This is a clay bead necklace that features some of my favorite comic book characters: Garfield & Odie, Snoopy & Woodchuck, Hello KItty, the Angry Birds (not really a comic book character but I love them!), and even the Instructables Robot. This project is a lot of fun to make with kids and its fairly easy as long as you have some patience. And kids love to wear the necklace, especially if it has some of their favorite characters on it! But the best part of this project is that its cheap (no need to buy clay!) and made from materials that most people already have in their house, so you won't need to go buy anything.
If you like this please vote for it in the comic contest :)
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Step 1: Gathering Materials
For making the clay, you will need:
4 cups whte flour
1 cup salt
1.5 cups water
Food coloring (optional if you have paint)
The other materials you will need:
Paint and paintbrush (highly recommended but you can make this project without it)
String or yarn
Lacquer (or clear nail polish)
Pictures of the characters you will put on your necklace
Step 2: Making the Clay
To make the clay you just simply put the materials (4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1.5 cups water) in a big bowl and mix with your hands. Once it is thick you can take it out of the bowl and knead it until you have a clay like consistency.
Then to color the clay, you just break off the amount or clay you need and drop some food coloring in it and then knead it until the color is blended in.
Use gloves when tinting the clay or your hands will get stained like mine did
Step 3: Making the Basic Shape of the Characters
For this step you need to look at the pictures you have of the characters you are going to make. First look at the colors you will need. Make the colors using the method explained in step 1. Then look at the shape of the head. The head will often times be a certain shape. For example, Garfields head is mostly round. Snoopys head is the shape of a boot, and so on. If that is the case, make that shape with the clay. Sometimes the shape of the head is harder to determine like Odies, his eyes are so big they make up most of his head. In that case, divide the picture of the head into parts and make those parts and put them together. The biggest tip for this step is think shapes! Even if the head is not really in a shape, it consists of shapes. So make the shapes using the right colors. Try to keep the figures no bigger than 2/3 of an inch for baking.
Step 4: Adding the Details
In this step you simply add the smaller details. Eyes, beaks, noses, mouths, etc, are added to make the character. Remember: think shapes. Oval nose, round eyes, etc. Some parts need more detail such as garfields eyes and mouth. The mouth has its unique shape that you need to look at the picture to obtain. His eyes have eyelids on top, so you can make oval white eyes and put a thin layer of orange over them to make the eyelids. You may need to divide the head up into shapes kinda like I did with Odie's head in the last step
If you have paint, do not try to make the darker colors with food coloring such as black. Its easier just to paint it, since you won't be able to achieve a real black color anyways.
At this point you should preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Using a toothpick, poke a hole through each character (for the string) and make it a big hole.
Step 5: Bake and Make Smaller Beads
Put the characters you made on a baking sheet and put in the oven thats preheated to 300 degrees.
This is the tedious part: Every 5 - 10 minutes or so you need to get the pieces out and poke holes through them again. The shapes get baked inside and you wont be able to get the string through if you don't do this. Trust me, I learned this the hard way! ALSO, the shapes are VERY hot and you will need to handle them with an oven mitt or towel.
While the shapes are baking, make little donut shaped beads of different colors. Make the holes really big. You will need lots of these, around 35 or so. You will need to bake these for around 15-20 minutes so add them to the characters in the oven after they have been in there for about 40 minutes.
If you are making the instructables robot, you will need to make two red littledonut beads as well to put on both sides of the robot.
You will need to bake the characters for about an hour. Flip them over after about half an hour. After an hour has passed, try squishing the biggest character you have (with an oven mitt of course!) and if it still squishes in then leave it in for longer. If it is hard you can take it out.
Step 6: Fixing Cracks and Sanding
Almost always there will be a crack in at least one of the characters. To fix this, fill in the shape using a knife and the clay of the right color. Put it back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes.
Some shapes may not come out quite like you wanted them to, or the surface is not real smooth. This is where sand paper comes in handy. Just sand the edges or surfaces that need to be smoothed and your shape will look much better.
Step 7: Painting
For this step squirt out the different colors of paint you will need unto a plastic surface or a piece of cardstock as I used.
Then just take a paint brush and paint all the parts you feel need more vibrant or smooth color. Paint the eyes in on all the characters. Let the characters dry completely before going on to the next step.
Note: I used permanent marker at first on this step, but then when I put lacquer on it, the marker smudged and it looked really bad. So I had to re-do some of the shapes, re-paint others. Lesson learned: Do not use permanent marker if you want to put lacquer on it!
Step 8: Coating With Lacquer
I used this Valspar Hi-gloss lacquer to coat the beads; it makes them more permanent and a whole lot prettier! If you do not have lacquer you can use clear nail polish, though it is a lot more time consuming.
To coat beads with lacquer you will need to put them on a rag or piece of cardstock and go either into the garage or outside. Follow the directions on the can, but basically you will need to shake it and then spray it on with about two coats. Then wait about an hour and flip over the beads and repeat. You may need to do this more than twice to completely coat the beads and make them shiny.
Wait for them to be completely dry before proceeding to the next step.
Step 9: Assembling the Necklace
Next you will need to put a thin piece of string through a needle, and tie a big knot in the end. You can now start pushing the beads through, and putting them in any pattern you would like.
*remember to put the red beads on sides of the instructables robot*
After you are done with that cut off the extra string and tie another big knot.
Now take some thicker string or yarn and tie it to each end, while measuring to make sure it fits the head of whomever it’s meant for.
Step 10: Adding Little Rings to the String
This step just makes the string part of the necklace a little cuter. All you have to do is cut the string and then tie both ends to a leftover donut bead you have.
I did this on both sides of the necklace to add a cute finish to the necklace!