Saturday, December 08, 2007

Winter All Around

Now that it is December, it seems that winter is here to stay. Oh, well. I guess I have to adjust to this unwanted change in weather. But it seems that this year more than others I am having a hard time giving up the warm weather.

But when I look at all the snow around and sit cozied up to our woodstove, it isn't so bad after all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fused Glass At Gallery Tour

In addition to glazing ceramic beads, my guests on the last day of the tour had the opportunity to make a fused glass pendant. These came out great.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Artistis' Studio Tour

If you were to look up Artists' Studio Tour on Google you would find over 38,000,000 entries. So I guess it would be safe to say that Artist Studio Tours abound in the US and most cities and towns engage in this form of promoting the arts.

In St. Lawrence County, in Upstate New York, we have been having artist studio tours for at least 20 years and I have been actively participating for at least half of those years. I have seen this event grow and become a great opportunity for artists and the public. This year there were 39 participating artists. Our usual brochure grew into a booklet and many studios were open for the full 3 days of the event.

I think this event is very special which is why I am writing about it. It is special to me because for a remote, rural county-- geographically, the largest county east of the Missippi River-- we have an exceptionally active artistic community. And we have a very interested public. In addition, we now have an active and forward looking Arts Council with a Director, Hilary Oak, who believes in the arts and is very good at their promotion. Not only is a studio tour a smart marketing opportunity for artists, it is also a chance to educate the public about how our individual creations are made. For me, the fun this year was involving my guests in ceramic bead glazing and glass fused pendants. All that participated experieced a sense of joy in participating in their own creative process. And I felt so happy that I could make this happen and give back to my guests who are friends, customers, and people new to me this year.

Here is a photo of some of the lovely ceramic bead glazing my talented guests did.

After the tour was over, there was still some of the colorful glazes they had used leftover in the paint dishes. Since I don't usually use much glaze, mostly stains, I thought about throwing them out since they were getting dry. But in the end, I didn't have the heart to do it, so I began glazing some beads that I had around. I took my own advice and put on several coats so I would get bright colors. And did I ever love the results. Now I want to make more and here is what I have to play with for the next weeks. So I say thank you to my guests for coming and letting me share my skills with them, and I say thank you again for using all those bright colors and getting me inspired.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

St. Lawrence County Artists' Studio Tour

The brochures are out and the tour is just two weeks away. I am at a new location this year, my own studio in a ninteenth century barn. Here is an announcement for my part of the tour with a map of how to get there. I am Studio 23. I look forward to this event. I will be doing a make and take ceramic bead event and demonstrating how to make fused glass pendants.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

New Raku Beads and Pendants

These last days of summer have been gorgeous and I have been having a wonderful time doing some raku bead firings.

Here is a look at some of the beauties I got from these firings.

October Issue of Simply Beads Magazine

The newest edition of Simply Beads Magazine has a full page advertisement from Fired Clay Artists of which I am a member. Next to the ad is a necklace project by Melanie from Earthenwood Studio which features several ceramic artists from Fired Clay. This is great for getting ceramic bead artists "out there."

Check out the ad if you happen to get this magazine. Simply Beads has been very open to featuring ceramic beads and pendants in their projects. The magazine's editor Molly Schaller has
a love for ceramic beads and we all really appreciate her promotion of this form of bead making.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Potsdam Summer Festival

It was a miracle that it didn't rain, since that is all it has done here in the last 2 weeks, it seems. But traditionally, this wonderful, joyous festival held downtown at Ives Park in the college town of Potsdam, New York, does have sunny weather. Here is my booth which I shared with Isis Melhado. Her beautiful rag rugs are featured in this picture on the corners of the two tables.

This is my third year in a row of selling at the Potsdam Festival and I am always so validated by the very receptive and appreciative visitors to my booth. Potsdam is a very special place with so many people who love the arts. I thank one and all who stopped at my booth this year and enjoyed and appreciated my artwork. I make ceramic and fused glass pendants and free form peyote stitch necklaces using my handmade ceramic beads. The strung neclaces I make are also mostly made from my handmade beads. I love it that there are so many people in this area that like my chunky unusual jewelry.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Colorful Beads Pendants and Buttons By BOC Artists

I recently checked out the Beads of Clay photos on Flickr! and was excited to see so much color. It always amazes me that ceramic bead artists can create such tiny colorful wonders with clay. I want to devote this post to some of these amazing, brightly colored beads, buttons and pendants. You can click on any of the pictures to find out more about the artist and see their Flickr! portfolio.

Red and White
Originally uploaded by marlasmud

This is a great and colorful pendant by Marlasmud. Really exciting colors.

Originally uploaded by annieo2006

Gorgeous flower bead
by annieo2006

Flaming Heart Bead
Originally uploaded by Earthenwood Beads

These colors are truly flaming hot. A wonderfully playful bead by Melanie at Earthewood.

Gorgeous pinks by Joan Tucker at

spotted fish
Originally uploaded by rusmar31

Wild and full of fantasy, this fish button by rusmar31

These jackets are so different, colorful and fun.
They are by embroideredsoul

Salsa bead bracelet
Originally uploaded by LadyBrook

Brightly painted salsa beads by LadyBrook

Colors and unique shapes from Natalie Gillihan

Ladybug Leaf Pendant
Originally uploaded by Shaterra Clay

Beautiful color combinations so skillfully achieved from
shaterra clay

Great red and silver combo by Lisa Peters Art.

long bead
Originally uploaded by MillerPorcelain

Incredible color and skill from Joan Miller of MillerPorcelain

Originally uploaded by gaeac

Gaea's beautiful Day of the Dead necklace from gaeac

Originally uploaded by Dilán

Exciting colors from Dilan

Tile Pendant
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Great yellows in a cool format by vika

New Tie Dye Buttons
Originally uploaded by claybuttons

These incredible Tie Dye buttons are from Claybuttons. Hard to imagine how she did this. Cool.

A cameo in an incredible color by Yolanda Miramontes

Cameo Pendant
Originally uploaded by yoli miramontes

I guess I didn't want to leave myself out. A multicolored pendant with several stringing holes for added decoration by MaryHarding of MaryHardingJewelry.

These great colors are achieved by skillful use of glazes. My all time favorite for lowfire earthenware clay is Mayco Stroke and Coat. These glazes come in a wide selection of colors and are very reliable. If you want really bright colors you need to put on three coats. I often don't use such bright colors and with one or two coats you get more of a watercolor effect with Stroke and Coat. I have recently seen that Duncan has come out with some very bright Neon Colors. I expect to have the purple and light green in the kiln by tonight. Duncan also makes a line of colors like Stroke and Coat but I haven't tried them.
For high fire clays like porcelain and stoneware Spectrum and Georgie's make good glazes. But that is not an area that I know much about. A good subject for another blog post.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Future Ceramic Bead and Pendant Makers

Not too long ago, I was invited to teach elementary aged students how to make ceramic beads and pendants. My host was Nan Lazovik, who is the Elementary School Art Teacher at Edwards Knox Central School and a fine ceramic artist in her own right. She makes wonderful tile landscapes and narratives drawn from her own life.
This project got underway, thanks to our local arts council director Hillary Oak. ( She has teamed up with BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) to fund the project. Each year a brochure is printed and all the art teachers in this county can choose to invite one of the visiting artists listed. I felt very honored that Nan invited me, since she is such an accomplished ceramicist. But she felt I had something special to offer due to my long time involvement in making ceramic beads. Since one of her classes was studying Egyptian Art, I brought along some Egyptian Paste Clay (Amaco) in the same Turquoise color that much Egyptian Faience is made in so the lesson fit in well with their academic studies. Here is a picture of the Egyptian Paste Beads coming out of the kiln.

Other students who were in the First and Second Grade made beads and the Fifth and Sixth Graders made beads and pendants. Here is a photo of some leather hard pendants made by the older students.

and here is a close up of one.

I thought the way she shaped the clay to put in the hole was quite sophisticated, and actually not a way I had suggested. I found all of the students to be very creative and ingenious.

All of the children really loved my display of ceramic beads and peyote stitch necklaces and bracelets. They loved feeling the beads, and they were entranced by the colors. Here is a photo of some of the 2nd graders looking at the beads:

As part of my presentation, I made a small kit up for each child which consisted of some foam core strips and a plastic tube for rolling the clay. The children were pleased to be able to take these home with them after the class. The school, of course, provided lots of clay, and the classroom is equipped with a very nice and large Skutt kiln.

As one of the classes of younger children was lining up to leave, one of the students said to me.

" I want to do what you do when I grow up."

And another child piped up and said:

" I want to be you when I grow up."

I think that these children will remember making beads and pendants and I feel they are so lucky to live at a time and in a culture that encourages such artistic endeavors. Thank you Nan Lazovik and thank you Hilary Oak and BOCES.
And a very special thank you to the students of Edwards-Knox Central School who were so welcoming to me and enthusiastic about making ceramic beads and pendants.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bead Journal Project

I was fortunate to get in before the dealine on this exciting project undertaken by bead artist Robin Atkins. I have commited to making a beaded journal page each month for one year. There are 239 other people involved--all women and 1 man--who have agreed to this same regime. The purpose of the project is to expand creativity and to grow as an artist. I decided to do the project because I was interested in the discipline of making a monthly page and the opportunity to be more intuitive and improvisational. The focus is on process not product--an idea I really like. I also joined the project because of my respect for and affinity with Robin Atkins. I especially like her website and her wisdom. So here I am into the Bead Journal Project. I have decided to feature at least one of my handmade ceramic beads on each page and have begun with a square raku bead that I really like. So far it is going well. I chose a moleskin burgundy fabric that I have fused to a light weight pelon and that seems to be working. My page size is 4 1/4 x 6 inches. So far I am really enjoying the process and I am working on two peyote stitch necklaces with my ceramic beads, simultaneously. Here is a photo of my progress so far.
You can read about The Bead Journal Project at

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ceramic Bead Making Raku Part III A Closer Look at the Beads

This is Part III of my Raku Bead Making Series in which I take a closer look at the beads I created in the Firing on Part II of the video.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

More Raku Excitement

Recently I purchased a 20 jar sample pack from Georgie's of premixed raku glazes. These are ideal for a beadmaker as it could take a very long time to use them all us. I am also hoping to find some exciting colors. Well, I tried two of them out on May Day. One came out great, called Copper Penny. It is an incredible antique deep jade green sometimes and many iridescent colors other times. I will post the pics of the pieces below. Since I am only firing to 1700 degrees F. the other color I tried did not come out. But I am sure there are more in the box that will work.

Also related to Raku, I have posted a 3 part video series on YouTube of me making raku beads in my small Paragon SC3 kiln. I have been inspired by Tonya Davidson of Whole Lotta Whimsy and Sue Ki Wilcox. I have added a few of my own ideas. This film is in a funky, very direct style to get the info across. I am still new to video editing so there are a few errors but the info is good and useful to anyone who wants to see one way of doing it. I also tried experimenting this week will letting the beads touch even if they are glazed. This is a much faster way of stringing the beads on the wire but I had a lot of casualites and think I will go back to the safer method of separating them with a crimp in the wire.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Art Bead Scene

I have recently discovered the wonderful blog called Art Bead Scene. This is put on by a number of talented art bead makers, including some of my favorite Beads-of-Clay artists Melanie Brooks Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio; Tari Sasser, Creative Impressions in Clay; Elaine Ray, Elaine Ray Beads; and Virginia Miskas, Fired Clay Artists on a daily basis. They have excellent articles and I look forward to reading them each day. For April they are having a contest with a great set of art beads for a prize. The theme is Taking Flight. I have it in my mind I want to enter so that I have a chance to win those fabulous beads. Well, I tried several ideas using some of my art beads and they didn't come out right. Jewelry designing doesn't come easily to me most of the time, but I persevere and sometimes I am so lucky. Well, while I was doing the Raku bead firing on Wednesday, it came to me--that is-- a title for a necklace I would make: The Flight of the Fire. I was so excited about the way the fire had marked the terra cotta beads that I made a necklace from them this morning and have entered it in the Art Bead Scene contest. Here is the photo of my entry:

This contest is open to anyone who makes jewelry with artists beads. Check out their blog at I think you will love it.

Raku Beads

I am very excited that I finally got a chance to Raku fire some beads that have been waiting since late fall for the weather to be warm enough for me to fire them outdoors. On Wednesday, squeezed in between a week of rain and snow and another bad weather week coming up, I was able to do a firing. And make a video of it. This was the first time that I have used a terra cotta clay for a Raku firing so I was a bit apprehensive about how they would turn out. But all went well and I am so pleased with the results.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ceramic Shards

I have been inspired by an opportunity to join the Beadmakers Blog Ring to expand the focus of my blog. So I changed my name from pitfired beads to maryhardingjewelry bead blog. This will give me a place to talk about all kinds of ceramic bead making. I am excited about this but also a bit nervous as very few people ever read my blog before.

I have been experimenting with making ceramic shards for my peyote stitch necklaces. I got the idea from Linda Musante who uses PMC to make shards for her peyote stitch. I have made and glazed two so far and have 5 more in the greenware stage. I am excited about the sculptural effect of these shards. They are not flat. I have formed them around a bottle shape to give them a bit of a curve and it seems just right. But so far I have not added one to a necklace. I think I will wait until the next batch is ready.
I found out yesterday when I was sponging off some rough edges of my ceramic shards, that I was making more shards as I went along as they kept breaking. Because they are slightly concave they seem to break more easily than a flat pendant. So now I have a few more shards than I started out with.

As I was working on the shards I was thinking about pottery shards that I found as a kid in Arizona and how they all had smooth soft edges as well. I would smooth mine out anyway, as they need to be comfortable and gentle on clothing and the necklace itself, but I was wondering at first if a shard should be smooth. Funny how answers pop into our heads.

But one thing about today and yesterday that will not remind me of my childhood in Arizona is the new deep snow. We had just had a great melt and now it is back again. Beautiful, but I was already thinking Spring. One good thing though, I can have one more chance to use my cross country skis. I had been regretting that I had missed the last day before the thaw.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More Jewelry

This necklace is composed of smoke and sawdust fired beads from a number of different firings. It is simple but the shades of gray and black are complex and create a piece of jewelry that I never tire of. I am always finding new details in the beads and new colors in the blacks and grays. The silver spacers bring the colors alive.

Raku Bead Video Part III