Rustic Arizona Style Handmade Beads Made from Scrap Polymer Clay

Arizona Beads “Just goes to show you… never toss out your scraps or the old clay pieces!” ~Rob-K

I have said this time and time again, but I will say it again… never get rid of your polymer scrap clay! It will come in handy for making some fabulous looking beads… like these earth-tone tube beads that resemble an Arizona landscape. They were made simply and quickly using leftovers from the Tribal Cane Project.

Whenever you make a polymer clay cane, you will inevitably end up with scrap clay in the form of trimmings. Those scraps are great for lots of different purposes. And sometimes their use just presents itself when you aren’t expecting. This is what happened when I made the Arizona beads in the photo above.

I was rolling a chunk of scrap clay from a tribal cane through the pasta machine to mix the colors for another project. But as I passed the clay through the rollers, these lovely, softly blended stripes appeared in the sheet. And along the edges, were the typical crackles of a firm clay.

The sheet of used clay was so pretty just the way it was, I decided to take advantage of serendipity, and capture the lucky accident into beads.

The stripes were running lengthwise, with crackled edges on both sides. Wanting to highlight the crackle, I folded the sheet not quite in half down the length, giving a smooth edge along the bottom and the two crackled edges, one above the other, along the top.

I then cut the strip into four equal lengths and wrapped each strip around a mandrel to create four unique tube beads. I love these beads so much, that I am going to lop off a few more chunks of the cane to make more!

As I said earlier, there are many other uses for polymer clay scraps. Here is a list of articles you may like to read, should you have extra clay lying around that needs a good purpose:

I save every little dab of scrap clay. Nothing is wasted. That’s one of the things I love about this medium. Everything gets used. Thanks, Cindy, for such a fabulous website. I’ve learned so much over the past couple of months from visiting here. ~Bonnie-B

So I made watercolour beads today, as usual I had to put my own spin on the technique though! I’m proud that apart from the white and black, everything I used was scrap clay or leftovers from another project. If I’d made a New Year’s claying resolution it would have been to try to use as much of my leftover clay as possible rather than just adding it to the (admittedly quite small) scrap pile. Like if I make a particularly nice Skinner blend it seems such a shame to waste the beautiful colours in the trimmings. ~Silverleaf

Now if I can only have enough scrap clay… I am like the others who’s post I have read, use up most of my scrap clay making lil earrings and such. ~Nancy-R

I’m trying to find more scrap clay!!!! ~Melinda-H

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  1. Sue, 17 January, 2010

    Wow… they are AWESOME, Cindy!
    (I’d be turning more of the cane into Arizona beads too! LOL)

  2. Lisa Whitham, 17 January, 2010

    Ooooo, these beads are hot..!! I’d make more too… :)


  3. Elizabeth S., 17 January, 2010

    Oh man, These are awesome! I live in the southwestern US and the rustic orangy colors in these beads are so typical of sunsets in this part of the world. They also remind me of pottery I have seen around here. In fact some of my favorite mugs, though in different colors have this striping effect on them. Thanks for sharing your serendipity, Cindy.

  4. Silverleaf, 17 January, 2010

    Okay, so you’ve almost convinced me to make the tribal cane Cindy! I’d just turn it ALL into these beads. :)

    The do look like beautiful glazed pottery like Elizabeth S. says.

  5. Peggy, 17 January, 2010

    Before I read a word about your beads I said to myself what a beauty looks just like a picture taken out of a scenic view magazine. Love the beads Cindy. Do you have a hard time giving away or selling the really neat beads like these. I would instantly want to make something for myself out of those beads. Capturing art in your leftover polymer clay. You just don’t know when that next bead will turn up. BAM, you just did it Cindy.

  6. Rose, 17 January, 2010

    Those beads are gorgeous. I just did the tribal cane today & really messed it up. I’m going to do it again — sometime, but in the meantime, what can I do with a not-so-beautiful cane? I could do lentil beads, but I’ve made so many I’m a little sick of them. I’ll try putting some of the ends thru the pasta machine to see what develops. But I’m wondering, what do you all do with canes that didn’t turn out?

  7. Katie, 17 January, 2010

    Yep, some of my favorite bead were destined for scrap. Scrap jupiter beads, scrap slice pendants, and you just never know what you get when you run your scrap through the pasta machine a few times.

  8. Lawrence, 18 January, 2010

    Scrap is good.
    I had a busy week and on Friday night had to come up with a scrap cane to be used in making a lantern bead (April 2009 issue Polymer Cafe) which a guild member was teaching on Sat. I had about six failed canes in different colors so wrapped them all in a green clay sheet, reduced and cut a couple of times and I thought it was a so so cane. The guild members loved it (even cut it up and traded canes with a couple of them) and the lantern bead I made is a keeper.
    So keep those failed canes for all kinds of projects.

  9. Phaedrakat, 20 January, 2010

    I will pay more attention to my scrap clay from now on–something beautiful like this could happen and I’d miss it trying to hurry and mix my scrap! I love the ragged edge on these beads. What a great idea you had!

  10. Cheryl, 20 January, 2010

    They’re beautiful; I just love the colors. As Elizabeth says they do remind me of the glazed cottage industry ceramics we have in India.

  11. Lupe Meter, 22 January, 2010

    I just love these beads, Cindy! Perfect Southwestern Beads, very typical of the Arizona colors. Sometimes, scrap clay turns out better than expected! Sometimes, I will put my scrap clay back through my pasta machine and end up with the neatest blend…too bad I can’t reproduce it, but it takes care of any scrap clay you happen to have around. Thanks for all your tips and ideas, Cindy…keep it coming. 8-)

  12. lynn watts, 22 January, 2010

    Love those Arizona scrap clay beads. I will have to try that one myself. Those are so pretty. I have came across many happy accidents as well and made outstanding things with those. It’s exciting to hear of others, happy accidents and the beautiful things that come out of that.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 31 January, 2010

    Thank you everyone! It is nice to see that you all appreciate the wonderful things that can sometimes come out of accidents. :-)

    @Peggy: I usually don’t have a hard time giving something away, or selling it at the time. It is after when it is gone that I miss it. That is why it is so nice for me to have many of my pieces in photos on this blog. Then they aren’t gone for good!

    @Rose: As far as what to do with canes that don’t work out at all… well there are lots of things you can do. You can reduce them until they are very tiny and you can’t tell they were that bad. You can run them through the pasta machine and make some cool beads like I did above, or you can combine them into easy kaleidoscope canes. I have also been fooling around with running them through my extruder to make new extremely funky mod canes. Will show you some time. Whatever you do, don’t worry about them. They will come to use some time soon.

  14. Cindy Lietz, 23 April, 2010


    Polymer Clay Tribal Purse Bead Project by Lisa Whitham

    Hello to Everyone,

    Some new Spotlight project pictures that relate to the topic of this page (Arizona Beads), have just been added in another post. They were submitted by Lisa-W. 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.

  15. Mary U, 24 January, 2011

    Oh my! The genius of that Lietz gal! You and your serendipity, Cindy: Long may they wave! Lerve, lerve, lerve those Arizona beads! XX Mary U.

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