top brands of polymer clay:

PREMO = 275 degree (for 30 mins each 1/4" of thickness - i.e. 1/2" thick equals 1 hour)

FIMO = 265 degrees

SCULPEY = 275 degrees

KATO = 300 degrees

Hope this helps.

Take care and happy claying.
 

Everytime I cook my polymer clay for this long by beads have a tendency to burn. I have to cook my beads at 265 for 15 minutes no longer. They start turning brown
Are you cooking them in a small toaster oven? ... close to the heating elements?

Clay does not burn at 265 degrees unless you've got it right by the heating element. If you "tent" the clay with aluminum foil, this may help.

It sounds like you are doing something unusual here ... 265 is a very safe temperature even if you bake for 40 minutes (like I always do).
Lots of ovens aren't quite accurate with their temperatures. It could be that 210 on her oven actually is closer to 275, and that 265 is enough higher that its burning her clay.
thickneckarts (author)  Sweet2Spicy4 years ago
Thanks for clearing that up :) I should've looked it up before but was too lazy. Fail.
where's the ible for the clay cane???
where did you get your pre made cane?
thickneckarts (author)  maddymooskie3 years ago
I don't buy premade canes.
how much do you pay for a cane of pre made cane
thickneckarts (author)  maddymooskie3 years ago
I don't buy pre-made canes. I make all of my own canes.
WeaveKiller4 years ago
You can bake the beads on a nice little "nest" of Polyfill. (It won't melt.)
Do you mean the same poly fill used for quilts and pillows or something else. That seems too easy.
yes, it should be the same polyfill for bedding stuff. i bought the thick sheet ones and cut to fit my oven. it helps baking things that are not beads. it helps to keep your creations' shape really well. polyfill doesn't leave any marks on the baked clay.
Thanks about the beads..I just had to see what other things you are making. Fun stuff!
Have you tried using 6mm airsoft bbs for small beads? you can buy like 5000 for $10 or so, depending where you look.
Lettucehead4 years ago
 Yes! I have been trying to find instructions on these FOREVER!!! Yay!!!
beadydani4 years ago
Very carefully explained tut, better than all the ones I have come across. I like the way you explain every step and why it is important to get it right.

I may give it another (had two failed attempts) try at some point but right now I am so busy with other aspects of jewellery making.

Thanks for sharing.
thickneckarts (author)  beadydani4 years ago
Thanks :D Good luck with your next try!
lotusduck5 years ago
 I have also heard that you can roll up dissolving starch packing peanuts to make a completely hollow bead, or a nearly hollow bead with a little something to roll around in there.
Could you roll your own little ball and poke a hole through it, then bake it?
thickneckarts (author)  bassclarinet235 years ago
Absolutely. But check out my intro.
Okay. They're very professional looking.
thickneckarts (author)  bassclarinet235 years ago
Thanks! Unfortunately, this set didn't work as well as usual, but practice make perfect! :D
suzettefsy5 years ago
THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS DEMO, I'VE REALLY LEARNED A LOT FROM THIS =)
KreaKatri5 years ago
Looks nice :) Since the liquid polymer clay is only preferable, does that mean that it will work without it?
thickneckarts (author)  KreaKatri5 years ago
You can, but the clay may not stick to the wood as well. If you're not using liquid polymer clay, try scoring the wood first so the clay will stick better. Experimenting is the best way to know. :)
Okay, thanks :) I'll try that.
Bard5 years ago
Have you ever attempted to clear coat one of these things to see how it turns out?
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