how to make air dry clay beads

How to Make Air Dry Clay Beads

How to make air dry clay beads

Air drying clay is a wonderful craft material for many projects for kids and adults. This post will show you simple and easy techniques to create air dry clay beads for DIY jewelry or other fun home decor projects.

I never like making beads. Until NOW!

Even though I like the handmade nature of the beads, mine needed to be more similar. The round beads were too different in size, the imprints and textures were all over the place, and I’ve always struggled to make the holes right.

Now, I love making beads! These simple methods make the creation enjoyable and relaxing.

Let’s dive into making these fun clay bead ideas!


Tools and supplies

Related air dry clay articles:

  1. How to color air dry clay
  2. 15 cute things to make with air dry clay
  3. What to make out of air dry clay
  4. Air dry clay tips and tricks for beginners
  5. How to roll out clay evenly
handmade air dry clay beads

How to make air dry clay beads – Instructions

I’ll share five types of beads with different techniques, so you can pick the one you like or try them all!

  1. Identical round beads
  2. Easy square beads
  3. Flat beads
  4. Tube beads with an extruder
  5. Beads using silicone molds

How to make round air dry clay beads

handmade round clay beads

Making beads the same size was my main problem. With this simple technique, you can achieve identical beads.

Step 1: Condition a piece of clay.

Step 2: Roll the clay out evenly. I like to use silicone guide rings with my acrylic roller to achieve even thickness.

Step 3: Use a small circle cutter to cut out the pieces. Experiment with sizes.

Step 4: Shape the clay circles one by one into little balls.

Step 5: Create holes using a needle, toothpick, or bamboo stick.

Step 6: Let them dry for 24-48 hours.

Step 7: Sand them if needed.

Step 8: Paint and seal them.

TIPYou can dry them on the bamboo stick, so you don’t have to deal with beads rolling everywhere.

DIY square clay beads

DIY easy square clay beads

This method is perfect for creating DIY heishi beads. Be aware of making them thicker than the originals. Air dry clay breaks when rolled too thin.

Step 1: Condition the clay by kneading it for a few minutes.

Step 2: Roll out the clay to approximately 1/3 inch thickness.

Step 3: Cut the clay slab into small squares. Make sure the sides are also 1/3 inch long.

Step 4: Create holes by using a straw or mini-circle cutter.

Step 5: Let them dry for 24-48 hours.

Step 6: Even out imperfections with sandpaper.

Step 7: Paint and apply one-two coat of sealant.

TIP: Handle them carefully so you won’t ruin the edges!

Handmade coin clay beads

How to make flat air dry clay beads

This method is easy and super fun. I’ve created coin beads, but you can make them in any shape: rhomb, square, oval, flower, etc.

Step 1: Knead a piece of clay for a few minutes.

Step 2: Roll out the clay to approx. 1/3 inch thickness.

Step 3: Press your texture sheet onto the clay. I usually run my rolling pin a couple of times over the sheet.

Step 4: Use a small cookie cutter to cut out the beads.

Step 5: Insert a thick needle on the side to create the holes. (Don’t roll out the clay too thin. It will easily break when you string the beads)

Step 6: Let the beads dry for 24-48h.

Step 7: Sand if needed.

Step 8: Paint (optional) and seal the beads t protect them from moisture.

TIP: Create your own alphabet letters with this method and letter stamps.

DIY clay tube beads

How to make beads with a clay extruder

This method is perfect for creating tube beads. Even though the clay extruder is mainly used with polymer clay, you can also pop a piece of air dry clay.

Step 1: Condition a smaller ball of clay.

Step 2: Insert the clay into a polymer clay extruder. Rotate the handle until all the clay has been released.

Step 3: Smooth the sides (if needed) or add texture with sandpaper.

Step 4: Cut them to the desired size.

Step 5: Make the holes using a thick needle, toothpick, or bamboo stick.

Step 6: Let them dry for 24-48h.

Step 7: Sand, paint (optional), and seal your beads.

Handmade clay beads using silicone molds

DIY clay beads using silicone molds

For this technique, pick a mold with deeper indents suitable for making beads. This is a fast and easy way to create clay charms and pendants.

Step 1: Knead a piece of air dry clay.

Step 2: Push a small piece of clay into the silicone mold.

Step 3: Cut off the excess.

Step 4: Dry them for 24-48 hours. You can let them dry in the mold or remove them if you need to make more (they will dry faster out of the mold).

Step 5: Sand and paint (optional).

Step 6: Apply a coat of varnish.

 NOTE: If your air drying clay keeps sticking into the mold, dust the mold with cornstarch before adding the clay. I didn’t have any problem with DAS modeling clay.

DIY air drying clay beads

Video tutorial

Watch me make these easy handmade beads. You can also try them using polymer clay (don’t forget to bake them).

Tips & tricks:

  • If you don’t have guide rings for your roller, use wooden dowels or wooden popsicle sticks (stack them for the desired thickness) and roll the clay between them.
  • Electric wire ferrules are the perfect mini-circle cutters. The perfect cheaper option for workshops or a craft gathering when you need many circle cutters.
  • Always pick the best tool to create holes. Consider the size of the hole you need and your bead’s shape. You can use mini circle cutters, a straw, a toothpick, a bamboo stick, and a thicker sewing needle. 
  • Bead texture ideas: sandpaper, stamps, texture sheets, fabric, lace, etc.
  • Sanding is optional. However, if you sand your clay beads (and also other clay projects), they will look more professional.
  • Create colored beads by mixing acrylic paint into clay.
  • Make faux stone beads with this fun method I used to create earrings.

Conclusion about making air dry clay beads

As you can see air dry clay is also suitable for making beautiful handmade beads.

You can use these beads to create jewelry and integrate them into other crafts and home decor projects. A fun way to make your own beads with 100% unique patterns, shapes, and sizes.

Creating clay beads has a relaxing, therapeutic effect (at least on me). I highly recommend experimenting with it.

Related clay crafts:

How to make air dry clay beads