Since the techniques used to make beads are simply a miniaturized version of those used to make pottery, I've been wondering for some time why we don't see more wheel thrown beads. So I decided to make a batch of wheel thrown beads and find out if it was a viable bead making technique. To start with, several slender, hollow, cylindrical forms like those used for spouts or goblet stems were thrown off of a hump of clay. I made them as ornate as possible in their silhouettes intending to slice them apart into several beads each. Slicing them in this fashion produced a group of rather chunky beads that looked a lot like miniature pots to me. The smallest of them was an inch in diameter and 3/4(2cm) of an inch long.I got bored with these rather quickly and began altering the forms of the beads by stroking, elongating and flaring them with my fingers. This is essentially a pinching technique. Turning the beads on their sides produced an even more interesting form. From there the bead's forms became more and more distorted, sculptural and seashell like through various pinching techniques. I found that the thrown porcelain provided an excellent matrix for pinching as there were no hesitation points and inconsistencies in the clay as there would have been if the form had been hand built to begin with. (The seams in hand-built forms tend to make knots and inconsistencies in the clay if one later tries to pinch or throw the hand built clay form.) Many of these pinching techniques are discussed in a book called Finding One's Way with Clay by Paulus Berensohn.
An album of the process of making these beads has already been uploaded to my facebook page and may be viewed here.... http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150431237615770.355645.207602810769&type=3
And the pictures of the unloading of the kiln load that these beads came out of has also been turned into an album and may be viewed here.. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150419750115770.353586.207602810769&type=1
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me through facebook, or etsy via PorcelainJazz as well as here.