A beaded bracelet using jelly roll canes and flower petal inclusion techniques:
With the popularity of handcrafted jewellery these days, nothing is more personal or original than jewellry you’ve made yourself… especially when you also take the time to make your own custom beads. It’s so much more rewarding than just buying them all from a wholesaler. With polymer clay, making beautiful beads is easy and fun!
The photo above shows a beaded bracelet I made using wire, glass seed beads, shell disk beads and several large polymer clay beads done in a variety of techniques.
The first type of bead I’ll talk about is the flower inclusion beads (aka rose petal beads). These are the larger white stone-shaped beads with the earthy flecks of flower petals in them.
If you have been following this blog for awhile, you will have heard about these flower petal beads already in a post or two. Perhaps you have even seen one of my rose bead videos.
Made with dried bits of rose petals and translucent polymer clay, these unique beads can be made with flowers from a special event. Memorial beads can also be created using flowers from a loved one’s funeral or clippings from the fur of a beloved pet. This creates a bead that is not only pretty, but also extremely personal and meaningful. Use these bead to make a jewelry bracelet or a keepsake pendant, and you’ll have created something that will be cherished forever.
The similar but darker beads in the bracelet photo above, are also inclusion beads. But instead of flower petals in the translucent clay, particles from some old pot pourri were added, giving them a completely different look.
For a more graphic and modern feel, I added two large ghost cane beads to the design. The beads I’m referring to in the photo are the round coppery ones with the creamy white swirls on them.
When a non-polymer clay person sees these beads, most are mystified by them. They often assume they are painted and it’s difficult to guess what they are made of. The cool thing is that although these beads appear to be complicated to make, you can learn how to make them quite easily.
Basically they are a base bead (in this case copper clay) covered in thin slices of a polymer clay cane. The cane I used on this particular bead is called a ghost cane. It is called that because it appears to ‘float’ on the surface of the clay, letting the background show through.
Imagine one of those delicious jellyroll cakes filled with whipped cream. Now instead of the cake part, imagine it is a sheet of white polymer clay. Where the whipped cream is, replace that with translucent clay, and roll it up into a log.
Now when you slice a piece off of that polymer clay jellyroll (or cane), you have a white spiral with a semi clear background. Slice that cane thin enough and the background disappears… a spiral ‘ghost’ you can float on your beads!
If you were not able to follow that text description very well, don’t worry because most of my projects end up as video tutorials. Videos are so much easier to follow than just words and photos… don’t you think?
One thing I love about hand made jewelry beads is that although they are similar in shape and size, they also have some natural variation. It gives a special handcrafted artistic look that’s unique to each piece. Manufactured beads look… well manufactured.
I also think that when you add some non-polyclay beads to your jewelry designs, such as glass beads or shell beads, it elevates the importance and appearance of your custom clay creations. As if you are saying, “My art beads are too special to be all used up at once. Therefore, other less important beads need to become the fillers and accent beads along side my polymer clay beads!”
So if you want the absolute MOST artistic and original looking handmade jewelry, try making your own one-of-a-kind polymer clay beads. Rose beads and ghost cane beads are a great place to start.