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How to Make Dread Beads

By Helen Sterling

Make decorative beads to add an individual touch to your dreads. Polymer clay is a great medium for crafting these dread beads. Forming clay around a mandrel and a wire frame provides support and makes for a stronger bead. Polymer clay is user friendly and can be fired without a special kiln. There are several brands of polymer clay, which come in a variety of colors, available at craft, art supply and bead stores.

Cut an 8-inch piece of wire with wire cutters. Wrap the wire around the mandrel. Keep the wraps even and about 3mm apart. If you want to attach smaller dangles after you fire the polymer clay, create a wire loop with round-nose pliers that extends past the end of the mandrel.

Form the clay around the wire, rotating the mandrel occasionally to keep the clay from sticking. Keep the clay the same depth throughout the entire bead to prevent weak spots. Shape the clay as desired, creating a square or cylindrical bead. Emboss or carve designs, if desired, being careful to not carve through to the wire frame.

Remove the mandrel from the bead. Fire the clay according to the manufacturer’s directions. Polymer clay fires below 300 degrees Fahrenheit, making it possible to fire beads in a kitchen oven. Support beads on florist wire suspended across a glass or metal baking dish to keep the beads from developing a flat spot during firing.

About the Author

Located in south-central Wisconsin, Helen Sterling is a freelance writer who has been writing online since 2004. Sterling's background is in human resources where she has written and edited numerous policy and procedure manuals for both corporate and manufacturing companies. She publishes articles on crafts for various websites and enjoys making complex projects easy to understand. Sterling also owns a jewelry-design business.