How To Make Polymer Clay Lentil Beads for Jewelry Making Projects

Polymer Clay Lentil Bead

The Polymer Clay Bead You Can Make Using a Plastic CD Cover:

A popular polymer clay technique that I haven’t discussed in a while, is how to make the swirly lentil bead. They are beautifully shaped beads which work nicely in so many jewelry designs. Make them large for using as a focal bead or an artistic pendant… or keep them small as accent beads.

This is a very fun (and addicting) technique to learn, that allows you to incorporate polymer cane designs, mokume gane slices and scrap polymer clay. In fact, the lentil bead in today’s photo was made using a couple of slices from basic leaf canes… yellow/green on one side and orange/red on the other.

The only tool needed to roll lentil beads is a piece of plexiglas or something comparable… like a thick piece of tempered glass with tape around the edges for safety; or even a clear plastic CD case/cover.

With some practice in getting the right swirl of the wrist, you’ll be cranking out these fabulous swirly beads in no time!

I have written a fair number of articles on the technique of rolling lentil beads, and have produced some how-to videos with detailed visual instuctions.  Here are some links for you to review if you like:

So tell me about your lentil bead projects. How are using them? Are you as addicted to them as I am? Have you run into any Lentil Bead Making challenges that you you need help with?

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Jocelyn, 01 July, 2009

    How big can you make these? LOL! No, seriously. I want the biggest one possible with all the colors from the beach this next week. Can you use a big piece of acrylic, like from a frame, and a stuffed aluminum foil scrap clay base and get one a foot in diameter?

  2. Laurel, 03 July, 2009

    Jocelyn: LOL, what the heck are you going to do with a bead that big?

    I still can’t get the hang of these. I mean, I can make them alright but I must be using too much pressure because by the time I have a nice swirl, they are smashed down too much, or I get a nice lentil shape and my swirl isn’t what I want, or I get a great shape and swirl and do one more round with the flat acrylic piece and accidentally mush my bead out of shape. I think I need more “patience”. LOL

  3. Doug Kelly, 03 July, 2009

    Jocelyn – that is too funny.

    I can’t wait to try this technique out. And I empathize with you Laurel – I do that a lot. I think with me, I don’t (a) either use enough clay to make it big enough to begin with because I always wind up with smallish rolls, pr (b) I don’t cut off a big enough slice.

    Feeling like Dr. Frankenstein with all this experimentation!! One day, it will come alive.

  4. Jocelyn, 03 July, 2009

    As luck will have it I am still home. Little marital problem within the ride. Shootski. But I know when to be happy and I am happy. Hee hee. Soooo glad I am not in that car or sitting across a campfire from that. The beach can wait.

    I don’t know that what I want is a “bead” but I’d sure put some boat rope through it, add some shells and stare at it gladly.

    Swirls are soothing. Hard. Found making the little ones my potty mouth returned. Then, I started listening to music and grooving to the beat. It makes the pressure and turning easier. Worth a try.

    Steve Earle. Good clay music.

    Doug, getting etsy error on your link. Is there another site?

    Madelyn Kahn rocked the wife role. Cindy will be a great pirate. Doug must cross dress, lol. What we need is a Lietz Halloween Party. I am feeling evil so I guess I’d reprise “Bad Stevie.” There is a good Stevie Nicks. I was the “bad” Stevie Nicks. Twirled ’til the room spun and took requests, and I cannot sing a lick.

    If I could make a lentil swirl bead large enough I would wear that. Think of that picture…….or a hat? Large bead hole….

  5. Donna, 04 July, 2009

    I have the worst luck when I try to do these. I think my wrist action is just not right. I would love to be able to do them , just can’t get the hang of it.

  6. Cindy Lietz, 05 July, 2009

    @Jocelyn: You are so funny! You need to rest… did you realize you just said you wanted to wear a lentil bead as a hat! LOL :-) As far as making a lentil that big, I think you would have to make it hollow, by baking large circles over a bowl or something. I don’t think filling the core with tinfoil would work, since the shape comes from the clay being ‘pulled’ in a circle and a tinfoil center would be too hard and wouldn’t ‘pull’ right. That’s too bad about your trip. Sounds like it wasn’t meant to be for this time. Next time though it will all come together as it should. Let us know if you attempt a gigantic lentil. I want pictures of you holding it if you do!

    @Laurel: Did you see the tutorial video on this? It is all in holding the acrylic block level and making little circles with your fingers on the surface. It will make sense when you see it. Click the link by my name and it will take you to info on seeing the video. They are not that hard, you just have to hold your hands right.

    @Doug: It’s not about the amount of clay used since these beads can be made any size. It’s about keeping the acrylic block flat, using even pressure and making small circles. Watch the video and you will see.

    @Donna: Ditto what I said to Laurel and Doug. I had a hard time with these too until I figured the secrets out. Now they are easy as pie!

  7. Jocelyn, 05 July, 2009

    LOL! Rest I get, too much sometimes. I am totally serious about the comments.

    One of those polymer clay lentil bead hats will rock the Paris/Milan runway (maybe Bryant Park, lol) someday.

    Just big enough, perched sideways, shiny bright polish, maybe a bead string adornment for balance, a few feathers, and a bobby pin or two, and I swear the runway critics and fashion magazines will call it the find of the season.

    Could sell thousands of them. Just need to be big enough, and contrast or compliment the outfit.

  8. Cindy Lietz, 07 July, 2009

    @Jocelyn: Yes I could totally see that! I saw a little domed hat with feathers attached to a head band on Martha the other day. I bet you could do the same thing out of clay as well. You could be onto something girl!

  9. Jocelyn, 08 July, 2009

    @ Doug is what I get when I click your link. Do you have another site? Would love to see your work!

    Also, got this email today, and thought some might enjoy the latest runway input through the link below. New colors, new designs…it always fascinates me.


  10. Cindy Lietz, 09 July, 2009

    Thanks for the link to the site Jocelyn… it is Stylin! (Did you see how I tried to be clever there?) ;-)

  11. Lisa Crone, 11 July, 2009

    Wow, that is such a fun technique with so many possibilities. Maybe even I can do that!! :)

  12. Cindy Lietz, 17 July, 2009

    Yes you definitely could Lisa!

  13. Jocelyn, 18 July, 2009


    Another fabulous website. You people are too talented for words. Cannot thank Cindy enough for bringing you all to one spot.

    My nieces gave me “Beauty and the Beads” by alaria marbi walters some years ago. Teeny tiny book with a great beaded ribbon “thong.” See if you can find it on used, think you’d enjoy it.

  14. Josie, 24 July, 2009

    Iv’e managed to get the small lentil bead right but how do I get the large one. Have you shown how to do that in a earlier video? I would really love to make them.

    Don’t have time to watch telly any more always glued to your videos. Just love to see and read all the comments.

  15. Cindy Lietz, 26 July, 2009

    @Jocelyn: That sounds like a neat book. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    @Josie: That’s great you mastered the small lentil. Way to go! Making a larger lentil is exactly the same technique, however your circles may need to be larger and the pressure may need to be firmer, to compensate for the size. Just experiment until you have the lentil behaving as you would like it to. Let me know if you are still having trouble and we’ll figure out a solution that works for you!

  16. Josie, 28 July, 2009

    Thanks Cindy Got it now. Have made a few, made some mistakes but you learn from that don’t you. I tried using the Dremel but it left lines on my bead probably need more practice. I found polishing by hand the best method. Lucky I have a friend in the car business and he got me some 2000 wet and dry maybe that is why they polished up well.

  17. Cindy Lietz, 28 July, 2009

    That is great to hear Josie! With the Dremel, if you’re getting lines on your beads, you’re either pressing too hard or the machine is going too fast. I run mine at about the 3 setting (5 is the fastest) and I barely touch the hairs on the wheel with my bead. There is a video on how to use the Dremel if you need it. The link by my name will take you there.

  18. Cindy Lietz, 14 August, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Kimisen, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Kimisen’s Etsy Shop” link by my name above to have a look at her lentil bead work.

  19. Doug Lietz, 08 December, 2014

    A Good Tip Lentil Bead Tip From Fran V is in the comment section at this post…
    Making A Felt Buffing Wheels for a Dremel Tool

  20. Mary Dankers, 16 April, 2019

    Why does the white color clay on my lentil beads darken after baking? Thanks in advance for your assistance.

  21. Cindy Lietz, 19 April, 2019

    Hi Mary, it sounds like you are either using a lower quality clay, that darkens when baking or you are actually using a translucent clay. Translucent clay looks white before it is baked and tricks a lot of people. Hopefully that answers your question!

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