Work on the unfinished Troll Screamers shown above as well as several NEW Troll Screamers will resume soon. I have several body parts ready to go for the new creations.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Here is a simple way to make custom shaped pulp beads with ready made holes in them. It is not a fast method bearing in mind drying times for pulp of course but that is part of the deal with pulps. By using a plaster base (slab of plaster) you can create any number of custom shaped beads.


To start i have already sunk some rubber balls into plaster then allowed these to dry. I used 2 sizes for some veriaty here.

As you can see i have ONLY sunk the rubber balls half way down into the wet plaster.

I would normally make my own box to contain the plaster here, but a shortage of carboard card stock in this case means i used a thick foil baking tray instead. They can be purchased quite cheaply in packets of two or more. When you remove these BE CAREFUL they can be quite thick & WILL cut deeply if you slip up. You WILL need to remove these i will explain why shortly.

Make sure the plaster is dried ALL the way through to the bottom before you carry on. Glass or rubber balls by nature WILL 'pop free' of the plaster very easily. Simply push them out with your thumb.


18 perfect mixed sized half spheres.

Now using a flat electrical sander sand the surface level. If you do not have an electrical sander then a large wooden block with sand paper wrapped around it will do nicely. Even sculpting plaster will sand down relatively easily since you only require the surface smoothed out it should not take long.

ALWAYS USE A DUST MASK & GOGGLES. If like me you wear glasses then they will give 'some' protection, the correct protective goggles ARE reccomended however.

If you have one then have a fan blowing the dust AWAY from you too. A small desk top fan is all you require to help keep the fine plaster dust away from you if you do not have the sufficient face protection. As you can see from the angle of the fine plaster dust here try to have the dust going into a corner or off away from you generally if working with an open bench etc.

Work left to right or in circular motions, but KEEP the pressure 'even' all the time. All you are trying to do here is make ALL the half spheres the same even depth.

Plaster tends to NOT absorb spray paint evenly. Since i want to seal these molds with high gloss silver spray (colours optional at all time here) I am going to have to give the plaster something to soak up to reduce the soaking up of the gloss spray. Here i am using a simple water based paint (pre-mixed) mixed with undilluted PVA glue. I am going to spray these molds with a final coating of high gloss metalic spray for several reasons. They mainly being: the plaster mold will last longer by not soaking up the water from the constant use of wet pulp & it will also soak up less (no) releasing agent extending the life of the mold & making releasing the dried pulp beads much easier.

A single coat is sufficiant, give it two if you like. Just make sure you cover the 'whole' surface.

Leave this to FULLY DRY.


Again start with a slab of plaster. This time without the rubber or glass balls added to it.

As before remove the foil casing. Also make sure it is FULLY dried out.

You CAN use absolutely 'anything' you wish to cut YOUR custom bead shapes out of the plaster as long as it is metal or very tough plastic & relatively thin/sharp edged plastic forms. The plaster (if you used basic builders dry wall 'finishing' plaster as i did) will be soft enough so you can easily carve out some great shapes.

Here how ever I am using some shaped grinding tools that slot into any standard electrical hand drill. They come in all sorts of shapes & sizes. You can use them each as they come or you can combine them for new shapes. The possibilities for great & 'original' custom bead shapes is endless here.

When using an electrical drill start slowly to guage how the drill is going to cope/cut through the plaster. The drill WILL have NO trouble of course BUT you do not want to go blasting through the other side now do you. Notice the plaster dust ON the grinding tool too. This will be an excellent marker when guaging the depth of the other beads your going to cut with each new shaped grindling tool.

Now as with method 1 give the plaster mold an undercoating of paint.


On the 'underside' of BOTH my plaster molds i sank 4 paper legs. These were simply 80gsm white A4 printer paper 'pegs' i glued up.

I also drilled out 1/2mm holes in the base of each half sphere base all the way out the bottom of the plaster slab. This is why i said to remove the boxing or foil baking tray earlier. I then sprayed the whole surface of BOTH molds with high gloss silver metalic spray paint.

These are NOW ready for adding my pulp to make my custom beads. I want to ensure how ever that my holes i made stay there when i pop the dried pulp bead halves out. I also need to carry this hole ALL the way through my newly formed beads too!.

To make sure the hole goes all the way through my newly formed beads i simply insert a pre-measured & cut length of wooden skewer into the hole in the base of my half spheres.

The pulp WILL of course fix itself to the wooden skewer making removal quite impossible or at least relatively difficult. SO, cover the piece of wooden skewer with a piece of thin foil. When the pulp is dry the wooden skewer will easily slide out of the foil wrapping you gave it. Any foil that is extruding from the pulp when you remove it from the plaster mold can easily be pulled off by hand or cut off afterwards.

Before or after inserting your cut wooden skewer pieces give the mold(s) a coating of wax as a releasing agent. Whilst using a simple paper pulp mixed with PVA (latex based) glue & a simple bees wax floor wax that the wax dries to a fine dusty coating that is mostly absorbed into the paper or pulp. Any residue can be easily wiped off using a dry cloth but i found i can easily paint or continue to glue over this coating as it absorbs any new glue or paint & shows no sign of flaking later on. YOU can use any releasing agent you wish how ever.

Now take small managable amounts of pulp at a time.

Then really 'force' in the pulp into the mold to ensure you get a nice smooth bead half when dry. If you like me still tend to mess this stage up a little (having gaps in the finished pulp surface) try adding a single or double layer of fine paper (telephone book paper) to the mold BEFORE adding the pulp. Also try to keep the wooden skewer as straight as possible so when you join the two halves of a bead together later the holes line up enough to allow your wire or cord(s) to pass through easily.

Now using a pallete knife or anything thin, metal & smooth (here i am using a thin paint/paper scraper) smooth out the top surface of the pulp. The more you level out this surface NOW the less sanding you need do later when joining the bead halves together.

If the pallete knife etc begins to stick to the pulp dip it in water or better still some watery glue mix. Water WILL work fine to stop the pallete knife from sticking to the pulp but will also water down the glue in the surface of the pulp & potentially weaken it when it dries out if you need to dip it a lot. Dipping the pallete knife in a watery glue mix WILL ensure the surface of the pulp remains strong when it is dry & you come to sand it down if required.

Finally leave the pulp filled mold(s) to dry, air or radiator. When FULLY dry remove your bead halves. Pull out the wooden skewers trimming off any extruding foil as mentioned earlier. Sand down the flat side of the bead half again if required. Now glue two halves together making sure to line up the holes that run right through them. Paint & seal as you normally would.

Voila' custom made beads by your own hands with ready made holes right through them. Neat, clean & no tricky drilling of the holes later especially with any thinner more complex shaped beads you may dare to make.


  1. I am so excited about this process. I have for quite some time been looking for a "new" beading source. Something differnet, unusual and this opens up all sorts of possibilities. Thanks so much, Happy Holidays, Linda in New Mexico

  2. Hi there sorry i did not spot this comment sooner been busy lol. It's one of many ways to do it. I have some other methods i want to explore. To show more than do myself. When i will get to these other ways i can not say right now. Cetainly not before the end of the Christmas holiday for sure. Glad you liked it & i hope it helps open new ideas for you.

    Have a good holiday.

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