Dehydrating common baking potatoes can serve as a basis for ecology-friendly and creative jewelry. Potatoes are a suitable craft material for both children and adults, because they are entirely non-toxic and inexpensive. For impatient artists, the drying process of the beads can be accelerated with a food dehydrator.
Forming the Beads
Carefully wash and peel a baking potato. Using a sharp knife, carve the potato into the desired shapes for the final bead product. Take into account that the dehydration process will cause the pieces of potato to shrink significantly. Plan on having each piece be approximately 35 to 45 percent bigger than the desired final product. Experiment with applying texture to the beads by lightly poking with a fork or carving designs with a knife. Place each potato piece on a toothpick to maintain a hole during the drying process,
Drying the Beads
Place each toothpick on a finely meshed baking rack. It is important that the potatoes have adequate airflow during the drying process, as a significant amount of water is released and could lead to decay if not properly elevated. Allow the baking rack to rest in a warm, dry place for approximately one week or until the beads are fully dehydrated. Turn each toothpick once or twice a day to ensure even drying on all sides.
Sealing the Beads
Sealing the beads with acrylic paint ensures longevity and durability of the final product. Assemble paint brushes and acrylic paint in desired colors to create the final effect. It is important to ensure an effective seal by painting at least two coats on every surface of each bead and allowing the paint to dry fully between coats. Using sponges to apply different colors of paint in layers can create a textured effect that mimics turquoise or granite.
Once the beads have been fully sealed, experiment with final appearances by applying permanent glitter sprays or acrylic varnishes. The resulting potato beads can be strung on necklaces, bracelets or earrings like any other bead. Try creating jewelry that combines the potato beads with wooden, glass or stone beads for a varied effect. Potato beads are significantly lighter than their glass or stone counterparts, making them a suitable material for large necklaces and earrings.