Huichol & polymer clay?

Q: I saw the article on Huichol beading in B&B calling for beeswax and petroleum jelly as a binding medium. I was wondering if anyone out there has tried using polymer clay instead (rolled into a sheet and mounted on a bowl or whatever). I have thought about doing this but wonder if the seed beads would survive being baked. Anyone know?

A: The polymer clay Huichol idea sounds interesting enough to at least try, but what I suspect will happen is the polymer will shrink ever so slightly upon baking. Just enough to loosen it's grip on the glass beads and they'll fall off. Sinking the beads in far enough so the clay creates a sort of bezel around them may work, but would cover up more of the bead. Since most polymer bakes at a very low temperature, seed beads shouldn't be affected. I haven't tried polymer and beads for a Huichol look, but I did do a Huichol style egg after reading the B&B article, except instead of using petroleum jelly with the beeswax (which seemed an odd choice to me), I used pine pitch, as the Huichol do. The resulting material hardens nicely. I had a HECK of a time removing beads from an area on the piece that I decided to change. Pine pitch is easy to find on pine trees in any piney type woods. It just oozes out of the tree in the spring and summer and hardens into 'globs' which are easily harvested. As I usually use only Cernit I am not sure if this applies to other brands too, but with Cernit the shrinking is promised to be only 1-2 % if baked in the correct temperature. With my mm- ruler I could not even see the changes. I have experimented with making some things with seed beads pushed to the clay. There are only two problems with this: First, you have to use glass beads. Plastic seed beads do change their size in the oven. Not much, but enough to loosen the bond. The second problem is to get the beads to stick well. I had some beads that had large holes and I thought that would be a "good sign". I did not look closely enough, and I later realized that their hole is bigger near the outer borders and I should have pushed them deeper into the polyclay. You live, you learn. Just some thoughts, not trying to annoy anyone. If you want to know more about mixing seed beads with polyclay can I suggest sending this question to rec.crafts.polymer-clay also ? That group is the most helpful one I have ever met, and I know there are few people who have done this type of "mixing" regularly. I only wish I could remember their names .