Tips on How to Make Polymer Clay Beads – Piercing the Bead Hole

Piercing a Bead Hole

So you’re learning all about polymer clay. That’s Super! Making holes in beads is an important part of the process:

This article will provide you with 10 easy tips for polymer clay bead piercing…

1) Coat bead pins with water or cornstarch before insertion.

2) Twist bead pin as you are push it into the bead.

3) Push bead pin into clay lightly to avoid distortion.

4) Sand your bead pins every once in awhile between uses, to remove rust and drips of finish from the pin. A smooth pin goes into the bead a lot easier than a rough pin.

5) Wear gloves or coat fingers with cornstarch to avoid putting finger prints on bead while piercing. This is especially important when holding awkward shapes like the bi-cone bead and lentil beads.

6) Let beads cool down or rest before piercing them. A warm bead will distort easily.

7) Pierce a bead relatively soon after letting it rest. If you wait too long like a day or two, then the bead may crack when you try and pierce it.

8) Wipe down bead pins with rubbing alcohol to make sure they are really clean.

9) If you use a bamboo skewer for a bead pin make sure to coat with cornstarch to avoid having the bead stick to the skewer.

10) For large hole beads like tube beads, or beads for hemp jewelry, etc. try using a knitting needle.

I hope this info on how to make polymer clay beads was helpful. If you need to make beads with large holes, then the article at this link will be helpful too: Drilling Holes in Beads for Polymer Clay Jewelry Projects

And here’s one other article on piercing bead holes.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Bretta, 19 June, 2008

    Cindy, Thanks for the great tip about piercing bead holes! I’ll give it a shot

  2. Cindy Lietz, 19 June, 2008

    You’re welcome Bretta! Let me know how it goes!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Tips on How to Make Polymer Clay Beads

  3. Sue, 27 July, 2008

    OK, now I get why I have so many wonky beads – I’ve been piercing the holes before baking the beads. My perfect little spheres become elliptical with an off -kilter axis! I’ve been enjoying their individual personalities, but what a long way from the professional look I keep hoping for! I guess it’s time to close the wonky bead factory and try the proper method!!!
    Thanks for another insightful lesson!

  4. Cindy Lietz, 29 July, 2008

    No Sue you can still pierce your beads while they are raw, you just have to let them rest a bit after rolling so they can firm up a little. This way they won’t get so wonky!

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

  5. Ratch, 23 September, 2008

    Im confused…i thought the clay will harden after baking. Can it still be pierced?

  6. Cindy Lietz, 23 September, 2008

    Well Ratch, not really pierced after it’s baked, but drilled with a drill bit. I wrote about how to drill holes in beads in a post awhile back. If you want to read that article click on the “Bead Holes” link beside my name above. Thank you for commenting!

  7. bead lover, 07 September, 2009

    I want to make a hemp braclet but the clay beads i bought have to small of a hole… how do you make the holes in the beads bigger?

  8. Cindy Lietz, 10 September, 2009

    If they are made from polymer clay it is easy. There is lots of info on drilling beads if you type ‘bead holes’ into the search box at the top of the page.

    If they are made of ceramic clay you may need a bead reamer.

  9. Darlene, 06 November, 2009

    I was having a terrible time trying to pierce holes in my beads, even after following your tips. The pin never seemed to come out where it was supposed to! Practice does help though. For the past few days, I’ve been making lentil beads to practice my piercing skills. Poor little beads, they were poked and prodded over and over! I’d pierce each one 3 and 4 times, just for practice. And it’s paying off! I managed to pierce a half dozen good beads this afternoon, and the holes came out pretty much where I wanted them! Yay!

    I also took your advice and bought the bead baking rack so I’d have the pins. That helped a lot, too. I was using a needle, but it wasn’t long enough. Those pins really work well.

    I’ll send some pix of my successes, once I get some beads baked and sanded.

    Thanks for all the tips! I LOVE this site! I’ve done more with my clay since I found this site than I did in the entire two years before this.

  10. Cindy Lietz, 06 November, 2009

    I’m so glad to hear you are having success with the techniques you are learning here, Darlene. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And I look forward to seeing your pictures.

  11. Nevena, 26 March, 2010

    Hi Cindy,

    Could you ,please, give some advice on how to find the center of a round bead,before piercing it? Is it more “inner feeling” or more practice?

  12. Sue F, 29 March, 2010

    @Nevena: For round beads, or other shapes that are radially symmetrical (barrels, ellipses, cylinders, etc.), I find it easiest to rotate the bead onto the bead piercing tool, rather than rotate the tool into the stationary bead. Rotating the bead as I slowly push it onto the piercing tool lets me check from all angles as I go that my piercing tool is in the centre of the bead. If it was angling to one side, for instance, I’d see that straight away because the piercing tool would start looking off-centre as I rotated the bead.

  13. Phaedrakat, 27 March, 2010

    @Nevena: Hi Nevena, the answer to your question is both. You need to get a feeling for the center of the bead, but you will be able to develop it with practice. As you can see in Darlene’s comment (above Cindy’s,) practice is a huge help! I did a search for articles on creating holes (by typing “piercing holes” into the search box at the top left side of the page — you can also type “bead holes,” “drilling beads,” etc. to find others.) Here’s one of the articles that came up, Instructions For Piercing Bead Holes.

    It’s a great article, with really important tips – like making sure your piercing tool is straight. It contains links to even more articles about making holes – of different sizes, kinds, & techniques. This article, Drilling Holes in Polymer Clay Beads also has great information & tips, as well as links to some newer posts. It’s important to read the articles, as well as the comments under them (the comments are where Cindy answers questions like these, plus you get member viewpoints — which comes in handy.) Often when you’re learning something, you need to read it/hear it or have it explained a certain way before it sinks in. It can be unique to each person. Then you get that “Aha!” moment that makes it all clear. Practice does that too, of course, so keep trying. :-)

    Check out these comments by Cindy & others, giving their explanations on how they create their bead holes:

    1. Cindy
    2. Arlene H.
    3. Kimberlee
    4. Christine

    My own advice would be this: Take it slow, hold the bead lightly. Point your “very straight” needle/pin/wire and twist it as you push carefully towards the center of the bead and beyond. Make sure you use cornstarch or other release on your piercing tool first; follow the other tips above, too. When you’re almost to the other side, take stock of where you are – is it going to come out straight? If not, back it out slowly and try from the other side. Pierce it from the spot it should have come out and aim for the original hole you started in. You will feel when the two paths “meet up” in the middle. Continue pushing lightly until your needle comes out of the hole where you began. Bring the needle back out and return to the original hole and pierce one last time, to make a straight (still careful) shot to the opposite side, the one you originally aimed for. Do the entire process slowly, and get a feel for it. Eventually, you will be able to get it across perfectly (or just about) the first time you pierce it; then you’ll just turn it around and re-poke from the other side so both holes are neat. It’s best to pierce small holes, unless you know you are going to need them big for your project. You can always make them bigger…

    Good luck, Nevena. Keep practicing, read all the articles & tips, watch the videos — you’ll be a pro in no time!

  14. Nevena, 27 March, 2010

    Phaedrakat,thank you very much! May I ask what does your user name mean.I ,sometimes,can not find translation for all words.

  15. Phaedrakat, 27 March, 2010

    @Nevena: Hi! Sure, my name is just a username. “Phaedra” was the name of my cat, one I loved but no longer have. Phaedra is also the name of a Greek mythological figure – granddaughter of Zeus! I just like the sound of it. I’m from Riverside, California (USA.) Where are you from? Did the above articles help you?

  16. Nevena, 27 March, 2010

    Hi ! I love the tenderness and delicacy of cats.It has been a long time since i have been reading Greek mythology,i remember i liked it much ,but all i could find at that time were 2 books.I am from Plovdiv,Bulgaria.The thing that helped me most was your advice.Before typing the question i have read them all except one(where there is an explanation about piercing especially lentil beads,holding them in special position in your hand) and the funny thing is that i searched exactly this one,as i remebered that once i had come across this advice,read it quickly and said to myself that i would get back to it when i start making lentil beads .But meanwhile i did not find my attempts at piercing round beads very satysfaing and i decided that it might help now.I always feel that i should withdraw the needle if it goes not straight and begin piercing from the other site, and make the two paths meet but for some reason,i did not do it.It is different when you read it.

  17. Nevena, 29 March, 2010

    Sue,thank you ,i will have to try that.

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