D.I.Y Clay Beads

Making jewelry has always been an outlet for me. Every now and then I need a little escape from my relentless internal dialogue, and there has always been something about the weaving and twisting of metal and beads that feels like therapy. Usually, I make simple jewelry by stringing beads together and attaching a hook or post. Then I thought,

“Why am I buying all of these pre-made beads? Here I am redundantly sitting next to a fifty pound bag of clay, and a box of beads.”

Alas, the homemade clay bead was born.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

-Clay ; For this project, I am using clay that can be either baked or air-dried. This allows for more variety in the uses for your clay. I chose not to bake my clay earrings, but if you want a sturdier finished project, you would be better off taking the extra time to set the clay in an oven. Just be sure your paint is able to be baked if you prefer.

-Tempora or Acrylic Paint

-At least one paint brush I used a large paintbrush to lay down the first coat and then one small brush to add details or patterns

-Jewelry Wire

-Wire Cutters

-Clear Glaze If you want to omit this step you may, but it adds a nice finished look to the beads and holds the paint better.

-Jewelry Glue

I set up a station for my beads on my art desk. If you were asking yourself if I am painting my beads on a pizza box, the answer would be yes. If you don’t have an addiction to pizza like myself, set out a few pieces of newspaper over your work surface to protect it from paint and finish.

Step 2: Shaping your beads

I took a lot of liberty on this one. I made flattened orbs and rods, rounded beads with plants stuck into them. Go Wild. I just take two equally sized pieces of clay and roll each of the two pieces into a ball. This assures that the beads will be shaped similarly. Or you can go totally wild and mismatch them.

Once dried, paint the beads how you like, I began by mixing colors and decided a bit later that I actually preferred the pure colors without mixing. I used Acrylic paint for this project. Paint one side and allow to dry, and then coat the opposite side and allow to dry.

Step 3: Finishing touches

Once the paint on your beads dries, spray top side with a glaze. I used Krylon Clear Glaze and it gave the beads a much more finished look.

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This is where you can spruce up your beads. I attached a few smaller beads around the base of this pair using jewelry glue, and it gave them a totally different feel. I like G-S Hypo Cement because it has a very thin applicator which allows for a lot of added control in application. Once you have your beads the way you like, attach a post. I usually have earring posts and backs but I could not find them to save my life so I improvised by twisting wire around the end of my wire cutters and bending the loose end outwards to mimic a post. My earring backs fit just fine and it is held on very sturdily by a dab of jewelry glue.

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And there you have it. I funky pair of earrings for every day of the week (or month depending on how wild you went).

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