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   The Polymer Clayspot
       Polymer Clay FAQ

The Polymer Clayspot:

Welcome to Polymer Clay
Choosing & Mixing Clay
Conditioning Polymer Clay
Using the Food Processor
Using the Pasta Machine
Forming Clay Pieces
Firing Polymer Clay
Finishing Clay Pieces
Storing Polymer Clay
Using Stone Clays
Using Translucent Clays
Molding & Sculpting
Creating Surface Effects
Making Polymer Clay Jewelry
Safety & Cleanup
More Information Sources
What's the best way to string polymer clay beads?

Most polymer clay beads are rather heavy, so you need a durable material for stringing. Tigertail - extremely fine steel cable with a plastic coating - is a popular material. Tigertail is very strong and easy to work with, but it kinks easily and is a little stiff, so it may not drape well when used with lighter beads. Softflex is a newer material that's similar to tigertail, but is more flexible and drapes better. (It's also more expensive than tigertail.) Many beginning beaders string on inexpensive nylon monofilament (fishing line), but this has some disadvantages: the monofilament is weakened by exposure to heat and sunlight, and it tends to stretch out when used with heavy beads. Nylon or silk stringing thread can also be used, but make sure to use a heavy enough gauge to support the weight of your beads.

Large-holed beads can also be strung on leather or satin cord. One popular style is to string one or a few large beads on a short length of cord, letting the cord show between the beads. This style is especially good for men's necklaces.

How do I pierce a bead for stringing?

Beads are most easily pierced before firing, although they can be drilled afterward. To pierce a bead, use a skewer or needle. Hold the bead between your fingers and poke a hole almost all the way through it, not allowing the needle to come out the other side. Then withdraw the needle and poke it through from the other side. (This avoids creating an unsightly lump of clay around the edges of the pierced hole.)

If your bead's hole is too small for the cord you want to string it on, you can use a needle file to ream out and enlarge the hole.

How do I attach my clay pieces to metal findings?

A glued bond between a clay piece and a flat metal finding (such as a pin or earring back) holds best when the two pieces fit each other. Before firing, you can press the finding lightly into the back of the clay piece to create a small indentation. After firing, the two pieces will fit well together.

Another way of increasing the strength of a glued bond is to slightly roughen the finding and the back of the clay with coarse sandpaper before gluing. This lets the adhesive get a better "bite" on the material. Some findings have a slightly oily coating that may interfere with the glue, so wipe them off first

Some findings can be fired right into the clay. For example, you can embed the end of an eye pin into the top of a pendant with the round eye showing, then fire the pendant. If you embed wire into the clay, you can get a stronger bond by twisting or bending the wire a bit first, so it can't be pulled straight out.

How do I make a clay piece into a pendant?

There are several ways to hang a clay piece as a pendant for a necklace or earring:

If you have a piece that's already been fired, you can insert a head pin as described above if it's a pierced bead. If it's an unpierced flat piece, you can embed it in a clay frame or glue it to a metal filigree.

 Next: Safety & Cleanup

Jeanne A. E. DeVoto
Copyright © 1996-97 Jeanne A. E. DeVoto