Spice Beads and the Polymer Clay Inclusion Technique

Spice Bead Polymer Clay Inclusions

Vid #57: What to do When Kitchen Spices Get Too Old …Make Beads!

Ok I’ll admit that making beads is what I do to fix many of the little problems life throws my way. The kids are frustrating me… make some beads! My husband won’t do the lawn trimming… bead making to the rescue. The polymer clay oven broke… nothing that more beads won’t cure (just won’t be able to bake these one’s quite yet :-).

Someone stop me before I get too silly. This post is supposed to be about a technique called polymer clay inclusion where you mix fun stuff into translucent polymer clay. Unique looking spice beads can be made using curry powder, rosemary leaves, poppy seeds or nutmeg.

Beads made with these spice inclusions often take on the look of faux stone. You will often find me using them in chunky bracelets and hemp jewelry designs.

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The full version of the Spices Inclusion preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-003 Back Issue Package.

In this “Special Effects With Spices” video tutorial I explain which brands of translucent polymer clay work best with the spice bead inclusion technique. I discuss aromatic properties; How some spices bleed color and others don’t; And what spices you should not put through your pasta machine.

  1. Cindy Lietz, 08 May, 2008

    If you want aromatic beads, don’t wait for your spices to get old. The fresher your spices, the more likely your beads will hold the scent.

    Cindy’s last blog post..Flower Petal Bead Inclusions for Memorable Keepsake Jewelry

  2. Cynister, 04 June, 2008

    Spices. Who knew? I had never thought of it, but boy does it make sense. Do you need to grind them up? Can’t wait to see it!

  3. Cindy Lietz, 06 June, 2008

    Hi Cynister! (Great name BTW!)

    With spices the large ones like whole peppercorns will need to be ground up a bit, so they don’t just fall out of the clay. Though if the peppercorn was completely encased in polymer clay it could work. Just experiment here and see what you can come up with. The strong smelling spices like Nutmeg or Curry even scent the clay a bit though this will eventually fade until rubbed.

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Adding Polymer Clay Cane Slices to Lentil Beads

  4. Cynister, 06 June, 2008

    Thanks for the tip! I can’t wait to try it & see your inclusion videos.

  5. Marianne Huber, 16 August, 2008

    Yummy,what a great idea this would be for worry type beads. Maybe a lavender or cinnamon. As you were rubbing the beads the aroma would help calm you.

  6. MJ, 16 August, 2008


    Spices will never look the same now. It was helpful to see the difference in the translucent clays.

  7. Pamela Reader, 17 August, 2008

    Hi Cindy – love the idea. Have you ever tried including dried flower petals, like rose petals or marigold? Does that work as well? Also, thinking of the scent of spices, do you think a drop of essential oil would work with the clay – I was thinking of the comment above by Marianne Huber for worry beads. ok, back to the kitchen! Also, thanks for showing the difference in the types of clay after baking. that was most helpful.

  8. Andrea Dimmick, 17 August, 2008

    Smelly beads, what a novel idea,I may have to go through the house to see what else there is to include.

  9. Cindy Lietz, 17 August, 2008

    @Cynister: Would love to see what you make! @Marianne: That is a really neat idea! @Pamela: Yeah I thought it would help to show the differences in translucent clays. There is a product made by Premo called "Frost". It is supposed to bake clearer than the translucent. I have not tried it because hardly anyone carries it, though it is a favorite of lots of polymer clay artists!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..A Polymer Clay Tutorial About Shiny Beads

  10. Cindy Lietz, 17 August, 2008

    Andrea, you can enhance the smell in clay by adding essential oils with the clay! Here’s a couple links to other articles on this topic:

    Scented Polymer Clay – Secret Formula
    How to Scent Polymer Clay

  11. Patricia Mabie, 17 August, 2008

    Watching faithfully. I love that you have shown clay people how to use up old spices. I love to cook and have never thought about this to use up the spices in my cabinet. I have passed your web site on to new clay people that have not been doing it long. They can learn from our mistakes although some mistakes turned out surprisingly good.

  12. Katina, 17 August, 2008

    If I want to use an herb like Rosemary can I use it fresh or must it always be dried?

  13. Cindy Lietz, 17 August, 2008

    @Patricia: Thank you very much for your comments! Feel free to share your experience any time you wish. There are so many things we can all learn from each other!

    @Katina: That you will have to experiment with. Since there is not much moisture in Rosemary it may not be a problem, ‘wet’ flowers and spices could ‘boil’ while baking and may develop air pockets.

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Making Your Own Buffing Wheels For A Dremel Rotary Tool

  14. Diana Philpott, 18 August, 2008

    Thanks so much for your free tutorials. I have enjoyed them very much. I have been doing polymer clay beads for about a year and have had no one to show me other than some books I have bought. Your instructions are so easy to follow and I plan to make some beads now with the spices and can hardly wait to see how they turn out!

  15. Cindy Lietz, 18 August, 2008

    Diana, you’re very welcome. Do let us know how they turn out!!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Purple Beads for Purple Pendants and Jewelry – Sculpey Color Mixing

  16. denby, 22 August, 2008

    How I love and look forward to your videos! After all the years I have been playing with clay, you have taught me so many new tricks! I love the spice information, never thought about using the old stuff for color and embellishment. Another brillant idea, thanks!

  17. Cindy Lietz, 23 August, 2008

    Thank you so much Denby for your very kind words!! I’m glad you’re enjoying the videos!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Traditional Rosary Beads Very Different From Rose Petal Fimo Beads

  18. Pamjern, 27 October, 2010

    Love these ideas! Did you or anyone you know of ever mix powdered or crushed natural stone into polymer clay and make a bead? Thanks

  19. Marlene, 28 October, 2010

    @Pamjern: I have read where others have used sand to include in their clay, so I would think small bits as you say of powdered or crushed natural stone would also work.
    My question is about all those “mistakes” in my pile of failed attempts. Would crushing and using them as inclusions work?

  20. Phaedrakat, 29 October, 2010

    @Marlene: Are you talking about baked clay “mistakes?” You can grate items that didn’t turn out like you wanted and use them as inclusions…works great! Or did you mean something else?

  21. Marlene, 29 October, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: Yes, that is what I was talking about. My mind was befuddled as I was typing, and I should have been clearer. Thanks for the tip. Now I have a WHOLE lot of new inclusion materieal to use ;0).

  22. Phaedrakat, 03 November, 2010

    @Marlene: No problem…you were pretty clear…it’s just that there were other topics going on, and I wanted to be sure I was answering the right question! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there with the “mistakes”, LOL! Using the grated clay can give you some cool stone effects, too. Have fun! ~Kat

    PS: You mentioned a pile of “failed attempts”…just wanted to make sure you know that you don’t have to bake everything. If something doesn’t turn out, you can save the scrap clay in a container until you’re ready, and then use it for bead cores (the centers, where they will not be seen) or many other things, like texture plates, molds, etc.

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