Bead Making Tips To Build Your Confidence as a Polymer Clay Artist

Lack Of Confidence

Is The Fear of Making Mistakes Holding You Back from Making Beautiful Beads?

Yesterday I made a commitment to discuss some of the challenges many of you are having with your polymer clay. A common one is lack of confidence or fear of making mistakes. You gather information and tools but have a tough time getting started. Or perhaps your projects aren’t turning out as expected so you get discouraged.

As a teacher, I see this lack of confidence issue come up all the time. So today I am going to give you 3 creative tips and techniques to help you conquer your fears and feelings of doubt.

1) Hush Your Mind A Little. Stop saying you don’t have a creative bone in your body…. you’re bad at mixing colors… your stuff isn’t as good as everyone else’s. These negative words do not serve you well! A young child does not say, “I’m bad at walking, so I quit!”… or “I don’t think I will ever be able to color, so why start now?” They just do it the best they can and eventually they get better and better! There will always be people more skilled at polymer clay than you and there will always be people worse. You are here because you love it and your negative thoughts are holding you back. Let go and have fun with it!

2) Play With Your Clay. Take two or three different colors of clay and sit down to play with it. It is important that you have no intention of making something great with the clay. You are just going to play with the material and get to know it. Roll it, twist it, fold it, mix it. Shape it into beads and smash them up. Polymer clay loses its intimidation factor when you know it doesn’t matter how ugly the thing might end up. You can always smash it up and start over. Even if you just end up with a big ball of mud colored clay in the end, just keep playing with it. The great thing about having a block of mud colored clay is it still can be used in lots of techniques. So don’t even worry about the waste. Besides, this ‘practice clay’ was set aside for playing with in the first place. There is no need to feel guilty about it!

3) Start with something simple and learn it well. Try marbling polymer clay and learn to roll round beads with it. Master the technique of properly baking beads. Put in the effort of sanding polymer clay beads through all the steps until they shine. Make some earrings or a bracelet and wear them! One simple set of well made beads will build your confidence much quicker than several sets of complicated poorly made beads that you hide away and never use.

And remember, if you have confidence issues, there is no need to go at it alone. As you can see from yesterday’s “bead making challenges” post, there are many others feeling the same way. Absolutely everything you need to learn to make beautiful polymer clay beads is right here on this web site… and the amount of information is growing daily. I am your Polymer Clay Tutor and I am here to help.

So tell me… were these tips helpful? Are there any other confidence-building or fear-of-making-mistakes topics you would like me to address in more detail? What else do you think might be holding you back? I’d love nothing more than to help you become the confident clayer that I know you can be.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Diana Souza-Castro, 23 October, 2008

    Hi Cindy!

    Just a note, but no response is necessary.

    I began to rethink my issues with Polymer Clay, and my problem was definitely not with working with too soft/hard clay. Actually, I went back to the program I purchased from you, and low and behold there it was. Don’t know how I missed it in the first place! Guess that I’ll have to read over the tutorial a number of times.

    I was grateful to realize that, your response to us today was right on the money. For me, it is difficult to work with a medium leaning into foreign territory, and being older tends to put more of a slant on that. So, I appreciated your words of confidence. It was as though you were peering into my brain.

    I believe that you are absolutely correct, because familiarity helps a person to expand his/her horizons — namely, me. Ha! Ha! I should know, because I’ve been on breaking ground before.

    Thanks for the encouragement. The worse it could be, is that I will get colored clay stains all over my hands. Ha! Ha! Does Brillo work on that!! Oops! It’s weird, but today (prior to reading your posting), my mind was concentrating on marbling. When I began to read your input, I found myself laughing. It was only because we were thinking in the same direction. I do have to start somewhere, so that will be my somewhere. How hard can it be, especially after I have been watching your tutorial I purchased. Won’t be concerned if it doesn’t turn out right, the main thing will be that I’m learning, and (most important) having fun. I’ve heard “That one person’s junk can be another person’s treasure”. This is right on the money. Ahem! I’d like to think that the fact that I’m involving myself, is what really matters. My clay will be my masterpiece — My Monet!

    Ta! Ta!


    P.S. Just think you’ve made someone listen!

  2. sam miller, 24 October, 2008

    You are so right about hushing our minds. Sometimes we must see our work through others eyes. I had been experimenting with pinata inks on focal beads trying to create a watercolour technique. I made a bead that I thought was hideous and threw it to the side of my table,discouraged yet again. My friend came over the other night,pointed to it,loved it wanted it strung as a necklace and saw it as a true piece of wearable art.
    She owns her own hair salon, and with confidence wore that art necklace all day receiving many compliments on the beauty of it.One persons trash, another’s treasure!!
    Another lesson learned.

  3. Shelly S, 24 October, 2008

    Thanks for the reminder Cindy. I knew that but just stopped paying attention to the beauty of it.

  4. Linda G, 24 October, 2008

    Cindy your tips as with all of your posts was very helpful. I have a hard time taking the time to finish things. Like sanding and buffing I hate doing that but I know like you said it is something that I should practice on and do. So thank you for reminding me.
    I have found that there is no “right” way to do something. It all just depends on how you yourself see it and what is easier for you to handle. Like the heart pin I made, ( updated the pic by the way) I made it my way and I like it.
    Thank you and your DH for all that you do for us.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 24 October, 2008

    @Diana: Wow another great comment from the queen of beads! That is funny how your brain was on the same wavelength as mine! If you look back in the comments this kind of thing happens all the time! Great minds think alike I guess! :-) P.S Brillo pads would be way too hard on your hands… use baby wipes instead!

    @Sam: I hear you! Sometimes we can be way to judgmental of our own work. That is so great that someone loved your work and is wearing it! Keep creating and hopefully soon you can see your work as the art that others see!

    @Shelly: There is something beautiful about a quiet mind! Thank you so much for your great words!

    @CraftyLinda: I love how willing you are to try harder with your craft! Each thing you do to improve your skills will also build confidence. I think it is great that you are changing designs to suit your own style and taste, like you did with your heart pin. Keep up the great work!

  6. Cindy Erickson, 19 December, 2008

    Hi Cindy,

    I guess I missed this post when you first posted it. Maybe I missed it because I needed to read it tonight!!!

    Tonight is December 19th, and there are only just a few days left until Christmas. I had planned for months on making some Christmas gifts using my polymer clay, but as yet have not. I have TONS of ideas, but have not executed even one of them for Christmas gifts yet. It is because I have that fear that you refer to here. It is so much easier to just keep reading your posts than to actually sit down and start a project. I have the fear that what I try to make won’t turn out and I will be disappointed, and then, of course, the person who might receive the gift will be disappointed too! I have this problem when it comes to my oil painting as well.

    OK…tonight is the night. I am going to put my fear aside, sit at my table and begin to create without so much judgment of myself and what I will create. I will keep reminding myself of what Sam (above) reminded me of tonight…”one person’s junk is another person’s treasure.” Cindy and Sam, I’m shaking in my boots (or slippers :)!!!) But I will proceed…and I will honor myself by making these pieces, and give my polymer clay projects as Christmas presents as I told myself I would months ago!!!

    Thank you for this post, and the reminder that I don’t have to be perfect, and that I just need to do it!!! (and have fun while I do it!!!)

    :) Cindy E.

  7. Laurel, 12 June, 2009

    In one of your blogs, you talk about how one persons ugly/useless jewelry is another ones treasure. Well, I have been wearing a lot of my jewelry that I make to work. I have worn many a pendant tediously and carefully wire wrapped and baubles made with polymer clay that have been hand formed, sanded, buffed and coated with hours of work on every detail (as you well know). Most times I hear not a word about these treasures from my co-workers.

    So the other day I throw on a little trinket I absolutely threw together. It was some store bought brown/amber plastic rings with some facet cutting on them. Threw a cheap gold colored chain through the middle of them and hung them from my neck. 2 minutes tops on this one. And sure enough, I get a comment about how pretty/cool my necklace is.

    Go figure!!! LOL


  8. Cindy Lietz, 13 June, 2009

    @Cindy E: Somehow I missed answering your comment way back before Christmas, though I do remember reading it. I am so sorry for that, it must have slipped through the cracks. What a wonderful comment! How is your confidence now toward your artwork? Were you able to shake off the fear and honor yourself for where you were and to move on from there? I haven’t heard too much from you lately. Hope you are well!

    @Laurel: I know, it’s funny how that can happen! I often get more compliments on my most simple pieces than on my complicated ones. Oh well. We are not only making these special pieces for what others think, we are also making them for the challenge and how we feel when we create a truly beautiful piece!

  9. Cindy Lietz, 12 August, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Marsha Nelson, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. The topic of artistic confidence is discussed in the feature, which relates nicely to the topic of the article posted on this page. Click on the “Flower Petal Beads” link by my name above to have a look.

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