Introduction: Turquoise Clay Bead Necklace

About: I'm interested in just about everything, sewing, shoemaking, leather crafts, cooking, gardening, photography... while home educating my children. Follow me on Instagram @secondskinblog for more projects.

Polymer clay is a wonderful medium that is easy to work with and doesn’t need a lot of equipment. You can create so much with it, my kids and I often sit for hours playing with it, shaping figures, food and animals and make them into charms for jewellery. Polymer clay is hardened by baking in the oven and once baked it can last for a long time.

Here I made a necklace with beads that resemble turquoise semi precious stones using a technique called antiquing.

Materials and tools

Polymer Clay: Fimo Peppermint

Bead roller (optional)

Cocktail sticks

Black Acrylic paint

Sanding paper (400 to 1500 grit)

Alcohol based ink, ginger

Sponge or paintbrush to apply the ink

2 – 3 m of leather cord (1mm), depending on how long you want your necklace to be (I used 2m, which made a 50cm/19in long necklace)

Silver spacer beads

2 Silver cone beads

Epoxy glue

Toggle fastener

Step 1: Hardening the Clay and Chopping It

Put the clay in the fridge for at least ½ hour to harden.

Take it out of the fridge and chop it into little bits. This is so the beads develop cracks and small crevasses when shaped and they look more like the real stones.

Step 2: Shaping the Beads

I shaped all the beads by hand, but you could use a bead roller to make them look more uniform. Make different shapes like balls, ovals and flattened ovals.

How to form the beads: Squeeze the clay into a rough ball and lay it in your palm. Cover your palm with the other hand and press down on the ball of clay. Continue shaping until you have a ball with some cracks and crevasses.

Make ovals by sweeping the top hand back and forth over the ball. Then take both ends between your two forefingers and roll it back and forth to make the points.

Flatten these shapes between your fingers to make flattened ovals. Don’t forget to leave cracks in all the beads. Put the clay back into the fridge, if it gets too soft while you are shaping the beads.

Step 3: Creating the Bead Holes

Hold the bead between your thump and forefinger. Drill a cocktail stick through the center of the bead with a twisting motion until it comes out on the other side.

Remove the stick carefully and insert it from the other side. This will give you a nice looking hole on both sides of the bead.

Step 4: Baking the Beads

Most clay brands recommend baking at 130 °C (266F) for 30 minutes, but check the packet for baking instructions, to be sure.

Make a tent out of aluminium foil and put it on a baking tray, then place your beads inside. Put the tray on the middle shelf of the oven for even heating.

Once baked let the beads cool down, this takes just a couple of minutes.

Step 5: Antiquing the Beads

Paint the entire beads with black acrylic paint. Let the paint dry well.

Sand away the paint, leaving some paint in the cracks. Start with the 400 grit paper and continue sanding and increasing the grit from 600 up to 1500. This process will result in a very smooth surface. It’s hard work but really worth the effort.

Now apply the ink either with a paintbrush or sponge. I tried both and found a sponge works better, because you can dab the ink on resulting in a lighter tone.

Step 6: Buffing the Beads

To give your beads a matt finish simply buff them on a piece of sturdy fabric like denim or wool, moving the beads back and forth.

Step 7: Threading the Beads

Decide on how long you want your necklace to be and add 31 cm (12in). Cut the cord to the length you need and divide it into three cords. Now make a knot, thread a bead and knot again to hold your beads in place. Add silver spacer beads in between.

Step 8: Adding the Closure

Add the toggle fasteners to the jump rings on the cone beads. Pinch the leather cords together so they fit inside the cone bead and glue into place with epoxy glue. Allow the glue to set for a couple of hours before wearing your necklace.

Clay Contest 2016

Participated in the
Clay Contest 2016