Welcome to our B.O.C. blog. Learn about the world of handcrafted ceramic beads, buttons, pendants & components from our talented and knowledgeable Artisans.
August 2011 Spotlight Artist


Marla James of
Located in Detroit, Michigan

What do you call yourself?... artist, beadiest, ceramic artist, potter.???Having had no formal training in Ceramics, I guess I don't feel worthy of any title like these.
I would probably say I am a Ceramic Crafter.
How long have you been working in clay?
Well...... Since 10th grade! So...let's see.....5 YEARS! Yea.....that's it....5 years. LOL
Actually I hate to admit that it has been..34 years. Gosh, I AM old!

What do you make?
I started out as a potter. I love throwing on the wheel.
Making large bowls and platters.
Sometimes coffee mugs. Now I mostly make tiny things.
Beads, pendants are 99.9% of what I do now.
What clays do you use?
I used low fire clay in High School. Now I like Stoneware, Porcelain and Terra Cotta.
I use mainly Porcelain and stoneware now.
How do you fire?
I have 4 kilns. 1 Baby kiln and 2 "junior" size ones in the studio
and the Grand daddy in the Garage. Mainly firing to Cone 6.
I would like to turn one of the smaller kilns into a raku only kiln.
Maybe next year.
Where is your working space/studio?
My "studio" space is my basement. My hubby has helped to set me up with a comfortable space.
Now I have to learn how to keep it clean. :-D
Do you work alone?
Most of the time I do. I have a dear friend, Joni Kison, that does designing for me.
She and I have marathon designing weekends now and then.
Starting out at the crack of dawn and working till the wee hours of the morning.
She and I met in grade school and have remained friends for 40 + years.
She is a fabulous Artist. Below is one of her designs.
What exactly do you do?
How much time do you have? lol
Well, I make my own finished ceramic beads and pendants.
I make Ceramic Bisque. And I head up the Beads of Clay Organization.
I started out just making my own work and finishing it. Then I thought about how
 I could help others that do what I do.
This started the idea of making Bisque Beads and Pendant.
My own finished pieces are designs by Me and Joni.
And the bisque pieces are molds and cut out shapes.
With a LOT of smoothing/rounding and sponging. Vladislav of Golem Designs, makes bisque for my store as well. All of the round beads I carry he makes and many others.
He actually helped in the planning of the bisque bead business. (THANKS VLAD!)
We have worked together on the bisque for 4 years now.
Thanks to the internet I am in business with someone in Bulgaria! Too cool. :-)
The Beads of Clay Organization?
How did you get involved?

In 2004 Melanie Brooks and Andi Fasimpaur wanted to start a group for
Ceramic Bead Artists to learn and teach each other and the world, about our Art.
Over the years Andi went on to other things and Melanie got pretty famous! :-)
So she offered up the group to someone to Captain it.
I was the only one crazy enough to say I would do it.
So in October of 2009 I jumped in with both feet.
Now, we continue to be a group of folks volunteering our time to something we believe in,
our Ceramic Art and continuing to bring it to the world.
And hopefully bringing new customers to our stores!
Favorite themes, design inspirations? I find inspiration in Nature. I think my favorite theme is a leaf.
My dear Mom used to take me for walks in the woods behind our home when I was young.
She carried with her a small handbook about trees. I learned how each leaf was totally unique.
She showed me the veins on the leaf and compared them to our veins in how
they carry life blood thru out them.
And to my hand and how the lines come together and break apart.
I guess my Mom could be considered my inspiration as well. :-)
Advice to newbies?
I would first say, "Welcome to our addiction!"
Then I would say, keep working till you find your niche.
Keep asking questions and learning. And most of all, TAKE NOTES!!!
How I wish I had taken notes when I started out.
So many glaze combinations I loved but can't repeat because
I don't remember how I achieved them.
And never let your studio get like this!

I hope that this self interview helped you to get to know me better.
If you have questions about me or BOC, feel free to comment.
   (offline till September)


  1. Wonderful post Marla. Fun to find out more about you. I admire your commitment to ceramic beads and this BOC group. Yeah Clay!!

  2. Nice to see your face Marla and your colorful beads, great post.

  3. Yeah Marla!! the gal that keeps me in bisque shapes when I need them!!! Marla is a fabulous person. BOC continues to thrive in your care Marla (with a wonderful support team) and the care you show for all the members is unquestionable! Always coming up with new idea's for the group and always showcasing a new members work to get them noticed by the masses! I thank you for all that you do for our group and for being a great friend as well! Excellent choice for spotlight artist and what a pleasure it is to see your smiling face!

  4. I still don't write down glaze combinations and I know I should, even when I'm doing it I think, "I should write this down," and then I think, "Later" and then of course I haven't and the glaze combination emerges from the kiln absolutely fabulous and yet, Oops, I forgot.

    Love knowing more about you, Marla! Thanks!

  5. Great post Marla! Love hearing the stories of how our members got started. Lots of lovely pieces you got featured here. Great to see you're continuing with clay! Thank you for all you do with BOC.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.