Maybe you’ve thought about buying the Amaco Tri-Bead Roller. Then again, maybe like me you have one gathering dust on a shelf.
It’s a nifty tool for making beads of uniform size. It has three channels for round, oval, and bicone beads. The reason these things gather dust on a shelf is that it’s tricky to measure clay so you get consistently good results.
Well, I recently decided to make peace with my bead roller. That meant spending time figuring out just how much clay to use. It involved quite a bit of trial and error. What works for me is to sheet clay on the #2 setting (next to thickest) on my Makins clay machine, then cutting out pieces with a 5/8″ square cutter.
Then I roll each piece into a ball, place it in the bead roller channel, put the top on the bead roller, and glide it back and forth five or six times.
As you experiment with various thicknesses of clay and/or various cutters, you’ll find that using too much clay will result in a bead that looks chewed, and too little will produce flat spots on the bead.
If you don’t have a pasta machine, use craft stick guides to roll a uniformly thick sheet of polymer clay.