Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Beads to Bisque

Here in North Central Texas the pecan fronds are hanging from the trees, dangling their pollen rich plumes, attempting to make me sneeze anytime I walk past a window. So while I was waiting for my particular pollen season to be over, I spent a couple of days creating these. Now they are dry enough to go into the kiln. In this batch are recreations of some of the beads that made it into BEADS 2011.

There are actually two bowls of beads in this photo. The smaller bowl is on the bottom and holds the beads that will be approx 17-20 mm. The bowl on top holds the smaller beads which will range from 13-17 mm. I'm doing the same style on three sizes of beads, because some jewelry artists prefer bigger beads and some prefer smaller.

The kiln is currently firing and I just turned it up to medium. As I wait to turn it up to high I think about how those pecan fronds don't know that with one big windstorm they are all going to be on the ground and I will be free from sneezing once again!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Nuggets Design - Finished!

It's a rainy day today in North Central Texas. A mild cold front has moved in and lowered the temperatures out of the 80s into the 60s. That's fine with me because that means the pecan tree out back is not blooming, which means I was not sneezing and rubbing my eyes whilst taking these newbies out of the kiln.

I blogged about initially forming these (click here) then about the glazing process (click here). I put these in the kiln yesterday and here they are this morning, in all their nuggety goodness. Wouldn't you rather have nuggets made out of stoneware clay than chicken? ;)

"May I take your order?"
"Yes, I'd like some stoneware nuggets please, and don't forget the bright blue endcaps!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's Cookin' in the Kiln?

Today these nuggets are in the kiln.  I have a demo of how I made these a few posts back (Click here to see post).

Here they are glazed in a four step process. First I brushed on a blue underglaze, which I promptly wiped off with a sponge.  Next I took the same color and reapplied it carefully to the endcap sprig of each bead.  Lastly, I applied a clear glaze.

You know what this means, though, right? Tomorrow I will take photos of what they look like fresh out of the kiln and I will be sure to list a few.  Oh, one more thing: these are being fired to cone 6.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beads 2011 - My Beads Got Into This Magazine

I have been waiting on eggshells to see if the beads I sent in earlier this year would make it into the 2011 BEADS Buyer's Guide issue and yay ... my beads are on three pages. Oh Happy Day!

I wanted to also put advertising in this issue and I was contacted however I was on my out of town and not able to meet the deadline. Next year for sure.

I scanned the three pages of the magazine and scans are always grainy.  These beads look much better in the magazine.  My beads made it into three sections:

The Floral section (page 17), the Steampunk section (page 48) and the World Beat section (Page 63).

I had a hard time deciding whether to list my beads under my website name (nkpdesigns) or my etsy store bead store name (nkpbeads). In the end, I decided that it was more cohesive to point people to my website and they can easily click on the link to visit the bead store.

My New Toy, ahem, Piece of Equipment

I bought this a couple of weeks ago after going to my pottery guild and having this demo'ed. I had to go and buy an air compressor and a couple of 1/4 inch fittings, but amazingly enough, as easy as Sal made this look, it was easier to utilize than that. This is a wonderful addition to my studio. This first photo shows a simple round tile/coaster/wall hanging/clock ... whatever you want it to be.

When I went to pick this up, Sal said, "Now this tile has two sides, don't forget that."  And I haven't.  The idea is to put a circular plug of clay into the hole, mash it down, smooth it out and voila ... lovely smooth tile.

Then there's my way.  Take pieces of clay, smash it in there, who cares if it is smooth and lovely? After all, there are two sides!  So the top side is smooth, but the bottom side is not.  Why? Because I used pieces of clay.  Next I textured that side with a lava rock.  Then I added clay sprigs, much the same way as I do the beads.

So here is my 5" round whatever.  It's like a big bead, but flat.  Anyway, to watch a real life demo, take this link.  This product is the best piece of pottery equipment I've seen in a long time.

Thank you, Sal, for making ceramics even better!

Take this link to watch a demo on how this is used. Enjoy!
Texas Tiler

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Out of the Bisque Fire

These are a few samples of bisque beads that came out of the kiln early Saturday morning.

These are all made from a stoneware clay with little grout, so they are smooth to the touch. 

I have no idea how I will glaze these. Should I go for bright summer colors? Subdued winter colors?  Do I go for glossy or matte? 

Decisions decisions!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Neutral Bracelet: Nuggets and Rounds and Silver

Neutral colors are calming and this combination of beads, while understated, lend themselves to a certain elegance.

The ceramic nuggets were glazed with an oatmeal glaze.  The holes are rather large.  These are some from a batch I made when I first began making ceramic beads.  They are newbie beads. I had no idea how to fire ceramic beads when I first started.  I had simply put them down on a kiln shelf that was heavily coated with kiln wash. I had to chip them off of the shelf, then grind down the rough spots with a Dremel tool.   

Before long I realized I could hang beads on rods which were balanced on kiln posts (posts that are used to hold up shelves).

 The silver beads I chose were some leftover from other projects I've done over the past few years.  I've had them a while. It is easy to tell because they are somewhat tarnished.

The rounds were textured and glazed this lovely tan brown. 

This palette is quiet and soothing.  Perhaps this is why I felt that each ceramic bead should be supported by one of those small silver spacers.

 This is the finished bracelet.  I've had fun making all the bracelets I've been showcasing this week. It's been fun.  I hope that you've enjoyed what I've been having fun with, too. I am going to enjoy wearing my new bracelets.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Peanut Butter Bracelet

I call this a peanut butter bracelet because the glaze on these particular thumbprint shaped beads remind me a bit of the color of peanut butter, little chips of wonderful. I happen to love peanut butter, though I know it is not everybody favorite spread.

The red beads are a coral tube shaped.  Think of them as jelly. ha ha!  There are apple green nugget resin beads too. Yes, they are plastic. But you can hardly tell.  They are well made plastic beads, so they are resin, yes?

There are also some metal beads, maybe they are brass? I'm not sure. They came off a piece of vintage jewelry that I acquired a long time ago.  Alsrein lured are unikite rounds. I love unikite, those greens and pinks are so cheerful.

I made up a palette to go along with these beads. Sometimes before I string beads I like to have a visual of the major colors. It helps when I string to see how they will all work together.  These colors seem to flow, one into the other, so I didn't worry about the color when I strung these beads.

I focused instead on the shape. The peanut butter beads needed to bunch up against each other. They are the biggest beads so they are the focal beads.  I didn't want them near the clasp though because that can get uncomfortable when resting a hand on a table.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Patchwork Bracelet

These are the beads I choose to make this bracelet. The patchwork beads were made by cutting up some flower decals with a pair of pinking shears. The delicate scroll pattern rounds are not exactly round and they've been glazed with a lovely shade of blue/purple. The cobalt glass spacer beads are a dramatic addition and the silver spacers add a touch of class. The clear lemon yellow beads are faceted glass. They add the sparkle that will make this bracelet fun.

I formed this palette with the beads and it sure is a busy palette. That made me think that I should have a distinctive beading pattern so the eye won't feel overwhelmed.

Here is the finished bracelet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Iced Pink Twisties Ceramic Bracelet

I woke up this morning with an idea of making a bracelet out of my iced pink ceramic twist beads.  I love pink and green together so I came up with this palette. Of course I was going to start out with the pink of the ceramic beads. Green is a great contrast to pink, so I have a warm shade with the peridot colored cat eye glass beads and a cool color with these green stone chips. These chips came off of a vintage necklace I bought at a thrift shop. They are definitely stone and so I assume they are dyed this mint green. Usually opaque stones are types of jasper, so I think they may be a type of jasper. If anyone knows for certain, I'd love to hear your idea.

I made the Iced Pink Ceramic Twisties bead by forming a rectangle with my fingers and twisting the ends after it was formed. It is a stoneware clay that bisque fires a beautiful pink. The iron in the clay helps to make these this particular color. I glazed it with this white glaze and refired to the same temperature. I've made quite a few beads like this over the years and always meant to make myself a bracelet. Today is the day

The yellow is a great accent and these metal brass beads are also from a vintage necklace I rescued from a thrift store.

I often buy vintage beads at thrift stores.  They make great filler beads and it's always good to upcycle.

Simple simple. Now I have a casual bracelet to wear with a summer top, jeans and comfy tennis shoes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bracelet with Nuggets

This is a small bracelet I made a while ago with some of my ceramic midnight blue nuggets.  There are three glass beads also which I made, along with some small pink glass beads and silver spacers. It's simple, but pretty.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

What's New? Textured Nugget Beads with End Caps

I was browsing through my bead store and realized I am very understocked when it comes to Nugget shaped beads.  I am a bit bored with nugget beads, which is why I probably haven't been making any lately.  However, I do like that mish mash shape.

When I was gardening I came across a few stray lava landscaping rocks and I got to studying their texture. Sure enough, I brought one or two back inside with me and got a small bit of clay. I was stunned at the intricate nature of the texture this left behind.  Thus, I began making some nugget beads. Here's the process ...

NOW ... to add the beads' end caps....

And here is the whole batch:

Monday, April 04, 2011

What? No Hole?

This is what I was thinking when I put this bead in front of my camera. Sure enough, I had forgotten to put a hole into it.  What was I thinking? I guess I was not thinking. It is a pretty pebble though.  I'll keep it for display. 

This bead is from the batch of beads was the last batch to come out of the gas kiln at the college.  It is a stoneware clay, lightly swabbed with an iron oxide and fired to 2300 degrees in reduction.  I love the warmth of this firing technique.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

My Little Helper

I seriously could not function without this little machine.  I set it on the floor beside me while I search for particular beads in my stored containers, instead of walking back and forth between the beads and my computer monitor.  It makes everything SO much easier, especially with my short term memory ... oh wow, it's great to have this!

  When I was reshooting pics in my stores, this small computer was so great to double check my inventory.  A huge shout out to Apple for this wonderful piece of computer equipment!  Oh, and yeah, I check my email with it too. And Plants Vs Zombies? Best app ever!

Friday, April 01, 2011

No Fooling!

Throughout the entire month of April my Etsy Bead Store is offering a 20% discount for any customer who buys from the Beads of Clay Etsy store.

1. Make any regular Purchase from the Beads of Clay Etsy Store anytime during April.

2. Use this the discount code april2011BOCstore20 at my NKPBEADS Etsy store to receive 20% off your entire order in my store.

3. You don't have to rush to decide what you may want from my store because this coupon code will remain active until the end of May. In other words, if you make a purchase on the last day of April, you have until the last day of May to use my store's coupon code. Important: the discount is only valid for beads purchased at NKPBEADS.

If you have any questions about this, please leave a message.