This artist has some really nice beads with both fun and mystical themes. Check out her Etsy shop!
Nicole Lasher makes dreadlock beads, amulets, and other accessories from polymer clay and other materials. Click here to visit her store, Sheloya Mystical.
Sometimes you may have old bits of polymer clay that get dried out and crumbly. It’s easy to refresh them with a bit of baby oil or plain mineral oil, which you can get at the pharmacy. Use a drop for every square inch or so for very dry polymer clay, and maybe a light smear if you only have a square centimeter.
There’s a really good page with photos where and artist has tested various methods for softening hardened, crumbly polymer clay. Some of the samples are 24 years old. Visit Garie’s Shop. Not only do they test various oils, but the official liquids and mold maker/conditioners as well.
If you live in an area with lots of trees, or you have free cats, you need to be aware of the possibility of bird mites. Unlike with head lice, you may be able to save your locks, but only if you treat the problem immediately, or do preventive care.
If you have birds or cats who are mousers or bird hunters, then you must use a hair oil or leave-in conditioner containing ti tree (tea tree) oil and eucalyptus. If you don’t use shampoos or hair oils, then put a few drops of these in some water, shake it up, and spray it or pour it into your hair, and squeeze through. Many people with dreadlocks use conditioner to wash their hair. Use the same proportions as you would with shampoo: 1 teaspoon ti tree oil + 1/4 teaspoon eucalyptus oil per 250 ml. of shampoo, baby oil (petroleum based, or 50:50 with olive oil), or conditioner.
This should be used weekly. Incidentally, the ti tree oil will also help to prevent ringworm (tinea fungus).
Be sure to shower at least once a day, and wash your dreads thoroughly from roots to ends once a week. On the day you wash your dreads, spread some of the oil over your body, while you’re at it. It’ll make you an unappetizing host.
Keep your house clean. Especially in the spring and summer, you want to make sure that there isn’t too much dust around for any kind of mites to live in. In humid areas, both bird mites and harvest mites are plentiful. Even cats who don’t like to chase mice or birds love to hide in the brush. So they will track mites in and out of your house. If there is very little dust, then this will at least keep their population down.
Wet dusting the furniture is best. Use a 20-30% vinegar and water solution on non porous surfaces, and a citrus infused oil on wood surfaces. Vacuum the rugs, carpets, and upholstered furniture, and mattresses.
So long as you’re not infested, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming and dusting can be done once a week. If you do get infested, it needs to be done every 24-48 hours.
Keep the cats outside or inside. No going in and out. If you have cats who are inclined to stay indoors, don’t let them out. This can be difficult if you don’t have air conditioning, and like to keep windows open. Buy some plastic net fencing or rig some chicken fence over the windows to keep indoor cats in, and outdoor cats out.
If the outdoor cats like being brushed, wear a plastic raincoat with a hood or shower cap, and rubber gloves when you do it.
Also, do not use ti tree oil on cats. It is very toxic to them. Make sure to wash any oil off your hands with soap and warm water before handling cats. Even a little bit can hurt them.
If You Get Infested
Just understand that you may have to cut off your locks or shorten them so that they don’t touch your shoulders. Bird mites usually don’t go for the hair, but lice do. You don’t really know which you have until you go to the doctor, so go to the doctor. It’ll be obvious if you have lice, scabies, or fleas, but if you have bird mites or harvest mites, they will be microscopic. The doctor might not know why you have a rash.
Ask him for Eurax or another crotamiton 10% cream anyway. Use it as directed. In between coatings though, you will need to make and use a ti tree and eucalyptus lotion. It should be the same proportions as the shampoo and conditioner.
To save your hair, wash it every other day for 2 weeks using the ti tree shampoo and oiling it after. Blowdry it as best as you can. Then tie your hair up away from your body. Mites, as opposed to lice, usually don’t like hair that has petroleum based oils in it, but they might hide there as a last resort if you let your hair hang. You can, if you like, use a cotton headwrap. It’s better to let your hair get some sun though.
Wash your clothes, bedding, and pillows in hot water (60 degrees Celsius). Once it’s all over, you might want to get new pillows, and cover them with a plastic cover.
Under your arms, use an extra strength antiperspirant with aluminum zirconium or hydrochloride. You may want to put some in the creases of your arms, under your breasts, and behind your knees as well. If you’d rather not, the mineral deodorant works pretty well.
Even after mites are dead, you may still have an allergic reaction to their saliva. If you are still itching like crazy after 5 days of treatment and keeping things clean, take an antihistamine and use hydrocortisone cream. Tiger balm and other rubs also help to keep the itching down.
If after all this, you are still getting new breakouts on your back and shoulders, it’s time to get out the scissors or lighter, depending on your beliefs. Try cutting your hair to the point that it’s above your shoulders. If that doesn’t help after another 5 days of treatment, loosen the locs or cut them off.
Hopefully, it won’t come to that.
Polymer clay is a wonderful medium for making dreadlock beads. There are a few things you need to know before you try to do it though.
Some do it wrong, and end up with beads that break under pressure or get messed up. It’s a shame to put a lot of work into making a very detailed piece only to have it fall apart. So here, I’m going to show you the technique that I use, and give some tips on making beads that will last through a few accidental shampoos, hot weather, and festivals.
First of all, use quality polymer clay. It doesn’t matter which brand you use so long as it hasn’t been sitting on the shelf for ten years with tears in the packet.
Second, use the glaze or lacquer that’s made specifically for polymer clay. Other lacquers will take literally months to dry. Don’t overdo it though. Put a thin but even coat over everything except whatever stones you might put on it. You want to make sure it’s nicely covered and sealed. Even better, use the sort of glaze that can be baked on. It’s much more durable and resistant to the oils in your hair then.
Now, any good dreadlock bead begins with a wire or tube frame. I prefer a wire frame, but I can see how some prefer a tube. If you do use a tube, try to crimp it a little at one end so it’ll have a little traction on the inside, and stay on the lock. The reason I like a wire frame is that it can be customized more easily.
At that point, you can make whatever additions or modifications you like. There are many options. In the Dew Leaf bead in this post’s photo, I made the leaf from polymer clay, and added little glass “beedz” for the resin-I-mean dew drops. Heheheh.
Once you’ve constructed the bead, glaze and make it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re worried about the clay sticking to the stick and ruining all your hard work, use a rolling paper to cover the stick before you wrap the wire frame around it. Worst case, the paper will just dry out or burn off during the baking.
To learn more about how to make dreadlock beads from polymer clay, take the course at the Cornrows.co.uk Learning Center.