Archive for the ‘Tutorials – Polymer clay/fimo/sculpey’ Category

Welcome to my tutorial on how to make African style beads in polymer clay 🙂

After searching for a stamp to make patterns in my clay beads & being unable to find any in the designs I required I sat down for a coffee & thought ‘why not make my own?’ So it is a little experimental but a lot cheaper & you are welcome to share this project too. The design possibilities are endless – floral, fairy tale, celtic you name it! Also experiment with colours too – blues & purples with silver/pearl paints for example.

What You Will Need – 

  • Polymer clay e.g. Fimo, Sculpey, etc in earth tones plus large piece of scrap clay
  • Plain tile for working & baking
  • Acrylic roller/ Pasta machine
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler
  • Paper & pencil
  • Hand held multi tool (e.g. Dremel) engraving attachments or fine engravers
  • Darning/tapestry needle
  • Acrylic paint in earth tones
  • Small pieces of sponge
  • Matt/gloss polymer clay varnish 


What To Do –

Step 1





Get a reasonable sized piece of scrap clay, preferably in one colour as it makes it easier to see pattern later. Set up you tile & work space ready for some funky beads!






Step 2





Condition (knead) clay until well mixed & workable. Roll out on tile until aprox 3-6 mm depending on how deep you wish your pattern to be. You can remove any air bubbles by pricking them with a pin.






Step 3




At this point you can cut your clay to make it all nice & neat – not essential but your more than welcome to be fussy about these things 😛 







Step 4





Bake! – always according to the instructions on the packet & keep area well ventilated too. While your clay is getting toasty warm find books, mags & fire up google images to search for inspiration!






Step 5



Think of a general theme you wish to work on & get some reference. I wanted to work on some beads for my ‘Out of Africa’ project, with a focus on the rustic, earthy tones & textures I wanted these to look very handmade not perfect & polished (well a bit ‘wonky’ really).

Doodle ’til your hearts content – I find it helps even if I change my mind by the next stage!




Step 6





Draw the designs you have decided upon on to the cooled, baked clay. I find a soft pencil works better & doesn’t dig into the clay while drawing.







Step 7




Search high & low for where ever it is that you put the Dremel 😛 once found use the engraving attachment to etch in your detail. You can always do this by hand using fine engraving tools though a Dremel is much quicker. Make sure you etch quite deep as you need your pattern to stand out.




Step 8



Give your stamper a good wash in warm soapy water & dry thoroughly. Make balls out of the ‘best’ clay & roll them up your new pattern stamp! Make your holes using a darning/tapestry needle. 







Step 9  





Bake your newly made beads according to the packets instrutions. Pop kettle on while your waiting… mines a coffee, strong, milk but no sugar ta xx







Step 10




OOOooo messy time! When your beads have cooled get your acrylic paints ready, I have used a mix of burnt sienna & burnt umber to get the  colour I desired. Very lightly dab your paint onto the bead with one sponge & rub it gently off the raised detail with a clean sponge. Apply a coat of polymer clay varnish to your bead & your done…




Finished bead…



Here it is!

Thanks for reading & I would love to here your comments/suggestions & to know what you have done with this technique x x x 


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Welcome to the basics in polymer clay

This is a page dedicated to tips & tools you may find useful when starting out with polymer clay.

What is polymer clay?

An oven hardening clay that is available in a vast colour scheme not to mention special effects such as metallic, stone, pearl & even glow in the dark. It is a very easy, workable material with endless uses & as you can probably tell I adore the stuff!

Tools of the trade 

  • Work Surface – Use an easy to clean smooth surface for clay work such as a glass sheet, acrylic sheet or plain ceramic tiles. The advantage of using tiles is that you can then bake your items on the tile without the fear of squishing bits when moving them to a baking tray.
  • Rollers/Rolling Pins – Again smooth surfaces are preferable my favourite being a sugarcraft or acrylic roller though a glass tumbler or bottle will work just as well.









  • Cutting – Craft knives are essential to make clean cuts in clay & you can also invest in a tissue blade to cut long straight lines. As for shapes there are many different types available in traditional or plunger style cutters. Please mind your fingers!!!

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  • Plasters – For those times when you did forget to watch those fingers!
  • Impressions – Ah! the world is your oyster here, You can splash out on moulds, stamps & such like though I love finding all manner of surfaces to press into clay from other places. For example sand paper & stones for a subtle dimple effect, pieces of jewellery for a floral pattern or plastic packing for a bubble effect. Just play & experiment with everything 🙂
  • Baking – oven 🙂 yes it is fine & perfectly safe to bake in your home oven though not the best idea to do it the same time as your chicken. Please bake according to packet instructions & it is advisable to ventilate the area too. 
  • Varnishing/Finishing – I would strongly advise using purpose made polymer clay varnish! Clear nail varnish looks pretty at first but turns horribly sticky after a while. Another alternative is buffing, If you do not wish to budget for a professional buffer  you can easily find buffing attachments for hand held multi tools like the Dremel.


  • Baby Baby – baby wipes are a must have, they clean clay off just about any surface & help remove dust from your hands before you start work.
  • Dust Nightmare! – Dust seems to magically migrate towards clay so make sure your surfaces are clean & I find it useful to keep a scrap of light clay to roll over my hands before working to remove any last trace. Also if you love your cute furry pets a pair of tweezers comes in handy too.
  • Hard Clay – warm up your clay between your hands until it becomes workable or alternatively I read somewhere that one lady pops the packet under her cat while its sleeping to soften hers! For clay that has been open for a long time & is ‘unusable’ some manufacturers make special softening liquids & clays to mix in.  
  • Fingerprints – If you find your clay is very soft & almost sticky A) turn your heating down :p B) pop it into the fridge for a while
  • Fingerprints II – If a perfectly polished project is your desire then sandpaper is your man! A light sanding on baked clay will remove any slight bumps or imperfections, though it has to be said there is something about leaving little marks behind just to show it is truly handmade…
  • Plastics Warning – Do not put your unbaked clay on varnished or brittle plastic surfaces (i.e. those little compartment boxes loved by crafters everywhere) it ‘eats’ into the stuff something terrible! 

Useful investments – but not essential

  • Pasta Machine – for conditioning (kneading) clay, also for skinner blends 
  • Dremel – or other hand held multi tool. Good for drilling , sanding, engraving, etc.


Some examples of clay I prefer to use along with links to the websites which have handy project pages to keep you entertained…


















Go play & have fun x x x…

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