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This tutorial shows how to make polymer clay beads using a thin veneer of cane over scrap clay. Because some distortion occurs with this method it works best with an organic pattern such as marble cane or mokume gane.

Run slices of cane through the pasta machine.

Take slices of your cane and run them through the pasta machine using each setting from thick to thin. A thick slice of cane rolled thin will enlarge the pattern. I like to use different thicknesses for variety.

Roll a snake of clay to approximately the diameter you want your beads

Roll a snake of clay to approximately the diameter you want your beads. If I am using scrap clay as a core I usually put a layer of white on the outside to keep the slices of cane bright. Also I regretted not using a longer snake as I would have liked more beads :).

Cover the core with the thin slices of cane.

Cover the core with the thin slices of cane. Be careful not to leave air bubbles between the veneer and the core.

Tear pieces of clay to fill the gaps.

Tear the slices of clay to make pieces to fill the gaps. I find the torn edges blend with the pattern better.

fill the gaps

Fill all the gaps.

Roll the clay to smooth in the edges.

Roll the clay to smooth in the edges. You don’t want to lengthen the snake too much as the veneer is already quite thin.

Mark even sections of clay. This means the finished beads will be more regular in size.

I use the back of my scalpel blade and a ruler to mark even sections of clay. This means the finished beads will be more regular in size.

Marks for cutting.

Marks for cutting.

Cut log into even size pieces.

Cut the log into even size pieces.

Indent the cut side of clay.

Use a knitting needle or large ball stylus to indent the cut side of clay.

Close the veneer around the core

Gently pinch the edges to close the veneer around the core. Work slowly and keep rotating your bead as you work. I often alternate the side I’m working on.

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Push any visible core clay down.

Use a needle tool to push any visible core clay down so you can close the veneer over it.

Shape your beads and pierce.

Shape your beads and pierce.

Roll beads on sandpaper to give them a matte finish.

I like to roll my beads on sandpaper before baking to give them a matte finish similar to etched glass.

turquoise and yellow marbled  bead earrings

Earrings made using the finished beads.

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