Polymer Clay Magic 

Polymer clay is a material beloved by artists, jewelers, parents, and kids! Available in a rainbow assortment of colors, this clay is easy to shape into anything you can imagine! Polymer clay never dries out so you can either mold it endlessly or bake it in a home oven, making your creations permanent. 

We use it to make miniatures, earrings, beads, and more! The possibilities are endless!

In this tutorial, I will go over two polymer clay techniques: marbling and inlay. We will also cover how to make a hole in your bead, and best practices for baking your clay.

Shop Polymer Clay Supplies

We carry a nice selection of polymer clay tools and supples in our shop!

Polymer Clay 

Great for beginners, kids, and moms due to its soft easy to use texture.

Clay Slicer

The innovative Super Slicer was designed specifically for use with oven-bake clay!

Clay Extruder

This tool has 19 interchangeable discs for making clovers, ropes, grass, hair, and more!

Gather Your Materials

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Setting up your work area

Polymer clay is very sensitive to dust and surface textures. Try using a piece of regular clean white paper to line your work area. The paper is smooth, dirt free, and easy to change when it gets covered with clay! 

I also suggest buying a toaster oven that you use specifically for craft projects (aka NO FOOD). Polymer clay is a plastic product that is safe to handle, but while it is heated, it lets off a strong chemical odor. It's best practice to not mix food and hot plastic and to bake your clay in a well-ventilated area. 

I purchased the cheapest toaster oven I could find and use it only for making art.

Marbling Your Clay

Marbling is the simplest of all polymer clay techniques, but creates beautiful results! Who wouldn't want a colorful swirl bead?

Begin by slicing two pieces of clay. I use a sharp thin knife, but you can use a clay slicer or a razor blade.

Your clay pieces should equal the desired size of your finished bead. 

Begin by kneading the two pieces together. If your clay is hard, warm it a little in your hands before you begin.

Once your colors have softened and you have mixed your clay a little bit, break the pieces apart and squish them back together.

Continue kneading and breaking apart the clay, watching your colors swirl. 

Once you are satisfied with the amount of marbling in your bead, stop! 

Roll your clay into a sphere.

Revel in its beauty!

Inlay Technique

This inlay technique is so rewarding and fun. In this tutorial, I demonstrate a serpentine design, but you can inlay any shape into your clay.

Begin by cutting your clay. Cut a larger piece for your main color and a smaller piece for the inlay.

I am using red as my main color and black as the inlay accent. 

Roll your main color into a ball.

Grab your accent color and roll it into a very thin snake.

Take your ball and begin rolling it on the snake. 

Change directions so the black clay creates interesting shapes on your ball. 

Once you've finished the rope of black clay will be sitting on top of the red ball.

Carefully roll out your ball again while applying gentle pressure. 

Once the black clay is flush with the surface of your ball, you're done!

Makings Spheres into Beads

By now, we have some very pretty spheres! Let's make these balls into beads!

Find the center of your sphere and poke it with a toothpick. Begin pressing the toothpick through your clay while turning. It should feel like you're drilling into the clay.

Once your toothpick emerges from the other side of the clay, your bead may be a little deformed. 

Take the bead off the toothpick, turn it around 180 degrees, and insert the toothpick back into the hole you created from the opposite side. This will help reform the clay into a ball. Now is your chance to make the hole the appropriate size for the string or chain you're going to use for your necklace. Gently pull on the clay, enlarging the hole. 

Once your hole has reached your desired size, remove it from the toothpick, and carefully roll it back into a ball shape. Be gentle and don't roll too aggressively, or you will warp the shape of your hole.

Bake Your Beads

Preheat your toaster oven to 275 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes per quarter inch of thickness. For example, a piece that is .5 inch thick should be baked for 30 minutes. I baked my beads for 30 minutes. 

I baked my beads directly on a piece of paper.

Bake at 275 degrees per quarter inch of thickness. Too short of a bake time will result in sticky or soft beads.

Make Your Necklace

Once your beads have cured in the oven, assemble your necklace! I strung my beads on a piece of cotton cord, but you could use chain, leather, or whatever your heart desires. 

Did your necklace come out particularly cool? Share your work in our comments! Happy crafting!


By Jennie Lennick
Designer, entrepreneur, and lover of crafts! Boss Lady at Jenny Lemons in San Francisco

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