Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hand drawn beads - Tutorial

I love to make beads and buttons from moulds, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered to get out all the equipment for mould making, or I don’t want to wait the drying/curing time. I’m a spontaneous worker and when the idea strikes, I need to get on with stuff. 

To make detailed consistent beads, I use a cheat with my printer. I was making, or trying to make a sundial one day and printed out the positions for the gnomon and placed it on the clay. The image transferred. The sundial was terrible and was banished to the back of the garage, but that got me thinking about other ways I could use this technique. 

To try this out yourself, you need an inkjet printer, paper, clay and a pointy rubber tool.

Print out your image in reverse. Bold, plain black images are the most successful. 

Cut around the image as closely as you can.

Make a bead in your chosen clay slightly larger than your image. You will get a clearer print in light coloured clays, I’m using porcelain.

Line up the image and press on to the bead image side down.

Give it a gentle rub with your finger for about 10 seconds.

Remove the paper and the image should have transferred on to the wet clay.

This is my favourite tool, you will need something similar to trace around the image. I’ve found a rubber tool is best as it doesn’t tear up the clay too much as you draw around your image. 

Draw around the design. Don’t worry too much at this point if the design had raised rough looking areas. You need to concentrate on getting your lines nice and smooth.

Once you have finished leave the bead to dry.

Once dry, take a damp cloth (I use baby wipes) and gently smooth over your image. The rough bits will disappear. You may need to go back in with your tool to pick any bits that have wiped in to the lines of your design.

Bisque fire and glaze fire your bead. To get a bold effect, I glaze the whole bead and then wipe the glaze from the front of the design so that the colour is left in the carving.

And here’s my finished bead.

What I like most about this technique is you get good consistency in your designs, but each one is slightly different and has that handmade touch.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful, feel free to use this technique to create your own designs!

Thanks for reading!



  1. Great idea, I must have a go.Thank you

  2. Very sneaky...if only I could draw!

  3. Brilliant! This is just the kind of tip a newbie like me needs!

  4. Hi Caroline, Thanx for the great tutorial. I found it very interesting.

  5. A fabulous tutorial Caroline and lovely beads! I love your spontaneity—I do way too much hemming and hawing over projects. I did this with polymer ages ago and will definitely have to give it another go. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  6. So THAT'S how you get those gorgeous rabbits!! I'm going to start experimenting with polymer clay, and will need to give this a try. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Thank you for sharing your techniques!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Seriously. This is what I have been looking for for this month's Simple Truths Sampler bead! I will give it a go with my polymer clay. Thanks for the fab tip! Enjoy the day. Erin

  9. so it will work on polymer as well? I'll have to try!!

  10. Wow! I made have courage to try this now, as a result of your fabulous directions! I have the same question as you think this will work with a simple polymer clay?

    1. I've heard it does Carol. The only difference I could see is that you would sand the bead flat after baking rather than smoothing it while it's raw clay. I think that would get a better result!

    2. Thank you so much for the reply and tips! :)

  11. This is clever! They look lovely (and I adore that design).

  12. This looks like fun. I'll give it go! Thank you!

  13. Great technique. These beads are wonderful!

  14. Thanks all, glad you enjoyed the demo :)

  15. Thank you for this tutorial Caroline!


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