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PMC Metal Clay | Hollow Beads

Updated on March 15, 2015
Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell is a freelance writer with WriterAccess, webmaster, member of Pinterest Party on FB and the owner of Lake Erie Artist Gallery.

Making Hollow Beads from Precious Metal Clay

Making hollow beads out of Precious Metal Clay is a good way to keep your pieces lighter weight, and use less PMC per piece. That means that the jewelry you end up with would be less expensive to the end user. It also allows you to make much bigger pieces that won't weigh the customer down when they are wearing your piece.

Hollow beads can be made in any shape, round, oval, square, triangular, or anything else you want. They can be plain or fancy, have decorative additions in the surface or on the outside of the bead.

This lens is going to give you step by step instructions on how to make hollow beads from Precious Metal Clay.

Just an introduction to Precious Metal Clay

Making the Mold or Placeholder Out of Cork Clay.

In order for the hollow beads to keep their shape, you need to make a placeholder for the center of the bead. A good material to use to make the placeholder is cork clay.

Here are the steps:

Making the mold or placeholder out of the cork clay.

Cork clay comes in a plastic wrapped package and is damp. It can only be formed when it is wet, so you definitely want to make sure that you keep the package tightly sealed. Once it is dry, you can no longer work with it.

Take a piece of the cork clay and mold it into the shape for the inside of your bead. You can make as many of these as you like.

Decide where you would like the hole to cut through the bead.

When you have decided where you would like the hole to be, then take a wooden toothpick or similar item, and push it through the cork clay. Leave the toothpick in the the cork clay. There should be ends of the toothpick sticking out on both sides. When you fire the bead, both the cork clay and the toothpick will burn up in the kiln.

Let the cork clay overnight. Do not put PMC over the cork clay while it is still wet.

The Art of Metal Clay (with DVD) - Techniques for Creating Jewelry and Decorative Objects

About the Author

Sherri Haab is a best-selling and award-winning author, illustrator, and product designer. Her books for children include The Incredible Clay Book and Nail Art, both with more than one million copies sold. For adults, her most recent books are The Art of Resin Jewelry, Beaded Macramé Jewelry, Designer Style Handbags, and Designer Style Jewelry. She lives in Springville, Utah.

The Art of Metal Clay (With Dvd): Techniques for Creating Jewelry and Decorative Objects
The Art of Metal Clay (With Dvd): Techniques for Creating Jewelry and Decorative Objects
Product Description Since it was first published in 2004, The Art of Metal Clay has introduced thousands of readers to metal clay—the amazing craft product that starts out as moldable, malleable clay and turns into real metal. Now it’s even easier to perform that modern alchemy, because something new has been added to The Art of Metal Clay: a great new DVD featuring author Sherri Haab. Haab’s personal appearances are popular with crafters eager for new information and ideas, and seeing her on television makes it easy to understand her metal-clay techniques. Three all-new projects are shown from start to finish, all offering an up-close view of the creative process. Everyone who loves jewelry making, metal clay and polymer clay, beading, or any kind of crafting will want this new value-added version of the metal clay classic. Also available in the UK--The Art of Metal Clay [With DVD]

Forming the Bead from the Raw PMC

Making the bead.

Now that you have the placeholder, you can form the bead around it.

Use olive oil to moisten your hands and work surface. Just use a few drops. You don't want your surface to be real slick.

Use your plastic roller to roll out your PMC to 3 or 4 cards thick.

To do this, place your clay on your work surface, then put 4 cards on each side of the clay, then place the roller with each end on a stack of cards. Roll your clay. You want it to be at least 1 card thicker than it will be when finished. Remember that it will shrink in the kiln.

You do not want to waste any of your Precious Metal Clay, so put any excess back into the ziplock bag.

You can either cut out the shape beforehand or form the clay around the cork clay and cut the shape as you go.

It is best to have a slight overlap where the two edges join together and seal the overlap with paste or slip.

If you want to press a design into the PMC, do it before you form it around the cork clay. If you want to etch a design into the PMC, wait until you have formed it around the cork clay, then do your etching.

Decorating or Embellishing Your Bead

Next add any embellishments that you want around your bead. You can add PMC paper cut outs, additional pieces of rolled out PMC, or filigree with the syringe. You can also cut out spaces in the bead to make it lighter. If you attach pieces of clay to the bead, make sure to use slip as a "glue." Pieces of PMC sheet can be attached with a very small drop of water.

Once you are satisfied with your design, let the bead dry overnight. Do not dry it with a heater because it will dry unevenly and potentially crack.

Make sure that the bead dries thoroughly.

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All-in-one resource for precious metal clay- Nearly 200 color photos- Features ten projects for rings, pendants, and more

Art Clay Silver & Gold: 18 Unique Jewelry Pieces to Make in a Day
Art Clay Silver & Gold: 18 Unique Jewelry Pieces to Make in a Day
Also available in the UK--Art Clay Silver and Gold

Green Finishing Your Dry Bead

After the bead is dry, green finish it with an emery board or light sandpaper. You may need to fill in any holes or cracks with slip.

Slip or paste is the perfect filler for cracks or holes that you do not want. You can buy slip or make it from your dry PMC dust and water. Use a small inexpensive paint brush to paint it where you want it to go.

Let it dry again, and repeat the process until you are satisfied with your work. Be patient and let it dry thoroughly or your result will be disappointing.

You can file and sand the slip once it is dry just like you would any other part of the clay.

Final Finishing of Your Bead

Firing and polishing

Fire your bead in your kiln at the proper temperature. The cork clay and toothpick will burn away. You may be left with an ashy residue. The residue will come off with a brush or soap and water.

The organic binder comes to the surface of the bead after firing. You need to clean it off. To clean your bead after firing, you can use a wire brush and polishing cloths to do it by hand, or a tumbler. Each gives you a different finish.

Once your bead is clean, you can oxidize it with liver of sulphur or bleach to change the color, or you can leave it as is. Your bead is done and ready to assemble into jewelry.

© 2009 Paula Atwell

Do You Have Any Questions? - Leave them here and I will answer them.

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    • Paula Atwell profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula Atwell 

      8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @anonymous: Melissa, beads already have holes in them, so you do not need an additional hole. You can torch fire them, but kiln firing is much better.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am very new to metal clay. I would like to make a hollow bead and add a bale to attach. Do I need to have an air hole to vent while firing or can I leave it closed? Also, can a bead such as this be torch fired or will I need a kiln?

    • jenniferteacher1 profile image


      8 years ago

      What beautiful beads! Very inspiring!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      It is so great to see person who know a lot about this theme with love

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 

      11 years ago

      Very beautiful. I love the spiral bead and the birdhouse! 5*

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      11 years ago

      How very detailed and delicate these look, Very beautiful jewelry. I really likedit. Great lens. You are very talented.

    • Mortira profile image


      11 years ago

      Great tips and lovely beads! I would love to see some of your lenses in the Beads and Jewels group! (Check out my profile for a link!)

      5 stars and a 'roll!


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