How to Make Good Dreadlock Beads

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Dreadlock Bead with Blue-gray Star SapphireThis is the regular HTML version of the online course.  If you think you will need more help than this, or also want to learn more about making beads with polymer clay, feel free to enroll at the Learning Center.

Dreadlock beads can be hard to find.  Really nice ones are really really hard to find.  So if you're a creative person looking for something more than a plain plastic or wooden bead, you might want to look into making your own.  You can make your own quite easily with wire and polymer clay.  You can also use organic clay, but the firing of course will be different.

So let's start with the basics.  A hair bead made from polymer clay should always have a wire frame.  This adds alot more durability, and will prevent breakage.  The grooves caused by the puckering of clay around the wire also help the bead to stay on.  It adds traction without snagging.  A hair bead more than 1cm long should also taper on the inside.

A micro bead for small braids should have an inner diameter of 2 to 3mm, or taper from 4 down to 2.5mm.  A pony bead should have an inner diameter of 4 to 5mm, or taper from 6 to 4mm.  A dreadlock bead should have an inner diameter of 10mm, or taper from 10 or 11mm down to 9 to 7mm.  Fatties should be even bigger.

You will need:

Wrap the wire around the pen or stick.  The closer the spiralling, the stronger your bead will be.  They should be no more than 3mm apart.
Cover the wire arond the pen securely with polymer clay.  It is important to turn the pen inside your chunk occasionally while you are working, so that the clay doesn't stick too much when you want to take it out.
If you want to put dangles of them, curve a piece of the wire frame into a loop with a hook at the end of the wire, and leave part of this loop outside of the clay.
You can also make loops along the sides by doubling back, crossing, and then continuing the spiral as many times as you like.
If you want to make a front plate for your bead, use a longer piece of wire for the frame, and when you're done spiralling, make a frame for the plate. 

Once you've formed your bead, fire it or dry and fire it according to the clay manufacturer's instructions.  Remember that if you want a layered look with polymer clay, fire your base bead for the minimum time, and let it cool completely before applying the next layer of clay.

You can form the beads in any shape you like, but remember that appendages without a wire frame will break more easily, and that thicker parts of your sculpture may not fire or cure properly.  So if you're making a fairly round design, such as a ball or a skull, use balled up aluminum foil, gravel, or more wire as a basis.

More tips on making and selling loc beads in the Patterns section.
Show your beads at the gallery!

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© 2006 Nicole Singleton Lasher