Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How To Make Porcelain Shards

Ok, so I love teaching.
I haven't done it in a while and I really miss it sometimes.

At bead shows I would talk to anyone that would listen to explain my process and try my best to explain how to use the pieces in a finished jewelry piece.
I remember how people always said "Marsha your booth is always packed with customers".
And my reply: "I love to talk to people, and I try to answer every question in detail, and boy can I talk..."

So I want to do some tutorials through my blog to help others feel a bit inspired.
I know I LOVE to see how other artists work in their studio.
Not to be able to replicate what they are doing, but for a jumping point...

So here it goes...
My first blog tutorial on making my porcelain shards...

This picture is one of my glazed shards that I've made into earrings (with Vintaj charms & findings).
The picture below is my work space which includes:
1. Some pieces drying on plastic lid (tray)
2. Plastic bag where I keep my clay moist while working
3. Texture plates (these are wood)
4. Fettling knife
5. Stylus tool

Here is a close up of the finished pieces drying on the lid.
Sorry it's a bit blurry... These pictures are from my phone.
The pieces are about 2-3" long each (I like not having exact measurements with these)...

So I cut off some clay from my wet clay roll and cut it into portions then roll it into a little ball.

I begin to roll it in between the textured wood pieces.

If I angle the wood, I can make a textured cone shape.
If the wood is kept parallel, the overall shape is more straight.
(This picture shows the wood parallel because I had to put it down to use my hands to take the picture, while the piece I was making is a cone shape).
But you get the idea right?

This picture below shows how random the textures can be from the same plate depending on how the plate lines up, the amount of pressure you apply, the way you apply it, and the condition of your clay (moist clay vs clay that isn't so moist and crumbles easier).

After I have some made, I will put a hole through one end with my stylus tool.
I push the hole through on both sides to make it a little more clean and even (but not too perfect).

And here are those pieces added to the original batch waiting to dry and be loaded into the kiln for the bisque firing.
I find that by working in batches, I tend to have a better success rate of pieces making it through the initial drying phase (to achieve "bone dry" state).
If you let pieces set for too long, then try to handle them, you will have a lot more breakage.

You can find these shards for purchase at my Marsha Neal Studio Booth #806 at Bead Fest Philadelphia and through my friend Darlene's table: D7 Studio at some smaller bead shows here in the North East.

Check back here with me after Bead Fest to see about a Blog Contest I'm going to have for people that want to make things with these shards...
(guess I'm going to have to offer them for sale somewhere and in some sort of grouping through Etsy too...)

If you like this post (and or my blog in general), and you have a blog, I'd really appreciate any extra added links back to my blog. I feel like I'm a bit behind with technology and want to catch up and appreciate any help your links could provide!

Have fun playing with beads and clay!!!


  1. You are indeed a wonderful teacher. I really love it that you are doing tutorials on your blog. I had never seen these pieces before and they are really exciting with lots of possibilities. I will be sure to link back to you on my blog.

  2. Thank you so very, very much for sharing your process and technique! I am going to give it a whirl!

  3. Have fun Penny… Would love to see how you use this technique to inspire you and make something unique to your own body of work :)


I would love to hear what you think…