with Sue Heaser
Bead making is such as satisfying pastime. Working with different combinations of polymer clay and various techniques, you can create your own unique beads.
Bicone beads are almost magical to make and only need a little practice to get them perfect. You will need the following tools and materials; polymer clay in the colour of your choice, a piece of clear Perspex about 4 in (10cms) square or a clear CD case and a large needle
It is best to start with beads that are fairly large – about 3/4 in (20mm) diameter. Lay a bead down on your work surface and lightly press the perspex or CD cover onto the bead.
Gently rotate the sheet in a small circle as though you were trying to simply roll the clay into a ball using the sheet instead of your hand. The centre of the clay ball will begin to form a point.
Continue rolling and the point will become more apparent. You will need to adjust the size of the circling motion of the sheet in order to refine the shape. A wider circling motion will give a higher point, a smaller one will flatten the bead.
This shows the bead from the side – a sharply pointed double cone, or bicone. The point can be made more rounded or indented by gently pressing the bead from the top until you have achieved the desired shape.
Piercing the bead: Allow the bead to cool so that the clay becomes firmer and piercing will not squash it unduly. To pierce the bead horizontally, it is best to pierce it through the top third of the bead so that it hangs well. Hold the bead without squashing it and push the darning needle through from one direction to about half way and then from the other direction right through. This minimises distortion.
To pierce the bead vertically, hold it in your fingers and push the darning needle through the top of the point to about half way. Then pierce again from the other point. If you find the clay is too soft and the points are spoilt with piercing, you can drill the bead with a pin vice after baking.
Your bead can be decorated using a number of techniques. Texture stamps such as those from the Lisa Pavelka range will add patterning to the surface, mica powders such as Jacquard Pearl-Ex can be smoothed over the surface before baking and then sealed with a varnish, and cane slices can be added to the round bead before rolling and flattening into the bicone.