Saturday, December 28, 2019

Holiday Creations Art Elements Blog Hop

About the time I learned the theme for this month's Art Elements blog hop: Holiday Creations, I was planning to make a set of kitty cat themed ornaments for a tree for our aging cat.  We have a new glassed in front porch and thought it would be a perfect way to decorate it for the Holidays.  And for ceramic ornaments, it would be safe from the elements.

For the last few years we have been having an outdoor tree instead on one inside.  We have it out on the deck and decorate it with brightly colored netted bird treats.  It is so fun watching the birds flutter around the tree and peck at these "home baked" goodies of birdseed and peanut butter.  So this year we have 2 Christmas trees.
For our kitty cat tree, I used cat shaped cutters to cut out the decorations.

They seemed quite large at first but my clay shrinks about 11 % so they looked much better once they were bisque fired.
I used two methods to bring my cat decorations to life.  For some I silk screened on cat drawings (Mayco silkscreens) bisqued them and then added color

 and for others I did some drawing into the clay.  They dried really quickly so by the time I got to them to scratch  in some lines, the incisions were not very deep.  To improve them I used a black underglaze and then wiped it off, bisque fired them

and then hand painted on glazes and fired those to cone 5 ( above 2100 degrees F)

Finally I decorated the tree.  

 My kitty cat Christmas Tree

Our cat who inspired me

Thank you for joining me on this Art Elements blog hop today.  I had such fun making these ornaments and decorating the tree.  We enjoy it each time we step onto our porch.
The list of blog hop participants is below.  I hope you will visit all of them and enjoy their Holiday Creations.

AE team: 

Sunday, September 29, 2019


This is my first time participating in an Art Elements Blog Hop.  I was intrigued by the theme of foliage since that has been my theme for most of the years I have been making ceramic beads.  I usually make a mold from plants and use it as the basis for pendants, toggle clasps and cabochons.  I always hand paint on the colored glazes and almost never use underglazes. The photo above is a sample of pendants in my usual way of making.

For some time I have been thinking about other ways of making leaves and flowers.  I have a collection of dried leaves that have fallen off a rubber plant I have in the house. I love their graceful flow and lyrical lines and form. 

                                    My dried dead leaves collection
 I decided I wanted to hand build my leaves and flowers. These leaves (pictured above) and some Victorian botanical drawings were my inspiration.  I limited my tools to using an orange wood cuticle stick for makings the markings  on the leaves. My clay body was a white stoneware clay which I fire to cone 5 (a bit above 2100 degrees F.)  I began small but as time went on my leaves got bigger and bigger.

Hand built ceramic leaves still wet.
A larger hand built leaf

Bisque ware leaf  fired one time

Some hand built flowers in the foreground  fired once

When it came to glazing what I made I was a bit stymied at first.  I decided to try some underglazes which I don't usually like because they are so stiff.  But I wanted all those markings to show up through the other glazes I used.  So I tried out a black and a blue.  I was not unhappy with the result.

A hand built flower surrounded by wild cone flower textured  beads.  The black underglaze came through nicely I think.

a large hollow bead surrounded by 2 cabochons  Wild Grass texture  Again I used the black underglaze -2 coats- and then wiped it off and added colored glazes to the wiped off areas.
           Here is a collection of the leaves and 1 hand built flower glazed
            And another view of the leaves.
What am I going to do with all of these creations?  I plan to use them in some of my free form peyote stitch jewelry.  And some I have placed in my Etsy shop.

This has been a great experience for me to be in this blog hop.
Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you will visit all the other participants in this blog hop listed below.

Art Elements Team




Wednesday, April 03, 2019


I have decided to enter the #The100DayProject   this year and it begins today April 2, 2019
My reason for doing this is I know that visiting my muse daily will bring surprise, frustration, joy, and new ideas for creating.  The last one is what I am hoping for.  I am nervous because it is a big commitment.  I am excited because already I am feeling inspired.

                        Handmade ceramic cabochon by Mary Harding
Above is a picture of where I will be beginning .  My project is 100 days of free form peyote stitch stitching.  I have backed this cabochon and done a blanket stitch around the edge of size 8 seed beads.  This edging is how the cab will be attached to the necklace I will be making.
  Day 1 of 100 days of free form peyote stitching for #the100DayProject

You can see that I began stitching on the upper third of the side of the pendant to begin turning this piece into a necklace.    You can follow my progress here or on Instagram where all of the #100dayprojects are posted.  My name on Instagram is #harding_mary.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Making Beads Doing the Twist

Not too long ago I came across a package of beads deeply hidden in my stash.  I had purchased them at least 10 years ago in Freeport, Maine at The Beadin' Path, a wonderful bead store that is no longer in business.
There was a strand of beads that I really love nestled in among that long ago purchase.
Strand of Vintage Czech Glass Mottled Twist Brown Beads

 I thought I would try to make a set out of ceramic clay.  The tag gives a small  clue on how they might be made. ( see text under photo above)

I tried rolling out some round beads and twisting them but that didn't work.  Then I got the idea that if they were first made into a 3-d disk bead that maybe that might  work. That seemed to be the answer but the twist was more complicated that I had thought.  I put my fingers on the glass Czech bead to get an idea of how to I would have to twist them.  It was quite awkward as the fingers on each hand would have to go in the opposite direction.  I persevered and the first set of beads I made is in the picture below.

Since I did not take into account that my clay shrinks 12% during the drying and firing process, mine are rather smaller than the original strand but I am  happy to use them in some of my freeform peyote stitch work.  I have a bracelet I am working on that they would go well with.


I also made some in blue and white to see how they would look. 

If I make more of the blue and white beads I think I will skip the white part and just have them in blue.    

But the first set of beads--  I am just crazy about the color and have been trying  it on other pieces as well.

Small stoneware pendant  by Mary Harding
I was quite happy with  how the above pendant came out and surprised how the colors had morphed during the glaze firing.

So I tried it again on a larger piece and was more than happy with the result

              Statement size pendant by Mary Harding  trying out what i learned from the smaller one.
Statement size pendant by Mary Harding  a variation on the one above

For me what works when I am creating is to follow my passion on however circuitous a route it takes me.  In the end it will bring me directly to my heart and soul.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my post.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Darkest Blues

My most recent work is creating dark blue stoneware ceramic pendants.  Not so easy as it is a mix of glazes to get the right color.  I love how these came out and I like to call them  "The Darkest Blue."  Will I be able to replicate them in future pieces?  I am not sure.  I did make note of what I did in my "Clay Notes"journal.  Today I plan to go to my studio which is about 500 feet of 6 inches snow away from our warm and cozy house which is in the middle of a snow storm.  I think the snow is supposed to stop in about 5 hours and will probably taper off sooner than that. I am determined.

Stoneware Ceramic Leaf  Darkest Blue by Mary Harding

Stoneware Ceramic Queen Ann's Lace Flower Heads  Darkest Blue by Mary Harding

                      Stoneware Ceramic Pendant Two Holes Queen Ann's Lace  Darkest Blue by Mary Harding

 Stoneware Ceramic Pendant  Queen Ann's Lace Darkest Blue by Mary Harding

Stoneware Ceramic Leaf  Shard Darkest Blue by Mary Harding

Two of the pieces are still available in my Etsy shop. I have noted that fact  under the picture.  I will update when they are no longer available.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

New Stoneware Pendants What are all those brown specks?

Thistle Pendant made from speckled stoneware ceramic clay.  It was by chance that I used this speckled clay to make some pendants and toggle clasps with.  In fact I did not even really know that it was speckled.  When I opened the kiln and got these pieces out I thought that they looked darker than usual.   When I looked more closely I saw the dark specks.  At first I was not sure if I liked them.  That kind of uncertainty when one first opens the kiln is not unusual.  It takes some good daylight and time to fully see what you have since expectations truly do color your vision at first.  I was not expecting the speckles so what  I was seeing was these pieces as they should have been and was a bit disappointed. A few hours later I had changed my mind.  I could see  how wonderfully the dark specks were interacting with the other colors in the pendants. I decided they were great--they reminded me of raku work that has had sawdust thrown on it. So I listed all of these in my Etsy shop.  It a couple of days they were all SOLD except for the Wild Grass Pendants.

Colorful Queen Ann's Lace

Tall Thistle Pendant

Wild Grass Pendant in my Etsy Shop

Toggle Clasp with hand wrapped wire bar

Toggle Clasp with Miss Ficklemedia Toggle Bar

I would like to make more but will have to wait until I get more of that speckled clay, the clay I didn't know I had in the first place.  Lucky accident, right? 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

New Stoneware beads

                            Mid Range Buff ceramic clay and colored glazes by Mary Harding Jewelry
I  have been experimenting  lately with using colored glazes on a buff stoneware clay that has also been stained with iron oxide.  I have wiped back the stain to some extent and then applied the colored glazes selectively.  I wanted these kinds of beads for some free form peyote stitch necklaces I have been making.  I was pleasantly surprised that the colors would be as bright and clear as they are, over this dark background.  I am very encouraged by the results.
Some "gesture" beads from mid range buff clay and colored glazes

Another view of the mid range buff ceramic clay beads seen above this picture.

I also tried this approach on some "gesture" beads, ( see pictures above)  as I call them, as they are made with one tool and spontaneous movements, once the rounded bead is formed.  I have a necklace in process with some of these kinds of beads.  See below.
Peyote Stitch Necklace in progress with new buff stoneware clay beads

It is a beautiful summer day here where I live so I'm off to be outside for awhile.  Thanks so much for stopping by.

Raku Bead Video Part III