Instead of buying polymer clay beads to use in your next jewelry or craft project, make your own beads that you can customize to suit your particular design ideas. Although polymer clay beads can look complicated and intricate, even a novice crafter can successfully make beautiful beads at home.
Collect together the materials you need to create your own homemade polymer clay beads, including a sheet of wax paper, different colors of polymer clay, a clay knife, a toothpick and a cookie sheet. Lay the sheet of wax paper out on a table or countertop to protect the working surface.
Create a Bead Roll
Pick out the colors of polymer clay that you want to use for your bead roll, and knead each color for about 2 minutes to make the clay soft and malleable. You will need about 1 ounce of each color. Roll out each color into a long snake with your fingers. Stack the snakes on top of each other to create one long roll. To create a bead with an image on it, start at the bead roll at the end as you stack the snakes together. Arrange the colors as you stack to create a specific picture. Once you feel satisfied with your bead roll, use your hands to roll the entire thing back and forth against the table to compress and thin it to about 1/2-inch thickness.
Slice and Prepare the Beads
Cut the ends off of the bead roll using the clay knife, and set the ends aside. These malformed end pieces will not become beads, but you can use the clay for some other craft project. Starting at one end, cut the bead roll into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Insert the toothpick through each sliced piece, from one side to the other, and remove it to create a hole. Once baked, the holes will enable you to string the beads together.
Bake the Beads
Lay the prepared polymer beads flat on a cookie sheet and bake them in a 275 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes. Allow the beads to cool completely before using them in your craft project.
Tips and Warnings
Avoid overbaking the polymer beads or they could burn. Keep hot polymer beads out of the reach of children, and use caution when handling them. Hot polymer clay can burn skin very quickly.