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This is a great project for using up your scrap clay to make beautiful beads, pendants or charms!
  • Scrap clay
  • Square of Lucite: 5"x 5" works well. I use one with a handle on it, that way I have a lot more control of my bead shape. Glue a wooden drawer pull to the center of your square with an epoxy glue if you like.
    (See picture at right - click for a larger view)
  • Craft Blade
  • Credit card
  • Wax paper
  • Unlined Index cards
  • Looped wire
  • Lanyards and/or Bails

(Click Pictures for a Larger View)

Get some pretty scrap clay, try to use colors that will make a nice blends. Also adding in some translucent and metallic clay give this project lots of depth.

Chop scrap into small pieces and roll together in a snake. Twist and fold to marbleize, but not too many times or you will lose the contrast in your colors

Comb your snake of clay by pressing firmly with a toothpick or skewer... both directions...

...and then roll out to approximately 1/2" diameter.

Cut your snake into pieces.

Take your first piece and flatten down gently (or roll into a ball) on the top with a square of lucite.

Gently begin rotating your arm in large circles to begin forming a bicone shape. I rotate counter clockwise - I like pulling the swirl toward my body instead of away, but do whatever works best for you. As I swirl, I pull the clay in towards the center, and I tilt the square down a few degrees towards my work surface to help. Continue swirling your clay until you have a bicone shape with a nice point.

Gradually decrease the size of your rotations as you slightly begin to flatten the shape into a lentil. Don't flatten too much or you will not have a nice lentil shape. If you don't like the pattern of the swirl, repeat the steps of large rotations to a sharp point, then smaller rotations as you flatten slightly.

When you are satisfied with your swirl pattern, pick up your bead and gently push the points in.

Roll the lentil on its side between your index finger and your work surface to gently take the sharp edge off of the bead. Don't do this too firmly or you will create a ripple in the clay. Repeat this process with all your combed scrap pieces and set aside for 15 minutes or so.

After the 15 minute rest, gently form a point at one end of the lentil with your thumb and index finger.

You can roll it a bit between your fingers to get a nice point at the end. If you work your clay too much it will be too warm and you will smear the design. Shaping takes a bit of practice!

Use a credit card or index card (with wax paper to dull the edges of your slice) and insert the card approximately halfway through the center of your lentil opposite the point.

Gently pull the two tops of the heart slightly away from each other, shaping and flattening as you go. Use your fingers to bevel all the way around the bead by lightly pinching and smoothing the edges.
Take the looped wire and gently push it into the top of your heart shape (I use a silver plated 22 gauge eye hook with one end straightened out). Leave the wire in when you cure your piece. Before curing, smooth the clay all over with your fingers - this means much less sanding later. Place the pieces on unlined index cards and tent if desired. Cure per manufacturer's directions (I use an icewater bath for all my beads right after they are pulled from the oven).
After curing, pull out your wire loop, and reinsert with a drop of super glue on the end of the wire. Attach the bail to wear your beads, or add a lanyard hook and send to Hearts for Heroes!

Note: At the right are different variations that Barbara has made with this method, including pendants, necklaces, and the Hearts for Heroes.

Optional: My beads are pretty smooth to begin with so I hand sand with 3M 600x wet/dry sandpaper (sometimes I use a tumbler if I'm doing a lot of beads), then buff with muslin wheel. This method leaves a beautiful satin sheen. If you like a glasslike finish, please support Polymer Clay Central and purchase a pack of multiple grit sandpaper from Leigh. She includes a wonderful sanding tip sheet as well.
Barbara Fajardo
©2005 Text and Photos
Desert Designs by Barbara

We want to thank Barbara for sharing this excellent lesson with Polymer Clay Central. If you have a lesson or tutorial, or something you would like to share with PCC, please email Leigh or Stephen and we will help you prepare your project for the PCC Website!

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