Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Glazing Beads

I've been glazing in the spare time I've had.  These beads to your left have been dipped in a watery black underglaze, left to dry, then wiped off with a sponge.

I love this effect, though it is very time consuming. 
Here are some rounds in which I combined two glazes of green. One is a sage green and the other is an apple green.  I don't know how they will turn out. You are in as much suspense as I am.

I love how the beads look on the skewers, kinda like a bouquet of flowers.

Here are some beads that I added a sprig of clay on top of a texture, then textured the sprig.

The blue-green glaze had some blue crystals in it and they melted nicely in the firing.

It's been a fun year experimenting with beads: glazes, textures, iron oxide decals, etc ....

I didn't expect to be diagnosed with cancer earlier this year but it is nice to be past cancer treatments and getting my strength back.  In case you are wondering, the cancer is in remission and my doctor's don't expect it to reoccur. I'm having regular tests and biopsies the next few years to make certain of all this, though.   

Thank you to everyone who wished me well and prayed for me.  That touched my heart greatly.  It's been a wonderful year and this next year my daughter and her husband are making me a grandma. I'm so looking forward to meeting little Ruby Makayla who will be born near the end of April, perhaps May.

But most of all I'm thankful to God who got me through some very tough months, and my mother who sacrificed her time and energy and took care of me. My husband was incredible too, as he always is and has been.  Thank you to my friends who stuck with me and by me ... May God bless you everyone!  See you next year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Popsicle Stick Bead Textures

I went searching around my studio for simple geometrical textures and stumbled across this Popsicle stick (or is it a coffee stirrer?) which caught my interest.

There are not many of these beads in my stash because I was experimenting.  I do like how the glaze turned out.  This particular celadon glaze below is one that was discontinued by the manufacturer last year. I had about 1/4 of a jar left and these are some that I did glaze.

I used this glaze on a few other beads made from different clay bodies and on each one, the glaze performs differently. 
 I like this texture and will probably end up using it again.  I hope to find another glaze that does as nicely as this one does. 

I have some of these beads in my shop for sale. Click Here and Here to check them out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Bossy Bead Necklace by Jean A. Wells

I created this bead in a whimsical fashion, adding texture and sprigs of clay to the stringing holes to form this very fun 'bossy' buttery yellow nugget bead.

Jean took this bead and fashioned it into a most gorgeous necklace.  She hung it from a hand formed bail made from square copper wire and added faceted yellow and purple Czech beads for emphasis.

The whole effect works wonderfully.  The necklace is 20" long but if you prefer it shorter, she'll be happy to change the length just for you.

 Definitely take a moment to check out Jean's blog, her store, and also a more detailed description of this necklace.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bracelet by Kathy Mortensen

I always love seeing what jewelry designers end up doing with my beads.  Kathy Mortensen purchased these beads back in October and created this beautiful bracelet.  The silver is a lovely way to complement the green delicate scroll ceramic beads.  Thanks for sharing, Kathy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sunflower Seed Beads

These beads have had a black underglaze put on them and I wiped most of it off so the dark color would sink into the recesses.  I made five sizes, small, medium, and large.  These range from about 13 mm to 24 mm from hole to hole.

I am planning on firing these nine different colors. 

I have been calling this style "Harvest" but when I look at the unfinished beads I can't help but think they look like a bunch of sunflower seeds.

These are the nine colors I will end up with when these are all fired. (see last photo).

What will I be doing with the rest of my day?

That's easy .... glazing glazing glazing. And tomorrow I'll be firing firing firing.  It's going to take a couple of firings, though because I will have to use my smaller kiln.

In other news, my large kiln is still out of commission. I'm waiting on a part to come in the mail.  I had thought it was the coils, but as I was removing them from the kiln, I saw the 'infinite switch' had a burnout.

Then I had a flash of memory. I did this same thing last year with another infinite switch issue.  I had perfectly good coils then, too.  My kiln has two infinite switches. One for the bottom and one for the top. Last year it was the bottom one that burnt out. This year the top burnt out. But I didn't look to make sure before pulling the coils out and by the time I realized it wasn't a coil problem it was too late.

I suppose I could have stuck those coils back in their slots but I probably would have ended up ruining the firebrick.

I am also in need of some slip on connectors in order to connect the switch to the wires, but the place I ordered the switch from was out .... and I think I may have some extra in my stash somewhere around here, but I'm not certain.  I wonder if hardware stores carry those slip on connectors?  If not and if I don't have any, then I'll check the ceramic stores around here and if they don't have any, I suppose I will have to wait the three weeks the online store said it would be before they would be back in stock.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Beads

These came out of the kiln yesterday and I plan to list them later this week on Etsy.

These are nugget beads, each one unique with various textures combined with sprigs. 

I am particularly drawn to the lavender bead at the bottom left.  I did not think that texture would come out that lovely. 

I also quite like the yellow texture, too.  I'd like to try that texture in different colors (maybe a lavender?).

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fun Experiment with Sand and Beads

A good friend of mine brought back some sand from two of her trips. She used some of the sand in a bowl which she fired to cone 10 and it came out really neat. She gave me some of it and also some other sparkly sand and told me to have fun. So I did. I mixed each type of sand in some clear cone 06 glaze and coated each bead.

I didn't want to get confused as to which bead I put what at, so last night I took this photo on the left. The bigger bead was coated with the sparkly sand and the smaller bead was coated with the other sand.  

I probably should have used the same clay with each bead, but I didn't.  The bigger bead was made from b-mix cone 6 clay and the smaller bead was made with frost cone 6 clay.

I fired these at cone 1 though. Why? Because I had other beads firing at that temperature and stuck these in at the last minute.

These came out rather rough, but I like the texture of the sand. I think I would like to add another coat of clear gloss to these and refire.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun Necklace by Jean A. Wells

It is always exciting for me to see how jewelry artists fashions necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc ... out of beads that I and others have created.

This necklace has several bead artists.  The handmade ceramic cardinal bird by is by Cindy Dolezal.  The handmade stoneware fall seed pod is by me.  The handmade porcelain stoney bead and leaf pendant is by Ingrid Mueller and the handmade polymer clay bead by Alison Crenshaw.  Then there are some beads by Earth Tones,  a Vintaj brass twig, some Antiqued brass chain, some Deerskin leather lace, as well as a handmade brass clasp.  This measures  18-1/2" with a 2-3/4" leaf pendant.  It's just stunning!

Here is another photo of this necklace.  I love the background which this necklace lays upon. Notice also the bright red cardinal, it is such a beautiful bright focal piece, and the twig it sits upon has a leaf dangling from it. It's a lovely combination!
Here is the bead of mine that Jean used.  It is made with Trinity stoneware clay, bisque fired, coated with iron oxide, wiped off, fired to cone 10 in a natural gas kiln.  I only made a few of these as I don't have regular access to this particular gas kiln.

Click here to visit this necklace. Click here to visit Jean's store.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Kiln Elements

I am busily making beads. So far I have 100 small harvest beads and 100 small smooth, and now I'm working on the next size up. So far I have 60 in total with 30 harvest style and 30 smooth style.   I'm trying to get enough to do 10 in 10 different glazes in each size. I haven't decided if I'm going to do a bigger size. I might, but probably not as many.  Decisions decisions.

The photo on the left is what they look like right now. Some are dryer than others, hence the color variation. 

About a week ago my big kiln had a bad firing because the top set of kiln element coils burnt out. I had to unload everything. I refired the beads in the smaller kiln but the pottery still sits on my table waiting to be refired.

Yesterday the box was delivered with four coils (my big kiln takes four elements).  I plan to put the new ones in on Saturday when it is going to be about 70 degrees outside.

I have had this kiln about 10 years and this is the third time I've changed the elements. I must be hard on elements.  Maybe I ought to stop peeking inside my kiln before it has cooled down enough. Yep, that's probably it.  Or maybe it is because it sits outside. I dunno.  I just replace 'em when they burn out.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Latest Firing

 These are what came out of the small kiln this morning.  These beads are all fired to cone 1 and have a black underglaze in the recesses.  Yesterday morning I had to rescue them from the big kiln.

The night before I discovered the element coils in the big kiln had burnt out and were not glowing at all.  It still had about two more hours to fire.  The bottom set of element coils were glowing brightly, but not the top.  I know from previous experience that the kiln was not going to go to temperature.  So I shut it off.

In the morning I loaded these beads into the small bead kiln and this is how they turned out. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Simple Green Nugget Necklace

I was digging around in my necklaces looking for something to wear yesterday and came across this necklace which I created a couple of years ago.  It was in the beginnings of what I call my 'rock' phase, whereas I was intrigued into making beads look as though they came out of the earth and had been polished.  In other words, the nugget bead.  I used simple shiny seed beads and simple silver tone spacers along with some dark green melon ceramic beads which I had also made about the same time period.  The toggle and clasp are also quite simple.  I like simple.  This makes me want to make some more nugget beads and see where the glazing takes me. Maybe I will do that sometime this week.  Thanks for visiting my blog!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pastel Ceramic Beads in Porcelain

I have a batch of these cone 6 beads going in the small kiln today. I had enough glazed for two batches. The photo is from the first batch that I fired earlier this week.  The temperature outside is about the same so I am hoping the results will be the same.

The creamy vanilla beads look a bit buttery yellow in this picture but that is because they are next to the pinks and blues I think. By themselves they are not that color at all.

On all these beads, except the creamy vanilla ones, I put a purple underglaze on (Pueblo Purple by Duncan).  The underglaze turned this lovely blue color.

On the creamy vanilla rounds I put on Fern Green underglaze by Mayco. The color apparently burnt completely out.  I wonder if the beads would still be that same vanilla creamy look without the underglaze, or if it would be a completely different whitish color?  I'll have to try that next time I am firing to this temperature.  It would be a good experiment.

I was in the ceramic store last week looking at the underglazes and all the new bottles from Mayco have notes on each bottle saying what the colors do at cone 6.  My old bottles do not.  I suppose I will be writing on each bottle of my own what each underglaze does at what temperature from now on.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Painting with Nature - Literally!

This is a demo article on how to make a paintbrush from a yucca plant.  You can use any yucca plant. I happen to have access to a Red Yucca plant.  It doesn't matter how big or small the frond you cut off is. You can cut it to any shape.

I prefer a sharp diagonal shape.  The more a yucca brush is used, the softer the shape becomes.  This makes for a unique brush, but eventually you will have to cut and reform the edge.  Every brush is different which makes for unique brush strokes, which makes for very unique beads, well you get the picture.

This Red Yucca frond is lovely to use because it is firm and easy to hold. I typically cut the pencil length but you can make them longer or shorter.  The most important thing is to easily hold it in your hand. So make it a comfortable length.

Next stick the frond in a glass of water to soften. I let mine sit about 24 hours.

How long does a yucca brush last?  I don't know. I use them for a day or so and then I stick them on a shelf meaning to reuse them.  But six months or more may go by before I feel the urge to use one and by that time it is very dry and shriveled up, completely unusable.

Just go cut another one.  Yuccas can be 'harvested' any time of the year.

The yucca plant is made up of soft plant fibers.  After 24 hours simply use your fingernails to pull at the end, scraping off the green pulp.

If you don't have fingernails (like many potters and bead artists), do the best you can. If your nails are extremely short, you can try using the edge of a spoon or fork or knife.  Experiment.

This is the stroke that the paintbrush above left on my bead. A nice straight line. I just dabbed on the underglaze.

The yucca paintbrush holds lots of paint. You would load it the same way you would a watercolor or oil brush.  You will be surprised at how long one stroke can last.

You would pay a lot of money for such a nice paintbrush but the best thing about yucca paintbrushes is that they are free. 

Free is good.

Here is the same bead with a clear coat of glaze.  I fired this one to cone 1.

To finish this bead, I added some of my original hand drawn iron oxide decals and refired to cone 05.

Thanks for following along and if you make your own yucca brush, post the results so we can see your own unique bead creations. :)

Originally this article was posted on the Beads of Clay blog where I contribute articles once a month. I am reposting it here for my blog readers who may not be subscribed to the Beads of Clay blog.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Beautiful Bracelet by Jean A. Wells

This bracelet was created by Jean A. Wells and has some wonderful elements by many talented ceramic bead artists.  Read the descriptions by clicking here .

The focal piece, the owl, in this bracelet is made by Marti Conrad.

My beads are the brown beads with turquoise blue rivets.

This is a lovely piece.  Check out the rest of Jean's shop here.  Have an awesome day!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Beautiful Necklace by Jean A. Wells

This beautiful necklace was created by Jean A. Wells and feature three of my teal blue porcelain barrel beads. The Oval Silver Bead with Textured Leaves Design is not silver metal, but metalized plastic which makes it lightweight to wear.  Check out the rest of her Etsy Store.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Beautiful Bracelet by JewelsbyKat

This beautiful bracelet is from an etsy jewelry artist by the store name of JewelsbyKat.  It features four of my cobalt blue delicate scroll beads and a couple of lovely beads by Pottery Girl.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Art Spark Winner

 The September Art Spark Challenge took place on the Love My Art Jewelry website.  The winner was announced September 27th here and so these beads, my Iced Pink Ceramic Bead Set are well on their way to their new owner!  Congrats to Sandra for her winning entry!  If you like these beads, you may like these that are already in my etsy store.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beautiful Necklace by Jean A. Wells


I wanted to show off this listing by Jean A. Wells which sports one of my beads. It is the long tube bead in the top right hand corner.  That was a fun bead to make and I only made that one.  There are no more. So this one of a kind necklace is sure to please whoever purchases it.  Also on this necklace is a ceramic focal piece of an owl by Ceramic Bead Artist Marti Conrad -- beautiful!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beautiful Necklace

I wanted to share this beautiful necklace made by one of my customers.  She combined a couple of my beads with other beads to make this art jewelry.  The porcelain focal bead with violets is one of my beads, and there is another one of mine that I have spotted ... that bead is in the top right side, the sort of white and with bluish violet at one end.  I think I see another one of mine but I can't be sure its mine so I won't identify it as mine. This is a lovely necklace!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another Set of Pink Ceramic Beads with Purple Underglaze

Here is another set. I only made these three. That's it. Just these.  I just noticed these kinda look like a zebra stripe.  I'm trying to remember what I used to texture these. Was it the same rod I pierced them with or did I roll them over a texture?  And if I did roll them over a texture, which texture did I use?

I don't remember. I made these and bisque fired them.  Then they sat waiting for me to glaze them.  I have bowls and bowls of beads like this sitting around my studio.

Because there may only be one or two or three beads per style, I'm going to glaze some in the same series of glazes and put them in the same firings.  I've never utilized the search function provided by Etsy, so I have written into the item description to search " pink and purple " to find beads with the same kind of glazes. I think this is so useful, that I plan to go through some of my listings on items that are already in my store and streamline that a bit more.

Here is a bead that I used my piercing rod to add lines onto before adding spiral sprigs onto. I also used this same spiral sprig for the end caps. It is a very pretty bead and there is only just one in this batch, just this one.

It reminds me of a pink decorated pumpkin, rather an odd color for fall, but I like it anyway.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pink 'N' Purple Textured Nuggets

I textured these just to see how they would come out.  I think nuggets are a fun sort of bead to play with in jewelry designs. They're funky, they're random, they're playful.  The can be used individually for emphasis or strung together for that cool Flintstone's sort of look.

They are also very organic looking.  I like making nuggets.  I measure the clay out in my homemade bead measures, which are little more than a block of bisque clay with a small hole I pressed into it.  Then I roll the clay into a ball, take it in my thumb and index fingertips of both hands, and squeeze and slightly twist the clay.

When I texture the clay I wait until after it is completely textured before making the stringing hole.

 I also have the same texture in these egg shape beads.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pink 'N' Purple Nuggets

 It didn't take long before I thought of a better way to apply the Pueblo Purple underglaze.  I added water until it was the consistency of Kool Aid.  Then I placed each nugget onto a bamboo skewer and dipped them into the small cup.  After they dried, I lightly wiped them off with a sponge. This method was less wasteful because less underglaze had to be wiped off.

It doesn't matter if the underglaze gets into the stringing holes. It doesn't melt so the beads will not stick to the rods.

Last I coated them with the Pretty N Pink mayco gloss glaze.   These ended up a rustic sort of delicate pretty.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pink 'N' Purple

These are handformed rounds that I pressed a stamp of daisies and flowers onto.  The purple underglaze was applied and rubbed off with a sponge. That left the dark purple glaze in the recesses.  This is a Pueblo Purple underglaze from Duncan.  Next I coated the bead with Pretty 'N Pink gloss glaze from Mayco. Like many of Mayco glazes, the Pretty 'N Pink glaze has been discontinued. 

Mayco has another pink glaze which I'm sure will be just as pretty and I will eventually have to try it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Glazing Glazing Glazing

Monday I set up for a day of glazing and this is what the table in my newly organized studio looked like before I started.  I took some beads that I only had a few of, less than a dozen, and glazed them with the same combination of glazes, a purple underglaze and a pink overglaze.    After I was finished I set the beads aside to dry overnight.  Tuesday morning I put them in the kiln and waited.  First I waited until they were fired, then I had to wait overnight to let the kiln cool down enough to take them out of the kiln.   Today, Wednesday morning, even before I had a cup of coffee, I took them out of the kiln to ooooohhh and aaaaahhh over.  The rest of this week I'll take photos and highlight each style of bead.  Tune in tomorrow and the next few days to see the results.  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Studio Stuff

I have been attempting to straighten and clean my studio since before April.  I would have taken a before picture but frankly, it is way too embarrassing.  The last several months I stuck anything and everything into that small converted bedroom I lovingly call 'my studio'.

Since August I have been going in there every day and putting one or two things away and then closing the door.  Finally this weekend I had the strength and stamina to stick with it.  I put all the glazes in one place and gathered up all my bisque beads and dedicated shelf space just to them with the promise of glazing soon! DO YOU SEE ALL THOSE BOWLS OF BISQUE BEADS?  Oh my!  One way I relax is with a clay ball in my hands, picking off bits of clay to turn into beads.  That is why I have so many one of a kind beads. Plus, I get bored awfully easy and maybe make six  or so before trying something new or getting some new idea.

The other problem in my studio, besides trying to walk through it, was the vast amounts of clay I had stored in old plastic coffee cans.   I think I had more than 20 of them and right now they are all washed and cleaned and in the recycling bin outside for the trash men to take away this week. I am going to try to stick to three coffee cans from now on.  The more I allow myself, the more I will allow myself to store before using it all up and then I will be back in this same place in no time.

In order to put the clay into bags and not breathe all that clay dust, I went outside.  It was pleasant because the temperature was in the low 90's this weekend. I used a hammer to pound on those plastic cans to get the clay to dump out into a big bowl. Then I scooped up the remains and put them in large Ziplock bags.  Later I can put water in them and hydrate them as needed.  However, do you see all the bags of clay behind these Ziplock bags? Do you see all the bins of clay I still have to go through. I don't know how I acquired all this clay but somehow I have to make enough pottery to use it all up. I'm thinking "EMPTY BOWLS"! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nuggets and Rounds with Turquoise Rivets

SO I was making some rounds with these wonderful turquoise rivets and had to make some small nuggets with rivets too.  These are both in greenware form and will have their first firing tomorrow. I made about 20 of each!  The rounds are small, right now about 11 mm, but after their bisque and glaze firing should end up between 9-10 mm, the same with the nuggets.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Handmade in Texas


My Good Buys

I bought yet another book on silver metal clay last week. I love those books.  I pore over the pages just awestruck by the imagination of these clay metal artists.  They are so talented and come up with the most wonderful designs ideas.

I have realized that most anything that can be done with silver metal clay (PMC) can be done with ceramic clay.  And I adore metal beads.  They inspire me in the same way nature inspires me.  In one of these books  I saw a square tube bead, okay, it was more of a rectangle than a square. It was so precise, so lovely that it thrilled my soul.  And I thought to myself, 'self, you have to try to do something that precise with regular clay'.  As much as I love the precise, I am rarely precise, which I probably why I am so drawn to precisely done objects.  However, knowing this about myself did not stop me from getting onto the internet and buying the tool to the left along with the ClayCore Extruder Adaptor, so that if I ever wanted to work with silver clay, I could.  Because it is always in the back of my mind that someday, SOMEday I will work with metal.  And a torch.  And a hammer.  And a saw.  Ahem, anyway .... 

It came yesterday and after fiddling with it for five minutes I realized I had a problem.  The extruder discs were all too small to work properly with the extruder adaptors.  SO today I bought these extruder adapters on the right and they will be here in a few days.  Then the experimenting will being in earnest.

LOL!  I have this problem. I really love tools. I suppose that is not the problem. The problem is that after I purchase the tools, I rarely end up using them more than once or twice.  I end up back using my fingers and one aluminum knitting needle for all my decorating needs. However, I hope I will use these and maybe, just maybe, actually do some PMC (precious metal clay) work like I've been tempted to do for so very long.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Small Rounds

And the last from this batch of bisque beads, are these plain rounds, which are approx. 12-13 mm.  I am going to glaze them with the same coral glaze that I've been glazing the coral sprig beads I have been designing.  I think I made about 40 of these small ones.