Acrylic beads are a fun and versatile crafting material that can be used to make jewelry, embellish nails, and decorate a variety of projects. The process of making acrylic beads is easy enough for beginners to tackle with some simple supplies and equipment. In this tutorial, we’ll walk through the process step-by-step.
To make acrylic beads, you’ll need:
- Acrylic powder
- Acrylic liquid or acrylic resin
- Mixing containers
- Mixing tools like popsicle sticks or disposable spoons
- Beading mandrels or headpins
- Something non-stick to rest the mandrels on while drying like silicone molds or parchment paper
Optional items that are handy but not essential include disposable gloves, an apron or protective clothing, and isopropyl alcohol for cleanup.
Mixing the Acrylic
The first step is to measure out the acrylic powder and liquid in the proper ratios. For most products, you’ll want about two parts powder to one part liquid by volume. The amounts don’t need to be precise.
Pour the powder into your mixing container first. Next, add in the liquid, then use your mixing tool to incorporate the two together thoroughly. Mix just until combined and smooth with no dry lumps of powder remaining. Overmixing can cause air bubbles in your finished beads.
Applying to the Beading Mandrels
Once mixed, use the acrylic compound quickly while it’s still pliable and wet. Take each beading mandrel and dip just the tip into the acrylic mixture. Remove it, letting any excess drip back into the container, then stick the mandrel into your resting surface.
Space mandrels apart by an inch or two so the beads have room to dry without touching. Repeat dipping and placing mandrels until you’ve used up all of your mixed acrylic.
Now comes the waiting. Allow the acrylic beads to cure completely, which can take up to 24 hours. Check for dryness before moving to the next step.
Removing and Polishing
Once cured, slide each acrylic bead gently off its mandrel. Trim any excess acrylic from the holes with nail clippers or jewelry pliers if needed so there are clean openings for stringing.
For glossy smooth beads with polished edges, you can optionally tumble them briefly in a small rock or bead polisher with ceramic media. However, this step isn’t essential, especially if you aim for an organic shape.
Designing Acrylic Beads for Jewelry Making
When shaping and drying your beads, keep jewelry designs in mind. Round, oval, cube and cylinder shapes work well in most bead jewelry. Ensure holes are just wide enough to accommodate the stringing material you’ll use later.
Consider mixing acrylic powder tints to achieve different colors within each bead or across batches. Layer contrasting colors for pops of visual interest before they fully harden. Embed inclusions too like glitter flakes or miniature flowers. The options for uniqueness and creativity are endless!
How to Make Acrylic Nail Beads
Tweaking your technique slightly allows you to produce acrylic beads perfectly tailored for nail art. Follow the same mixing and application process, but remove the beads from their mandrels sooner before they become totally rigid.
The pliable beads can then be gently pressed onto the nail bed where you want them positioned. Allow them to finish curing right on the nails. Choose petite beads sized appropriately for nail dimensions and shapes. Stick with skin-toned acrylic colors or transparent beads so they blend with any manicure when dried in place.
Tips for Beginners Making Acrylic Beads
If you’re attempting acrylic beads for the very first time, keep these newbie pointers in mind:
Work in Small Batches
Avoid frustration by starting with modest batches while you get the hang of mixing and working time. Make just enough for 5-10 beads until familiar with the process. Mixing large quantities can waste materials if acrylic cures before you finish applying it.
Keep Everything Clean
Wipe up spills, drips and dust from acrylic quickly on work surfaces and tools to prevent contamination or cure inhibition later. Isopropyl alcohol works wonders for easy clean up. Store unused mixed acrylic in an airtight container and discard if it doesn’t get used up in one session.
Watch Cure Times
The curing stage takes some trial and error experience to master. If beads feel sticky/tacky, they need more drying time. If they crack and break easily off the mandrel, they cured too quickly. Adjust the formula or environmental factors like humidity and warmth accordingly.
Practice Makes Perfect Acrylic Beads
Don’t get discouraged if your initial attempts don’t turn out perfectly. Making gorgeous artistic beads takes some practice as you gain experience with the acrylic’s properties and work time. Play around with colors, shapes and decorative add-ins until you love the results. Part of the fun lies in developing your own unique bead creations.
How to Make Resin Flower Beads
For dazzling flower-infused beads, switch out regular acrylic products for specialized two-part resin formulas. Check that the resin you choose is safe for embedding plant matter inside cured plastic.
Select tiny delicate flowers with thin petals and flatten or gently pinch the stems and bases so they move easily into the resin. Place each flower facing down onto a non-stick surface, brush resin carefully over the back, then Pierce the stem area with your beading mandrel.
Slowly twist to evenly coat the flower with resin. Add more flowers and resin layers as desired before leaving to fully harden. The resulting beads showcase the flowers suspended within clear cured resin.
How to Make Resin Beads with Holes
Getting clean symmetric holes consistently through resin beads takes a little finesse. Allow the first coated mandrel to become tacky, then pierce the bead gently through the softened resin horizontally with another thin metal tool like a needle.
Slide the needle out, keeping pressure on the bead sides. Push in your second (or third, fourth etc.) mandrel through this newly created hole. Adjust alignment as needed before the resin cures solid. Repeat the process in the opposite direction for holes on the other side. You’ll need quick precision, but the results are worth the effort.
Acrylic beads offer remarkable versatility for crafting and jewelry making once you grasp the basics of the process. Experiment freely with colors, embedments, shapes and sizes to birth incredible bead design ideas. Let your imagination run wild!