Thursday, January 31, 2013

Handmade Bead Pairs Process

When I have time to work with clay in my studio, there are a few "modes" of process that I fall into.
This is my most comfortable, my meditation... 
My handmade production mode.
 I roll out clay coils, cut them into sections, roll them into balls, then form them into beads (here they are being made into my clay shards for a custom order and Etsy shop update).
After they are dry, they are loaded into bisque containers to load into my kiln for a bisque firing.
I load in the mornings so the kiln can fire during the day as I can be present to tend to it.
Peeves, our cat, loves the early morning one on one time.
 When pieces are unloaded the next day, the pairing begins.
I like to work in pairs.
There are lots of reasons in my mind that justify this way of working...
From logical marketing to whimsical visual thoughts to romantic ideals of things that are meant to be together... 
 There are many that do not have mates, and they go back into the tray for sorting through later.
But I find that since I work in batches, and when I work with clay, my mind and heart take over and things never quite turn out the same. 
Imprints of things going on in my life are put into these small objects - my physical and mental state affect how the clay works in my hands as well as how the glaze is applied to the work.
 So working in this routine and rhythm of pairs works for me.
Because I have been firing my beads and pendants for years in the same manner (on hooks, on rods, on racks, in kilns to Cone 5/6) I have a firm grasp on how to load and fire efficiently.
I cringe at wasted kiln space and using excessive energy, so I avoid that.
Keeping pieces together in pairs allows for more controlled results in the firing itself as the kiln atmosphere varies and can change a glaze easily.
 Opening a glaze fired kiln is like receiving a gift that was unexpected and very thoughtful and perfect for that moment - a pure delight... For the most part (there are those disappointed times too).
With unloading there is a process as well.
I have different size hooks rods that need to go back into their proper containers.
And pairs that need to stay together to avoid excess work later...
 Looking at a tray full of finished beads is such a delight.
Taking them off the rods to see their entire surface is beyond words at times.
The way the clay texture and glaze interact is so awesome.
Ceramics and Glazing can be magical...
And for me, this process of working in batches, keeping things in pairs, keeps me organized and helps cut down on excessive repeat sorting work, which could take hours - not to mention the headaches of matching (and matching, and matching...)
In the end, this process of making handmade beads in this sort of production mode will allow me to have more creative time to see what other new ideas will emerge.

Etsy shop and website updates are happening very soon!


  1. I know that for me, seeing your work is magical! From my wonderful visits to a friends pottery shop, I've always loved to see how glaze takes on clay. Thanks for showing your process to beautiful pieces!

  2. Love seeing your creative process....Miss Peeves is a cutie...Nala Bear also like to hang out with me in the studio....has her comfy bed to chill on....thanks for sharing....
    Ttfn Lana :)

  3. I never really considered all the sorting that must be done, but it makes such good sense and you end up with a great product--beautiful bead pairs! How lucky for us all! Thanks for sharing this piece!


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