How to make Halloween pumpkin beads from polymer clay
Halloween 2011 is just around the corner but there’s still plenty of time to collect ideas and get busy with homemade crafts! Here’s a very simple and well illustrated (and completely free!) step by step DIY sculptured pumpkin beads tutorial.
Learn how to make these unusual pumpkin shaped beads in 7 simple steps and use them in your craft projects just as you would use regular beads or charms – created pumpkin earrings or make other accessories to go with your Halloween costume, create beaded bookmarks and key chains, Halloween charm bracelets, party accessories, home decorations and so much more.
For this project you will need:
- polymer clay in two colors (or three, keep reading): pumpkin orange and green OR green + black
- a blade (any Stanley-style knife replacement blade is fine)
- toothpick (several)
- a pin or a needle
- clean surface to work on (glazed ceramic tiles work best for me)
- babywipes or any other wet wipes (to clean polymer clay stains off your hands and work surface)
Before you start: Wipe clean your work surface. Wash you hands with soap and dry them with a lint free towel. Clay tends to pick each and every speck of dust it touches.
Prepare the clay and roll those balls
Take a piece of pumpkin color clay and condition it in your hands for several minutes – just work it, fold it, squeeze it, roll it, make shapes, break them It should become soft and flexible. A good test to see if it’s ready is to roll the piece of clay into a “sausage” and fold in half – if it cracks or breaks at the fold line, keep conditioning until it becomes really flexible and bends nicely without braking.
Now roll the clay into balls between your palms, and pierce the hole in the center with a toothpick. Work slowly with that toothpick and use a “drilling” motion – you don’t want to squash the bead too much. When you feel the end of the toothpick is just starting to come out on the other side, reverse the bead and finish piercing it from the other side. This way the hole edges will be nice and smooth.
Shape the pumpkin
To make these lines that define the pumpkin shape, you’ll have to align your pin parallel to the center hole and press it gently onto the surface of the ball. Then push/swing the pin towards the center hole on the top, then towards the hole on the bottom.
Don’t be discouraged if you cannot make those lines perfect at the first try – just roll the clay into a smooth ball again and start over. Experiment!
The green part. Make and attach tendrils
Now depending on what is available to you, you might want to tune the green color down a bit. I could not find the right shade of green clay at the shop, so I bought light green and black. The best thing about polymer clay is that you can easily mix colors and get the ones you need.
To mix colors simply condition the two of them together until fully blended. Start by adding just a grain of black – it’s easier to add more if needed than to “lighten” the color again.
Roll a piece of green clay into a very thin snake.
And attach to the bead. Well conditioned clay pieces “stick” together so there’s no need to apply excessive force. Try not to squash the tendril too much, you want to keep it round.
A tendril is just a freeform spiral thing that pumpkins use to reach out and grab things with. In reality they are rather skinny and attached to the branches of the plant. You might want to skip this step but for me tendrils are one of the characteristic features of the plant helping to identify it in any form
Making and attaching pumpkin leaves
Now there’s no right or wrong way to shape the leaves, but here’s how I do it.
Roll a piece of green clay into a thin sheet a bit larger than the leaf size you need. The piece is small so you really don’t need any special equipment to do it (any smooth cylindrical thing will do). Looking at the picture above, I think I just pressed that piece of clay flat with my fingers – those fingerprints add a rather nice texture resembling leaf veins
I then cut the top of the piece off to make a triangle – this will be the top of the leaf. And cut out the small triangles in the semi circle along the bottom line.
After the leaf shape is ready, add some lines (veins) to it using a pin.
Now gently lift the leaf with your blade and transfer it on the bead – try to cover the spot where that tendril is attached.
Finishing touches – the stem
Now shape the stem. I make it “plug” shaped and make a sharp cut at the wide end. Also – a fine detail to make your pumpkin look more realistic – don’t forget to add those lines to the stem! The real things have really really prominent veins on their stems.
When you are happy with the shape of the stem, place it on the leaf with the pointed end in the hole. Take toothpick and gently press the stem into place.
Done! Now you just need to make a whole army of those pumpkins and bake them in the oven according to the manufacturer instructions. I use Fimo brand, and it takes about half an hour to bake them at 130 degrees Celsius.
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