Monday, June 27, 2011

EXTRA shop update tomorrow!!

Porcelain ribbon slide

I have a fab bunch of components for my Extra shop update which takes place tomorrow, Tuesday, at noon EST. First up is this batch of ribbon slides. The above photo shows how great they look in action!

Porcelain ribbon slides

They are a good size and would make excellent bracelet focals or even a choker.

Porcelain jewelry components

These fun little pieces could also be used as a ribbon slide, though I think they would be perfect as a pendant with chunky wire wrapped beads and fringe hanging off one end.

Porcelain jewelry components

These are small rings that will be sold in matching pairs. Perfect for earrings!

Porcelain jewelry components

I love these! They are a fun take on the classic donut.

Porcelain jewelry components

And lastly are these large pendants with a floral design. They have a slight Asian flavor going on... I could see them paired with satin cord and lacquered wood beads.

Join me tomorrow over at the Extra shop at noon EST! And as always, watch the pieces are they go up on Facebook. :)

Shipping Note: I am running a batch behind in my shipping (as I am sure many of you have noticed). Thanks so much for your patience!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bead Dreams 2011

Porcelain Beads - Handbuilt, hand carved, hollow form

After several years of thinking about it I finally entered Bead & Button's Bead Dreams handmade beads competition. Hey, and guess what?! I won second place! Woo hoo! I thought it might be kind of fun to show you some of the process in making these beads. They were a real labor of love (with a heavy twist of crazy).

In a nutshell, this is the bead lowdown: they are handbuilt, hollow form, hand carved, big-ass beads. Each one measures approximately 2 inches in diameter and each took about two hours of work.

Porcelain beads in progress... hollow halves

I started by making a bunch of halves by forming the clay over a hump mold. The white powder you see inside each piece is cornstarch which kept the clay from sticking to the mold I was using.

Porcelain beads in progress... hollow halves

Usually I would construct the beads while the clay is still a little wet but I wanted to have a little more time to work so I let each piece completely air dry. Then I sanded the edges smooth so that the halves would fit together flawlessly.

Porcelain beads in progress - hollow halves

Here you can see all of the halves which have been sanded and bushed clean. I made a lot of pieces just in case I messed up (which I did...several times....).


This is paper clay. Paper clay is one of those things that I can't live without (along with duct tape, Goo Gone, my tumbler and various food related items which may or may not contain a lot of bacon, garlic and/or salt). Paper clay is a mixture of clay slip and paper fiber (in this case I used a roll of toilet paper) which can be used to join completely dry pieces of clay. I could build a house with this stuff, it's that awesome!

Hollow form porcelain beads in progress...

Here are the beads in a pretty rough state after I joined the halves together with the paper clay. They look pretty messy and unfinished and this is where my trusty sponge comes in. I have often joked that I could take a solid block of dry clay and make a set of dishes using only my sponge. I kind of love it. A lot. It allows me to shape the clay just the way I want it with no harmful dust or special tools.

Porcelain Beads in progress... Torching off the paper clay.

After I got the beads cleaned up and shaped the way I wanted them I took my torch and burned off the paper clay seam. Yes, I am extremely anal sometimes. This step is really completely unnecessary since the paper will burn off in the bisque firing but I wanted to have a really clean piece to work with. That and I wanted to see what would happen if I torched them. (Incidentally, they will blow up if you get them too hot and there is no hole is the piece to allow air to escape. Just so ya know...)

Hollow handbuilt porcelain beads in progress

And here is a stack of perfect, hollow beads waiting to be carved. At this point I was kind of thrilled just to look at them. They look edible. Don't they? Or is that just me...

Porcelain Beads - Greenware. Hand carved, hollow form, handbuilt

I failed to take any photos of the actual carving process but here are the beads after I finished. I drew the design directly on each bead freehand with a pencil and carved the dry clay away with my micro carvers (this set, actually). This was a dusty job and I don't really recommend carving dry clay unless you have a mask on and really good ventilation. However... carving dry clay is pretty darn nice. As long as your tools are very sharp you will get a smooth, clean line and you have a lot of control. I will carve dry again. Outside. In an open field. With a fan blowing. While wearing a hazmat suit.

Porcelain Bead - Handbuilt, handcarved, hollow form

I agonized over how to glaze these beads for quite a while but finally settled on this look. The carved side of the beads were layered with several colors of underglaze. I would apply a layer, wipe it off with a fair amount of water to achieve a watercolor effect and then apply another layer and do the same. The back of the beads are a solid glossy purple but I left the front unglazed and matte with only the underglaze.

Porcelain Beads - Handbuilt, hand carved, hollow form

So that's the story of the beads. Hope you found it even just a little interesting. I'm already thinking ahead to next year's contest and what I will make...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

EXTRA shop update TOMORROW!!

Porcelain birds

Yep, it's time for another Extra shop update. It seems that lately this blog has turned into nothing more than an Extra shop update preview. I really need to do something about that. And I really need to make some of my own jewelry. I miss it. Soon.

Anyhoo... I have some real humdingers for you this week!

Porcelain birds

Birds, anyone? I've been asked to make these birds for a long, looooooong time. So here they be. Wings and all.

Victorian door knob inspiration

I did something that has been in the back of my mind for while. I live in an 1870's Victorian house and this is what my downstairs door knobs look like. (Yep, there are different, slightly less fancy door knobs upstairs...) So, I made....

Porcelain components made from door knob

...these shards using the door knob for the impression. I love how they turned out.

Victorian door hinge inspiration

One of the many things I just love about Victorian architecture is how they felt the need to make even hidden things beautiful. Take this door hinge, for example. I think I lived in my house for about three years before I discovered the secrets these hinges were keeping.

Porcelain components made from door hinge

The shards I made from the hinge design have a decidedly Steampunk feel complete with screws and a pebbled texture.

Porcelain jewelry components

These little guys will be sold in matching sets. Perfect for earrings or to use as connectors or links.

Porcelain jewelry components

These are a little unusual, I will admit. Not sure what I had in mind when I put a line of holes going up the center (see the flipped piece).... I think was imagining lacing cord or wire in and out of the holes. Can't wait to see what some of you come up with!

Porcelain charms

Lastly I have these sweet little vintage tattoo inspired LOVE charms. Freaking cute, eh?

The update will start tomorrow, Wednesday, at noon EST, in the shop. And just to let everyone know, I do read all your comments and I am aware that it is very hard for some of you to shop at the times I usually do my updates. I am trying to come up with a way to make sure that everyone has a chance to get what they want. If I could make more pieces, I would, but as it is I am working at full capacity. It's just me doing what I do, no one else, so please bear with me as I try to make enough for everyone. I'll work out a solution, just give me a little time to think up a plan... :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Extra Shop Preview! Update on Tuesday!

Porcelain hearts

Have you ever started making something only to get about half way in and suddenly find yourself thinking, "Why the hell did I start this in the first place?"

Pressing the porcelain

That was pretty much my thought process on this project. I started to stamp way-passed-its-expiration-date clay with an antique button. It seemed like a good idea - looked pretty cool right away - but as I began to lose feeling in my thumb and forefinger from pressing so hard and my ADHD mind began to think of all of the other things I could be doing... I suddenly hated what I was doing. Not entirely unusual for me. I get bored fast and kind of drive myself crazy with my own impatience. Soooo..... I stuck it out and stamped like a freak until the entire slab was covered.

Porcelain Hearts in progress

Then came the part where I could really waste the whole slab by cutting the pattern into something ugly. I figured I couldn't loose with hearts, right? So hearts it is!

Porcelain Jewelry Components

I must admit. I totally love these hearts. They are a little chunky, a little funky and whole lot of awesome! (Damn! I have real way with words, don't I ;)

Porcelain jewelry components in progress

Next up are these large button-inspired pieces. Lots of texture and holes going on.

Porcelain Jewelry Components

I'm thinking some wire wrapping, ribbon weaving, clusters of seed beads nestled here and there...

Porcelain Jewelry Components

These little links will be sold in matching pairs. Great for earrings or connectors.

Porcelain Jewelry Components

This design comes from my own jewelry line. I put a hole in each point to provide you with lots of draping, dripping and dangling opportunities.

Porcelain Jewelry Components

Last up are these Deco inspired pieces. I made the mold for this design from a piece I found during my last trip to NYC. It takes the glaze really well and they are big enough to be a focal.

So that's what I have to offer this time around. The update will take place in the shop on Tuesday, June 7th, at noon EST. As always, see the pieces as they go up on my Facebook page.

Hope to see you there!