How to make Halloween pumpkin beads from polymer clay

polymer clay pumpkin bead tutorial-3

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)

A cute handmade Halloween gift - a scissor fob

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

Don't be tempted to skip work-conditioning your clay even if your clay is fresh and soft out the package.

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

Now grab that pin!

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

I did not find a right shade of green clay for the leaves so had to mix my own adding a grain of black to the lighter shade of green

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.

Preparing the tendril

Roll a piece of green clay into a very thin snake.

Get creative

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

Cutting the 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.

Ready to go

After the leaf shape is ready, add some lines (veins) to it using a pin.

Almost ready!

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

the "plug"

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.

a final touch

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.

Pumpkin conquered!

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.

Just add a rope and you have scissor fob.. or a keychain ornament :)

Baked polymer clay beads tend to darken a little bit

Have fun creating!

Have fun creating!

COPYRIGHT (C) 2011 Cook On Strike

19 comments


  • hellooo

    i love polymer art so much !!!
    :)

    September 27, 2011
    • Laura

      Hi Stella! Thanks for stopping by!

      September 27, 2011
  • Laura

    A warm welcome to all visitors coming from the Totally Tutorials! Please share photos of your pumpkins if you make them! :)

    October 5, 2011
  • Merci pour ce tuto très bien fait!

    October 6, 2011
  • I love those. They are so cute. Just started working with clay, so will have to try them. Hope mine turn out half as good as yours. Thanks for the tutorial.

    October 7, 2011
    • Laura

      Hi Kay! Be careful with the clay – it is highly addictive :)
      The making of these pumpkins is really easy and fun; hope yours turn out twice as good as mine ;) Share the pics when you’re done!

      October 7, 2011
  • Hi Laura,

    I just wanted to let you know that I featured your tutorial on my site, http://www.AllFreeBeadedJewelry.com. I linked to this project:
    http://www.allfreebeadedjewelry.com/Jewelry-for-Holiday/How-to-Make-Halloween-Clay-Pumpkin-Beads

    I would like to know if I can link like this to you, including a photo, in the future. Or if you would be willing to allow me to post projects in full on the site – full credit will always be given to you, of course. Your projects have the opportunity to be featured in our newsletter as well. It would be yet another source of traffic to your blog.

    Once I have two projects on the site I can start a designer profile for you with links back to your blog, store, facebook, etc. Here is an example of one: http://www.allfreebeadedjewelry.com/Jewelry-Designers/Pearl-Blay-Jewelry-Designer

    Please let me know, I would love to work with you further.
    Thanks!
    Maggie Kmiecik

    October 7, 2011
    • Laura

      Hi Maggie, thank you for featuring my tutorial!
      I wrote you an email with answers to your questions.

      October 8, 2011
  • your projects r very very very cool n fine in looking,

    dear what is polymer clay? can i make it at home? if yes than plz tell me recipe..

    October 9, 2011
    • Laura

      Hi Atiya! Thanks for your comment!

      I don’t think you can make polymer clay at home – it’s made from PVC and liquid plasticizers. You can choose from several popular brands like Fimo, Premo, Kato, Sculpey, Cernit – ask at your local cratf/hobby shops or search online. I buy my Fimo at local office supplies store (they have a separate craft section).

      As an alternative you may try using salt/cornstarch modeling dough (I’ve never tried it myself), here are some recipes: http://www.theartfulcrafter.com/craft-ideas-nine.html
      A bit messy but looks like fun :)

      October 9, 2011
  • Love it, thanks for sharing.

    October 21, 2011
    • Laura

      Thanks :) Hope you have fun sculpting pumpkins :)

      October 24, 2011
  • It’s pretty.

    I just started the craft using polymer clay. This is a good tutorial.

    October 24, 2011
    • Laura

      Thanks, Yannie. Poly clay is so much fun! I wish you to get your tools and supplies sooner :)
      However this polymer pumpkin project is so simple, you can do it with the most simple tools you have at home while you wait for your pasta machine and accessories.

      October 24, 2011
  • This has got to be the best pumpkin polymer bead design I have seen! I must try it for next Halloween! Pearl

    July 18, 2012
  • Cute, and they could probably work for Thanksgiving too, right?

    September 28, 2012
    • Laura

      I don’t see why not :)

      September 28, 2012
  • Thank you for a wonderful tutorial. Your polymer clay pumpkins are adorable and very realistic. It is quite obvious that you’ve had a lot of experience with polymer clay and also that you’re extremely artistic. :)

    October 7, 2012
  • carrie

    You are so very generous in sharing this outstanding pumpkin tutorial. Thanks so much! Now, off to the Great Pumpkin patch. ; o ) Good luck in your future endeavors.

    February 27, 2013

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