We had a great time making beads from Sculpey III (which is a clay, like fimo). It is not very hard to make professional looking beads, and when they are baked and cooled, you can coat them with a lacquer finish ( a small jar goes a LONG way) to make them shiny.
Our girls actually WORE these beads, as opposed to beads made from triangles of wallpaper, etc. I don't recommend fimo, as it is more crumbly and harder to work with. Sculpey is softer.
San Antonio Area Girl Scout Council
More Sculpey Beads
Most of the girls wore their bead necklace to school the next day.
I purchased a variety of Sculpey colors so each girl could have 1/2 of a block. (Ex. if you have 10 girls, you need 5 blocks. Each girl will end up with 16 beads.
You could probably reduce the ratio to save money & give each girl 1/4 of a block, ending up with 8 beads.)
Before the meeting I unwrapped the packages & cut each block in half. I used a knife with a very thin straight blade, like an exacto knife. I separated the two halves. Then I cut the piece into 16 pieces by cutting 4 rows & 4 columns. Each piece was a good size for the girls to made 1 bead.
I kept these pieces together. Then I took one piece from the 16 and swapped it with a piece from another color. They used this different color to make marbleized beads.
I put the pre-cut block halves into zip lock bags. With these bags we were ready to get down to the business of making beads.
I bought the Sculpey from Michael's and they sometimes have this product on sale.
I also got a booklet called "Make & Bake Clay". It was very helpful with the baking directions and how to explain to the girls how to form different shapes. The booklet is by Hot Off The Press. At their web site you can see some instructions for using clay.
Thoughts On Clay To Use
I prefer that clay you can bake in a home oven. It's not cheap, but a little goes a long way. Fimo is one brand, but I've seen others.