Polymer Clay Tutorial | Torn Paper Watercolor Technique

Polymer Clay Torn Paper Watercolor Technique

Video #116: Cool Looking Beads that are VERY Simple to Make:

These polymer clay beads have the unique appearance of being covered in small tears of watery colored art paper. I like to refer to them as money beads because customers keep wanting more of them… AND because you can crank out so many in such a short time.

Coming up this Friday (July 24) in the Members Library (Volume 014-04), is a brand new tutorial video that will show you how to make these beautiful little torn paper watercolor beads.

By the way, another lesson that fits into this “money bead” category, is one that was presented back in Volume-011-1. Have a look at the following link if you like: Making Disc Beads for Fun and Profit

One of the regulars here at the blog who always has a fun way of saying things, is Jaime. Last week she shared something that resonated with me a lot! It sums up how I absolutely love to be described when it comes to my teaching style. And her comment especially applies to this week’s tutorial…

I knew it would be nice and simple and look like it was really hard to do. That’s what I love about your techniques. They give such great results without being eyecrossing difficult. ~Jaime

Thanks so much Jaime for all that you say and do! Your comments along with EVERYONE elses’ are greatly appreciated.

Now although I did not personally come up with the watercolor, torn-paper bead making technique**, I am pleased to be able to teach it to you on video. The full tutorial will be posted in the Polymer Clay Members Library on Friday, July 24rd, 2009 [Volume 014-4]. But to watch a sneak peak intro clip right now if you like, scroll down the page a bit and enjoy.

**ADDED NOTE: I just received an email from Maggie Maggio indicating that she is the one who first came up with this torn clay watercolor technique back in 1998. I’m all about giving credit where credit is due and wanted to be sure to pass this note along to everyone. This technique has been taught and used by many artists over the years. Thank you Maggie for your ingenuity.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor




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Here’s That “Link Below” Referred To at End of the Video
>> Polymer Clay Tutorials <<

The full version of the “Torn Paper” preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-014 Back Issue Package.

The following topics are covered in this “Torn Paper Watercolor” video:

  • How to create beautiful beads that appear to be covered in torn watercolor paper using a technique that looks difficult to do but is in fact extremely simple.
  • Several examples of beads made using different colors of clay as well as different brands.
  • Importance of getting your clay thicknesses correct in order to create that watercolor look which makes this technique so unique.
  • How to tear the clay so that it simulates the look of torn paper pieces.
  • Steps to layering the color so as to not cover up the beauty of the edges.
  • Tips on giving your beads a smooth finish to avoid sanding mistakes later on.

  1. Ken H., 21 July, 2009

    Ok, these have caught my interest, remind me of photos of those basketweave cane beads. can’t wait till Friday now.

  2. Maureen, 21 July, 2009

    Now that looks really cool! Can’t wait for the video!

  3. Melinda, 21 July, 2009

    Indeed Ken, They remind me of the basket weave canes and beads. They are really pretty.

  4. Jocelyn, 21 July, 2009

    These beads remind me of hatching eggs, robin’s egg blue, and some breeds of small bantams and chickens (which we raised). How sweet they are!

  5. Ken H., 21 July, 2009

    Seeing the size of these beads and having just yesterday commented on the bead rollers, I may just go and order the Amaco 20 & 23mm round roller

  6. jessica, 21 July, 2009

    wow! so informative and beautiful color!

  7. Maria, 21 July, 2009

    I love these! Looking forward to the video, thanks!

  8. Silverleaf, 21 July, 2009

    Not what I was expecting, but they are cool!

  9. Randi-Sue, 21 July, 2009

    I’m amazed at what you can do with polymer clay. Love the colors!

  10. Elizabeth, 21 July, 2009

    Can’t wait!

    Just wondering if you designed a piece with those gorgeous jupiter beads. If so, don’t forget to send a photo to Cindy so she can post it for all of us to see. Elizabeth

  11. Cindy Lietz, 22 July, 2009

    So glad you guys are looking forward to Friday. Me Too :)

    …wanted to let everyone know that Maggie Maggio just sent me an email indicating that she is the one who first came up with this torn clay watercolor technique back in 1998. I’m all about giving credit where credit is due and wanted to be sure to pass this note along to everyone. This technique has been taught and used by many artists over the years. Thank you Maggie for your ingenuity.

  12. Dawn, 22 July, 2009

    I love the look of these beads! Looking forward to it.

  13. cara letho, 23 July, 2009

    dear Cindy,
    just watched the torn clay watercolor video- so easy and so impressive – so many techniques now to try and not enough hours in the day! Imagine our repertoire after a a few years of your lessons – i don’t think there is anywhere else where you can get this ongoing tuition in polymer clay. I do believe it will have a big influence in raising the artistic status of polymer clay in the community. The spotlight section is really impressive and such a good idea.

  14. Polyanya, 24 July, 2009

    Very nice Cindy and thank you to Maggie too (can’t wait to get her book) – will be trying these this weekend.

  15. Theresa, 24 July, 2009

    Love this technique! I could say this is my favorite one, but I think they are all my favorite! I am so addicted lol. My name is Theresa…..and I am addicted to Cindy Lietz techniques! Thank you for making it easy!

  16. Claycass, 24 July, 2009

    Claycass Torn Clay Watercolor Earrings

    I took Maggie’s class earlier this spring and loved all the color theory I learned.

    This technique looks so great. Cindy I like how you created a quick simple process. You are great a simplifying things. Thanks.

    Here’s what I created:
    Torn Clay Watercolor Earrings >>>

  17. Phaedrakat, 22 August, 2010

    @Claycass: I haven’t seen these beautiful earrings before — don’t know how I missed them! Just wanted to tell you how pretty they are… ;D

  18. Claycass, 25 August, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: Well thank you for the compliment.

  19. Bonnie, 24 July, 2009

    Cindy, that’s a great tutorial and I love the torn paper beads, can’t wait to try it. I did something like that a few years ago but didn’t do the black and white clay underneath and I think that’s what really makes them look better.
    Thanks again, I love Friday mornings waiting for your tutorials.


    P.S. I just tried the new Judikins DG3 Gel and it’s great. It really dries shiny and will be great for adding inclusions to clay when you don’t want to use resin. It dries really hard too. I suggest testing before using on a good piece.

    ADDED: See photos posted below, of Bonnie’s torn paper bracelet and necklace beads

  20. Sue Werner, 24 July, 2009

    LOVE this technique Cindy! I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. Have you ever tried a top sheet of clay with some patterning on it? Just wondering how far this “watercolor” idea could be taken. Thanks for all your great tutorials. Your site is the best!

  21. Kathy Elrick, 24 July, 2009

    Cindy I love the torn paper look. I will certainly try it for just beads selling.

  22. Lynn V, 24 July, 2009

    I’ve been looking for some quick & interesting clay color applications to use when covering the glass “Bottles of Hope” for our local Guild display. This technique will certainly be a wonderful addition to the display. Thank you for the great tutorials and educational site you’ve created!! Lynn Vinge

  23. Jamie, 24 July, 2009

    Cindy talking with Maggie? Be still my heart. What you two could do together by even just talking! I cant wait to see what’s next! XOXO Jamie

  24. Dawn B, 24 July, 2009

    Wow! You make it look so easy AND beautiful. I had planned on doing housework today… but

    Thanks so much!

  25. Carrie, 24 July, 2009

    I tried these today, and I love them! They are so fun, but so are all the Cindy Lietz techniques I’ve tried so far!

  26. Claycass, 25 July, 2009

    @ Carrie

    Do you have a photo?

  27. Jocelyn, 26 July, 2009

    Stunning beads. Excellent tutorial. You keep getting better and better Cindy.

    Wonder where we all will be a few years from now? The thought of coming back for more is intoxicating. LOL!

    Sure hope I see your stuff documented in libraries and craft museums. You are very very good at what you do.

  28. Carrie W, 26 July, 2009

    I will post one soon!

    I agree with Jocelyn, Cindy you should put out a book or something! In my opinion you are one of the top polymer clay artists I’ve seen!!

  29. Jamie, 26 July, 2009

    I third that thought! Id buy one! XOXO Jamie

  30. Cindy Lietz, 26 July, 2009

    Awww thank you everyone! I very much enjoy teaching you guys. Someday a book might be good but right now I am focusing on bringing you all as many tutorials as I can. I certainly would not want to ‘bite off more than I could chew’ at this point.

    I appreciate each and every one of you. Without all of you making beads and learning from what I teach, what I shared would go to waste.

    Keep up all the great input and interaction between each other. You’re doing an excellent job!

  31. Laurel, 27 July, 2009

    My oh my, these were sooo fun to do and look so wonderful. Claycass: I love the variation you did too.
    These are just way too much fun. I just kept making and making them. I also thought, hmmmm, what would happen if I put them in the bead roller in bicone shape. It altered them alot. They did look cool though too but did not retain the “torn paper” look. I thought, what would they look like in a lentil bead. Same thing happend as the bicone. Lost the torn paper look but the rolling action in both opened up some spots on the core bead so if you use a core bead of a complimentary color, it looks pretty cool. I like the torn bead look better though so will stick to that.

  32. Claycass, 27 July, 2009

    @Laurel – I loved reading about your experiments. Thanks for the compliment and the great information.

    Wonder how would they look if you made the shape bead with a complimentary color. -Let it rest.- Then added the torn pieces -carefully- and reshape. That is more food for thought.

  33. Jocelyn, 27 July, 2009



    Love your site, especially the faux malachite necklace. Maybe you would do a Spotlight with Cindy on how these are made?

    The swirled and metal adorned earrings are also wonderful. Where did you find those earring findings? They are so pretty. Did you make them yourself?


    Another fabulous site. Love the Harry Potter read. Your spiraled lentil necklace is to die for….and I adore the puppy dog bracelet detail and the ladies shoes.

  34. Claycass, 27 July, 2009

    @ Jocelyn – Thank you very much. I created the wirework which attached the bead to the earring and the tassel at the bottom.

  35. natalie siddle, 29 July, 2009

    That was fascinating-You have a lovely teaching technique that does not come across as patronising or, at any time, like you were talking to fill time.
    Each stage seemed clear and concise.
    A pleasure to watch :)

  36. Cindy Lietz, 29 July, 2009

    Thank you so much everyone! Your words mean a lot to me!

  37. Jocelyn, 31 July, 2009

    Has anyone yet tried this torn strip approach using some layers of translucent inserted with metal leaf, then backed by the darker shadow (hopefully transparent) color?

    Would think this technique would make awesome “mokume gane” layers of torn strips, and if done on a translucent center bead, might even be “see through” when hung in direct light. Or at least the edges would, neat in inself.

    If you used the right colors, the bead would pop with depth and sparkle.

  38. Kathy Bard, 21 August, 2009

    Cindy, I am so excited I can’t stand it. I literally stumbled onto your sites by using bing. I have been making paper beads and have been looking for info that way. One of your videos that I watched was the watercolor/clay technique. I just had to tell you the round one, if in blues and greens instead of the pinks could have been the globe. That process has made me decide that this is something I want to do. Thank you so much!

  39. Cindy Lietz, 22 August, 2009

    @Jocelyn: That’s sounds like a cool idea! Will have to test that one out.

    @Kathy: I love to hear the excitement in your voice! The one thing you’ll find about polymer clay is that excitement never leaves. Jocelyn, the girl that commented above you has been doing polymer clay for something like 13 years and she still feels excited about it. The possibilities are endless. You can really push this media as far as you want and never run out of ideas. I am still very excited and I work with it every day. Glad to have you here.

    If you are interested in a great primer for working with polymer clay beads, I have a 39 video course for Beginners. Click the link by my name for more info.

  40. Cindy Lietz, 04 September, 2009

    Wow Bonnie (carbinecat)! Your jewelry turned out really great! The colors are so bold and beautiful, I just love them! How wonderful for everyone to see how you used this technique for a bracelet as well as in the necklace beads. Pictures like these really help others to see the possibilities of what can be done with this torn clay technique. Bravo! [And thanks for the credit that you posted on Flickr… I really appreciate it!].

    I didn’t realize Joann’s had their own clay. Michaels has just brought out their own as well. Good to know about the consistency being mushy. I too suspect that the quality won’t be very high, but do let us know what you think once you work with it for a bit.

    Thanks again for sending us these photos!

  41. Bonnie, 04 September, 2009

    Cindy, I tried the torn clay process that you did on your video. It was fun and turned out pretty good.

    Torn Clay Water Color Jewelry by Bonnie Kreger

    I put a necklace that I did on Etsy and I also put it on Flickr and on Flickr I gave you the credit for the tutorial. Just wanted to let you know in case you see it out there.

    I bought some of that new clay at Joann’s called “Oven Bake Clay” and tried to use it for the torn clay but the clay is really mushy. I’m guessing it’s a off shoot of Sculpey III but it’s a lot cheaper. It was 99 cents. I mixed some of the orange with some Premo pearl and that worked pretty good but it’s still mushy.

    Thank you for all your tutorials, you do a great job of explaining things.

    Bonnie Kreger

  42. Jocelyn, 04 September, 2009

    Bonnie, love them. Fabulous result!!!

  43. Suzanne Linde, 05 September, 2009

    Hi Cindy,
    I bought the tutorial for the watercolor beads. I followed your instructions. After I applied the torn pieces of clay, the black and white edges basically disappeared When I rolled the beads to blend in. What am i doing wrong?

  44. Cindy Lietz, 05 September, 2009

    Hi Suzanne, there are a couple of things that you can do that will help.

    First of all make sure you have all three colored sheets at the thicknesses I suggested in the video. This will ensure that the top colored layer isn’t too thick so the black and white layers are able to show through.

    Next, tear the sheet in a downward motion. You’re almost trying to get these layers to separate a little. You want as rough an edge as possible. Watch the video carefully and you will see what I mean.

    Also, if the clay is too warm or soft the layers will just mush together and they won’t tear with those nice jagged edges. You can chill your sheet in the fridge or freezer for awhile and then tear it when its cold.

    Lastly, make sure the torn layers are overlapped and not laid next to each other like a puzzle. Those under layers need to ‘ooze out’ a bit from behind the color, to really show.

    Hope that helps. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

  45. Cindy Lietz, 13 December, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some Torn Clay Watercolor project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Alexa Kazashinskaya, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Polymer Clay Disabilities” link by my name to have a look.

  46. Cindy Lietz, 19 December, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures of jewelry beads made with the torn paper watercolor technique, have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Ileana Buhan. She is a member from the Netherlands, who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Polymer Clay Jewelry” link by my name to have a look.

  47. Cindy Lietz, 19 March, 2010


    Polymer Clay Projects

    Hello to Everyone,

    Some new Spotlight project pictures that relate to the topic of this page (Torn Paper Watercolor Technique), have just been added in another post. They were submitted by Ritzs. The link by my name will take you to where you can see them, along with a bit of a write up. Hopefully they will inspire you to achieve great things with your own polymer clay projects.

  48. Cheryl Hodges, 09 April, 2010

    @ Bonnie -How did your bangle keep its shape? Is there wire or just clay and how did you get the rounded effect? I love the colors and it looks like glass.

  49. Bonnie, 09 April, 2010

    @Cheryl Hodges: I made a big snake out of junk clay but made sure it was conditioned really good. I applied the torn clay pieces to it and continued rolling it when I had all the pieces on that I wanted, I measured the snake to make sure it fit over my hand and then I cut the ends on a diagonal so they would fit together without it looking like there was much of a seam. Worked them so they stayed together and put a couple pieces of torn clay over the seam so it wouldn’t show. Does that help? You can use a coke can to put your initial band around and add your decorations after it’s on the coke can and bake it right on the coke can. Because of the aluminum, it won’t stick. Or, shouldn’t stick. I just did mine free hand and got lucky.

  50. Cheryl Hodges, 11 April, 2010

    Thanks Bonnie – it’s just beautiful.

  51. Cindy Lietz, 12 May, 2010

    NEW PHOTOS ADDED… that relate to the theme of this page… Torn Paper Watercolor Technique. Click on the link by my name for the full story from Carolyn-F.

    Polymer Clay Projects

    BTW: Thanks to everyone above, who took the time to comment in this thread. Your feedback, support and engaging conversations are always such a wonderful part of my day. Although I don’t get a chance to address everyone individually, please know that I do read everything. ~Cindy

  52. Karen S, 20 April, 2019

    Hi Guys

    I did this technique several years ago after seeing the lovely beads in the preview. I did it as closely as I could to the instructions, but I couldn’t get my bead surface smooth like I wanted it prior to baking.

    Flash forward four years or so. This week I did some watercolor beads to sell on commission to a gallery and I re-watched the video. What I neglected to do was smoosh my base bead til it was soft, then apply the technique. Beads came out almost flawless.

    Thought I’d pass this little tip along :)


  53. Cindy Lietz, 22 April, 2019

    Thank you Karen for popping in and sharing that with us! There is only so much information you can absorb when you watch something. When all the information is new, there is too much there to absorb it all. Later when you have some skills, you see stuff that you couldn’t see before. Sometimes it’s all in how the instructor holds their hands, or in this case… rolls the base bead… that makes all the difference in the world! I often suggest people go back and redo a tutorial that they did years ago. Your new skills will make what you learn this time, a whole new experience!! :)

  54. Karen S, 26 April, 2019

    Hi Cindy

    Thanks for the insights! Always something to learn :) Have a great weekend.


  55. Kathy Basil, 07 September, 2019

    Hi Cindy – I’ve just gotten my watercolor technique cut out on the picture frame in four pieces. I’m guessing I should have put the Bake and Bond on first but I was so intent on cutting it CAREFULLY Now I’m afraid to take it off cuz I e kinda pushed it around a bit to fit. Will it come off easily after inhale it so I can bond it? Or should I really try to take it off carefully? ALSO, after baking can I paint the edges including the baked clay part of the edge? Sorry to bug you! Thank you very much!

  56. Cindy Lietz, 10 September, 2019

    If your clay seems to be stuck to the frame, then just leave it. Check after it is baked o see if it is peeling away and then glue any loose areas with Weldbond. (A frame doesn’t really get much wear so there isn’t much worry of the clay coming off of the frame.) As far as painting the wood and clay edges, sure… you can paint the wood and clay together no problem.

  57. Kathy Basil, 12 September, 2019

    Thanks once again!!

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