Clay Bead Bracelet Ideas
A bead that needs no introduction— clay beads, especially clay bead bracelet ideas, have been making their rounds on Pinterest, Instagram, and perhaps even your own wrists for years, but have really found their stride this summer.
Clay beads are usually made of —you guessed it— clay, and come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. In this post we are covering the most common types clay beads you’re likely to come across. We’re also sharing clay bead bracelet ideas, as well as the best clay bead bracelet supplies.
You can find all of these beads and beading supplies in The Neon Tea Party Bead Shop!
Types of Clay Beads
There are countless types of clay beads available. In this post we’re covering the four types of clay beads you’re most likely to come across:
- Polymer Clay Disc Beads
- Polymer Clay Barrel Beads
- Polymer Clay Rondelle Beads
- Polymer Clay Shaped Beads
Polymer Clay Disc Beads, also called Heishi beads, are flat thin circular beads with a small hole for stringing. They can be worked in solid blocks, color blocked, or multiple colors mixed together for a confetti effect. Disc beads are also incredibly versatile, and work really well when mixed with other beads, like glass, novelty, or even seed beads.
Polymer Clay Barrel Beads are longer circular clay beads with a small hole for stringing, almost like a clay tube. They remind us a lot of mini marshmallows for hot chocolate (but please don’t eat these). Clay barrel beads play really nicely with each other, as well as when mixed with disc beads of a similar width.
Polymer Clay Rondelle Beads are donut-like circular chunky clay beads — almost like the plumper version of a disc bead. It’s as if the beads are made out of classic candy necklaces. Like disc beads, rondelles are great on their own, or mixed with other beads, like in our layered beaded necklace tutorial.
Polymer Clay Shaped Beads are made by forming various wedges of clay into large shapes, then, through a variety of techniques, made into clay canes (think play-doh snakes) that are later sliced, where the shape is revealed. You can find shaped clay beads in nearly any shape or design you can imagine, like the mushroom beads found in our Groovy Mix, or the strawberry beads found in our Fruit Mix.
Supplies for Clay Bead Jewelry
The supplies you’ll definitely want to have on hand when making clay bead jewelry:
Other beaded jewelry supplies that are optional, but are really nice to have on hand:
- Bracelet or Necklace Bead Board
- Jewelry Glue
- Washi Tape or a binder clip
- Crimp covers and jewelry pliers
- Beading Needle
- Tape Measure or ruler
Tips for Clay Bead Jewelry
The number one tip for making clay beaded bracelets, or any other type of stretch bracelets is to pick a strong stretch string, and know how to secure it. There is no worse feeling in the world than spending hours making beaded jewelry, only to have it break on the first wear. Our favorite string for stretch jewelry that has to break on us is Stretch Magic.
We highly recommend watching the video below to learn how to make stretch bracelets that won’t break.
You can also find our step-by step guide for making stretch jewelry here.
Our second tip: keep those beads organized! When you purchase clay beads, they are typically shipped on a strand. Before cutting the string, have a plan for how to keep your beads organized (your future self will thank you!). This could mean letting the beads loose in small bags, and using a bead board when making jewelry. Another option, and our preference, is to keep all of your beads in a bead organizer box. This is a great way to see all of your beads at once, and you can even store supplies like a tape measure, folding scissors, and jewelry findings in the box along with your beads, making clean up a breeze.
Tip #3: Plan your clay bead bracelet pattern ideas before stringing them up! You can use a bead board, plate, or even just a textured surface so your beads don’t roll away. Either way, it’s a great idea to plan out your pattern before adding your beads to the string! This can ensure that you’re kicking off with the same number of beads per color if you’re going for a color block pattern, or you’re not accidentally short on the number of beads you’ll need for a necklace, etc. You can find more about clay bead pattern ideas in the below.
Some quick clay bead and beaded jewelry info to get you started:
- You’ll need ~21 disc beads | ~4 barrel beads | ~8 rondelle beads per inch.
- When making a bracelet, make sure the finished bracelet is about half an inch longer than your actual wrist measurement.
- If you’re making a bracelet for someone else, the average female wrist is 6.2 inches, and the average male wrist is 7.2 inches.
- The most common necklace length is 18 inches.
Our final clay bead jewelry tip: PLAY! As we mentioned at the top of this post, one of the best parts about working with clay beads is that they work beautifully on their own, but they also play really nicely with other beads. Try mixing your clay beads with gold beads, pearl beads, novelty beads, or any other beads you may have on hand! Clay beads are a great for exploring new styles. We recommend pulling all of your beads out, and just seeing what comes together. 💕
Clay Bead Bracelet Ideas
There is nothing more intimidating, or perhaps invigorating, than a box of beads waiting to be strung. Here are some clay bead bracelet ideas to get you started (though keep in mind these patterns can always translate to DIY beaded necklaces, and other beaded jewelry).
Clay Bead Bracelet Ideas — Solid, Stripes, or Color Block
Play with color! Create striking “stripes,” or color block clay bead designs using complimentary or contrasting colors. Better yet, mix the two!
Clay Bead Bracelet Ideas — Gradient or Ombre
When in doubt, rainbow it out. Use colors that create natural gradients for a blended effect! This technique is especially effective when using disc beads, as the small size creates a strong ombre effect.
Clay Bead Bracelet Ideas — Mix & Match
Create visual interest by mixing different bead styles. This techniques works beautifully when mixing colors, or as a monochrome piece too!
Clay Bead Bracelet Ideas — Complimentary
Make several bracelets that work well on their own, but shine best when worn as a set. To get the most out of a DIY bracelet set, try using all of the techniques listed above in complimentary colors.
Clay Bead Bracelet Ideas — Everything But the Kitchen Sink
Using all of the beads in your arsenal, work with clay beads, gold beads, seed beads, and pearl beads to elevate traditional pony beads and novelty beads.
It’s truly a bead craft world right now, and we are all in.
Did we miss a design idea? Have a question about making clay bead bracelets? Let us know in the comments below!
Be sure to tag us on Instagram @theneonteaparty in all of your projects, and pin these photos for later!
Peace, love & neon (beads),