There's no finer jewelry for summer than a string of colorful beads. When you make the beads yourself, they're sure to look especially pretty. A mixture of white bread, glue, and a few drops of lemon juice makes a perfect clay that can be colored with acrylic or tempera paint mixed right in. We used mini cutters and drinking straws to cut out some beads and shaped others with our fingers. Since the beads are air-dried, not baked, there's no oven heat to contend with on hot days. String finished beads with beading wire, waxed twine, or dental floss.
To make the clay, kids can remove crusts from 3 slices of white bread. Tear bread into small pieces, and place in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of white craft glue and 3 drops of lemon juice. Mix it with your hands (apply cold cream to hands first) until it forms a workable ball. Add drops of paint to get the color you like; for multicolored beads, make batches of different colors and press gently together. For flat beads, roll or pat clay into a pancake; cut with a drinking straw or mini cutters (blow the beads out of the straw or cutter to keep from mangling them, above left). Shape spherical beads by hand. Let beads dry 1 1/2 to 2 hours, then make holes: For small holes, string beads onto 18-gauge wire, and leave them there until dry. For big holes, pierce beads with a straw. Let beads dry overnight, and then string.