Introduction: Clay Bead Necklace

About: I am an artist, author, and collector of smiling frogs.

Looking for a fun way to make polymer clay beads? Try the Skinner method to create beads with subtle graduating colors. String clear glass beads between the clay beads to add a bit of sparkle. The result is a unique necklace that you will reach for again and again.


Premo Sculpey Oven-Bake Clay (turquoise, white)

clear glass beads (size: 0/5)

jewelry findings: Soft Touch fine silver flexible wire (10 lb. strength), 1 lobster claw fastener, 1 jump ring, 2 crimp tube beads, 2 crimp cover beads

crimping pliers

Sculpey gloss glaze

small paintbush

piece of waxed paper

Sculpey clay conditioning machine

acrylic roller

12" ruler

piece of acrylic or smooth working surface

thin blade/slicer

needle end pointer (clay sculpting tool)

glass baking dish (used for clay only)

oven mitt (used for clay only)

cookie rack (used for clay only)


1 unopened 2 oz. package of clay

Step 1: Condition Clay

Remove turquoise clay from package. On the Sculpey clay conditioning machine, set the knob on the #1 (wide) setting.

Insert clay at the top of the machine and turn handle on right-hand side.

Continue conditioning until you get a smooth, pliable piece of clay.

Repeat process for the white clay.

Step 2: Skinner Method

With a blade, cut out two turquoise and two white triangles.

Stack the two turquoise triangles and the two white triangles.

Put the triangles together to form the rectangle as shown.

Using a finger, smooth the two triangles together into one piece of clay.

Step 3: Folding Rectangle and Blending Clay

Fold the rectangle lengthwise as shown and insert into the clay conditioning machine.

(Tip: Set a small package of unopened clay on the left side of the machine's rollers. This will prevent your clay from becoming too wide after repeated foldings.)

Turn handle and retrieve the clay from bottom of machine.

Fold the clay in the same lengthwise direction again and insert into machine.

Repeat folding and rolling until you achieve a smooth graduated blend.

Step 4: Making the Cane

Set the dial on the clay conditioning machine to #5.

Turn the blended clay 90 degrees and insert into the conditioning machine. Roll the blended sheet through the machine. It will be very thin and long.

Starting at the lighter end, tightly roll the clay until it forms a log. also known as a cane.

Step 5: Rolling Cane

To lengthen cane, squeeze in the middle and then gently squeeze down the length of the cane.

Roll the cane until it is smooth and seamless.

(A wide cane will make a larger bead. A thinner cane will make a smaller bead. For this necklace, I made

three different sizes of canes to vary the size of the beads.)

Step 6: Cut and Form Beads

Cut a 3/8 inch clay bead from the cane.

Slightly flatten the bead with the acrylic roller. The bead should be 1/4" thick.

Use fingers to form a teardrop-shaped bead.

Step 7: Making Holes

With the needle end pointer, gently poke a hole near the top of the bead and push the needle half-way through the bead.

Remove and insert the needle end pointer in the other side and push to complete the hole.

The hole should be wide enough for the wire to go though easily.

Step 8: Bake the Beads

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Place the teardrop-shaped beads in a glass baking dish and bake them for approximately 15-20 minutes. (Directions on package: 15 minutes for 1/4 inch).

Remove the beads and place baking dish on cookie rack. Cool beads completely.

Step 9: Glossing Beads

Place baked beads on a sheet of waxed paper.

Paint Sculpey gloss glaze on the front and sides of the bead. Allow beads to dry.

When dry, turn beads over and glaze the backs. Allow to completely dry.

Step 10: Preparing Wire to String Beads

Cut the wire to the length of the necklace desired, allowing about 3 extra inches of wire at either end.

This necklace is about 22" long, so I cut a piece of the wire measuring 28" long.

At one end of the wire, thread a tiny crimp tube bead, followed by the lobster claw fastener.

Make a u-turn with the wire and bring it back through the crimp tube bead as shown.

With the two wires side-by-side in the crimping tube, crimp the tube bead closed using the crimping pliers. Turn the crimp tube slightly and crimp again, making sure the wires are secure.

Step 11: Adding Crimp Cover Bead

Put the crimp cover bead over the flattened tube crimp and gently close the crimp cover bead with the crimping pliers.

Clip off excess wire.

Step 12: Designing Bead Pattern

Place beads into a pleasing pattern.

String three glass beads onto the wire. The lobster claw fastener will keep the beads from sliding off.

Then string one clay bead, followed by three more glass beads. Repeat the bead pattern until the necklace is completed.

Step 13: Attaching the Jump Ring

After stringing the necklace, thread on a crimp tube bead, then thread on the jump ring.

Make a u-turn with the wire and thread it back through the crimp tube bead.

Making sure the wires in the crimp tube bead are side-by-side, use the crimping pliers to close the tube.

Turn the tube slightly, and crimp again.

Add a crimp cover bead over the crimp tube bead and close gently with the crimping pliers.

Cut off excess wire.

Step 14: Finished Necklace!

The necklace is now complete and ready to wear!

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