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Bakeable modeling clay comes in many vibrant colors. Here's how to use it to make flat beads that resemble millefiori—glass beads with a flower design.
Step 1: Shape clay
Shape one shade of clay into a rectangle about 2 inches by 1 1/2 inches and 1 inches thick. Do the same with the other two colors, and set aside your three leftover lumps of clay.
Step 2: Stack rectangles
Stack the three rectangles on top of each other.
Step 3: Cut in half & stack
Cut the stack in half with your plastic knife and re-stack the two halves, one on top of the other.
Step 4: Press stack down
Press the stack down to its original size and shape.
Step 5: Cut in half again
Cut the stack in half again. Now you'll have two stacks with lots of colored layers. Set them both aside.
Step 6: Form cylinder
Pick one color of leftover clay and roll it into a ball. Then place it on your work surface and use the palm of your hand to roll it back and forth until it forms a cylinder that's about the same length and height as your stacks.
Step 7: Cut slice
Cut a long, even slice from one of your clay stacks—not like you're slicing bread, but lengthwise from end to end.
Step 8: Surround cylinder
Place this long slice on the cylinder so that it stretches from one end to the other. Cut another slice from the stack and put it right next to this one, and another next to it, until the whole cylinder is surrounded. Set your leftover stacks aside.
Make sure the colors alternate as you place the slices next to each other, so you don't have two stripes of the same color next to each other.
Step 9: Smooth cylinder
Now that the whole cylinder is covered, gently squeeze it to press the slices so that the covered cylinder becomes one smooth cane.
Step 10: Lengthen cane
Place the cane on your work surface and roll it back and forth. To make it longer, hold each end and gently pull. Roll and pull until the cane is the diameter that you want your beads to be.
Step 11: Repeat process
Take another color of leftover clay, roll it into a cylinder, cover it in slices of the leftover stacks, and roll and pull it into a cane like your first one.
Step 12: Repeat again
Take your third color of leftover clay, roll it into a cylinder, cover it in slices of the leftover stacks, and roll and pull it into a cane like your first and second one. You now have three canes with different-colored centers.
Step 13: Slice flat beads
Use your plastic knife to slice flat beads from each cylinder. Make sure they're all the same thickness.
To get the cleanest cut possible, let the canes sit for a few minutes before you slice them or put them into the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up.
Step 14: Line with paper
Line the baking sheet with the paper.
Step 15: Make holes & string
Now make holes through the sides of your flat beads so that you can string them (and their colored centers will face out). Twist the needle halfway through one side of a bead, then twist it through on the opposite side until the holes meet. Place each bead on the lined baking sheet, making sure they don't touch.
Make round spacer beads by rolling small balls of clay and piercing them with the needle. Place them on the baking sheet.
Step 16: Bake beads
Have a grown-up help you heat the oven to 275 degrees, and bake your beads for 15 minutes per quarter inch of thickness. For example, if your beads are half an inch thick, bake them for 30 minutes.
Step 17: Take out of oven
Take your beads out of the oven when they're finished and turn the oven off. Let your beads cool.
Step 18: String beads
Cut a piece of elastic, embroidery floss, or lanyard string to whatever length you want for a necklace or bracelet. String your beads in whatever pattern you like, knot the ends together, and show off your one-of-a-kind millefiori creation.
Did You Know?
Millefiori is an Italian word—'mille' means thousand, and 'fiori' means flowers.