We have a special treat for you today! Marti Conrad, who makes delightful and whimsical ceramic beads and findings invited all of us to watch her play in her studio while she creates a stoneware bead from an old earring she bought at a yard sale:
Oh, the wonderful world of blogging, you all make it look so easy and effortless! I, on the other hand, struggle to come up with an idea that I think others would find interesting, or at least interesting enough to read.
So, when Jennifer suggested showing you my process or do a tutorial, I thought of these beads that I’ve been wanting to try. This is an unknown process for me, so hang on tight, here we go!
The first thing I do when I make beads is get my clay ready. Clay has a memory and you have to get it ready and mess it up enough to keep it from trying to go back to its original shape and to keep it from warping much if you want a flat piece. But with beads I just squish it a few times, roll it around between my hands into several shapes and then roll it on my slab roller into a flat piece.
This little earring has a great shape and texture, so I bought them to try to make beads with. This bead is for sure a two or more step process, we shall see…
After I shaped it around the paintbrush handle, I let it dry.
After drying, they have to be sanded.
I wet sand and go over all the edges and harsh places, sponging them down and making them easier to glaze and not have any sharp places after firing.
At this point, most people do a bisque fire. But, I usually just glaze and fire.
Glazing is always interesting and much like beaders or collectors of any kind, I always want a new glaze or new glazes…it’s all about the glaze! And, this is the hardest part for me, do I go with the usual and wonderful standbys, the ones you trust to turn out great every time, or do I dare experiment, possibly come up with something no one would buy because it’s now the ugliest bead that you’ve ever seen? It’s always a wonder, what to glaze with!
And once that choice is made, the glaze on the pieces and edges carefully cleaned, the kiln is finally loaded. Each piece has to be far enough away from the next one because you don’t want them to stick together. Then the ten or so hours it takes for the glaze fire and then the longer wait for the kiln to cool down so it can be opened and things checked on…
Well, thanks for going on this little journey with me, I hope you enjoyed it!
Thanks for letting hang out with you while you work in the studio, Marti!
Please stop by Marti’s links: