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
- 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 –
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!
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.
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 😛
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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