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.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spring is Inspiring Me

                         Ceramic Flowers in Porcelain and  Stoneware by Mary Harding

It is 5:50 AM and it is already fully light outside, the temperature is almost 50 degrees and the grass in our pastures is so green  it looks fake.  The willows down at the river are breaking out into a lovely light green, the birds are signing and the frogs are playing their banjos, slowly, deeply and woeing me into a state of Spring Fever.
I have been in my studio quite a bit lately and often without the heat turned on.  I though I would share some new pieces with you created with the freedom that comes when the air warms up and the stress of cold and ice is no longer a concern.  I have probably also been especially inspired this Spring because I missed out on this time of year studio time last April, May and for even long due to my ankle injury.  It just feels so good to be free to walk around on soft unfrozen soil and breathe in the warm fragrant air.  I am so grateful to be here.
Stoneware Clover Pendant by Mary Harding

Stoneware Pendant of Small Daisies by Mary Harding

Stoneware Daisy Head Pendant by Mary Harding

Small Thistle Pendant Stoneware by Mary Harding

Golden Flowers Leaf Pendant Stoneware by Mary Harding

Stoneware Lavender and Green Wild Flower Leaf Pendant by Mary Harding

Stoneware Flower and Hollow Bead by Mary Harding

I made  most of these pieces for the Artisans Create Together Trunk Show this last week.  I want to thank all of you for you enthusiasm, kind and inspiring feedback and purchases.  It was a wonderful event made possible by Janice Everett and her Co Admins Lesley Watt and Karen Vincent.

I  hope that wherever  you are  you are having a great Spring or maybe it is a great Fall, thinking of friends in Australia and that part of the world.
Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Inspired By Reading Book Club: Where Did You Go Bernadette?

                         Where Did You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple   Close up of its book cover

Just a few days ago, the Inspired By Reading Book Club had its 4th Birthday.  I  have enjoyed being a member since day one but have to admit that I have not participated much in the last year.  I wanted to post for the March selection, partly because it was my choice for one of the books this year, and also because I just loved reading this book and was inspired.  My inspiration came primarily from the part of the book that had to do with Antarctica.  It was my favorite part and the landscape I knew least about.  It seemed so surreal and so very QUIET.  During this time I had come across a ceramic blue glaze that I thought was the perfect color for Antarctic ice in sunshine.
.  I checked out some pictures and there it was that ice cold beautiful blue in the water around this iceberg.
                                       I made the beads out of porcelain ceramic clay.
                                         Iceberg blue ceramic beads by Mary Harding

The story of the rest of the inspiration for this necklace is rather long but I will keep it short. My fellow team mate at Art Bead Scene, Michelle McCarthy  of  Firefly Design Studio came up with a challenge last month based on a necklace designed by Lorelei Eurto in the book she co-authored with Erin Siegel: Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry. You can see that post HERE. I was intrigued and purchased some ultra white peanut beads and some white O rings. Then the light went off: I could use them with these blue beads and create a cold antarctic atmosphere. I more or less did that. I changed up Lorelei's design by making some handmade chain with soldered links that looked ice like as well. When I put it all together, I folded the necklace in half to intensify the juxtaposition of the icy elements and here is what I got.
In case you noticed the two toggle clasps, that could be an error or it could be a nod to the zaniness of Bernadette, the main character  in the story!!
Where Did you Go Bernadette is a fun and heart warming read.  I hope you will try it out.  You can check out the other creations this month in the Inspired By Reading Book Club Facebook page HERE.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Raku Bead Video Part III