Mary Needs Your Help… Amaco Bead Roller Bracelets [Spotlight]

Tri-Bead Roller Bracelets by Mary Grech “My only
problem is that
the PearlEx powder is
coming off some of my
beads even with the glaze
on them.” ~Mary-G

These “Spot” features are for you guys to display your accomplishments, share stories of inspiration and even ask for assistance with challenges that you may be experiencing. The projects are based on techniques learned from articles here at the blog, as well as from tutorials at the Polymer Clay Video Library. My hope is for these “Show and Tell” features to help everyone get to know each other a bit better, thanks to this wonderfully artistic medium of polymer clay. And… by participating, you can win some beads too!

Tri-Bead Roller Bracelets by Brenda Moran

Hi Cindy,

I’ve attached some of my newest projects – 4  bracelets. I made the beads using the Amaco tri-bead roller. The grey bead bracelet is one of my favorites. I wanted them to resemble grey pearls.

I made over 80 beads so that I could make a necklace and bracelet. I used white clay and then I dipped the beads into a baggie with PearlEx silver powder. After they baked I used “Diamond Glaze” to finish them off.

My only problem is that the PearlEx powder is coming off some of my beads even with the glaze on them. I needed to use a bead reamer on a few and it chipped the grey right off the area where the bead holes were. Any suggestions?

Would adding the powder to the treated clay and then blending the clay and powder together be a better method? Out of the over 80 beads I’ve made, at least half of them are chipped, or the grey powder is rubbed off. Also, is there any way I can salvage them?

Thank you for all your much appreciated help.


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  1. Maureen, 07 June, 2010

    You can mix PearlEx with a liquid. I have put the powder in a little water and painted it on. Or, I believe, you can mix it right into the glaze. You will have to test it to see the different effects you will get. But I usually mix it in a little water and brush it on. You can also mix it right in the clay. Hope this helps. I love your bracelets! I have the same bead rollers and have not made anything with them yet. Now I have the inspiration! Thanks!

  2. Maureen, 07 June, 2010

    By the way, as far as salvaging the ones already chipped, try mixing the Pearlex in the glaze and re-glaze. It might work. Good luck!

  3. Bonnie Kreger, 07 June, 2010

    Mary, which Diamond Glaze did you use, Judikins? I had some problems with that too. Now if I have to glaze I use Diamond Verathane which I buy at Ace Hardware. You can mix the Pearl Ex in that. However, instead of using Pearl Ex, use Perfect Pearls. Perfect Pearls is made of resin and mixes with clay and glazes better than Pearl Ex and most of the time you don’t need a glaze because the resin in Perfect Pearls bakes into the clay.

    When you have to make the holes bigger in your beads you need to start small and work your way up. Bead reamers usually don’t work as good on polymer clay beads. I use tiny drill bits that I covered in clay and I start with the smallest one and work my way up. I have a picture of those on one of my older blogs. Click by my name and go back till you see them. I also use at least 3 coats of glaze either Verathane or Future after I do beads that have Pearl Ex on them. It’s a pain but it’s necessary. I would recoat your beads with Verathane and your Pearlex and let them dry really good between applications.

  4. Koolbraider, 07 June, 2010

    That’s a good question. I have only just started using PearlEx. I don’t like it coming off on the fingers after baking and have a bit of trouble glazing as well. I wonder if putting the beads and shake’n’coat with PearlEx might be putting too much powder on the surface? Maybe the glaze stops on the top layer of powder and doesn’t get down to the surface of the bead? (Gotta get a bead roller soon!)

    Bonnie, I’m going to check out your hand drills on your blog. I didn’t know regular reamers don’t work as well on clay.

  5. Koolbraider, 07 June, 2010

    Great idea for drills! By the way, I think I’ll add EVERYONE’s blog to my list, there’s so much information!!!

  6. Cindy R, 07 June, 2010

    I use Luster Rub-ons instead of Pearl-Ex. It goes on the raw clay and stays on after baking. It’s inexpensive and comes in many colors. Here is a picture of all four palettes:


  7. Phaedrakat, 07 June, 2010

    @Cindy R: I saw these Rub-ons in an online shop awhile back and I wondered about them. It was a polymer clay shop (or maybe it was metal clay, too?) so I figured they were for polymer use, but I’d never heard of them before. It’s good to know that someone’s used them with success, and that they’re inexpensive. Do you have to seal them in/use a finish on them? What kind of texture do they have? They look like a creamy eyeshadow palette — are they creamy, powdery, waxy, or what? Thanks for the info. Much appreciated!

  8. Cindy R, 07 June, 2010


    They are creamy rather than powder, but not too gooey – kind of like a cake rouge consistency. I use my finger to rub them on the unbaked clay.

    I don’t have to use a glaze, but sometimes I do. I’ve tried rubbing the baked clay on a towel and the color doesn’t come off… it’s pretty cool!

    Polymer Clay Projects

    The top pic is an example where I used blue clay with a an acrylic stamp and the gold rub-on.

    And in lower pic, I experimented with alcohol inks, a texture mat and silver rub-on. I like the metallics the best, but most colors do the trick!


  9. Phaedrakat, 07 June, 2010

    I just wanted to mention that Cindy has some articles and videos about using and making your own custom drill bits.

    This article gives step-by-step directions How To Make Custom Handles for Dollar Store Drill Bits.

    This one explains How to Drill or Enlarge Bead Holes in Polymer Clay Beads.

    And this has a preview video, showing Cindy’s Custom Drilling Tools.

    These videos are part of the Polymer Clay Beginner’s Course, (link at top of page,) but it’s nice to see an example of how you can make the tools look. The main thing when drilling holes is just like Bonnie mentioned, and Cindy states in her article — start with a small bit and work your way up. This way you can avoid chipping either you clay or your finish.

  10. Cheryl Hodges, 07 June, 2010

    Beautiful beads. I love the pearl grey and the yellow/peach one. I have only used pearl ex on the smooth raku beads and did not have any problem I guess because it was cured with the clay sheet using the embossing gun. I haven’t yet tried on beads.Seeing your lovely bracelets has inspired me to use my amaco bead roller which I ordered but haven’t used.

  11. Phaedrakat, 07 June, 2010

    Arghh! I just lost my comment! I wrote a long description of my “technique.” I can’t believe I lost it! I’m so mad at myself…

    Dear HobokenMary, your beads and bracelets are beautiful! The grey ones do look like pearls, and the colors you’ve used for your bracelets look great together. Those bead rollers make some really perfect beads, don’t they? I never realized what a cute shape that double disk-looking one is (not sure if it has a specific name.) It looks great in all of your colors, and in your bracelets — which are put together very nicely! Great job on these! I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with the Pearl Ex coming off your grey beads. I know you’re wanting to finish that necklace!

    Looks like you got some good tips about drilling the holes, adding more powder to either water or glaze to repair the bare spots, or using another type of powder or wax. Bonnie had some great advice about repairing your beads using Varathane or Future and more Pearl Ex mixed in. I would also bake each coat after letting it dry (at a low temp for about 10 min.) to help the finish bond with the clay better.

    I think your idea about pressing some Pearl Ex into the surface of your clay will help, too, next time you make these beads. Then you could use the Bead Roller again to smooth the bead. After that you can complete the beads the same way, using layers of Pearl Ex mixed with the clay-compatible finish of your choice. I think you might be better off switching to one of the tried and true finishes like Varathane or Future to make these kinds of beads. Just my opinion, but they’re known to work well with PearlEx and clay, and they’re also cheaper to use, especially if you want to do multiple layers of Pearl Ex mixed with the finish. You could probably use Studio by Sculpey Glaze the same way, but it’s a bit pricier than the others. (Although it’s less expensive than Diamond Glaze.)

    I’ve got some other mumbo-jumbo and ideas I was going to write, but I’m still bummed out that I refreshed the page after I wrote that big comment, so I’ll finish up later. Thanks for sharing your lovely bracelets, Mary. I hope it all works out with your beads — that you’re able to fix the chipped ones so they look beautiful again, and so you can make the necklace you set out to make! Best of luck to you!

  12. Hobokenmary, 08 June, 2010

    Thank you so much for your tips and also for rewriting your post. I hate when that happens!!!@Phaedrakat:

  13. brenda, 09 June, 2010

    @Hobokenmary: Just curious…… What type of clay did you use? Your bracelet are very nice…. I have the bead rollers. That was the first thing I purchase when starting out. I still can’t get them right.. I either have too much clay or not enough. Did you see Kens Faux Jade beads? OMG” they looked perfect! I kept thinking “are those real? or Clay?

  14. Hobokenmary, 09 June, 2010

    Hi Brenda, I only use Premo. When you got your tri-bead roller did it come with clay measure device (it almost looks like a thimble)? That really helps. Also, there is a video on Youtube that demonstrates the bead roller in action. The tribead roller was the first thing I got when I started out with clay and I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. Ken’s faux jade beads were awesome!@brenda:

  15. brenda, 09 June, 2010

    @Hobokenmary: You know ‘ it did…. I’ll have to play with it some more.. Thanks for the youtube tip I’ll check that out as well.. I really enjoy using my hands though.

  16. Phaedrakat, 09 June, 2010

    @‘Mary & Brenda: Hi Guys, just as a reminder, Cindy has a video on the Tri-Bead Roller (which comes in her Beginner’s Course.) There’s also another post about the bead roller, with tips on how to use the device. The comments section of both posts have some great tips & ideas on how to measure clay so that you get the right amount. Here are the links:

    Amaco Tri Bead Roller – How To Make it Work Right

    How to Make Beads | Tri Bead Roller by Amaco

    Check out some of the clay-measuring ideas. They’re really helpful, especially if you lost the device that came with your Bead Roller (like I did! I know — doh!) Have a great day! :D

    P.S.: In case you didn’t know, when you hit “reply” it automatically fills the comment box with HTML code. This code inserts the “@name:” info. It allows the reader to click back to the original comment if they want. Before you write your comment, move the cursor to the end of the code. (Ends with “a>:”) This will make it easier for the reader to see who you’re replying to. :-)

  17. Phaedrakat, 09 June, 2010

    @Hobokenmary: No problem, Mary. Every once in a while I get really absent-minded (once in a while?) and have to re-do a post. I had some other tips, but I realized that other people were sharing pretty much the same ideas, so it’s just as well I didn’t clog the post any further. Maybe it was divine intervention that I lost it! haha. Thanks again for sharing your pretty bracelets. Have you tried any of the repairing ideas yet?

  18. Elizabeth Kerr, 28 November, 2010

    Hi I have just read all the comments re the Pearlex powder trouble on your beads.
    I use Pearlex powders all the colours, all the time, but I only use it over raw clay, and then bake. Mine never comes off, it would if I tried to put it on the baked clay it just wouldnt take. Also I use Sculpey glaze Gloss or Matte , altho I like the gloss best over the pearlex powders.I can also put them into TLs but just like rubbing them on with a fingertip.
    I also use eye shadows to colour raw clay. I get small trays with a lot of shades in the one tray, in the cosmetic shops for about three dollars, the type of shops that sell cheapy cosmetics. the eyeshadows make soft pastel colours, just spread them on and squish the clay til you get a nice colour.they also come with a small cotton bud to help. I think Carrie here has the right answer and does just what I do, and doesnt have trouble.
    It is not as hard as you think.
    Hope this helps
    E. XX
    Sorry if I am a bit late I have just seen the discussion.

  19. brenda, 08 June, 2010

    I haven’t tried Pearl Ex powder yet is it a powder? I thought about using eyeshadows because they come in a themed pattern and some is glittery already. I am just going to have to try this stuff out.. I too like the Grey..

  20. Hobokenmary, 08 June, 2010

    Hi Brenda, Yes Pearl Ex is a powder with a very smooth texture to it. I used gold Pearl Ex on only the beige beads in the gold and beige bracelet(they were white to begin with). @brenda:

  21. Phaedrakat, 09 June, 2010

    @brenda: I’ve heard that some eyeshadows work great and some get discolored with the heat of the oven. If you try one that doesn’t work, don’t be discouraged. The next one might be perfect!

    If you decide to buy Pearl Ex or Perfect Pearls, try Michael’s or your local hobby store so you can use a 40% coupon. The Perfect Pearls come in sets of 4, so it’s a little cheaper to try them as a tester. (Pearl Ex comes in 12-pk sets at Michaels.) All of the mica powders are expensive, but they also last a really, really long time. (Good investment!) I still have powders left in all of the Pearl Ex and Perfect Pearls sets that I’ve purchased.

  22. Peggy Barnes, 08 June, 2010

    Mary your bracelets are quite lovely. I think the colors are really nice. I use pearl-ex powders either mixed into the raw clay or mixed with liquid kato or sculpey. I mostly use liquid Kato. I have never covered the entire bead with pearl-ex but I have used small rubber stamps dipped into pearl-ex then stamped on bead then take my fingertip and dip in liquid kato and dab onto the pearl-ex to coat it. Donna Kato has a bead she does this with but I can’t remember the name of it. It is in one of her books. You dab the liquid kato on it then use the heat gun to dry the liquid clay. Then I finish it off with a couple more layers of brushed on liquid kato using the heat gun between each layer. Final layer I bake in oven for 10 minutes at a low temp of which I need to check my file to see what the exact temp is. This really gives a nice finish to the bead. No need for sanding or any other finish when done.

    Cindy R. I also like your beads the highlighted colors of the metallic rub ons really give a great finish to the bead after stamping it.

    Thank you both for sharing your lovely beads with us. Quite the inspiration from both of you. The talent in this group is just out standing.
    Uuuuuggggs to all, Peggy

  23. Peggy Barnes, 08 June, 2010

    I just thought about PYM II maybe it would work on the pearl ex powders. Cindy or Carolyn F. would be a good one to ask about this.
    Do you guys think this would work for Mary??
    Uuuuggggs, Peggy

  24. Freda K, 08 June, 2010

    Brenda – I’ve heard of people using eye shadow on polymer clay successfully. I’m going to look for some at garage sales since I don’t use eye shadow.

  25. Phaedrakat, 09 June, 2010

    @Freda K: Hi Freda, try dollar stores also. They have fun & funky colors, and they’re cheap! Good luck!

  26. Hobokenmary, 08 June, 2010

    Thank you all very much for your helpful tips and ideas! Thanks again Cindy, I love this blog, it brings creative minds together and everyone is so kind and willing to share their tips and tricks!!!

  27. carolyn, 08 June, 2010

    Right off hand I can’t remember if I tested powders when I was doing the testing of PYM II. When I get the time and energy I’ll have a go at it. It should seal the powders real well.

  28. maryellen, 08 June, 2010

    Mary your jewelry is very nice.

  29. Carrie, 08 June, 2010

    I use pearl-ex powders and I roll my bead and brush the powders on with a fluffy brush. I wait a while for them to get back to room temp. and them pierce them. I can usually avoid fingerprints by using a very gentle touch and turning the bead to reposition my fingers as I twist in the piercing pin. if there are a few fingerprints they come out easily by lightly rubbing them. I bake and use Studio by Sculpey glossy glaze. I never have trouble with chipping or the powder rubbing off. The midnight blue bracelet in my Etsy shop was made this way. The bracelets are gorgeous, I hope you find a method that helps you!!

  30. Phaedrakat, 09 June, 2010

    @Carrie: Your bracelet is lovely. That Studio by Sculpey Glaze is the way to go, isn’t it? It’s so much easier to use…

  31. Laurel, 10 June, 2010

    I have used Pearl Ex quite a bit and I think your problem was how you put it on the bead. I always brush mine on. If that doesn’t result in a dark enough affect from the Pearl Ex, I would roll some into the clay surface as someone else suggested and into your ball, then re-roll in the bead roller. It might also work just putting some powder in the bead roller and rolling the bead. I haven’t tried this but I really think your problem is too much powder on the bead surface.

  32. carolyn, 12 June, 2010

    It sure looks like you have mastered using the bead rollers. I have lots of the bead roller tools, but have yet to try most of them. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing these great bracelets!

  33. Jocelyn, 01 July, 2010

    @Bonnie Kreger

    Cannot thank you enough for that link to that absolutely stunning bracelet. Love your site, and your sound finishing advice.

  34. Jocelyn, 29 November, 2010

    Agree with you Elizabeth, but I still have awful trouble trying to place the powder where I wish it. Find the only thing that works is the smallest type of painters detail brush. Purchased mine through Micromark, and it has a neat knob like handle.

  35. Cherie, 29 November, 2010

    I’ve used pearl -ex powders a lot but before baking. when applying if i find the color too pale , I just keep adding to it. I bake and can even sand it and have never had it come off. I use a brush to apploy and even used my fingertips.

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