Making your own clay beads is not new. Polymer clay artisans have been making them for years. But there are a couple of disadvantages with polymer clay beads - you have dry the beads in an oven and glue on the bead grommets afterwards. On the other hand, resin clay has a short working time of about a few hours once activated. But the adhesive property is sure handy for making resin clay beads.  Here is my tutorial where I have taken the idea up a notch by making faux metal resin clay beads!

The key supply is 2 part epoxy resin clay.  There are diffferent brands out there.  I use either Apoxie or Crystal Clay.  White apoxie clay in pots from art or even woodworking stores is more cost effective.  You can color it with shavings of art crayons blended in - liquid pigments may not be suitable as they may interfer with the activation and drying process if you use too much.

I used the "silver" (actually a light grey) Crystal Clay for this project.  Other supplies you need are :

  • Silver plated round grommets (used in this tutorial) or metal bead cores (for small beads)
  • Selection of metal rondelles, spacers, bead caps (may be flattened with a nylon hammer)
  • flatback crystals or chatons
  • wooden skewers, dowels
  • glitter - I used fine and coarser types
  • varnish of some kind or ice resin
  • non-stick mat or wax paper
You'll need a non-stick surface because the clay is sticky once activated.  If you want something better than ordinary wax paper, check cookware shops for non-stick baking mats.  I got this one from Michaels on a good discount day!

Take approximately equal amounts of Part A and Part B of the resin clay.  Resin clay has a shelf life so if you find your clay either a little on the old side or simply too hard to knead the parts together, carefully add a drop or two of isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) which is available from the drugstore to lubricate things along. Knead until well blended together. I use my hands as resin clay is safe to use but please use gloves if you have a lot of sensitivities.

Small beads can be made completely out of resin clay.  Just roll a small amount into a ball and stick a skewer right through each bead. There will be some distortion on the exit site. So carefully fix the bead up after you remove the skewer.

Now stick a grommet on each hole so it looks like the bead might have a metal core. If you are using actual metal cores then make a resin snake to go around it, patting the clay smooth. If a bit of clay gets in hole, gently remove it with the pointy end of the skewer. Always make sure you have a through path.

Use wooden balls as the base for larger beads. Not only will this save on resin clay but the beads will be lighter. Just spread some clay around the wooden ball, pat smooth and add the grommets.

If you are making beads and have no grommets to fit - like this large bead - then fake it with a suitably sized metal rondelle or ring.

One thing useful about having bead grommets, fake or real, is that the beads can stand on these hole ends after the embellishment step to air dry.

Decorating with metal rondelles and spacers is easier on small beads if they are left on a skewer.

Big beads are so much fun as there is more room to add all sorts of embellishments including flower bead caps that I hammered flat with my nylon hammer!

I added glitter in order to make the beads look like metal ones.  I rolled this cylindrical bead in some coarse blue glitter and patted them into the clay with my fingers.  I also added some fine silver glitter after as shown in the next step.

If you can get yourself some very fine glitter (I used the silver one from Martha Stewart's craft/scrapbooking section), then rub it in with fingers.  It's messy but the "burnishing" of the glitter makes the bead look metallic!

Let the beads air dry overnight.  A coat or two of varnish will make sure all the glitter is sealed in properly. I used a water based varnish here which dried clear.

Making your own beads means you'll be able to create really one of a kind beads.  Shown below is another example where I used small bead caps and crystals either on their own or inside rondelles. This one had just a little glitter added here and there so the grey color shows through.

Before You Go: