Monday, February 01, 2010

Beginnings: Hands at work

Beginnings: hands at work
I recently volunteered to be part of the ArtBeadScene new adventure called Carnival Bloggers. The theme that we are using for this month is Beginnings. I have been thinking about this a lot and decided to use the idea of hands as a source of beginnings. Currently I am part of a photo exhibition called Hands at Work in the North Country. The photographer, Hanna Stevens, chose 8 artists/craftsmen in the North Country and photographed their hands at work. I was photographed doing beading. This later turned out to be a wonderful necklace, but at the time I was just beading along.

Those ceramic flower beads are some that I made.
In any case, since I attended that opening exhibit on Saturday, I have been thinking about how hands are a common thread, a beginning, in the making of art beads.
I make beads out of clay, and my hands are there first, wedging the clay, forming the bead or pendant, smoothing out the pendant, staining the pendant and finally handpainiting and glazing the pendant. This is the case in most handmade ceramic pendants.

Ceramic pendants by Mary Harding

Ceramic Raku heart beads by Maku Studio

Ceramic Pendant by Barbara Lewis
Although I don't make flameworked beads, I have tried it on occasion, and here the hands are doing something different. These beads have their beginnings on a steel rod that the artists has to skillfully manipulate until the bead is finished. These hands are very different from what clay hands do. But in the beginning the hands are what make it happen.
My friend Kim Klatt demonstrating how to start a bead

Beads by Radiant Mind
Working in polymer clay, hands do many things that ceramic bead artists' hands do, but I think that it isn't so messy. The beginnings of many polymer clay beads involves mixing and cutting the clay. Something that is slightly different. Here is an incredible set of polymer clay hand beads by SaraJaneHelm. You can see more of her work on her website and in her Etsy shop.
Polymer clay beads by SaraJaneHelm

Beginnings of art beads start with hands but it is what the mind and the heart do with these fabulous materials that makes them art. Often my hands tell me that it is time to create. They seem restless and ill at ease until I let them put me to work making. I have learned over the years to trust my hands and let them bring me inspiration.
Posted by Mary Harding


  1. Thanks so much. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

  2. hearts and hands, those are a good place to start for any creative project! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Anonymous17/2/10 11:02

    Cool story! Love the features and artwork!

  4. Such a beautiful post, Mary! I love the vision of your hands itching to create something. That is where it all starts. I would be interested in that art exhibit. I hope you will post some photos if you are able! Enjoy the day! Erin

  5. Well-written post, Mary, very nicely done! I love the example pics of the different art beads - and oh my! Your ceramic hearts are divine!!!

  6. Hearts and minds, and of course, hands! Nice writing, enjoyed your post and the pics.


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