I've never worked with polymer clay before . . .
Hi and welcome to polymer clay!
. . . excited about making my own beads with polymer clay. . . and I'm wondering if I'd be biting off more than I can chew. . . .
Absolutely not! We all had to start just where you are... plus there are many-many polymer techniques that can be done even by beginners, and in quite sophisticated ways. (You should see some of the things made by the 6th graders in a class I taught, and they were also total beginners.
Does anyone have any suggestions for a complete novice
First, here are some general suggestions for polymer clay beginners:
(at the top of this page, you'll see a "sticky" message that says "Getting Started With Polymer Clay"... that will take you to these old messages:http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=73664.0
(you can ignore the first 2 messages --not sure what they're doing in there anyway... then there is a message I wrote with a lot of info, and many other posts in those 9 pages with lots of beginner info too)
This page at my online polymer clay encyclopedia website deals with some of the beginner tools too:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/tools_Dremels_worksurfaces.htm
But after that, since you're interested in making beads
,you might want to check out these pages at my site on making polymer clay beads in general:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/beads.htm
Actually, most any
of the "techniques" in the polymer clay repertoire can be used to make beads, or their resulting patterns and effects can be put on bead surfaces, so you might want to take a look down this page and find out some of the techniques you might be interested in starting with for your beads:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
P.S. If you really get into making beads with polymer clay in all kinds of ways, you might also want to join some polymer clay groups that do more of that kind of thing with their clay... at Craftster, clayers usually concentrate on miniature sculpts and some larger sculpts, with occasional forays into a few other polymer techniques. There's more info on those groups and their contact info on this page, if you're interested:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/groups--online2.htm
... click especially on Most Active Groups
, and also check out ArtJewelry.com in the Message Board
section at least; here's a direct link to it though (select the Polymer Clay board)http://cs.artjewelrymag.com/artcs/forums
... OR http://www.artjewelrymag.com/art/community/forum
... the site has recently completely redone itself, so it's still having occasional problems with slowness or access)