Essence D'Etre

Exploring the Essence of Being Creative

Raspberry Marble Polymer Clay Beads

I have to admit, I am a little defeated since I haven’t gotten a chance to update my blog over the last two weeks. My day job has been quite challenging since the new year and I’ve been consumed with all the associated left brain centered endeavors. So I’ll give my left side of the brain a quick reprieve and post some behind the scene pictures of the first few pieces of jewelry that I have listed in my Etsy shop.

For my first set of beads, I used three main clay colors: Sculpey III Plum, Chocolate and White. Then I created a gradient of five different color mixes:

  • Darkest Color – Plum mixed with a hint of Chocolate clay to create a deep hue
  • Darker Color- Pure Plum color
  • Medium Color – Half Plum and half White
  • Light Color – White clay with a hint of Plum color
  • Lightest Color – Pure White

In the beginning, I really waffled on buying a pasta rolling machine to condition polymer clay. So I stubbornly tried to make my first batch of beads without the use of a pasta machine. I relied solely on my acrylic roller that I bought from JoAnn Fabrics. However, I soon realized how little upper body strength I had, when I tried to roll out the polymer clay into sheets. Unconditioned polymer clay can be quite wily to deal with! I also learned the results of hand rolling were less than stellar, or at least they didn’t match the pictures in my polymer clay books; all my sheets were different sizes, shapes and thickness. I quickly resolved to buy a low cost pasta roller from amazon.

When I was making my first set of beads, I didn’t have the forethought to take pictures of the process. So I’ll quickly describe how I worked up the marble pattern. I took the five strips of color and laid them in a gradient side by side. I then used the acrylic roller to compress and fuse the five strips of color. Next I rolled up the fused sheet into a gradient roll with the lightest color on the inside and the darkest color on the outside. The below picture from Kellie’s Make It With Me blog illustrates what a gradient roll looks like.

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Next I took the roll and thinned it out by hand, until diameter of the roll was approximately 1/2 inch. I then cut the roll into 1/2 inch sections and cut each section in half to reveal the lighter colors in the center. I then pressed the darker outside sections together. I pinched the halves and twisted them to create the marble swirl pattern you see below. After I was happy with the swirl pattern, I rolled each section into semi-round bead. I pierced the beads with the thick stylus tool that came in the Sculpey clay tool starter kit, though in retrospect I probably should’ve used the the needle end pointer to make more discreet holes.

Below is the picture of my first five beads after being baked in the oven. I slightly panicked with the “dusty” appearance of the beads when they came out of the oven. I had to quickly read up on the additional finishing steps required to make the beads look shiny and smooth.

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I soon learned that a cured bead needs to be sanded and buffed to attain the finished polished look seen in polymer clay books and in Etsy stores. Below is a picture of what the beads look like at different stages of the finish process. The two beads to the left are fully sanded and buffed, the bead in the middle has only been sanded, and the beads to the right are the natural cured look straight out of the oven. Most polymer clay bead artists say that the finishing part is the most tedious, but also very necessary to ensure the best appearance of the cured beads. All I can say is: AMEN and AMEN!

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I had enough material left over to make another set of beads and I really tried to focus on making these beads more round. My first set of beads were somewhat barrel shaped rather than spherical. I found that the trick from BeadsandBeading.com really works! Below is the sister set of round Raspbery Marble swirl beads that I made.

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Both of these sets of beads were made into necklaces that were finished with silver plated chain and a lobster clasp. Click on the below pictures to see the listing on Etsy. Hope you enjoyed, stay tuned for more behind the scene posts for my other sets of beads!

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This entry was posted on January 25, 2013 by in Beads, Jewelry, Polymer Clay and tagged , , , , , , .
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