Handmade Jewelry from Polymer Clay Rose Beads and Ghost Cane Beads

Rose Petal Bead Bracelet

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.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor


Comments

  1. Cindy,

    In the past I’ve seen polymer beads as less than natural, favoring glass, metals and ceramic beads…but these techniques are so natural looking at a fraction of the weight of other materials. I love love love the ghost cane – reminds me of carved jasper . I’m still intriqued by flower petals as well.

    Thanks for another cool technique, hopefully I won’t abesnt mindedly eat the jelly roll cane!

    SP

  2. @Sue: I know exactly what you mean. I used to make those plasticy kind of Fimo beads in the 80’s but quit because I found them too hokey looking. Later when I saw all the cool things people were making to look like stone, glass and bone I was hooked again! Then the caning… OMG!!! I haven’t looked back since!

    @Marianne: Yeah you got to be careful with thinking about food when you’re making your beads… You might just pop one in your mouth! Then again it would probably help if I stopped describing canes like delicious deserts!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Slicing Fimo Nail Art Canes | Sculpey Polymer Clay Cake Toppers

  3. Cindy I would like to make a pendant and bracelet out of purple roses which I have already dried for memorial beads,now can I use the whole pedal in the translucent to make it more purple or what?

  4. Hi Sharon,

    There will be videos you can purchase in the new Polymer Clay Tutor Library that will be opening any day now. You can follow the link by name for some info about how this virtual library will work.

  5. Hi Cindy,

    I don’t know how I missed this piece about ghost canes, and I sure am glad that I found it…how very interesting!!! As always, you’ve got my creative mind reeling!!! And that description of jellyrolls…well…lets just say that my mouth was watering!!!

    Thanks!
    Cindy E.

  6. The site is getting so large now there is probably lots that you have missed. That is why I link to so many different past posts. So people can find something they may have missed.

    Ghost canes are quite neat looking and are fun to layer with other canes as well.

    Sorry if I made your mouth water with the jelly roll description… it just couldn’t be helped! :-)

  7. My father recently passed away and I was told that the funeral flowers can be used to make beads for necklaces or bracelets. I would like more information about either doing this or finding someone who could make these for members of my family. Could you please direct me to additional information. Thank you.

  8. Yes Pat you can make some lovely memorial beads with the flowers from your fathers funeral. I have lots of information on how to make flower petal beads here on this blog including a video tutorial.

    Click the link by my name first and read that post. If you want even more info type ‘flower petal beads’ or ‘memorial beads’ into the search box at the top of the page for a long list of articles. Let me know if you need anymore help.

  9. That’s great Cheryl! I plan on adding the Ghost Cane to my list of videos soon. Stay tuned for that. Click the link by my name to see another example of a bead made with a flower ghost cane. I think you’ll like it!

  10. I’ve already seen that picture — I go through every blog and article. I have a question for you. I know you have to sand the beads after baking – how much do you sand them before buffing??

  11. Sanding is a process where you start with a lower grit such as 320 or 400 and progress through to 600, 800, 1200 and even higher if desired.

    When you are sanding through the steps you get a feel for when to switch to the next grit. If you go to the next grit and find you are not removing any defects or scratches then you weren’t ready to move on yet.

    I buff only after I’ve gone through all the grits. If I buff and find scratches or flaws I’ve missed I go back to the last grit and see if that works. If not I go back further until I find one that works to remove the flaw.

    If you haven’t already purchased the beginner bead making course, there are a few videos in there that teach you all about getting a proper finish on your beads. Click the link by my name for more info on that.

  12. What is the trick to getting them perfectly round? Mine are good until I make a hole in them and put them on a wire to bake.

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