Tutorial: Creating Polymer Clay Beads With A Bead Roller


When I started making polymer clay beads I did it the old fashioned way.  Rolled them into the shape I wanted using my hands and the table I was working on.  While I got some really cool results this way I still wanted to find a way to make my beads more uniform.  During a trip to Hobby Lobby I discovered the Amaco Tri Bead Roller.


Stock photo.  I didn't keep my label.
This thing makes bead making SO easy.

Let's dive right in.  First select the clay you want to use.  I chose two colors but if you are new to this method I suggest just using a single color so that you can get the feel of it without risking a really nice blend.
The package comes with assembly instructions for the bead roller that are incredibly easy.  It also comes with a round bit for measuring out the correct amount of clay but I found it to be more difficult to use than just eyeballing the amount.
The two sides of the roller
Press the clay between the chambers
Once you get your clay measured out select one of the three bead types that the roller will make.  There is a diamond shape, an oval shape (which is my favorite), and a round shape.  The picture on the right above shows the track that the bead roller rides on.  It just slides back and forth, creating the bead:



 A simple back and forth motion is all it takes.  Just be mindful, if you are having to smash the two sides together to make contact then you have too much clay in it.  If the clay isn't moving along with the motion of the machine then you have too little.

It should be perfectly shaped
Lovely!

And here is what the other shapes look like:


So once you do get all of your beads made you'll end up with a pretty pile like this one

Now it's time to put the holes in them to get them ready for baking.  Now, it IS possible to use a small drill to make holes once they are baked but I find it a lot easier to do it before.  There are stands that you can buy to suspend your unbaked beads on but I've never used one so I can't comment on it.  What I use are plain head pins and a ceramic plate.  












Getting the bead to slide through the exact center is another practice makes perfect technique.  The best advice I can give is to be careful not to squeeze the bead while you a piercing it.  Also, coating the tip of the pin with baby powder or cornstarch can help it glide through easier.

Once the beads are baked according to package directions and have had a chance to cool off it's time for the glaze.


It really is up to you what type of glaze you want to use (if any at all).  I like working with the Sculpey brand Gloss Glaze.  It spreads well and dries quickly.  As I make my projects I save my scrap clay.  As you can see, I have a flat piece in front of a small desk fan at my work desk that I simply skewer the glazed pieces onto.
It holds a bunch and they dry in minutes!

And that's about it!  As for stringing them I go back and forth between jewelry wire and elastic, depending on the project I'm working on.  
All done!

The possibilities are endless for the color or style of beads you can make.  Here are a few of mine: 




Good luck and have fun with it!!  

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