Making Big Beads with Maia

Maia and I made a batch of Easy Big Beads last week from MaryAnn Kohl's First Art. First we made the self-hardening playclay with flour, salt, water, and cornstarch and shaped the beads. Maia rolled a few into snakes, but the dough was a little crumbly and hard to work with, so I ended up shaping most of the beads while she poked the holes with a bamboo skewer.

They took a few days to dry completely, then Maia painted them (she loved this part).

She started out with tempera paint (which the instructions call for), but also tried some watercolors that we already had mixed up with water.

After the paint dried, Maia helped string the beads. She wanted a necklace so we just used some wool yarn–not sure what else would work well for a necklace. Any ideas? The instructions call for thin plastic lacing or tubing but we didn't have any and I'm not sure where to get something like that.

She loved her necklace (she picked the watercolor-painted beads), but the beads didn't last long. Within a few hours of wearing it (and taking it off periodically to swing around or bang against the walls), each bead broke.

I think I'll let her string the rest of the beads onto a pipecleaner (easier for her to do herself) and then hang them up in her room to avoid breakage.

Although I imagine she'll want to play with them…


  • Reply
    May 7, 2008 at 5:28 am

    i love making play beads with my 2 girls!!! they are alot funner to paint and make then just buying already painted up ones!!!
    we might just make up a batch today!!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2008 at 7:50 am

    I’ve never made beads. It’s one of those intimidating things, for me, but this post may have nipped that!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2008 at 10:39 am

    so cute; I’ll have to try this with my daughter; she’d love it. thanks!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Ball chain would work great for all kinds of beads.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    These are too cute! We’ll have to try them. Maybe try using very thin ribbon? The satin kind?

  • Reply
    May 7, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    With beads that big you could thread them on a bandanna. I’ve seen that before with big wooden beads.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 7, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    What’s ball chain? I’m a little clueless here…
    Shan – What kind of beads do you make? I’m just wondering if you have a favorite recipe.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I always prefer to thread beads onto thin elastic for kids on the off chance that they get them caught on something and need a bit of stretch for safety!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Ball chain is like the metal chain on a ceiling fan (it IS the chain on a ceiling fan, but now craft shops sell it cut into convenient necklace lengths). It lasts for ages.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2008 at 4:50 am

    I have never made our own beads with the kids. I love this idea!
    BTW – I have a free e-book to download on my my site that you might be interested in called Planning With Kids Top 100 Tips.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 10, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Thanks for all the ideas!!

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