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

Raku Bead Video Part III