Friday, July 10, 2009

Polymer Clay Beading by Linda Hess

A number of years ago I attended a polymer clay retreat in the mountains of Virginia. A very relaxing, tranquil setting where we all soaked in the peace and quiet as well as each other's work. I remember one of the ladies used hole-less beads to create the most beautiful cat pins. I watched her putting these teeny, tiny beads all in a row in the grooves of her cats and thought she has WAY too much time on her hands!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the hole-less beads on the Art Glitter website and began to play with them. I found that the experience was very peaceful and meditative in a way. Who knew??!!

To create your own "Zen" experience you will need a few supplies:
*Liquid Clay (any brand will do, but I really like the Kato sauce for its clarity)
*no hole beads from Art Glitter in your choice of colors
*Pearl ex powder in your choice of color
*polymer clay
*straight blade
*A deep texture sheet (I used one from Clearsnap)
*disposable cup (in the spirit of being "green" I recycle old medicine cups)
*needle tool (I use a turkey lacer)

Condition the polymer clay and roll it out flat either using a pasta machine (set on the thickest setting) or 2 popsicle sticks and an acrylic roller. Once your clay is flat impress it with the texture sheet. Choose a part of the image that appeals and cut around it leaving an edge or wall (to hold in the beads). Rub a little of the pearl ex powder over the raised texture. Place the clay image on a baking surface and bake for 15 minutes at 275*. Let cool.
Now squirt a small amount of liquid clay into the bottom of the disposable cup. Add some no-hole beads and mix with the needle tool until well blended (the mixture should look a little paste like, not soupy). Using the needle tool pick up some of the mixture and begin to fill in the textured spaces. When you are happy with the look bake the piece again at 275* for 15 minutes.
Let cool and then rub a small amount of the liquid clay over the surface to seal the pearl ex powder. Bake one final time for 5-10 minutes.

Finished pieces can be used as pins, pendants, or in mixed media wall art. Enjoy the quiet time with just you...the clay...the beads...OMMMMMMM

On a final note: I discovered that the color from some of the brighter colored beads will "bleed" if left for long periods in the liquid clay. I did not notice the problem with the silver or gold beads. In some ways the bleeding works with the free-form texture that I chose. BUT if you are very particular about keeping your colors and lines clean you may want to keep this in mind when choosing your colors or in the speed with which you work.


  1. These are so beautiful Linda! And yes, the beads will bleed if left in liquid. One way around that is to apply the beads with Designer Dries Clear or Fabric Dries Clear adhesive (which ever is your preference) after baking is done. Thanks Linda!

  2. So pretty! Can't wait to try this. Ordering beads today!! LOL

  3. This is a cool way to use the holes beads. In your directions you mentioned pearl-ex powders. I am assuming that it is applied to the raised surfaces after you have applied the beads. The directions are not clear about it. Thanks for posting this Linda

  4. Illaya,
    So nice to hear from you. The Pearl Ex powders are rubbed on the raised texture before the first baking (see the paragraph under the cat image). So glad you like the idea.

  5. I mentioned using Designer Dries Clear to apply beads in a comment above, but haven't tried it and there is a question as to weather or not the glue will adhere to the Pearl Ex powders. It does adhere to polymer clay, but will have to try on the powders. Stay tuned!