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


First some new pendants, and an update:

Here are the hollow P'clay beads from my last post. I used a bottle cap as size reference because I couldn't find a coin you might recognize. The large zebra bead only weighs 24 grams. If you missed the post see it here: http://www.blog.beadsofclay.org/2012/05/hollow-paper-clay-beads.html

Ok, so on to the subject of this post........ I was reading on the BOC face book page about all the different ways  bead artists fire their beads. Specifically, how they make the most of kiln space while still being sure no bead touches another while firing.  I thought maybe you would like to see how I do it here.

Our large kiln

In Africa we don't have all the clever tools and products available to us, but somehow necessity does become the mother of invention. African ingenuity  amazes me. Once someone fixed our leaking gas tank with sugar, water, and a bar of soap ! On our own, we would have been stuck 100 miles from home. Anyway, around here, when you don't have what you want, or think you need, you "make a plan" and get creative.

First of all I'll back up a bit and show you where the kiln is located.

Our town of Okahandja is known for it's woodcarvers market. Our kiln is located in our shipping container, converted to a shop, which is located at the very end of the market. We located it there, because the city won't let me have 60 amps in my home, only in a business !

Behind our container  there are about 8 guys that actually carve. They use power tools to rough in the design, then hand tools to finish. Most of the other vendors are actually just reselling work they bought from carvers in the north of the country, or from Zimbabwe.

You can see the container in the upper left of the photo. What's interesting, is that since installing electricity in the shipping container, We became the power company for the wood carvers. It cost about $500 to $600 US dollars to get the electricity lines run,  a prepaid meter, and everything hooked up, so the carvers can't afford to put in their own. ( Think 2 or 3 months wages). Of course this was all unknown to us as we were installing the electricity :) The carvers all run extension cords(LONG EXTENSION CORDS) from us to where they work under the trees. Luckily we have very little rain fall in Namibia, because when it does rain, you guessed it, lots of shorts in the wires ! 

Ok, last carving, but I couldn't resist, this guy is awesome !

I know I have been wandering, but background is good  right?

 So, after many many failures on placing our beads in the kin.( you know all melted together in a big ugly lump type failures) I hit on this: kiln bricks.

Each brick gets cut up into 6 pieces ( not fun).

Then we load the wires and beads, gluing the ends in place so they don't shift when moving them to the kiln. We stack 5 bricks high.
Here are 2 rows finished.

And here we go ready to fire. Notice even our stilts are round not square, like in the USA, or I would have used them instead of cutting up the bricks .

 Sometimes we fill the whole kiln with beads, but this time there were a lot of other things to fire as well. There is another shelf ( not shown) and when we load the kiln with almost all beads, we can fit about 1,000 beads of various sizes.

Until next month.... Val

1 comment:

  1. I love seeing how all this has come together for you and your group of artisans. The way you get together and make things work to get around obstacles with electricity. The beads are beautiful (as always) and those wood carvings are unbelievable. They are SO realistic! Thanks for sharing!


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