How to Make Handmade Beads Out of Clay, Paper, Plastic, and Glass: Supplies, Techniques, Tutorials, and More!

01 Nov.,2022


bead making machine

How to Make Handmade Beads Out of Clay, Paper, Plastic, and Glass: Supplies, Techniques, Tutorials, and More!

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Even though I don't make a lot of beads, I love to use handmade beads in my creations. The round blue spotted beads are from Jen of blueseraphim on Etsy.

Copyright 2012, Rose Clearfield

DIY Crafts: How to Make Beads at Home

There is a wide range of materials and techniques out there for creating beads with everything from rolling paper to firing glass with a torch. I have covered basic information, supplies, tutorials, and other resources for the following types of beads:

  • Paper
  • Polymer clay
  • Plastic
  • Ceramic
  • Beaded
  • Fused glass
  • Lampwork glass

This is by no means a comprehensive guide for any particular type of bead-making. Instead, I have provided an overview with enough resources to get up and running with the technique(s) that you choose. Specific tutorials may have slightly different and/or additional supplies. Happy creating!

Please note that all photos and tutorials are copyrighted. Tutorials are for personal use only unless indicated otherwise. If you're interested in selling your creations, please contact the tutorial authors directly. Thanks!

These paper beads are made from origami paper.

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Paper Beads

Paper beads are one of the easiest and cheapest kind of beads to make, which is why I'm starting with them. You most likely already have all of the supplies that you need on hand with the possible exception of glue. If you do need to purchase glue, a single bottle will be enough to create lots and lots of beads. It does take time and patience to roll beads tightly, but there isn't anything tricky about the process. Have fun experimenting with different lengths, widths, and shapes. If you want to switch up this technique, try using fabric instead of paper.


  • Paper: There are endless possibilities for paper. Anything that is thin enough to roll easily and will look good rolled up will work. Consider magazines, old books, old posters, wrapping paper, and scrapbook paper.
  • Toothpicks: Toothpicks are an easy, inexpensive option for threading your beads while they dry. Other thin wooden or metal sticks work well, too.
  • Large piece of Styrofoam for drying your beads.
  • Pen/pencil and ruler or triangle template for creating/tracing your beads. If you are planning to create large quantities of beads, it's worth finding or developing a template.
  • Liquid paper glue such as Mod Podge.
  • Crystal-clear glossy enamel: To give your beads longevity, it's important to spray them when they're finished. Fingernail polish or other non-aerosol resins work well, too.

Copper Wire Wrapped Paper Bead Tutorial

  • Paper and Wire Wrapped Bead Tutorial
    This is another great wire wrapping tutorial to use with paper beads.

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Polymer Clay Beads

Polymer clay is readily available in a wide variety of colors in most craft stores. The most popular brands include Fimo, Sculpey, and Kato Polyclay. Many people prefer Fimo, as it is firmer than Sculpey, but all of these brands will produce high-quality beads. Polymer clay bead designs can be as simple or as complex as you like. It is easy to get started with basic techniques and build up your skills from there.


  • Polymer clay
  • A bead rack: You can purchase a bead baking rack, but any heat-safe ceramic bowl will work.
  • Wires: Copper wire, knitting needles, toothpicks, and bamboo skewers all work well. It's best to use a wire or rod with a sharp point. Coat wire with cornstarch before putting your bead on to reduce sticking.
  • Rolling pin or any round object
  • Some tutorials will require specialty supplies such as powered color pigments, alcohol ink, and more. As you develop your skills, you may want to use such inks and pigments to embellish and finish your beads.
  • Jewelry-making supplies: If you are designing beads to make your own jewelry and do not already have jewelry supplies, this will be a necessary addition to your craft supplies at some point.
  • Oven: Any standard oven will work just fine for baking your beads.

Tutorials and Resources

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Plastic Beads

Two of the most popular plastics for creating beads are bottles and grocery bags. If you use plastic bottles, you will have to heat the plastic in order to mold it. Some tutorials have you heat it in the oven, while others recommend using a heat gun.


  • Plastic bottles or plastic grocery bags: Smaller bottles that are made out of smooth, thin plastic will most likely be the easiest to cut.
  • Heat source: As mentioned above, most plastic bottle tutorials involve an oven or a heat gun.
  • Baking sheet and aluminum foil (for baking tutorials)
  • An older pair of scissors
  • Permanent markers: Decorate your plastic with a medium that will not wear off or smudge.
  • Mod Podge and straws or toothpicks: If you will be making plastic bag beads, Mod Podge is a great glue medium. Depending on your desired bead width, straws or toothpicks may be good options for wrapping your beads.

Tutorials and Resources

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Ceramic Beads

The ceramic beads terminology refers to all fired clay products. The most common types of materials for making ceramic beads are earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Making ceramic beads requires the following processes: piercing, staining, glazing, and firing. As the process for making any ceramic bead includes kiln firing, I recommend taking a class or finding a friend with a kiln to practice the technique before buying expensive equipment. Additionally, many studios and individual kiln owners will rent out their kiln space. If you do not want the expense and/or do not have the space required for a personal kiln, this option will still allow you to create ceramic beads at home.


In addition to the kiln, ceramic bead supplies include clay, dowels, shaping tools, glazes, and other decorating materials.

Tutorials and Resources

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Beaded Beads

If you do not have any experience with seed beads and/or bead weaving, this may seem like an overwhelming technique. While I would not recommend choosing beaded beads as a first seed bead project, there are some simple beads that you can learn to make after a few bead weaving projects. If you are already experienced with bead weaving, I highly encourage you to consider include your own beaded beads in your projects. There are so many possibilities for them. Check out the original article for additional patterns and inspiration.


Typically all you need to create beaded beads is thread, seed beads, and one or two beading needles. Most patterns include clear specifications for the required seed beads. Many beading books give recommendations for thread and needles.

Tutorials and Resources

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Fused Glass Beads

The term fused glass describes glass that has been fired or heat-processed in a kiln anywhere from 593°C (1,099°F) to 816°C (1,501°F). Yep, this is another bead-making technique that requires the use of a kiln.

The three temperature ranges within this process are slumping, which occurs at the lower-range temperatures of 593–677°C (1099–1251°F); tack fusing, which occurs from 677 to 732°C (1251–1350°F); and full fuse, which occurs from 732 to 816°C (1350–1501°F). You can apply any and all of these techniques to a single piece to add relief, depth, and shape. To learn about the techniques required for fusing glass, including stacking, ramping, and soaking, check out this article.


  • Fusing glass
  • Fiber paper
  • Glass cutter
  • Prepared kiln shelf
  • Glass-fusing kiln

Glass Fusing Tutorial

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Lampwork Glass Beads

The process of lampworking beads consists of melting glass around a metal rod or mandrel by applying a direct flame with a temperature of approximately 800 degrees. There are a wide variety of beads shapes and sizes that you can make as well as textural elements, such as dots and swirls, that you can add to your designs. Additionally, you can create pieces with multiple colors of glass.

Lampwork glass bead making can be one of the most expensive bead techniques here because it involves a torch that must be used in a well-ventilated area. This often involves renovating, renting, building, or purchasing a dedicated studio space. This process also requires the use of a kiln. While the shaping work is done with a torch, the annealing process is still completed in a kiln.


  • Glass rods
  • Bead release and bead reamer
  • Mandrel (available in varying widths)
  • Torch with glass-appropriate head
  • Lighter for the torch
  • Bead rake
  • Marver
  • Bead shaping tools, including tweezers, pliers, knives, and graphite paddles
  • Fiber blanket and bowl of water (in case of emergencies)

© 2012 Rose Clearfield

Linchen on June 19, 2018:

Creativity . Nice beads.

Monisha Jayesh from Kerala on June 01, 2016:

I liked making beaded beads and ceramic clay beads the most!!

Wondering how you learnt such a lot!!

Jacobb9205 on February 10, 2015:


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 10, 2012:

That's a great tip, ThePelton! Thanks!

ThePelton from Martinsburg, WV USA on July 10, 2012:

You can also create small beads from wood using a hole saw and a drill press, available from a wood tool store. They will make a bead that is 1/8 of an inch (3mm) smaller than the width shown on the hole saw.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 16, 2012:

Thanks so much Eileen! Have fun creating your beads. :)

Eileen Goodall from Buckinghamshire, England on April 16, 2012:

What a stunning hub - so very, very clever and I just love everything (can you tell?) you certainly live up to your name - I have to find some time to try out all of these and I know my daughter would love the beaded beads bracelet.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks so much truthfornow! I'm sure that there are even more methods out there, but these are some of the most popular ones. You're right about the glass beads.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks Sarah! You'll have lots of ideas now. :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks creativelycc! I was familiar with most of these methods before I started my research but I didn't know that you could make beads out of plastic bottles. You learn something every day.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

You're welcome Rebecca! Definitely not.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks Pamela! It is amazing how many different types of jewelry people can make with these beads.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

You're welcome Daisy! I've been making jewelry for years, too, and honestly have only ever made my own beads a few times. Maybe all of my research will inspire me to do it more often.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on April 14, 2012:

Very nice hub, well researched and full of colorful and inspiring fun kinds of beads. Had no idea there were so many different kinds. Those glass beads are so pretty. Voted up.

S Davies on April 14, 2012:

What a cheerful. fun and inspiring hub! I'd never even thought about making my own beads, but these are just so lovely! Voted up, beautiful, useful and shared! - Sarah

Carrie L Cronkite from Maine on April 14, 2012:

Very nice, I didn't realize that there are so many different types of beads and ones that could be easily made at home. This is wonderful, great hub!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on April 14, 2012:

Thanks for this great collection of beading ideas. No bored kids THIS summer!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 14, 2012:

This is a craters dream! Your hub is amazing using all those different types of materials to make such attractive jewelry. Up, awesome and beautiful!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on April 14, 2012:


Thanks for publishing this very comprehensive article regarding the types of beads one can make.

I've been creating jewelry items for a number of years, but I've only made polymer clay beads.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks RTalloni! That impulse to find a bead project is a good sign! Have fun with any future projects. :)

RTalloni on April 14, 2012:

Enjoyed seeing the variety of ways to make beads that you have highlighted here. Thanks for the links and videos to refer to. Makes me want to stop everything and create a project that "needs" beads. :) Hope to make good use of this resource in the future. Up, of course.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks Deb! It was a lot of work, but hopefully it will be worth it. You're welcome! Your pictures are great.

storybeader on April 14, 2012:

what a great post! I can tell a lot of work went into this - good for you! Thanks for using my pics for your explanations of paper beads - I'm glad I could help. {:-D

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks so much Stephanie!

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on April 14, 2012:

This is a great and useful hub. The layout is beautiful and easy to follow. Thanks for offering such great projects for making beads. I will try my hand at this one day. Thanks for sharing.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:

Thanks Kris! That's awesome that you've had fun making paper beads. Sometimes the simple processes are just as satisfying as the more complex ones.

Thanks for sharing this hub!

Kris Heeter from Indiana on April 14, 2012:

What a wonderful and very thorough hub! I learned how to make paper beads last summer and had a blast doing it. I'm not the most creative person so it was something easy and straightforward - and I had fun sharing it with my nieces. And I'm in awe of the other styles of bead making you've shared here.

I'm glad someone posted this on Hub Hoppers or I would have missed it...and I'll share with my followers:)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 13, 2012:

Marlene, that's awesome!

Ebower, thanks! The detail that goes into a lot of lampwork glass beads is amazing.

Thanks Brittany! That's great. Have so much fun creating. :)

Brittany Kennedy from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on April 13, 2012:

This is such an amazing hub! I have had the tab open for three days waiting until I had time to comment (and I will probably keep it open for the rest of the month so I can make some of these beads!). I can't wait to start creating with the help of the videos, links and supply lists you've included in this hub! Excellent job! I will definitely vote up, share and click on the feedback. Great work!

Erin Bower from Georgia on April 13, 2012:

I love all the various types of beads, but I haven't seen the unique-looking lampwork glass beads before. This is a terrific hub; I voted it up and useful. :)

Marlene Bertrand from USA on April 13, 2012:

Excellent! I am so happy I ran across this hub. A friend of mine gave me a bracelet made with paper beads. It is so beautiful and I could not figure out how paper could be made into beads. Now that I know, the bracelet is even more valuable to me. Thank you for such thorough information on all of the different techniques for making beads.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 13, 2012:

Thanks agusfanani!

Cyndi, thanks! I can spend hours in a bead store, too. I'm sure that's a big surprise. :)

Thanks Linda!!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on April 13, 2012:

Fantastic ideas and your directions are so easy to follow. The photos, tutorials, the entire hub is rock star status!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on April 13, 2012:

I love the colors, beads and all the ideas in this hub! I can spend hours at the bead store. :)Votes and more!

agusfanani from Indonesia on April 12, 2012:

This is an awesome, inspiring hub. I like it very much.Vote up !

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 12, 2012:

Thanks cloverleaf! I didn't know much about making beads out of plastic bottles, but it seems like it's a pretty popular technique. Enjoy the videos here!

Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on April 12, 2012:

Great hub. I love polymer clay. I have used that for years. I never realized you could make beads from plastic bottles. I have bookmarked this so I can come back and watch all the videos.

Voted up, useful and awesome!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 11, 2012:

Thanks so much Jenna! I'm so glad that this was inspirational.

Jenna Pope from Southern California on April 11, 2012:

I would vote this "up" a hundred times if they'd let me! I had no idea that you could make your own beads. This was really inspirational.