how to make goulamine beads

goulamine beads are trading beads. i believe they were originally or at one time made with blown glass. they are very easy and fun to make. the beads are made by taking slices of a tube of layered clay and rolling them onto a form. from there the pattern will be stretched as these slices are molded onto your clay bead form. i will give you a step by step to show you what i mean ( i wish i had photos as that would make it very clear but hopefully you can catch the meaning).

divide your clay up about in half depending on how many colors you have. use half to make your bead forms. a sphere, or a cylinder will work. other forms like a cube or pyramid could work as well but instead of getting the distortion effect you may have to smooth the edges of your slices with a clay tool.

using a toothpick or other tool make a string hole wide enough for your string material. put these bead forms in the fridge to chill…this will allow the hole to stay intact when you roll on the slices. i believe you could make the string hole at the end as well.

using a clay extruder or your hands make some thin tubes of clay. two inches is a good manageable length. arrange these to make a thicker tube. you can do a geometric or random pattern. you can also make thin strips or a whole wrap to create a flat loop around your pattern.

make sure all the thin tubes are snug…you can even roll on a counter top to get the pattern to snug up or erase air gaps.

cut thin slices and arrange them on your bead mold. the closer together you place them, the less distortion you will acheive, the further apart, the more distortion, although the amount of distortion depends on other things too such as temperature of clay and pressure applied.

once your slices are stuck on you can roll the bead between your hands to completely smooth out the surface being careful to not mess up the bead form shape ( though i have had good luck just rolling the whole thing into a cylinder – making the string hole at the end after chopping the cylinder into multiple beads.) whatever your patience level can achieve.

i use the baking femo type clay…so you can bake them after finished though it would be fun to try some air dry clay.

thats it!


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