Silicone focal beads are a popular component in handmade jewelry. Their smooth, glossy finish and ability to be colored make them an eye-catching addition to necklaces, bracelets, and more. If you’re eager to make your own silicone beads for jewelry or other crafts, the process is easy to pick up. With a few simple tools and materials, you can make custom silicone focal beads from the comfort of your own home.
- Resin pigments (for coloring)
- Silicone rubber
- Molds for silicone focal beads (or handmade molds)
- Mixing cups
- Popsicle sticks (for mixing & pouring)
- Toothpicks (for removing bubbles)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Paper towels
findings like jump rings, chain, stringing cord
Choosing a Mold
Many hobby and jewelry supply shops sell a variety of molds you can use to shape custom silicone focal beads. Molds made specifically for jewelry-making and metalsmithing, like epoxy resin and metal clay molds, work well for shaping silicone. However, you can also use upcycled and handmade molds, like stacking cups or LEGO bricks, to create unique beads. Make sure your mold is made from a non-porous material like plastic, glass, or silicone, otherwise the liquid silicone may adhere permanently to the mold instead of releasing.
Mixing Silicone and Resin Pigments
Pour out the desired amount of liquid silicone rubber into a cup. The amount will depend on your number and size of molds, but typically 6 fl. oz. is enough to fill multiple molds. Next, add pinches of resin pigment to the cup in your desired focal bead color. Only a small amount of pigment is needed for vibrant color, but you can add more gradually if you desire a darker hue. Mix the pigment thoroughly into the silicone with a popsicle stick until the color is evenly distributed and there are no streaks.
Once your silicone and pigment mixture is ready, carefully pour it into your molds. Use a toothpick to add a few drops at a time into any fine details or small crannies in the mold. Once filled, gently tap the molds on a table to remove any air bubbles. Top off any cavities if needed so the mold is completely full.
Drying and Unmolding
Leave the filled molds to cure at room temperature for 24 hours. Resist the urge to pop them out prematurely, as silicone bonds very tightly to itself and other surfaces at first. Carefully pry the cured silicone beads from the mold with your fingers once the 24 hours is up. Use a toothpick to nudge them out gently from any deep crevices. They should release from quality silicone and resin molds without issue.
If you’re using your silicone focal beads for jewelry, you can string them simply onto chain, cord, or wire as-is. For a more polished look, consider adding metal findings like jump rings, eye pins and head pins to attach your beads to chain or cord. You can also glue smaller beads and crystals into carved areas with strong epoxy. The smooth surface takes a variety of glues quite well. Get creative with your color combinations, bead shapes and textures as you craft your silicone jewelry into one-of-a-kind art pieces.
Want to take your custom silicone focal bead designs even further? You can embed other materials into them for a truly unique look. Try pressing bits of mica flakes, tiny metal charms, or small glass cabochons into the silicone before it dries. You can also mix in glitter, pigment powders or various fillers like sand or fine rocks. For an organic look, press in dried flowers or greenery. Experiment with layered colors by partially filling a mold with one pigmented layer, allowing that to cure, then adding another. The possibilities for custom silicone beads are nearly endless when you make them yourself.
Making Your Own Silicone Focal Bead Business
As you hone your skills at crafting custom silicone focal beads, consider selling them in your own jewelry and craft business. The process for making these beads is affordable, letting you profit from unique designs. Offer an array of stock color combos plus made-to-order pieces based on customer requests. Create social media content that shows off your bead designs and teaches techniques. Selling wholesale lots of unembellished beads to other crafters and designers is also a great value-add. Look for local fairs, boutiques and consignment shops that accept handmade jewelry and accessories from artisans. With quality designs and smart marketing, you can turn your new silicone bead making hobby into a thriving business.
The process of making your own silicone focal beads for jewelry and craft projects is very achievable. With a DIY approach, you can create entirely custom beads in colors and shapes that complement your personal projects. Learning how to make silicone focal beads from scratch opens up new creative possibilities and lets you take your jewelry designs in fresh new directions.