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by Vickie Kapnas
Making beads from clay can be a simple, basic process or a very involved art project. It is a fabulous hobby because it allows you to create jewelry and other items, using your imagination for the entire process. Beads can be made out of many different kinds of clay and pottery, but the most popular type of clay for bead-making is polymer clay. Polymer clay is particularly well-suited to this type of home crafting since the beads can be baked in an ordinary oven or even a toaster oven rather than requiring firing in a kiln. Your polymer clay beads can be made into gifts or strung onto jewelry that can fill your wardrobe with colorful creations for you to wear anytime.
Purchasing the supplies for making clay beads can be a big part of the fun. Polymer clay comes in a wide variety of colors and can be combined to create beautiful beads in stunning patterns. While clay beads can be made very simply, without embellishments or designs, you might enjoy shopping for stamps, paint, glitter, molds and other items to decorate your clay beads to your liking. You can also purchase these items in a kit, which is especially helpful for beginners. There are also fabulous polymer clay bead books available that will show you a variety techniques and styles.
Making clay beads is a fairly simple process that is easy to learn. When making polymer clay beads, start by cutting the clay into small pieces and kneading them until they are warm and flexible. You can then shape the beads however you desire. You might try rolling them into balls, shaping them into squares, or experimenting with a variety of your own designs. If you have decided to use stamps, you can then stamp designs onto the beads or you can even add designs free-hand. Unless you have fashioned a bead with its own hole in the center, you should pierce the middle of each bead with a large needle that has been dusted with talcum powder or cornstarch to avoid sticking. You can then bake the beads on a baking sheet in a traditional oven or toaster oven according to instructions on the packaging. Use a piece of parchment paper underneath the beads to prevent sticking and another piece on top to prevent burning.
Decorating your clay beads gives you the chance to make them personal and let your creative side show. There are many ways to decorate polymer clay beads once they have been baked. When cooled, you can paint your clay beads with acrylic paints and add glitter, gemstones, and a variety of embellishments. Experiment with different paint brushes, sponges and colors to create beads that are unique. Once your beads are complete, try threading them onto chains, string or wire to create necklaces and bracelets that you can wear or give to friends and family.
Store polymer clay in an air-tight container or bag when not in use to keep it from drying out.
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