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How to Make Polymer Clay Beads

A handful of polymer clay beads in various shapes and sizes

Learn how to make polymer clay beads! These colourful DIY beads are so fun and easy to make, the perfect craft for beginners to polymer clay.

Follow our step by step photo and video tutorials to make these stylish clay beads in all different shapes and sizes. It’s a great way to use up leftover clay from a larger project, and you can use the beads to make your own jewelry, keychains, and more!

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How to Make Polymer Clay Beads

It’s so easy to make these marbled polymer clay beads! Create your own clay beads for jewelry, crafts, and more.

Author: Debbie Chapman

Check Out The Video Tutorial:

Instructions:

Step 1: Find what you need

Step 2: Work the clay and roll into thin “snakes”

Step 3: Cut the clay and combine the pieces

Step 4: Combine the clay bits and roll them flat

Step 6: Make the holes in the beads

Step 7: Bake the beads

  • Set the beads back onto the parchment lined tray and bake in the oven according to package instructions.We baked our beads at 250 F for 15 minutes, but baking time will vary based on the type of clay you use and the thickness of the bead. You may want to test bake 1 bead to see what your beads require.Note: If you’re using a toaster oven like we did, make sure it’s set to heat from the bottom element only. If you heat from the top, they’ll burn.
  • Your polymer clay beads are complete!Have fun using your DIY clay beads for bracelets, necklaces, earrings, keychains, and more.

Helpful Tips:

  1. You can wear nitrile gloves while working with polymer clay to eliminate the chance of fingerprints on the clay’s surface.
  2. The longer you keep your beads in the fridge the less they’ll warp when making the holes. You can also drill holes in your beads after baking them.

Bowl of homemade marbled polymer clay beads

What is polymer clay?

Polymer clay is an oven-bake modeling clay made from a synthetic plastic polymer called PVC. It’s a manmade clay that’s soft until it’s baked in a home oven.

Polymer clay is popular with crafters because of how easy it is to work with. This soft and pliable clay comes in many different colours and it holds intricate details well.

What special tools are needed to make polymer clay beads?

You can buy an inexpensive clay tools kit that will make it a lot easier to form your clay creations. If you don’t want to buy tools for just one craft, however, you should be able to make these polymer clay beads with items you already have at home.

  • Clay Roller: These smooth sided rollers help to condition the clay and make it an even thickness. You can also use a marble or metal rolling pin (wood isn’t recommended because it will leave texture) or the side of a drinking glass.
  • Clay Cutter: This sharp metal tool cuts the clay and creates smooth lines. You can also use a craft knife or non-serrated kitchen knife to cut clay.
  • Needle tool: This sharp pointy tool creates clean holes in the clay beads. You can also use a metal skewer or wooden toothpick.
  • Flat scraper tool: This tool has multiple purposes, but we used it to create flat edges on our long beads and to press down our flat beads. You can also use the bottom of a glass or metal baking dish.

You may also want to buy sandpaper or other polishing tools to smooth the beads after baking. If you don’t have sandpaper you can use a nail file.

Polymer clay beads made into a bracelet with tools and clay in the background

How do you make perfectly round polymer clay beads?

How you work the clay can definitely affect how your beads turn out. Be sure to properly condition the clay so that it’s easy to create a round shape.

We used a silicone mat and parchment paper to roll our beads, but other smooth surfaces like tile or acrylic sheets also work well. Gently roll the beads between your palms or on your working surface to smooth out any imperfections.

You can also buy a special bead maker that rolls out perfectly round beads in a consistent size every time.

How you bake your beads will also determine how they turn out. To stop your beads from flattening or settling as they bake you can place them on a thick layer of cornstarch. This will cushion the beads and keep them round.

A bead baking rack will also help you make perfectly round polymer clay beads. With this device the beads are baked on bead pins, or lengths of wire, and then suspended above a tray.

Do I need to seal polymer clay beads?

No, polymer clay is waterproof once cured and it’s very solid on its own without a sealer. However, polymer clay has a matte finish, so if you’d like to give your beads a shiny look you can seal them. Use resin or a varnish made from acrylic or polyurethane.

Sealing the beads will also offer extra protection from scratches and wear and tear. A glossy finish gives the beads a professional look, making the colours appear more vibrant.

Different sizes and colours of round polymer clay beads on a string

What type of polymer clay is best for making beads?

There are different types of polymer clay that offer different advantages. Some clays are easier to work with, while others result in a harder final product.

If you’re just starting out with polymer clay we recommend buying a less expensive modeling clay from Amazon or the craft store. We used Craft Smart oven bake clay from Michael’s to make our beads and they turned out really nicely!

Sculpey and FIMO are some of the most popular clay brands and are generally considered the best. Sculpey Premo is most often recommended for making beads. It’s a durable all-purpose clay that’s easy to condition, keeps its shape well, and comes in a wide range of colours.

How can I use my polymer clay beads?

There are so many different ways you can use your DIY polymer clay beads. Here are few examples, whether you’re using them for yourself or giving them as part of a homemade gift:

Jewelry:

Use the beads to make necklaces, earrings, bracelets (friendship bracelets or otherwise), and anklets. You can create unique and personalized jewelry by mixing and matching bead shapes, sizes, and colours.

Accessories:

Glue your polymer clay beads onto hair clips or brooches, or string them onto keychains, lanyards, or bag charms. You can also add the beads onto bookmark tassels and zipper pulls.

Home Decor:

Incorporate the beads into items around your home, such as drawer pulls, curtain tiebacks, ornaments, or suncatchers. You can also embellish picture frames and mirrors with your homemade beads.

Arts and crafts:

Polymer clay is great both for kids crafts and mixed media art projects. The beads are a great way to add colour and texture to any project!

DIY polymer clay beads

Have fun making these marbled polymer clay beads. These colourful DIY beads are SO EASY to make and each one has its own unique beauty!

DIY polymer clay beads

Here’s even more easy craft ideas:

How to Make Clay Mushrooms

Air dry clay mushrooms

Easy Clay Flowers

How to make clay flowers

Clay Frog

Easy frog clay sculpture

Our book Low-Mess Crafts for Kids is loaded with 72 fun and simple craft ideas for kids! The projects are fun, easy and most importantly low-mess, so the clean up is simple!