Why Make Polymer Clay Beads? And Jewelry and Other Arts and Crafts

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Looking Back to The Great Depression of the 1930’s for Some Insights and Answers:

Today’s post is about the WHY’s (instead of the How’s) of making polymer clay beads. There is so much “How-To” information here on this blog, but not that much on why you might want to make them in the first place.

With so much uncertainty in our current world economy, I am finding myself thinking a lot about the future and my goals for being able to make it through tough times that may be ahead. In any time of great change there is also great opportunity. As artists and crafters, what are our opportunities?

I was listening to a speaker the other day talking about economic opportunities, and he mentioned something very interesting. He said that during the Great Depression back in the 1930’s, there was a huge surge of magazine publications geared toward hobby-inspired, home based businesses. Since many people had lost their jobs, they had turned to their other ‘skill sets’ to make a living.

This means that people who had done hobbies such as jewelry making, wood working, pottery or gardening, were taking their knowledge and creating small businesses to bring in extra dollars.

This got me to thinking about my Grandparents and their resourcefulness during hard times. My grandfather was a barber, a gardener and raised rabbits for meat. He saved money for the family by creating as much home grown food as possible. My Grandmother was a seamstress. She sewed all the kids clothes and brought in extra money by doing custom alterations for the community where they lived. Both of them turned what they loved to do, into more than just hobbies.

This Christmas like most every one before, I am making the bulk of the gifts. This has saved me thousands of dollars over the years. And I can tell you that the time and love I pour into the creative process, makes these presents very special to give, as well as to receive.

So this brings us back to the question of the day… Why make polymer clay beads… and jewelry and arts and crafts and all kinds of other creative things? For me, there are many reasons:

  • The First Being… I Must: Like the child that always sings, dances, builds, draws or giggles… it is in my soul to create with my hands. Without art, I would die inside.
  • To Make A Living: Having worked in many different fields, what better way to make a living, than to do what you love!
  • To Save Money: I have saved thousands of dollars making gifts. Not only for Christmas, but for all of the other birthdays and celebrations that happen throughout the year. For example, this year alone my daughter has been invited to 10 birthday parties. The standard gift around here is $20 – $30. Willow and I made bracelets, charms and necklaces for her friends instead of buying them. Savings… $200 – $300 right there. Plus they were personal and specially designed for the girls. That made them even more fun to give! —— Just think of all the girlfriend, sister and teacher gifts you can quickly and easily make with your polymer clay beads! —— How can you use your passions and talents to save money and improve your own economic outlook?
  • To Share: If I can use my hobby to better my life, then just think how great it would feel if I taught you how to do it too! Sharing my love and passion for making beads with you and seeing you succeed, makes my heart swell with pride. —— It is very similar to the feeling I had last weekend when I spent a day selling at the craft fair with my daughter Willow. Watching her develop as an entrepreneur, with pride in her work. Seeing the confidence build as someone paid for her home made gourmet dog treats. Knowing I had a part in her success, but it was her that made it happen. The feeling was amazing!

These are the reasons why I make polymer clay beads. What are your reasons WHY?

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Silverleaf, 30 November, 2008

    I’d thought about making jewellery for my family for Christmas, but worried that they might think I was “cheap”.

    My family are unfortunately rather materialistic.

    Maybe if I took the money I’d normally spend on a gift and using it to buy materials, I could get round it that way. Then they’d get a present that was actually worth much more, and it would be specially made by me with love!

    What do you think?

  2. Cindy Lietz, 01 December, 2008

    I know how that is. I’ve had some of my family not value my stuff and some treasure it. I now try and make things only for those that will love it. It is hard for me to suggest the best route to go with gifts for your relatives. I think you should go with your gut. Don’t forget your time is money too!

  3. Hin Jay, 02 December, 2008

    I’ve been working with clay since I was a little kid (I’m now 21). I haven’t tried making beads or jewelery yet… I mostly enjoy creating little figurines. I just got a job with a weekly magazine creating projects!! Of course, all gifts to friends (and family) were handmade. And let me tell you, everyone I know appreciates gifts that are really from the heart, made with love!

  4. Cindy Lietz, 02 December, 2008

    Thank you Hin Jay for your sweet comment! I would love to see your figurines, I bet they are great if you have been doing this for so long! That is wonderful that everyone you know appreciates your handmade gifts… you and they are very lucky!

  5. Eri Attebery, 02 December, 2008


    Thanks for the great post! I had completely forgotten about how much money I have saved on gifts over the years by making jewelry for people instead of buying a gift for them. Not to mention how much more special they feel when they receive something they know you took the time to make for them.

  6. Cindy Lietz, 02 December, 2008

    You are very welcome Eri! I think sometimes we forget the value that our art brings. It is good every once in awhile to remember that!

  7. Hin Jay, 04 December, 2008

    how can i send you a picture?

  8. Cindy Lietz, 04 December, 2008

    Just use my “Contact Cindy” link at the very top of this page. I will respond to you with an email where you can send photos as an attachment.

  9. Marsha, 04 December, 2008

    I named my jewelry business “Frances Marie” after my maternal grandmother. She was a crafter and artist all her life, making gifts for everyone as well as home decorations for herself. I learned to love it from her and have passed that on to my daughter as well. Sometimes my crafts end up costing more than if I had gone out and purchased something on sale and sometimes I’m able to save tons of money, but the love wrapped up in the handmade gift (regardless of the cost) cannot be given a dollar value!

  10. Cindy Lietz, 05 December, 2008

    What a lovely story Marsha. It is sure nice to hear of more than one generation sharing what they love in crafting. You are right, no matter the cost of the supplies, it is the love that goes into them that counts. Thank you for sharing that with us!

  11. Anna Sabina, 20 December, 2008

    I like Silver Leafs comment about using the money that would have gone toward gifts ad spending it on materials. This may provide an opportunity to buy higher quality materials that we can use on more than one project. I got great JOY from making the Mokume Gane ornament for my friend and she loved it too.

  12. Cindy Lietz, 21 December, 2008

    That is so cool about the mokume gane ornament you made for your friend Anna! I bet she did love it, who wouldn’t love to get something like that!

    It is always nice to have great supplies. I think any reason to get some more is a good one! ;-)

  13. Silverleaf, 06 January, 2009

    Well I did end up making jewellery for my mum, grandma, and my boyfriend’s mum, and they all seemed to like what I made!

    I used bought beads instead of my own polymer clay ones because I wanted a particular style that just didn’t suit my beads.

    I’ve put pictures on my new blog [Follow Link By My Name Above].

    My mum wore hers when she came to visit on Boxing Day. I grinned at her and said, “Mum I like your necklace.” She grinned back and replied, “Yeah, it’s nice isn’t it? Do you know it’s handmade and unique, there’s not another one like it in the world!”

    Bless her.

  14. Cindy Lietz, 08 January, 2009

    That sounds really sweet Silverleaf! I checked out your blog and the jewelry looks great! No wonder they liked it!

    Bet you could make polymer clay beads that suit that style of jewelry. Maybe something on the dainty side, who knows!

    BTW thank you very much for putting me on your blogroll! I really really appreciate it!

  15. Silverleaf, 08 January, 2009

    Thanks Cindy!

    I’m not so good at doing dainty I’m afraid – but I’m still very new to all this so who knows what I’ll be able to do in future. We’re all learning, right?

    Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog as well. :)

  16. Cindy Lietz, 09 January, 2009

    Yeah I know what you mean… I tend to make things on the chunky side and far from dainty but who knows, maybe we can learn how together! Though I guess I have done some dainty things. Check the link by my name.

    You’re welcome. I really like your blog!

  17. Silverleaf, 09 January, 2009

    I love the flower bead there Cindy, it’s really pretty!

    I guess at the moment I’m just working though making a million different things, then I’ll have the experience and skills to develop my own style. Dainty is definitely something I could work on.

  18. Myeesha Provin, 05 May, 2010

    I was just wondering if its ok to use 2 brands of clay, premo and sculpey III, on the same piece (figurines)? Or is it better to mix my own colors so I don’t have to use Sculpey III at all? I’m a beginner.

  19. Phaedrakat, 08 May, 2010

    @Myeesha Provin: Hi Myeesha! Short answer: it’s better to mix your own colors with a stronger clay like Premo and not use Sculpey III at all. But, especially if you already have some of it purchased, you CAN mix the 2 brands on the same piece of sculpture. Try a 50/50 mix. That should give you enough strength for a figurine, especially if it doesn’t have a lot of protruding parts or thin areas. ( Risky areas for breakage when working with Sculpey III.) More info is on its way… :D ~Kat

  20. B.C., 19 November, 2011

    I love using round crystal beads in these types of projects as they add so much elegance to my jewelry. I love to design my own jewelry because designing my own jewelries is a very happy thing to do. I am thinking to create more of them for people who know how to appreciate them. However, in order to search for fresh ideas and tricks is not very easy task to do so. I love to improve myself more so I tried to explore more about the tricks and tips by doing some brief research online. Personally, I find crystal beads are great to use in my beading as they are so versatile and elegant. Thanks for sharing these tips and information with us. I will keep an eye on your websites for more ideas. Thank you so much!

  21. Ron Malley, 07 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy,
    I have been making small figurines out of modeling clay for a few years now and putting them in shadow boxes for my family. I was thinking of trying to make them out of ovenbake clay and putting them into snow globes. Is that possible or will the figurines not hold up to the constant submurging in water.
    Thank you,

  22. Cindy Lietz, 08 January, 2013

    Yes Ron, polymer clay is the perfect candidate for putting in snow globes! It is basically a plastic, so when baked properly it will have no problem being constantly surrounded by water. If you need any help with working with polymer clay, make sure to read the posts on this blog, watch the free videos and buy the tutorials if you are interested. I think you will really enjoy working with polymer. Especially since you already have sculpting skills. Have fun, and let us know if we can help you in any way!

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