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Changing the world - one bead at a time

Hello again!
We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, but... Holidays are over! It's about time to go back in the studio and play with the mud.
In this first post about our favorite ceramic techniques we really want to start from the beginning - there is nothing simpler than the round bead, but for us also there is nothing so important.  Round beads are the miniature canvas for all the great designs and colors that we like, so they should be really well made. The short tutorial below is showing our technique for making rounds. For sure many people use something similar, we just want to share the steps that we think are important, we hope this tutorial will be useful especially for the new BoC members.
Making plain round beads:
01 - Extruder at work
 1. Extrude the coils of needed diameter. It's really doesn't matter what type of extruder you use, hand or machine operated, but if you want a beads of equal size it's important to have some uniform coils. If you are going to make one-of-a-kind beauties you can skip this step, just grab in your hand the piece of clay that feels the "right size"

2. Cut the coils into equal pieces. It's good to have in the studio some fired samples, labeled with the size of the used coils, something like "this bead was made from 12mm long piece of coil with 12mm diameter"
02 - Measured coils
3. Roll each piece into an smooth even ball.
03 - Rolling the balls
                             
04 - Balls waiting for holes
  4. Set the balls aside to firm up for a few minutes. It's kind of complicated to give exact advice how long balls should wait - there are few interfering factors: the water content of the clay, the air humidity and temperature in the room where you work from. In general in spring they'll need to wait much longer than in the summer.
                                                                                       
05 - Making the hole
 5.  Insert a pointed tool of the desired hole size into the center of the ball until it just begins to poke out on the other side. Push gently. Twist slightly while the tool is going in and out the ball.

06 - Finishing the hole

 6. Remove the tool from the ball and turn the ball around. Line up the tool on the small hole where it began to come out and re-insert the tool to finish the hole, while twisting again, this helps to form a clean hole without deforming the bead shape.
07 - Shaped beads
 7. Remove bead from tool and set aside to dry if you want smooth beads. Otherwise you can move to the next stage.  This is the right time to apply some surface decoration by carving the bead, or texturing it with some stamps, or something else that you have in mind.  The possibilities to turn the simple round bead into a piece of art are endless...but they all start from the same little piece of clay!

08 - Ready glazed beads

Don't forget to have fun! 
Vlad & Kremena


10 comments:

  1. Wonderful tutorial. I've always have admired the perfection in your beads and the continuity of the same size. Love it! Thank you guys.

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  2. Thank you for that insight into the process. I buy a lot of beads from makers of all sorts of mediums. I am fascinated to learn what goes into making these things because it makes them so much more precious to me and becomes part of the story.

    Enjoy the day!
    Erin

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  3. Great Tutorial Vlad and Kremena!! I was interested to see that you make your beads with your fingers not your palm. They are amazingly similar in size and shape and the colors are so exciting. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

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  4. Actually we are using both fingers and the palms for the rolling of the beads, but for the smaller sizes rounds like this ones in the tutorial we use mostly the fingers.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing with us this beauty! Great tutorial!

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  6. It seems so simple but really great information. I remember learning your steps 5 and 6 some years back, I think from a Mary Harding tutorial, and having an AHAA! moment. It's an important step.

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  7. Thank you! I love to see how beautiful things are made.

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  8. Thank you for this tutorial. I really want to try making beads in the near future and knowing the tips and tricks of it helps. I love how your beads turn out. Gorgeous!

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  9. I've never used an extruder, but I think it's time to invest in one. Amazing to see their results along with some attention to detail while rolling etc. Thanks very much for sharing one of your techniques for forming your beautiful creations!

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