Come Celebrate With Me

I had a bit of a tease yesterday on my facebook page regarding these beads.

They are especially chosen from the batch that came out of the kiln yesterday.

Today, July 7th, marks 4 years since my very last radiation treatment.

My cancer was removed by surgery and as a precaution, I had 25 radiation treatments and 2 rounds of chemotherapy.  That was in 2011.  And today I am still cancer free.  I have one more year before I am declared by my doctors to be in complete remission, but for right now, I am cancer free.  And that is enough.

Please come celebrate with me!  To win these 27 beads, join the Facebook page Ceramic Art Bead Market .  Leave a comment on the giveaway picture that matches the one above, and in a week I’ll use to pick a winner.


Bead Load in Big Kiln

These are all the beads which came out of my big kiln this morning. It took about an hour to remove them from the rods and sort them onto this tray.    Beside the tray are the rods …lots and lots of rods!


I started my big kiln yesterday morning … or at least I thought I had started it.  So there it was, 3 pm in the afternoon before I decided to go into the kiln room Hubby built to see how far along the burn had progressed.  And the digital display was blinking its error message and internal temperature (about 200 degrees F).

I turned it off and stared at it for a bit.  I thought, “What did I do wrong?”  It took me a few minutes (some days I am slower than others and obviously at that moment my brain was on sluggish mode).  I realized I had not turned on the timer.  So I turned on the timer for about 12 hours so that if the kiln over fired it would turn off. I reset the digital and stood there and watched it.  I heard the relay click for about 4 minutes without the temperature rising. 

I have this bad habit of going to the worst possible place in my mind.  At that moment all kilns were doomed to misfire. No kiln would ever worked right if I owned it, and on and on and blah blah blah.  Then it dawned on me that I forgot to push the button on the kiln setter.

I know I know ….why do I have a timer, a digital AND a kiln setter?  Yeah, well, I ordered both functions, wanting them to work separately but the company who took my order didn’t understand what I wanted so basically I ended up with this very very safe kiln (that won’t fire if I don’t turn everything on to work in unison). 

I turned off the digital again, pushed in the plunger, reset the digital and voila!  Finally, the temperature began to rise.

BUT it was 3 pm in the afternoon and I had it on a slow bisque firing because of the heavy handbuilt items.  I wasn’t thinking.  I often forget to think.

It finally finished about 2:30 am in the morning. I suppose I could have gone to sleep but I couldn’t sleep until the kids got home, either, when they were teenagers.  That’s just how I am.

I won’t be able to unload until this evening probably.  That’s okay. I loaded up the smaller bead kiln about an hour ago. It’s not digital. It’s just a kiln setter. So I have to go turn it up every so often, and looking at the clock just now, it is time to turn it up again.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Yay for Family and Friends

Arches National Park

Hubby and I spent time with family and friends all last week.  It was a bit weird not being on the computer but I did sneak time with my phone from time to time.

We ended up going on a loop from Southern New Mexico to Northern Arizona (spent a few hours at the Grand Canyon) to Southern Utah (saw a couple of national parks) back to Taos, NM and then home to Texas.

I have a method of making clay while hubby drives the car. I hold on my lap a gallon size Ziploc bag that has about 3 lbs of clay.   I also keep a couple of dampened paper towels nearby.  I form beads one by one and place them in a small paper bag for drying. The clay can’t be too wet or too dry.  Too wet and I can’t make a bead and too dry and the clay dust will go everywhere. 

This week I have a huge load of beads to bisque fire and going in with those will be some cups and bowls and hand-built objects that I worked on over the last few months.  I also am planning a kiln load for glazed beads for the other kiln.  Because they run on different electrical outlets they can run at the same time.  Yay.

The photo above is one I took on my phone.  I am a bit surprised at how nice these cell phone cameras can be.  I will have lots of inspiration in the months to come.

Birdie Mold

The last time I took my bisque beads out of the kiln, I discovered that I had forgotten to insert a stringing hole into a tiny bird I had formed.  Today I took that bird and two pieces of clay and made a small mold from it.

I also took 5 pattern greenware stamps that I created and tested them out.  I liked three and didn’t like two of them. So back into the recycled clay bag those two went.

I was going to glaze fire today but I actually forgot. I was sitting on my couch sipping coffee. Then I was printing out postage and double checking packages and sealing them up.  By the time I looked up, morning was gone.  It’s a 12 hour firing and I don’t want to be up at midnight.  Tomorrow!


Glazing and Photo Taking

I spent much of the weekend glazing beads.  I was going to fire the kiln today but other things are going to take up my time and I might not be able to remember to turn up the kiln at regular intervals.

Earlier this morning I took 97 photos and three were worthy.  For some reason every so often my camera goes on strike and will not focus properly.  Nothing much to do about that other than go back and do it all over again, which is what I plan to do before it starts raining again.

Lately I have abandoned my indoor photography studio, i.e., the closet, in favor of sunnier areas on the back porch.

This time of year is favorable for taking outdoor photos. When summer gets underway it will not matter what time of day I go outside. The light will be too harsh or too dim.

I am not a perfectionist, or at least I do not think I am.  I do like natural lighting and most times my beads look great in my photography ‘closet’ …but I never quite seem to get the lush look of the shiny that beads are loaded with, and the natural lighting outside seems to do that.

It’s Memorial Day, a day to remember those who died in service to this country … so if you live in America and enjoy the freedoms this country offers, rejoice and remember those who helped to make it possible.

Thanks for stopping by — Natalie

Bisque Bead Buildup

This is how I relax.  I take a ball of clay on my lap and form beads.  I am glad that though my fingers are sprained, I can still make beads.  They are better today than yesterday and tomorrow they will be better than today.

When this ‘shoebox’ is full, I will put them into my smaller bead kiln for their first firing. There are lots of styles of beads in here. 

I typically create about 20-30 beads per sitting, and every 10 or so beads I change my texture tool, or the shape I am making.  I am left with a lot of different styles of beads.  Glazing takes a lot more effort.  I have to choose the glazes, set up the table, do a lot of cleaning up afterward.  The end result is always happy and fun.  Lately I’ve been working with porcelain and I don’t know why I don’t make more pendants. They sell really well, but I do like the simple round, taking it and attempting to decorate it in such a manner that it is not so simple any longer. 

Hey, thanks for stopping by!  –Natalie


I don’t make many of these, beads without holes, also known as cabochons.  This one has been signed with my potter mark on the back.  It is also being offered over at the Ceramic Art Bead Marketplace on Facebook.

In other news, it was supposed to rain all day long but it did not rain.  That meant I was able to go into the front yard and pull a weed or two and so I did. Literally, a weed or two.  Turned out that my sprained fingers are not strong enough to pull those massive weeds.

Why are my fingers sprained? I had a bike accident (as in roadbike, not motorcycle) a few weeks ago.  I hit a slippery spot going downhill, not fast, but enough to when I had to turn, the bike went one way and I went the other. I was wearing bike gloves, but my fingers took quite a beating when I hit the ground.  I’m fine.  But my fingers are still healing.  Apparently it will take about 6 weeks, of which 2 have passed, that is according to Dr. Google.  But, whew, I’m fine.  Thanks for stopping by!

Yay for Sunlight

Finally we are having a day without rain in North Central Texas.

I have tried to take photos of this glaze inside and it does not do it justice whatsoever.

However, most glazes I am able to photograph in my homemade ‘light box’ without any difficulty.

I am including a photo of my set up…basically I have two hardware lamps shoved up against each other with 100 watt natural sunlight bulbs covered with photocopy (white) paper to mask the glare.  I have it set up in a closet for easy access.  On the bottom is a tray with another white sheet of paper. It doesn’t get any easier than this, of course, unless the glaze only looks good outside under the REAL sun. 


Who doesn’t love Fridays?  Today I went and had lunch with one friend and ice cream with another friend and I’m so stuffed, I’m not even thinking about dinner and it’s 6 pm, but hubby is grilling green chile out on the grill and it looks like we’re going to have some leftover steak in a taco with green chile on top ….I’ll make room! ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t do anything with my beads today, or my pottery. I did, however, pick a few out for some upcoming auctions, and a couple to put on my website, and a couple to put on Etsy.  So I do have a project.

These beads on the left are going to make it onto one of the sites (not sure which yet, though).  Have a great weekend!  Stay dry! Stay safe if you live in Tornado Alley!

Blogging Blogging Blogging!

I have this on Auction today on the Ceramic Art Bead Marketplace. 

Just thought I’d mention that before I begin blogging about blogging.

I very much enjoy blogging …I like being able to look back through my months and years and remember things that were going on, things that I didn’t blog about but I remember anyway.

In 2011 I went through Cancer Therapy (chemo and radiation), which was really a difficult time for me.  My mother came and stayed with me while I was undergoing treatment and that was a comfort.  I’ve been cancer free for four years now and after next year I will be declared to be in remission.  I have finally recovered from the cancer treatment … and looking back I am glad I did, but at the time I think I would have gladly died.  Yes. the treatment really is that bad.

I can actually see where the blank spots are in my blog history where I did not blog at all and even then I remember what was going on IRL (in real life) … it’s all good.

This year I made the decision to keep at it, like a diary and for the most part I’ve done really well until April, and that is when I started participating in the Facebook Group auction “Ceramic Art Bead Marketplace” and that took a lot of time, but I think I’ve got the rhythm of the auctions now and realize that even if I make a mistake (or two or three) that everyone is gracious. Thank you to everyone who have been gracious with my dumb mistakes.


Ah, I love these beads but the photos I have taken of them are doing them no justice at all.

It is raining outside and the light is poor … these are shiny so they are picking up that shiny aspect but it leaves that ugly white streak in the middle of each bead, too.

If I bring them indoors under the sunlamps, they are a bit washed out and a different sort of blue … If I work long and hard at it, I might be able to get their true blue color but it’s a rainy day and I’m thinking the couch is a lovely place to ride out this storm. ๐Ÿ™‚  Have a great day!

Summer Fun

Sprig Celadon with Bursts of Browns Bead Set

I have these beads on the left in auction over on the Ceramic Art Bead Market on Facebook.

What a great little group that is!  I am certain that at some point Facebook will put a stop to these types of things, but until they do … we are having fun in that group!

I mentioned in my last blog post that we were having ‘weather’ here in North Central Texas.  We made it through last evening with no tornadoes but north and east of us didn’t fare as well. ๐Ÿ™

Because the ground is saturated with rainwater, I went into the front flowerbed today and began pulling up grass and weeds.  If I went out there an hour a day, in no time at all my flowerbeds would be gorgeous.  I’m going to try.

 I’m making a list of everything I would like to accomplish this summer.  First of all, I want to be able to ride my bicycle, even if it is hot. Last summer I could not handle the heat, but this summer I hope it is different.  I also want to find time to go kayaking with my husband to some of the lakes in the area.  I hope to find a workshop this summer, even if I have to travel.  I have the feeling that it is going to be a very busy summer.

Ice Blue Nuggets

I love love love heart love this new transparent glaze from Amaco “Fog” from the Celadon line.

AND this porcelain clay, a bright white
Miller WC-631 #550 from Laguna is my favorite.  It took me a long time to decide on a favorite porcelain clay. I’ve tried many brands, but this one is plastic and bright white … it does fire a bit gray in reduction, but in oxidation (which is what I fire), it remains pristine white.

In other news, we are having ‘weather’ in North Central Texas with the normal spring tornado watches … for those that don’t know, a ‘watch’ is simply a weather condition which may or may not produce a tornado …the warnings are a bit more worrisome because that means that there has been rotation detected in the upper atmosphere … or maybe it is on the ground already, but usually it is still in the clouds. We have heard what sounded like a tornado pass overhead one or two times and even here in east of Fort Worth, experienced a tornado nearby, but so far, so good — no tornado has taken out my house or anyone I love.  I am still surprised that every house in this area does not have a tornado shelter.  We don’t have an ‘interior’ room to hunker down in, but we do have a hall, and so that is where we go when the sirens sound.

But hey, it’s Spring! ๐Ÿ™‚

Kiln Goodies

Lots of kiln goodies going on here.  This was a cone six firing with some of the new Celadon glazes from Amaco but there are a couple of Laguna glazes as well.  And can you figure out which ones have only been glazed with a light coat of black underglaze?

Except for the yellows, these are all porcelain beads, but the yellows have sprigs of porcelain.

It is always fun to open up the kiln after a long firing.

Thanks for stopping by!  — Natalie

Yet Another Batch

The last couple of weeks I’ve taken time out for family and friends and of course the spring weather has been lovely, except for a few storms here and there.

I’m back in the studio, playing with some new bead designs. The nugget beads to the left are a variation of a bead which will appear in the Fall issue BEADS 2015: The Ultimate Beaderโ€™s Resource.  I’m excited about that upcoming event.  I’d like to have a bunch finished and ready in my shop. Also appearing in this year’s Fall Stringing is one of my copper beads that I’ve talked about earlier in this blog, so I’ll also be getting out the soldering equipment in the near future to have some more available for purchase.

Thanks for stopping by!

Playing With Gimp

Aren’t these beads fabulous?  I was trying to get the exact real color these are in real life.  After deciding I was going to have to retake the pictures, I gave up and started playing with some of the levels and curves, and then I messed with the directional lights …. so an hour later my beads are still not re-photographed but I sure do have a beautiful (at least to me) picture of some fantasy beads.

So what do these really look like? Well, they are a dark terracotta brown with chartreuse green in the recessed daisy texture.

Okay … thanks for stopping by.  Gotta go finish photographing these for real. — Natalie

It’s Springtime, TIME for Happy Beads!

Porcelain Pastel Yellows, Blues, and Grays Nugget Mix

 I’ve been doing some fun cone six firings the last week and wanted to showcase some of what I’ve done. 

I have these 6 porcelain beads showcased over at the Ceramic Art Bead Market right now. If you are not yet a member of that group, you are missing out on some fantastic bead deals.

The bids typically start out at half price and not all of them are bid up to retail. It’s worth your pocketbook to check them out. 

Hearts and Crosses Porcelain Bead

 Oh …and I did mention that we have give-aways, as well?

On the right here is a bead I have put in my NKPdesigns webstore. 

It’s made from porcelain clay, has the sprig technique that I adore, and I have decorated the sprigs with hearts and crosses.

I  dipped it into a black wash of undercolor so that the texture would be certain to stand out and be noticed and I used a rutile glaze.

Ocean Octopus Porcelain Bead

 On this next porcelain bead, I have textured with circles with the same glazing technique. 

I decided afterward that the circles look like the suction cups on octopus tentacles.  It’s a fun texture and I am going to do more like this I think.

Turquoise Green Stoneware Ceramic Beads

Now the turquoise green beads in the next two pictures are some of my favorite firings from this kiln load.

I had taken a variety of objects to make textures with and these ended up being smash and squished until they were no longer round, but this funky potato shape and aren’t I lucky that Etsy has a category just for potato shape beads?  Yay!

Turquoise Green Stoneware Ceramic Beads

 I put these four in my etsy store, but also, currently I have an auction going on for some more of these in the Facebook group:  CERAMIC ART BEAD MARKET

I also added some to my webstore and if you click on the caption (last picture), the link will take you there.  I love how the stoneware clay combined with the turquoise glaze gives a greenish hue. 

Today I have another load of bead firing to cone six. 

In the past I have written down glaze combinations and after the beads are finished firing I tend to sit on my couch and roll them around in the couch and wonder which glaze combination went with which style of bead?

But this time I took a bisque bead and a slip of paper, wrote down the glaze combination and placed both in small little bags. Now I will have all the information I will need in the event I ever want to attempt to duplicate a result.

I admit that I should do this with every firing, but sometimes I enjoy glazing in the moment, impulsively opening jars of glaze and slapping a bit of this, and a bit of that, until I have some bead that will never be duplicated (and sometimes I kinda like it that way).

Glazing and Mailing and Good News

I am glazing beads today. I am focusing on a base of black under-glaze, used as a wash, a top coat of Chartreuse Green, and on top of that, I am going to brush various glazes for different effects.  I am planning a cone 6 firing for these.  I will post pics when finished.

In other news, woke up this morning to an international sale.  The post office (and Etsy) and has made mailing packages to other countries entirely manageable. Gone are the days of having to fill out a custom’s label by hand, printing out 8 labels for addresses (four for me, four for the mailing and the post office demanded I do an entire copy for myself) ….and also gone are the days of standing in the post office line while they stood there counting their change into a drawer, or talking with each other (ignoring the customers).  I can print out the label at home, drop it off at the post office without standing in line, or (here’s the best part) hand it to the postal worker at my front door. 

SO my point in that last paragraph was just to say, “I no longer dread the international order”.  ๐Ÿ™‚

 The other great news I’m celebrating is that 3 out of the 5 beads I submitted to BEADS 2015: The Ultimate Beaderโ€™s Resource were accepted, and one of them was one of my copper beads. They will appear in the Fall 2015 issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine. Oh yeah, I’m doing the Happy Dance.