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Clay Millefiori bead necklace

Polymer clay Millefiori beads mimic chunky stone nuggets in a substantial but lightweight necklace

Learn how to make Millefiori beads using clay canes to create a necklace with prehistoric appeal. The chunky beads will make a statement without weighing you down.

Materials

13 nugget beads ¾-1 1/2 in. (1.9-3.8 cm) each

  • 2 oz. polymer clay in each of 6-8 colors
  • acrylic paint
  • aluminum foil
  • bead curing tray (optional)
  • cornstarch
  • flexible stamp
  • Future floor polish
  • ·needle tool
  • paintbrush
  • paper towel
  • pasta machine, dedicated to the use of polymer clay
  • 4-in. (10 cm) Plexiglas square
  • tissue blade
  • toaster oven, dedicated to the use of polymer clay
  • work surface

Necklace 16 in. (41 cm)

  • 14 6 mm fire-polished beads
  • 4 4 mm fire-polished beads (optional)
  • Clasp
  • 2 crimp beads
  • flexible beading wire, .019
  • crimping pliers
  • wire cutters
Instructions
Clay bead necklace Photo A
Photo A
Clay bead necklace Photo B
Photo B
To begin this project, make two millefiori canes in your chosen color schemes (Photo A).

Millefiori beads

[1] Roll a ball of scrap clay that is approximately 1 1/2 x 3/4 in. (3.8 x 1.9 cm). Repeat to make a total of nine balls. The first should be the largest, and the remaining eight should be made in pairs of gradually smaller sizes.

[2] With the tissue blade, cut thin slices from the canes. Apply the slices to cover the raw clay balls (Photo B), making matching pairs in pattern and size. 

Clay bead necklace Photo C
Photo C
Clay bead necklace Photo D
Photo D

[3] Roll each ball with the Plexiglas square until the edges of the cane slices blend together and the seams disappear. Gently press the balls until they are pebble shaped (Photo C).

[4] Using a needle tool, make a hole through each pebble-shaped ball.

Textured beads

[1] Condition and mix clay to the desired color (I used copper and gold), and roll four balls that are similar in size to the millefiori beads.

[2] Dust the flexible stamp with cornstarch. This will allow the stamp to release from the clay easily.

[3] Sandwich a clay ball between the folded stamp, and gently press to slightly flatten the clay (Photo D). Check if the impression is deep enough. If not, roll the clay again, and repeat.

[4] Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the remaining balls.

[5] Use a needle tool to make a hole through each stamped and flattened ball.

Clay bead necklace Photo E
Photo E
Clay bead necklace Photo F
Photo F

Baking and finishing

[1] Place the clay beads onto a bead curing tray (Photo E). Shield the beads with an aluminum foil tent to prevent them from scorching. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, bake the beads in the toaster oven. Allow the beads to cool completely.

[2] Paint the textured beads with acrylic paint (Photo F). To simulate a copper patina, I used green paint.

Clay bead necklace Photo G
Photo G
Clay bead necklace Photo H
Photo H

Use a dampened paper towel to dab most of the paint off the surfaces, leaving the paint in the recessed areas (Photo G).

[3] Use a paintbrush to apply Future floor polish to the millefiori beads (Photo H). Allow them to dry.

Necklace assembly

[1] Cut 22 in. (56 cm) of beading wire, and center the largest millefiori bead on it.

[2] On each wire end, string a repeating pattern of a 6 mm fire-polished bead and a polymer bead, stringing the polymer beads in approximate order from largest to smallest. End with a 6 mm.

[3] Test the fit, and add or remove beads if necessary. I added two 4 mm fire-polished beads at each end.

[4] On each end, string a crimp bead and half of the clasp. Go back through the crimp and the last few beads. Crimp the crimp beads, and trim the excess wire.

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