Kids can make easy polymer clay beads with adult supervision. The polymer beads make nice bracelets or necklaces strung on stretchy jewelry cord or embroidery floss to give as gifts to moms, aunts, grandmas or caretakers.
Adult supervision is necessary for younger kids. (The clay is not edible. The cutting blade for the second type of polymer beads has to be very sharp and the skewer and toothpicks have sharp points.)
Polymer Clay (2 to 4 different colors)
Cutting board or plate
Toothpicks or skewer
Cutting Blade (only for the cane beads)
Soften the polymer clay. You have to work or knead polymer clay to make it soft and squeezable or it will crumble and crack. The best way to do it is to break off chunks of the clay and roll it in the palms of your hands. Continue to roll the piece in a ball until it is warm and soft with no cracks holes or crumbling.
Combine polymer colors.Roll two or more clay balls of different colors together. The balls will have swirls of pattern from the mixed clay. Make different sized bead balls.
Punch holes in the beads. Use a skewer or toothpick to poke a hole all the way through each bead. Make the hole big enough for every bead so you can get the cord or thread through easily by hand or with a sewing needle after the beads are baked. (Do not forget to poke the holes before you bake the clay. It hardens as it bakes. You will not be able to poke the holes after they are cooked.)
Cook the beads.Preheat the oven to the temperature listed on the clay package. Set the beads on a cookie sheet. They do not expand the way many types of cookies do so you can put the beads closer together and fit many beads on one large cookie sheet. Cook for the listed amount time. Let the beads cool completely and string the beads to make bracelets, necklaces or even key chains. It may be easiest to string them using a sewing needle.
Cane Polymer Clay Beads
Make an alternate type of bead from polymer clay canes. Roll the mixed balls into long snake shapes, known as canes. Make the canes fat or thin. Cut off the uneven ends of the canes. Slice the canes with a sharp cutting blade the same way you cut a loaf of bread or roll cake. (Adults should to do this step for young kids.) When you make the slices, you will have beads that show the layers and swirls inside the beads. Use the skewer or toothpick to poke through the middle of the beads or from top to bottom of each slice to make the beads. Bake as instructed the same way you made the ball shaped beads.
The charm of the polymer clay beads made by kids is the creativity and homemade feel of each bead. They are easy to make but do require adult supervision. Older kids can try making more ornate beads and canes by adding layers of canes together before slicing the beads.