I was digging around in my necklaces looking for something to wear yesterday and came across this necklace which I created a couple of years ago. It was in the beginnings of what I call my ‘rock’ phase, whereas I was intrigued into making beads look as though they came out of the earth and had been polished. In other words, the nugget bead. I used simple shiny seed beads and simple silver tone spacers along with some dark green melon ceramic beads which I had also made about the same time period. The toggle and clasp are also quite simple. I like simple. This makes me want to make some more nugget beads and see where the glazing takes me. Maybe I will do that sometime this week. Thanks for visiting my blog!
I have a batch of these cone 6 beads going in the small kiln today. I had enough glazed for two batches. The photo is from the first batch that I fired earlier this week. The temperature outside is about the same so I am hoping the results will be the same.
The creamy vanilla beads look a bit buttery yellow in this picture but that is because they are next to the pinks and blues I think. By themselves they are not that color at all.
On all these beads, except the creamy vanilla ones, I put a purple underglaze on (Pueblo Purple by Duncan). The underglaze turned this lovely blue color.
On the creamy vanilla rounds I put on Fern Green underglaze by Mayco. The color apparently burnt completely out. I wonder if the beads would still be that same vanilla creamy look without the underglaze, or if it would be a completely different whitish color? I’ll have to try that next time I am firing to this temperature. It would be a good experiment.
I was in the ceramic store last week looking at the underglazes and all the new bottles from Mayco have notes on each bottle saying what the colors do at cone 6. My old bottles do not. I suppose I will be writing on each bottle of my own what each underglaze does at what temperature from now on.
This is a demo article on how to make a paintbrush from a yucca plant. You can use any yucca plant. I happen to have access to a Red Yucca plant. It doesn’t matter how big or small the frond you cut off is. You can cut it to any shape.
I prefer a sharp diagonal shape. The more a yucca brush is used, the softer the shape becomes. This makes for a unique brush, but eventually you will have to cut and reform the edge. Every brush is different which makes for unique brush strokes, which makes for very unique beads, well you get the picture.
This Red Yucca frond is lovely to use because it is firm and easy to hold. I typically cut the pencil length but you can make them longer or shorter. The most important thing is to easily hold it in your hand. So make it a comfortable length.
Next stick the frond in a glass of water to soften. I let mine sit about 24 hours.
How long does a yucca brush last? I don’t know. I use them for a day or so and then I stick them on a shelf meaning to reuse them. But six months or more may go by before I feel the urge to use one and by that time it is very dry and shriveled up, completely unusable.
Just go cut another one. Yuccas can be ‘harvested’ any time of the year.
The yucca plant is made up of soft plant fibers. After 24 hours simply use your fingernails to pull at the end, scraping off the green pulp.
If you don’t have fingernails (like many potters and bead artists), do the best you can. If your nails are extremely short, you can try using the edge of a spoon or fork or knife. Experiment.
This is the stroke that the paintbrush above left on my bead. A nice straight line. I just dabbed on the underglaze.
The yucca paintbrush holds lots of paint. You would load it the same way you would a watercolor or oil brush. You will be surprised at how long one stroke can last.
You would pay a lot of money for such a nice paintbrush but the best thing about yucca paintbrushes is that they are free.
Free is good.
Here is the same bead with a clear coat of glaze. I fired this one to cone 1.
To finish this bead, I added some of my original hand drawn iron oxide decals and refired to cone 05.
Thanks for following along and if you make your own yucca brush, post the results so we can see your own unique bead creations. 🙂
Originally this article was posted on the Beads of Clay blog where I contribute articles once a month. I am reposting it here for my blog readers who may not be subscribed to the Beads of Clay blog.
The focal piece, the owl, in this bracelet is made by Marti Conrad.
My beads are the brown beads with turquoise blue rivets.
This is a lovely piece. Check out the rest of Jean’s shop here. Have an awesome day!