Handmade Beads and How To

If you like to use your time and imagination for artful creations, you might already know that there are a huge variety of beads that you can create yourself at home. Lots of household items can serve as a perfect medium for bead creation, from rolling paper to firing glass with kitchen torch.

We In this article we would like to provide ideas and supplies for making beads from:

  • Paper
  • Polymer clay
  • Plastic
  • Ceramic
  • Beaded
  • Fused glass
  • Lampwork glass

This article is an overview and a window to see what possibilities we all have readily available for some masterful creation right at home. You can choose any one of our techniques and have fun with it. Specific tutorials that you might find somewhere else might have different supplies or steps. Happy creation and decoration!


1. Paper Beads


Topfrogdesings - Paper Beads

Paper beads are cheap and easy to make, which makes them perfect for the first try. You probably already have all the needed supplies at home, except for maybe glue. One bottle of glue will make lots and lots of paper beads. What you really need is a lot of patience to tightly roll many beads, but there is no way around the tedious process. You can create beads of various length, shape, play with colors and width. You can always use fabric instead of paper for similar great results.

Supplies:

  • Paper - any kind that rolls easily. Try magazines, old books, posters, cutting paper, and wrapping paper.
  • Toothpicks - they are needed to thread beads while they dry. You can also use metal sticks or thin wooden sticks.
  • Styrofoam - use it for bead drying surface.
  • Pen and ruler - you can create a template if you need to make large quantities of beads.
  • Liquid paper glue for fusing paper together.
  • Clear glossy enamel for spraying beads after they finish drying. You can also use clear nail polish.

2. Polymer Clay Beads


Topfrogdesings - Polymer Clay Beads

Polymer clay comes in many different colors and can be found in many craft stores. Popular brands are Fimo, Sculpey, and Kato Polyclay. All of those brands will make good quality beads and will last for a long time. The beautiful thing about polymer clay is that the level of difficulty is totally up to you. You can choose to make some intricate ornaments or stick to something simple. The safest way to start is practicing with something simple and then growing from there.

Supplies:

  • Polymer clay
  • Bead rack can be specific for bead baking or you can use a simple heat resistant dish.
  • Wires - copper wire, toothpicks, and bamboo skewers are all fine. Make sure you coat the wire with corn starch to safeguard your beads from sticking. A wire with sharp end works best.
  • Rolling pin or any round object.
  • Powered color pigments, alcohol ink are needed when you become advanced and might want to use pigments and colored inks to enhance your craft.
  • Jewelry-making supplies - get them if you don't have them yet. They will come very handy if you continue to make jewelry in the future.
  • Oven

3. Plastic Beads


Topfrogdesings - Plastic Beads

The most popular materials for creating plastic beads are bottles and grocery bags. You will not only create jewelry, but will help recycling too. You will need some heat to mold plastic bottles into your desired shapes. Some tutorials might suggest using the oven, while others will advise to get a heat gun.

Supplies:

  • Plastic bottles or plastic bags. Thin small bottles will be easier to cut.
  • Heat source - oven or heat gun for plastic bottles.
  • Baking sheet or aluminum foil for baking.
  • Scissors
  • Permanent markers for bead decoration.
  • Mod Podge, straws, or toothpicks will be needed as mediums for plastic bags beads and will hold their shape. Straws and toothpicks will serve for wrapping your beads.

4. Ceramic Beads


Topfrogdesings - Ceramic Beads

This category covers all fired clay beads. The most used mediums for such beads are earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Ceramic bead making process is long and not the easiest, but certainly rewarding. You will have to pierce, stain, glaze, and fire your beads. You should take a class or find a friend who has a kiln to practice firing. You should do this before you spend money on an expensive equipment only to find out that you don't like it. You can also rent kiln equipment from studios or individuals before investing in your own. You might even stick with this option if you have too many budget or space constraints.

Supplies:

  • Kiln for firing
  • Clay for bead making
  • Dowels
  • Shaping tools for designing
  • Glazes and other decorating materials for colors and finish coats.

5. Beaded Beads


Topfrogdesings - Beaded Beads

This technique includes seed beads and bead weaving, which might be overwhelming at first. You might want to practice seed bead technique before attempting bead weaving to get familiar with the process. There are simple bead weaving projects that you can train with and become a pro at bead weaving. If you know the process, beaded bead making would definitely be very rewarding and would enhance your collection. Look for detailed tutorials and try your hand at this beautiful craft.

Supplies:

  • Thread
  • Seed beads
  • Beading needles
  • Seed patterns with directions
  • Beading books for help and advice

6. Fused glass beads


Topfrogdesings - Fused Glass Beads

This is another bead making technique that requires kiln and heat. This name is applied for all glass beads that are made using anywhere from 593 degrees Celsius to 816 degrees.

Different firing temperature correlates with a different name for the process. The lowest temperature range is called slumping (593-677 degrees C), the middle temperature heating is tack fusing (677-732 degrees C), and the highest heat fusing is called full fuse at 732-816 degrees Celsius.

You can stick to one of these methods or use them all at the same time and create beautiful unique pieces with relief, depth, and shape. There are many other techniques for fused glass and can definitely be tried as your level of expertise is increasing.

Supplies:

  • Fusing glass
  • Fiber paper
  • Glass cutter
  • Prepared kiln shelf
  • Glass-fusing kiln

7. Lampwork Glass Beads


Topfrogdesings - Lampwork Glass Beads

This rather complicated process requires melting glass around a metal rod with the help of direct flame at 800 degrees. This will allow you to make various shapes, colors, and sizes of beads, add textures, like dots and swirls, enhancing your designs. You should only attempt this technique when you are experienced with direct heat sources.

This method of bead making will require some investment in a torch and airy working space for fume ventilation. This often includes the expenses of renovating, expanding, buying, or leasing a designated work space for your craft. You will also need a kiln. You will shape with the torch, but finishing work is in a kiln.

Supplies:

  • Glass rods
  • Bead release and bead reamer
  • Mandrel
  • Torch for glass
  • Lighter for the torch
  • Bead rack
  • Marver
  • Bead shaping tools like tweezers, pliers, needles, knives, and paddles
  • Fiber blanket and bowl of water for unruly fires