Custom Beads with Perfectly Sized Holes In Just the Right Places:
Making your own beads with polymer clay, puts you in full control of sizing and positioning the bead holes for whatever jewelry project you happen to be working on. No more settling for, “I-guess-that’ll-have-to-do” purchases at the bead store.
Many jewelry making projects require beads with small holes. An illusion necklace is a good example of this… where the beads appear to be ‘floating’ on a line of monofilament. If you use beads with a hole that is too large, the bead will hang crooked and look sloppy or unprofessional.
There are other bead stringing projects that need the hole to be quite large. Just try stringing hemp, silk cord or leather lacing through a bead with a small hole. Very frustrating! The available selection for pre-made large hole beads, is actually quite limited.
And what about those times when you may want more than one hole in the bead. Two and three hole bar shaped beads are often needed as spacers in bracelets and multi strand necklaces.
Many of my polymer clay beads are made without having a specific project in mind. Make ‘em first. Decide how to use ‘em later. With these beads, I add the smallest hole possible. The hole can always be drilled out to a larger size at another time. This approach gives the most flexibility.
You should put small holes through beads using a bead piercing wire, rather than using a larger skewer.
Bead piercing wires come with the Amaco Bead Baking Rack which I recommend you use for baking beads on. But you can also use any stiff wire or long sewing needle.
To enlarge the holes in polymer clay beads after they have been baked, use regular drill bits. I bought a cheap set at the dollar store and made pretty handles to them out of polymer clay [See: Polymer Clay Tools].
Always start with the smallest bit you can find and drill slowly by hand entering from each end until the new larger hole goes completely through. Then if the hole needs to be larger, go up to the next bit size and repeat. Continue using larger drill bits until the bead hole is perfectly sized for your specific jewelry project.
Don’t just skip through to the largest bit size right away, or you will risk chipping or cracking the bead. Obviously after all the work you have put into forming, sanding and polishing the bead, wrecking it at this point would be disappointing.
These are just a couple of the things you will need to know how to do, if you are going to make professional looking polymer clay beads for your handmade jewelry and bead stringing projects.