Rainbow Jewelry Pillow Beads Made From Extruded Polymer Clay Canes

Rainbow Pillow Bead

Making jewelry with rainbow beads, shaped like tiny little pillows… for the hippie in you:

My parents were young adults during the hippie era when colorful beads were such a big part of American culture. This influence is probably what fueled my love of bead making… especially when it comes to rainbow jewellery designs.

Now that I have “grown-up” to become a polymer clay artist, I take pride in being able to make rainbow beads to suit whatever beading project I may be working on.

The multicolored polymer clay pillow bead in the above photo was made using a cane technique that can be done with a tool called an extruder or clay extrusion gun. If you are a beginner thinking that this cane design looks complicated, there’s no need to worry. The polymer clay extruder tool makes the process very simple.

A square extruder die is placed into the clay gun which allows you to squeeze out long ‘snakes’ of clay in each of the colors of the rainbow. The logs are then cut and stacked to create a block cane which closely resembles a quilt pattern.

Two thick slices are cut from this rainbow clay cane and ‘stuffed’ with scrap clay before they are smoothed and molded into the pillow bead shape.

What I love about this particular Fimo cane design is it’s versatility. If you cut the cane into 4 lengths and stack them, you can create several different kaleidoscope canes and/or quilt canes.

Layering the colored blocks with white instead of black, gives the cane a completely new look. Plus, if you squash it from one corner edge down to the opposite corner edge, you will end up making what’s called a Monet Cane. Of course this explanation and set of instructions would be much easier to follow in a video format… which by the way is coming soon.

Other jewelry bead shapes besides the pillow bead can be made using a rainbow color palette. Click here for a photo and article about… making polymer jewelry using handmade round beads and clay cane slices.

I hope today’s article got you excited about rainbow jewelry pillow beads. Using a simple extruded polymer clay cane technique, they are very fun to make… especially when you can say with pride, “I did this!”

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor



  1. Cindy Erickson, 31 July, 2008

    Dear Cindy,

    Yep! Today’s article definitely got me excited about rainbow pillow beads! I love the photo of your bead! It almost looks like a delicious fruit and licorice candy! Man! Just when I think I’ve seen the prettiest bead you’ve made, you show up with yet another one!!! I am always excited and intrigued, each and every time I see that you have written a new article…thanks for sharing so much with us! You are incredible!

    Sincerely, Cindy Erickson

  2. Garnie, 01 August, 2008

    Wow…those colors just popped right off the screen!! Think I’ll go build myself a rainbow today :)..thanks mucho for the inspiration!

  3. Cindy Lietz, 02 August, 2008

    @Cindy: You’re right, they do look like candy! Probably a little disappointing in taste though!

    @Garnie: Wouldn’t it be cool if you could build yourself a polymer rainbow and find at the end of it a pot of Gold polymer clay beads? (Sorry that was a little dumb but I couldn’t resist the imagery.) :-)

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Dragonfly Pendant Jewelry Necklace – Fimo Rubber Stamping Techniques

  4. Anna Sabina, 13 February, 2009

    I made a rainbow cane but mine did not have black between the squares. I am wondering how you did this. Did you put black in the extruder barrel like you did for the other extruder cane?

  5. Cindy Lietz, 15 February, 2009

    Actually the way I did it Ani was a little fiddly. I extruded thin rectangular logs using the die that is thin and the same width as the square rainbow logs. Then put these strips between each log and made a row. Then I rolled a sheet of black in the same thickness as the strips and placed a sheet between each row. Not sure if you can picture that very well. I do plan on making a video on it when I can get the time. Hope that helps.

  6. Anna Sabina, 15 February, 2009

    Makes complete sense to me. What would we ever do without our extruder?

  7. Cindy Lietz, 16 February, 2009

    I’m not sure Ani… be lost I guess! :-)

    Hey I just thought of something that may work even better. You could try using a plus sign (+) extruder die for the black. If there’s one the right size you could put one of them between 4 squares at once and flat sheets between sets of 4. That might be a lot easier. Will have to look and see if I have one of those… gotta go!

  8. 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 “Polymer Clay Beads” link by my name above to have a look at her pillow beads.

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