Natasha Beads and Bargello Technique
Often through the process of creating beautiful polymer clay art, you end up with bits and pieces of leftover clay. Give that scrap clay a second chance at life! In this article I will show you how to create a Natasha Bead with that polymer clay scrap. I will also show you how to create a beautiful Bargello pattern pendant with your leftover polymer clay scrap.
Some of my favorite pendants were created with leftover clay. So whatever you do, don’t throw away that polymer clay scrap before reading this article.
What the heck is a Natasha Bead?
Natasha beads are a super fun and easy way to use up your polymer clay scrap. There is no rule that says you need to use only your scrap clay for a Natasha bead. You could definitely also use new clay as well. But I have noticed using crap from skinner blend canes, jelly roll, or bullseye canes work best because they offer some detail. If you don’t know how to make a polymer clay skinner blend you could check out my tutorial “Polymer clay three part skinner blend“. For this tutorial I’ll be using polymer clay scrap from a flower cane I made recently.
You don’t need much for this project. You simply need some polymer clay and a clay cutter. Easy right! The first step is to roll the scrap clay into a ball. For this project I used half of the scrap pictured above.
Tip: To avoid air pockets in your piece be sure to really compact the clay.
After balling up your clay, roll the clay out into a tube/cylinder.
Once you have a few inches rolled into a tube start twisting the clay one or two turns. Once you have twisted the clay, continue to roll it into a tube. Repeat the twisting process. I like to only repeat the process one time. I find when I twist it too much the pattern in the end result is too fine/busy. Once you do it a couple of times you will get a feel for how you like it as well. Be careful to not over twist or you will possibly break the piece in two.
Now the clay is twisted. You want to compact/condense the clay from end to end. I just start at one end and slowly compact it to the other end. It will end up with a lumpy look. When this happens just roll the clay out to smooth it.
Once you roll it to smooth it out, the next step is to create a square shape or rectangle shape. I use craft sticks to create nice crisp edges.
Use the clay cutter to make a fine mark in the clay down the center. This will help you be sure to have an even slice. When I don’t do this I tend to cut one side thicker than the other.
Slice the clay right down the center where it was marked.
Now you have two slices of clay that are a mirror image of each other. Place the pieces side by side and pair up the corners. It can take a little adjusting but be sure to have them paired as closely as possible.
There you have a Polymer clay Natasha Bead!
What do I do with my Natasha Bead now?
My favorite thing to do with Natasha Beads are create pendants with them. One way is to use a clay cutter to cut out the shape, bake it, and finish it off with UV resin.
Examples of Natasha beads I have created
Another favorite of mine!
Another really awesome use for scrap polymer clay is known as the Bargello pattern technique. I enjoy making these so much because of the Southwest pattern they create. I’m a huge fan of the Southwest. The Bargello pattern is by no means exclusive to polymer clay. You may have seen the pattern in quilting.
Let’s see how to create this very cool pattern.
I’m going to be using scrap clay from two different canes I made. I’m going to use five half ounce balls of clay. Three from one project and two from another project. I will first ball up 5 separate sections.
Role each ball of clay into a tube. Then alternate the colors and lay them side by side. I snip the end off just to keep them uniform. It will make it easier to do the next step with a nice clean edge.
Use the roller to flatten the clay enough to be able to put it through the pasta machine. Run them through the pasta machine on the thickest setting. If you started out with half ounce balls of clay, you will be left with a rather long strip of clay. You can cut it to the desired length.
Use your cutting blade and slice the clay to about a quarter inch width. The width you choose is optional of course. I Lay that slice of clay on a piece of parchment or waxed paper. The reason I do that is so it’s easy to maneuver once I’m done with the slicing process of the project.
Continue slicing pieces and laying them consecutively. As you place them lay them in an offset pattern. This is what will create the Bargello pattern in the clay. You pattern will depend completely on how you place the clay.
Continue this sequence until your clay has all been used.
What should I do with it now?
Once I have my pattern complete, I use a clay cutter to create different shapes for my pendants. If you haven’t seen my post on How to create a polymer clay pendant in 6 easy steps, feel free to go check it out.
Here is a shortened version of how I create my pendants.
Place cling wrap over the clay. Lay cutter over cling wrap. This will help create a nice rounded edge on your pendant.
Finish the pendant off with some resin and a nice ribbon necklace and you have a beautiful piece of jewelry to wear.
Begallo pattern keychains
In conclusion, now I have shown you two techniques to use up your polymer clay scrap. No need to throw it away. These and other techniques can be used to create some beautiful artwork and jewelry. I hope you enjoyed learning how to create the Bargello pattern and Natasha Beads.
If you have any questions or if there is a polymer clay topic you would like me to write about, let me know in the comments below. Also, feel free to follow me on Instagram where you will see some of the projects I have created using these methods and others.
When you work with the clay for a while creating that masterpiece, the clay can get very soft. When this happens, you can put the clay in the refrigerator or freezer for a short time and firm it up again. Rendering it easier to slice.