Friday, 11 March 2011

Ideas for Making Beads

Many of the materials found on the George Weil website can be used to make effective beads for use in jewellery making.


Beads by Carol Blackburn
© Quarto Publishing plc
Polymer clay is probably the most versatile material.  Colours can be blended together, placed side by side in a cane, or marbled to create a variety of effects. 

It is possible to make faux semi-precious stones by combining translucent polymer clays with the coloured polymer clays. These faux onyx earrings were made by Carol Blackburn and are featured in her book 'How to Make Polymer Clay Beads', see our other polymer clay books in the Book Shop >

Bracelet made with silver clay
& resin beads © Sherri Haab

Precious beads can also be fashioned from
Art Clay Silver clay.  The clay can be fired on a gas stove top, although larger items with a cork core need to be fired in a kiln. 

This bracelet is made from beads shaped from silver clay and decorated with coloured resin.  You can see how it was made in Sherri's book 'Metal Clay and Mixed Media Jewelry', see our other


Fabric and paper beads are also very effective.  Make strips of fabric similar in dimension to the image below.  Wrap the widest part around a plastic cocktail stick or nail, soaking it in Silk Paper Medium or a waterbased varnish. Continue to roll the paper or fabric on itself, adding more medium as required.  When completely rolled, allow the bead to dry.
Use handmade paper or patterned fabric to make the beads colourful, brush with Jacquard Pearl-Ex while still damp, or wrap wire or yarn around the finished bead to add embellishment.


A felted bead necklace made by
Kate McNaughton
Wool tops are also good for making into beads (see our
100g, Rainbow Bag).  Making a felt ball is great fun and relatively fast.  The colours can be blended or combined (in small quantities) with non-wool fibres such as Angelina fibres and silk to add interest.  Felt balls can be used for making toys as well as beads, see our page from the Fact File to learn more about this technique >

This felted bead necklace was made by Kate McNaughton.  She has combined her beads with Japanese seed beads and sells her felted accessories on her Beadycharms website.

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