I met Tory Hughes at a craft show in the 1980’s and have always admired her work. Tory’s book, “Polymer – The Chameleon Clay”, a wonderful resource book filled with inspiration has been in my library of craft books for several years. My intention has always been to go through the book chapter by chapter and create the faux gemstones shown. I’ve finally carved out time to do this and I’m rather excited about using these pieces in my work! There are many advantages to creating faux gemstones with polymer. Cost is one consideration as natural gemstones can be very expensive. Weight is another. Natural gemstones can be quite heavy making a piece uncomfortable to wear. Polymer is generally lighter in weight than natural gemstones and can be made to weigh even less if aluminum foil is used as the core of the stone or bead. Enlarging the bead hole of a natural stone bead requires diamond drill bits and a lot of time and effort whereas enlarging the hole of a bead made with cured polymer requires a quick pass with a standard drill bit. And lastly, it isn’t always easy to find a stone of the right shape and/or size for a project you may have in mind…I think it’s wonderful to be able to make custom beads that fit a project! The beads I have created here are ready to be baked in my craft oven. They will darken a bit with curing. After they are baked, I will sand them to smooth rough areas and to bring up a subtle sheen. Then acrylic paint will be applied to darken textures and crevices, after which they will once again be placed in the oven for a brief time to cure the paint. Finally, a quick go-over with a buffing wheel and voila! I will have a beautiful collection of natural looking amber, coral, and turquoise gemstone beads! When I have more time, I intend to make faux agate, malachite, and lapis as well. For me, forming the beads is a relaxing and meditative process that add a bit of Zen to my day. Of course, the best part of making faux gemstones from polymer clay is that it really is great fun!