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Bread-Clay Beads




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.


  • Crusts from 3 slices of white bread
  • Bowl
  • Craft glue
  • Lemon juice
  • Cold cream
  • Paint
  • Drinking straw
  • Mini cutters
  • 18-gauge wire
  • Beading wire, waxed twine, or dental floss


  1. Step 1

    To make the clay, kids can remove crusts from 3 slices of white bread. Tear bread into small pieces, and place in a bowl.

  2. Step 2

    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.

  3. Step 3

    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).

  4. Step 4

    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.

Martha Stewart Kids, Volume 4 2002



Reviews (5)

  • AviMari 24 Oct, 2010

    Anyone remember the old 'Aleene's' show and her glues? Depending on which glue you use (silver bottle or gold) you get a different look (matte or satin), but I don't remember which is which. She would make flowers with this. There was no lemon in her recipe and you could mix it in a zip-lock.

  • Maeve42 4 Jul, 2010

    I was wondering about the cold cream. Why does it say to put that on your hands first?

    @abolack, I have found mini cutters all over the place, but you can try Walmart, Michael's, and I'm sure this site probably has some in their shopping section.

    I've found that a simple acrylic sealer will usually coat anything enough that mold doesn't affect it. And if it DOES get moldy, then make more, it's not like they take much effort! :)

  • abolack 4 May, 2010

    Where can I find the mini cutters used to make different shapes?

  • eggcarver 26 Feb, 2010

    If you make this a two day project you'll be ok. After holes are in and beads are dry you can spray w/poly to seal them. Krylon triple thick works well. No fear of mold.

  • ingram_rach 31 May, 2008

    How long will the beads last, won't they eventually go mouldy?